Are you heading to the Biodome, the Botanical Gardens or the Olympic Stadium? While you’re in the area, take some time to explore the surrounding neighbourhood of Hochelaga-Maisonneuve! Guidebooks don’t often mention Hochelaga because it didn’t use to have a very good reputation. These days, however, this formerly rundown area of Montreal is experiencing a revival of sorts due to an influx of new, younger residents and a major increase in business development and investment in the infrastructure.
As someone who grew up in that neighbourhood, I can tell you I never had much interest in going back there. Well, imagine my surprise when I discovered that there has been an explosion of new restaurants, shops and boutiques. Once a rather shabby working class area, it’s now thriving with new businesses. I went to check it out last week and was delightfully surprised to see how much things had changed for the better.
Hochelaga has become one the best-kept secrets in Montreal. Here is my guided culinary tour of my old ‘hood that is definitely moving on up.
You can literally feel a breath of fresh air as investment is thriving and new condos and businesses are popping up all over the place. There are still lots of pizza and poutine joints around, but the area is changing quickly. There is a new wave of younger residents in the 25-46 demographic that are arriving in droves, looking for affordable housing. In addition to encouraging business development, the government has also invested millions of dollars in public buildings and infrastructure. It’s wonderful to see this neighbourhood come to life and rise out of the ashes. Many of the places on my tour haven’t been open more than two years and are mostly on Ontario St.
Here’s my culinary tour of Hochelaga.
Patate & Ciboulette
For serious potato lovers, the main dish on the menu is —you guessed it — baked potatoes. Their baked potatoes are stuffed with all different kinds of toppings and fillings. For example, for less than $7 you can try a potato stuffed with turkey and coconut milk, chili con carne, or their best-seller, the chicken salad stuffed potato.
Patate & ciboulette
3766 Ontario E. Montreal, QC, H1W 1S2, 514 658-8803
Mon. Tues. Wed: 11:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Thursday and Friday: 11:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Saturday: 11:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
This French-style bistro with a Parisian allure is located right at the new Place Valois. They offer traditional French fare such as cassoulet, French onion soup, quiche lorraine and Niçoise salade. I particularly enjoyed the goat cheese in flaky pastry with thyme and honey.
Insider tip: They open early at 8 a.m., so why not start off your tour with breakfast here before exploring the rest of the neighbourhood. If you’re in town in the summer, keep in mind they have a magnificent terrasse as well.
25 Place Simon Valois, Montreal, QC, H1W 0A6, 514 528-0202
Open from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. everyday
Boulangerie Arhoma This is one of my favourite new finds of the year — this bakery has amazing pastries and cakes to die for! I’ve already mentioned their incredible chocolate-pistachio croissant, but I have to add some other yummy items to the list: cannelés (a special French treat you don’t find at your average bakery in Montreal), muffins, danishes, Quebec cheeses and bread made with organic flour. It’s also a nice place to stop for breakfast when you’re in the Hochelaga area.
Insider tip: If you’re feeling adventurous, try their smoked venison sandwich served on cocoa bread!
15 Place Simon-Valois, Montreal, QC, H1W 0A6, 514 526-4662
Mon. Tues. Wed: 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Thursday and Friday: 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Saturday: 7:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Sunday: 7:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Le marché Maisonneuve is one of the four main public markets in Montreal. Smaller than the Jean Talon Market, this covered market really feels like a village in the sense that everyone seems to know everyone else. You can find a nice selection of fresh fruit, cheese, and a butcher shop.
Boutique aux Champêtrerie This is a great place to pick up gifts. They have fine food, gourmet treats, plus a wide selection of Quebec products and locally produced alcoholic beverages.
Première Moisson This chain of bakeries is found all over the island of Montreal. When you’re in a rush and you need to pick up deli meats, dessert, or some of their amazing bread, this is always a fast, reliable option. They have yummy pastries and delicious homemade sandwiches and salads you can take out or eat right there on the premises.
Insider tip: Don’t miss the sculpture right in front of the Marché Maisonneuve called Les petits baigneurs, made in 1916 by one of Quebec’s most famous sculptors, Alfred Laliberté.
4445 Ontario E. Montreal, QC, H1V 3G3
Mon. Tues. Wed: 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Thursday and Friday: 7 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Saturday: 7 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Sunday: 7 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
This health food store and herbalist is located in an old video shop. The friendly owner and staff always have a big smile on their faces. In addition to organic produce, they have probably the best sandwich deals in town.
Insider tip: Try their vegetarian springrolls. Served with their house sauce, they are absolutely succulent.
3870 Ontario E. Montreal, QC, H1W 1S6, 514 223-2231
Mon. to Wed: 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Thurs. to Fri: 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Sat. and Sun: 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
(Les Cabotins Kitchen)
I could go on and on about my visit to Hochelaga. I have to say, I really enjoyed rediscovering my old ‘hood and will surely return to check out other restos like Vert lime, Bistro In Vivo, Sata Sushi, Baguette et Bagatelle, but especially Les Cabotins, which really peaked my interest. This restaurant is located in an old haberdashery and probably has the wackiest décor in the city — they even use white socks as table napkins for the clients!
If you have visited Hochelaga or if you live in the area, send us your fave shops or restos!