AND THE FOOD YOU SHOULD BE EATING
When in Montréal you would be crazy not to dive into it's food scene. After all this is a city known for it's gastronomy and mixology. As creative and multicultural as the people that make up the district, Quebec's most cultural metropolis will leave your tastebuds wanting more.
Many say New York is a city you could live your whole life in and still not try every restaurant, but I also think this could be said for Montréal. Local Montréal Tours knows this and helps visitors, and even locals, discover the roots and trends permeating throughout the city's neighborhoods.
If you want to get a good introduction to the food in Montréal I suggest starting with the Mile End Food Tour. Not only will you discover some of eats best associated with this city, you'll be placed in the perfect location to discover even more of their iconic foods afterwards. The tour stops at 5 - 6 locations over the course of 3 hours - depending on whether you do the day or evening tour.
A BIT ABOUT THE MILE END
The Mile End is a neighborhood where you can feel like a native Montrealer. The history of this neighborhood is both fascinating and offbeat, as rich as the cultural hub it has become today, and is one of the fastest growing districts in Montréal. It now has the most artists per capita in all of North America - no joke - and has become the personification of Montréal's multicultural foundation. Time and time again this neighborhood is referred to the nerve center of "all things cool" in Montréal. The origins of the name can never be agreed upon, however popular belief states it comes from the one-mile distance of the south boundary (Mont Royal Ave) from Sherbrooke Street.
Our tour started at the environmentally friendly vegan restaurant La Panthère Verte (The Green Panther). As we began the tour with a cold glass of Canadian beer and a falafel pita, our guide Kim met us and gave us an overview of what we would be experiencing and learning.
Right off the bat I will say the portion sizes were pleasantly surprising. I walked in thinking we would need to get dinner afterwards and came out more stuffed than ever.
Formally an old bank which has been turned into an eco-friendly vegan joint, La Panthère Verte offers the most satisfying and delicious meals you could possibly want when you are looking for lighter fare. With 6 locations now spread across Montréal this success story gives a nod back to the Jewish roots of the neighborhood by including pickles in your pita.
From La Panthère Verte we made our way Southwest to Chocolats Geneviéve Grandbois. Known as one of the best places to get drinking chocolate Geneviéve does not disappoint as a chocolatier. Her passion and dedication in creating the best handmade products is evident in every new recipe, every unique raw material, and every original combination. For us it was an unparalleled salted caramel chocolate square paired with the perfect amount of drinking dark chocolate. If bliss has a name it's Chocolats Geneviéve Grandbois.
After chocolate we were off to one of the two most famous bagel joints in Montréal - St-Viateur Bagel. A family affair for the past 60 years, everyone knows about St-Viateur. Montréal is a city full of rivalries, and when it comes to food the long-standing 'battle' between St-Viateur and Fairmount is prevalent. It's said you cannot be a fan of both and therefore you have to choose.
On previous trips to Montréal I have been able to experience both Fairmount and St-Viateur and I will say out of the two St-Viateur is my favorite. Coming from NY I now get asked what I like better NY bagels or Montréal bagels and here's my honest opinion....Montréal comes out on top. Consistently!
Having those words come out of my mouth may be blasphemy but I'm sorry, NY your bagels are really not all that. In Montréal you don't need to be worried about finishing your bagel because it's not massive - and you can actually see the hole in the middle. Montréal bagels don't even need cream cheese because they are perfectly slightly sweet. And when they come right out of the oven there is nothing, I mean nothing, that tastes that good! Reminiscent of a hot pretzel I am now kicking NY bagels to the curb. Now if only a Montréal friend could set up a reoccuring delivery...
We each got two bagels but Kim warned us not to eat both as it was time to head over Drogheria Fine. This tiny and cozy authentic Italian shop is known for having some of the city's best pasta sauce. But you can't just eat pasta sauce with a spoon. I mean you can, but who wants to do that?
Started 5 years ago by Franco Grattuso their sauce [simply known as “La Salsa Della Nonna" ("Grandma's Sauce")] draws people in to the point it sells out every day, and you know it's authentic when you can see family members cooking it up in pots in the back room!
Drogheria Fine has now kicked it up a notch offering their sauce to-go style in the form of Chinese takeout sized containers full of gnocchi. Now tell me one other place where you can grab high quality gnocchi and sauce for $5 in about 5 minutes? You can't.
Our fifth and final stop was just a few storefronts down the street from Drogheria Fine. Kem CoBa, the Vietnamese ice cream shop which means "third auntie's ice cream," offers fresh ice cream, sorbet, and soft ice cream (or as we say here in the states 'fro-yo'). The two featured soft ice cream flavors rotate (mainly based on the chef's mood and creative shenanigans), but will always surprise with unique combinations such as coconut-mango or strawberry cheesecake. By the end of the tour it was time for a palette cleanser and had I not been able to take this tour I would not have discovered this gem.
After eating for three hours straight it would be easy to go home and take a little nap. But when you're in the Mile End it's best to stretch your stomach even more - the options are endless. Don't worry about eating too much, you will be walking post indulgence after all.
But I'll leave that decision up to you.
Big thank you to Tourisme Montréal to setting this tour up for me!
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