Montreal is a city full of surprises. Popular with tourists from around the world, there’s no shortage of things to do in this vibrant and energetic city, but you can live here for years and still not discover everything.
Here are 15 hidden gems that the locals like to keep to themselves.
Bars & Restaurants
Tucked under the stairs of Mont-Royal Avenue, La Distributrice is one of the (if not the) smallest coffee shops in the city. Recently voted Montreal’s best coffee-to-go at the Th3rdwave awards, you’ll only find the best at the little blue window.
Perhaps this hidden gem serving beans from local Quebec micro-roasters won’t stay hidden for much longer…
This cosy, wood-panelled pub hidden away on Mont-Royal Avenue is the perfect place to enjoy a craft brew or a cocktail or two. With a regular schedule of events including quiz nights, live music and Canada’s favourite – hockey nights, there’s always something happening at Chez Baptiste.
Possibly the smallest bar in the city, Le A Bar is the perfect place to head for an intimate drink – that’s if you can find it of course!
Tucked away at the base of an apartment building on Rue Rachel E, it’s easy to walk right by this unassuming little bar. Head inside though and you’ll be rewarded with a warm, friendly atmosphere and a great selection of drinks.
This Irish pub on Ontario Street is one of the best-kept secrets in Montreal. Open till 3 am throughout the week, it’s one for the night owls.
With the biggest selection of beers you’ll ever see, our advice is to have a couple! 😉 And for the non-beer drinkers, there’s also an impressive cocktail list and selection of non-alcoholic drinks. Serving up a range of gourmet eats we’ve heard great things about the Celtic Poutine. Although let’s face it, you can’t go wrong with one of their famous burgers!
Located on Avenue des Pins and just a short walk from our Sainte-Famille and Pine Avenue apartments, Oh My Deer Café is a local favourite. Claudia treats every customer as if they’re a regular and serves up a delicious selection of hot drinks, sandwiches and sweet treats.
We recommend a cup of coffee and a slice of homemade cheesecake whenever you’re passing – after all, it’s good to support local!
With arguably the best french fry pita bread sandwich in Montreal, this Lebanese restaurant has been serving food since 1949. Located on Cote-Vertu Boulevard, it’s also on Uber Eats and Doordash if you don’t fancy making the trip there yourself.
Le Sain Bol is not the restaurant for those who like to pick their food before they leave the house! With a constantly changing menu to reflect the imagination of the chef and the fresh, organic produce available that day, no two visits are the same.
We recommend going for a weekend Brunch and ordering the ‘surprise’ menu, leaving the decision making up to the kitchen! Leave your credit card at home though because this hidden gem is cash only.
Located in Frederic-Back Park, Le Taz is an indoor skatepark and a favourite with Montrealers looking to practice their skills. Offering birthday parties, summer camps, courses and private hires alongside regular access, it’s the perfect place to skate, BMX and rollerblade in the city.
An inland city might be the last place you think of for surfing. In Montreal however, the St Lawrence River provides excellent conditions for riding the waves. With several different spots, it’s always best to research which is most friendly to your skill-level. With that being said, “Guy’s Wave” is always a favourite among surfers.
Just remember that you’re still in Canada though so you’ll probably want a wetsuit!
The secret might be out with La SAT. The multidisciplinary space has a stratosphere dome for 360º fully immersive experiences, an electronic music venue, and an artists’ residence. But ask the locals and they’ll tell you its Foodlabs they love. With open kitchens serving contemporary Canadian cuisine and a sleek rooftop setting, it’s one to book for special occasions.
Hidden away on St Urbain Street, Never Apart is a non-profit organisation bringing about social change and spiritual awareness through art, culture and music.
Holding eye-opening events and exhibitions, it’s really a must-visit destination in Montreal. The mezzanine and garden space (complete with a salt-water pool) make it a great location to hold private events, while the 10,000 strong vinyl record archive is sure to enthral any music lover!
Shops & Markets
For many locals, no weekend is complete without a visit to Jean-Talon Market, one of the largest open-air markets in North America. Right in the heart of Little Italy, it boasts a wide selection of both local and international produce. With butchers and fishmongers, speciality shops selling cheeses, oils and spices, and fruit, veg and flower stalls aplenty, it’s one of the best places to get lost in Montreal.
Changing seasonally to provide fresh produce all year round, you can also watch culinary demonstrations and workshops to really get your tastebuds going.
A boutique store packed full of unique finds, Ex-Voto is located on St Laurent Boulevard. Stocking everything from plant accessories and homewares to vintage clothing, jewellery and an impressive selection of zero-waste products, it’s pretty hard to leave empty-handed.
It’s a firm favourite among locals looking for the perfect gift for friends (or themselves, nobody’s judging!).
This small second-hand shop is a hidden gem on Avenue Ogilvy. The Little Shop is packed full of vintage clothing, jewellery and ornaments, yet ask the owner Jill and she’ll find you exactly what you’re after!
For lovers of true vintage pieces, this is the place to head.
A home-style bakery offering up classics with a twist, Cocoa Locale is a firm favourite among those in the know. With a limited online presence, this is truly one of Montreal’s hidden gems. Find any excuse and order yourself one of the custom cakes or pop in a pick up a batch of fresh cupcakes, you won’t regret it! Just make sure to arrive early because things sell out fast.