In the last few years, Montreal has seen a boom in artisanal boulangeries (bread bakeries) and pâtisseries (pastry shops). From specialized cupcake stores, designer donuts and dainty French pastries to more traditional buttery baked goods, croissants and crusty baguettes, the city has it all. Here’s a breakdown of all sweet things Montreal has to offer organized by neighbourhood, so that you may always find your way to the closest flaky, gooey or crispy delectable snack…
This is easily the neighbourhood with the highest concentration of boulangeries and pâtisseries in Montreal. Considered one of the hippest areas in the city, this predominantly francophone hood counts a lot of French ex-pats as residents. This may be why so many boulangeries have opted to set up shop here, often competing for the title of best croissant in town within a few blocks of each other. Among those are Boulangerie Mr. Pinchot, Boulangerie Les cop’ains d’abord (three locations) and Fou desserts, which are all within walking distance so you can go on a croissant crawl and judge for yourself. Another contender in the croissant debate is Pâtisserie Au Kouign Amann on avenue Mont-Royal est. The almond croissant there is great but people flock to this tiny spot specifically for a slice of their famous kouign amann, a layered butter and sugar cake from Brittany with addictive qualities.
Mamie Clafoutis on Saint-Denis is also another great spot for croissants, breads and baked pastries like the near perfect cannelés or the nutty pistachio and almond pavé with cherries.
If it’s macarons you’re looking for, no need to look further than Boutique Point G, the definite winner when it comes to this delicate confection that has been all the rage for the past few years. Classic flavours like chocolate and lemon share the beautiful store with seasonal sensations such as this Spring’s violet and honey and last Valentine’s Day cherry confit made with local cherries.
Crémy Pâtisserie is a well-known and well-loved sweet spot specializing in donuts, brownies and révelos (cake pops). Look for the new CRémy food truck this summer, which will be delivering their sweet confections all over the city.
Located near a stretch of Laurier Avenue east that is becoming more and more trendy, Pâtisserie Rhubarbe is a local favourite. The desserts here are elegant, dainty and although based on French classics, always created with a slight twist that makes them extra special. The tarte au citron is especially delicious, so are the éclairs that are adapted to each season. Just around the corner is Le fromentier, a great boulangerie where you can not only buy great bread but also cheeses and charcuteries to go for an easy picnic in nearby Parc Laurier.
The Little Italy neighbourhood of Montreal has its share of traditional Italian pastry shops like Alati Caserta where the ricotta-filled cannoli have become famous across the island. They are filled just as you order them to prevent them from going soggy and are just perfect to eat at the little park across the street with a strong Italian espresso from one of the many cafés around. These days, a new crop of pastry shops has slowly been asserting its presence in this neighbourhood, some with an Italian influence like La Cornetteria and its flaky cornetti (Italian-style croissants) or cronetti (their version of the 2013 cronut craze) and some with a more rustic and traditional feel, like the adorable Mlles Gâteaux, located in the heart of Villeray, just a few blocks north of Little Italy and serving excellent desserts like a decadent carrot cake with pineapple and carrot confit. If you’re a cookie fan, La Cardeline and its designer cookies on Beaubien street is the spot for you. The cookies are either butter based or use olive oil as a way of preserving the owner’s traditional Provence-style baking.
The area also has a lion share of critically acclaimed bakeries; including Le pain dans les voiles and their award-winning baguette and absolutely delicious croissants and pizzas. Joe la croûte, another excellent spot located within the Jean-Talon market will surely win you over with the Mythique, a crispy roll containing black olives, sheep’s milk’s cheese, garlic flower and sea salt. If you prefer sweet to savoury, the Troubadour (apricots, hazelnuts, sea salt) is also an excellent choice. A little further east, De froment et de sève offers many breads that you can buy to go or enjoy at the on-site bistro. Give the maple butter croissant a try or enjoy one of the many sandwiches prepared on their homemade bread. One of Boulangerie Les cop’ains d’abord’s three stores is located on rue Masson in Rosemont. This artisanal bakery has been known to make one of Montreal’s best croissants.
Outremont is well known for its many leafy parks, its mansions, and its many restaurants along Van Horne and Bernard streets. It’s also known for the excellent breads and baked goods found at Mamie Clafoutis, famous for its nut and blue cheese baguette or its Mamie Choc, a decadent mile-high chocolate cake. Just a few doors down, take a bite of Le Paltoquet’s buttery croissant, which have been declared the best in the city by some. If you are looking for something more traditional, Jewish Boulangerie Cheskies has been celebrating the neighbourhood’s cultural heritage with its excellent chocolate babka and rugelash. The newest addition to the area’s sweet spots is Gâteaulogie, a cute little shop on Van Horne Avenue serving cupcakes, cake pops, whoopie pies and macarons.
The Mile-End is the hottest neighbourhood in Montreal these days. It’s no wonder then that some of the city’s sweetest addresses are found in this hip area. Boulangerie Hof Kelsten and its owner, baker extraordinaire Jeffrey Finkelstein have had some of the best restaurant sin town on its client list. One bite of the rye and caraway seed bread will have you converted and a slice of the chocolate babka will have you hooked.
Boulangerie Guillaume just a few blocks up the street has become a staple for its excellent breads and flaky pastries. The array of breads can be dizzying but the cheddar and fig baguette or L’Écolier – a chocolate bread – are always a great choice. If it’s donuts you’re craving, the fresh, à-la-minute fried Russian-style donuts at Chez Boris will surely hit the spot.
When it comes to cakes, the Mile-End has three addresses to check out: Cocoa Locale and its exquisite and dainty artisanal creations with a touch of vintage; Cerise sur le gateau where you’ll find a few French-inspired pastries to satisfy any sweet tooth and finally, Dolce & Gâteaux, for all your gourmet cupcake needs.
You can easily walk from one end of Old Montreal to another while eating your way through its many fantastic pastry shops. On the far west side, Olive & Gourmando has been serving some of the city’s best baked goods for the past 10 years. You can’t really miss it, it’s the spot with the line up outside. The chocolate and banana brioche is a must as are the cheese croissants, brownies and cookies. If you’re gluten-intolerant, you’re in luck! Cookie Stéphanie up the street is the place for you to indulge without worrying.
Further down towards the Old Port you’ll find Maison Christian Faure, the best French-style pâtisserie in town. Pastry chef and Meilleur ouvrier de France [MOF] Christian Faure creates elegant classics and seasonal desserts at his pastry shop, café and pastry school all rolled into one. The praline Paris-Brest is the best one you’ll ever taste this side of the atlantic and the chocolate soufflé is exceptionally decadent (for in-store consumption only).
A couple of blocks down is the adorable cupcake store Les Glaceurs and even further is Bar à beurre where you will find an array of mini cakes, macarons and homemade breads. If you are on the lookout for something more exotic, Pâtisserie Harmonie in Chinatown offers several pre-packaged options like sugar-coated donuts or their version of pig-in-a-blanket.
Downtown is not necessarily the first Montreal neighbourhood that comes to mind if you’re trying to locate your next sweet fix but a couple of spots are unique to this area and make it worth the trek. One of these spots is Nocochi, a cute café and pastry shop located in the Concordia University ghetto that serves “handmade melt-in-the-mouth Persian and Middle Eastern sweets with nuts and a touch of traditional spice”. If you’re a cupcake fan, then you’re well served in the downtown core. One of Les Glaceurs’ four locations is in the heart of downtown where they serve some of the best cupcakes in Montreal. Another cupcake store is Dolce & Gâteaux, serving gourmet and elegant cupcakes.
Little Burgundy/ Saint-Henri/Verdun
The west part of Montreal has been seeing a renaissance of sorts for the past couple of years. This includes the revival of retro desserts like donuts at Léché Desserts, a designer shop with decadent flavours like peanut butter & jam, chocolate mousse or strawberry shortcake when Quebec strawberries are in season.
Rustique Pie Kitchen is another shop delving in the art of old-school desserts, in this case “a country pie stand in the city”. From blueberry to cherry to banana cream, the flavours change with the season. It is recommended to taste several of the mini-pies and to buy some for the road, you’re going to want one later.
If you find yourself in Verdun, Boulangerie Rustique Sweet Lee’s makes homey desserts like brownies and muffins but their specialty is the stuffed croissants, like the raspberry or lemon blueberry. They share a space with Café Saint-Henri so you can enjoy your pastry with a great cup of coffee.
Patrice Pâtissier located in Little Burgundy just below downtown is easily one of the best pâtisseries in Montreal. Pastry chef and owner Patrice Demers has a huge following and his fans swear by his financiers (brown butter cakes), his kouign amann (layered butter and sugar cake originally from Brittany) and his various verrines (layered desserts in jars). If you decide to sit and order dessert, go for Le Vert, a decadent and now famous dessert involving green apples, pistachios, olive coil, cilantro and a yogurt and white chocolate cream.
The Village/East End
De farine et d’eau fraîche is most certainly one of the cutest pastry boutique and cafés in the city. Owner and baker Marilu Gunji is the brilliant mastermind behind the adorable cookies, cakes and desserts – including the delicious chocolate ball filled with custard – which are all served on dainty vintage porcelain.
Further east around the Hochelaga Maisonneuve neighbourhood, you’ll find a bread and pastry baking institution, La Fabrique ArHoMa and its sister store – ArHoMa Boulangerie Fromagerie located even further east. The breads have been proclaimed the best in the city and the pasties, including tarts, mousses and cakes, are just as good. Further east in HoMa (Hochelaga Maisonneuve), Les Gourmandises de Marie-Antoinette offers French-style pastries, chocolates and macarons.
Travel north into Ahuntsic where you will find La Bête à pain, one of the best sweet spots in Montreal. All the breads here are exceptionally good, so are the pizzas with their daily toppings. The cannelés – crunchy on the outside and creamy on the inside – are truly exceptional.
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