If you’re following me on Instagram then you’ll know that I’ve been spending a lot of time in Montreal this past year and may continue to do so since my FIANCE lives there! Long story short but I was also born and raised in Montreal but moved to Toronto with my family when I was 15 years old. Since meeting my fiance, I’ve had a chance to rediscover Montreal and fall in love with its charm, history and of course the food!
My fiance lives in Griffintown which is bordered by the Lachine Canal and finds itself between Old Montreal, The Bonaventure Expressway and Notre Dame street. Over the last few years it’s become “the place to be” with its vibrant restaurant scene, artsy vibe, rich history and the perfect mix of old and new.
A Little History
The area of Griffintown dates back to the 1820s when it was mostly populated by Irish labourers. The founder, Mary Griffin, obtained the land lease and subdivided it into streets. The area then diversified with Jewish, Italian, Ukranian and French Canadian communities all of which you can see and feel as you walk the streets. Although much of the historical buildings and houses have been torn down to make way for modern housing, there are still homages to the history scattered all around the neighbourhood.
Now the area has become home to sprawling condos along the water (although no high rises thank god), high end restaurants, independent coffee shops, boutiques and art galleries. Its a great area to spend an afternoon in, trying small plates at various restos, taking coffee to go and of course shopping.
Here’s a quick guide to a few of the spots I’ve discovered in my time:
Maman – a blogger favourite and aesthetic af. The coffee has been a hit or miss on my visits but you can never go wrong with their baked treats.
L’Amour du Pain – a chain bakery and coffee house which is famous for, you guess it, their bread. There’s no way i’m going into this spot and not getting a croissant. You can also find some of their treats frozen to take home and bake fresh! The coffee has been on point every time hot or cold.
Cafe Septembre – a rustic coffee shop on Notre Dame serving up really delicious coffee and light eats
Cafe Got Soul – the newest kid on the block. Part listening studio, part cafe. The vibes of this coffee shop from the Flores brothers is so fun
Lili et Oli – your best bet for no frills coffee on Notre Dame
Drinks & Eats
Le Trou – the only place I get my Montreal bagel fix. When i’m in town i’m literally here at least once a week. My go to is their smoked salmon on an everything bagel.
Spanel – the ultimate spot for crepes! They have a really cute patio or you can take them to go, so many different varieties named after areas in montreal. And gluten-free!
El Gordo – no foodie adventure is complete without tacos.
Pizzeria Gepetto – located right next to El Gordo, this is a classic old school pizza joint serving up delicous pastas and pizzas (with Gluten Free options). Their Funghi was definitely a favourite of mine.
Le Vin Papillon – included on Canada’s 100 best, this chic and cozy resto is a more vegetable forward restaurant compared to its neighbours and siblings Joe Beef and Liverpool House.
On my List To Try:
Bird Bar – known for their chicken and hidden speakeasy bar.
Nora Gray – I’ve only heard incredible things about this sweet street front restaurant serving up classic Italian fare.
Barley Bar – a breakfast and brunch spot specializing in bowls, toasts, smoothies and all things brunch.
Bar Otto – one of the newest additions to the area, this Japanese eatery opened in 2020. Expect grilled yakitori (both veg and non-veg options), sashimi, ramen and an extensive Sake and wine selection.
Drinkerie – this place was bumpin’ when I walked by it the other night. A go-to for drinks whether you are in the mood for beer, wine or hand crafted cocktails.
Le Fricot – this is Montreal’s first Acadian seafood restaurant brought to you by the same people as Drinkerie (right next door!) A classic crab house serving up lobster rolls, crab dip, trout gravlax and other seafood centric dishes.
Le Bon Vivant – a small but succinct menu, you can have a fine dining experience without all the fluff.
Things to do
Lachine Canal – the perfect waterfront view. Have a picnic, take a walk, or a bike ride. It’s the perfect way to enjoy a leisurely afternoon. Not to mention that the Lachine Canal is the one of the longest bike trails in the country.
Walk along Notre Dame Street – its the main street in Griffintown and houses most of the restaurants and coffee shops. If you pay close attention you’ll also find independent clothing boutiques, antique housewares, art galleries, and all the personal services you could ask for.
Atwater Market – although it’s technically not in Griffintown, Atwater markets is located right on the cusp. It’s a local market serving up the best in produce, fish, meats, baked goods, artisanal desserts and local goods. There’s also a few pop-up style restaurants where you can grab a bite and a beverage. Always something to do and explore at the market.
What to Explore Next
Bordering Griffintown and only a hop and a skip away are Old Montreal & St. Henri. Guides coming soon!