September 14, 2012 ─ Technically, the Mile End is located within the Plateau, but don’t push the fact with the people who live here. An enclave of the best of all things Montréal and urban – cafés, eateries, bars, bookstores, local designers and our famous bagel – this hybrid district of cutting-edge software companies, old textile warehouses and classic red-brick duplexes and triplexes has a tender spot in the hearts of locals and people who come here to chill.
Like any neighbourhood with flavour, it’s the cultural layers that have made Mile End what it is today. Living side by side is an engaging mix of communities: Hassidic Jewish, Greek, Italian, anglophone and others who have given it its special brand of energy and kick. Expect kosher stores and bakeries and little boys with traditional side curls zipping by on scooters. Check out the sunglass-sporting clientele at the caffès, brimming beyond capacity when soccer or European football is being disputed (yeah, they’re checking you out too). Try the tilapia at an upscale eatery or sink your teeth into a flaky pastry as you watch the never-ending sidewalk scenery. Immerse yourself in the hipster style that permeates the area: vegetarian restaurants, gastropubs, art galleries and wine bars, all accentuated by a mish-mash of scruffy beards, skinny jeans, nerdie glasses and a homestyle chic.
While most of Mile End experience is simply enjoying the indie-bohemian atmosphere, there are a few “to-dos” while you’re there. Make your way up Saint-Laurent Boulevard “the Main” (above Laurier Avenue) to see contemporary art galleries, stop at Wilensky’s, the 1930s diner made famous by Mordechai Richler for their world famous baloney sandwich (served up the same way since its inception!), munch on a fresh-out-of-the-wood-fired-oven bagel from St-Viateur Bagels on rue Saint-Viateur, then compare with its friendly rival Fairmount Bagels, one street south. If you’re a fashion fiend, treasures abound here, from vintage and second-hand stores to high-end local designers. And don’t forget: this district is hopping with music (ask Arcade Fire), bars and overall great places, including outdoor terrasses, to sit and sip.
In the end, this is the very essence of Mile End: a place where you can relax, enjoy and muse.