Montreal’s Gay Village is the cultural and economic hub for the city’s LGBT community. Filled with stores, restaurants, clubs and coffee shops, this is where many gay and lesbian Montrealers live, work and play. We did a “Gay Village 101” a couple years ago, but there’s so much going on in the Village that we felt it needed an update!
These places have been around long enough to be considered Montreal institutions. They’re constantly filled with people because they’re familiar, always deliver and have become part of the community. These places are where regulars and village-folk frequent almost every night of the week.
Complex Sky: Calling this a mere club would be a gross understatement. Complex Sky is a pub, a restaurant, a cabaret, a famous terrace and yes, a club. Three levels of pure enjoyment for any night of the week! Their rooftop terrace is famous for the best place to enjoy a giant torso sized pitcher of sangria called “Le Giraffe” and take a dip in their rooftop pool all while enjoying incredible views of downtown and the Jacques Cartier Bridge.
Club Unity: Unity seems to have perfected the balance between music, dance, drinks and price. They bring they music, you bring the dancing and they don’t rip you off on cover or drinks. You can enter and check your coat for under $10, and dance until your feet go numb. Friday nights good for a younger crowd and Top 40 tunes, Saturday nights slightly older with a more house music vibe.
Parking: Parking is glittering and back in top form after a much needed facelift. Relocating the entire club underground, with chic white leather furniture and a wall filled with window splitting the House Electro room from the R&B room. Popular nights are Thursday and Sundays.
When one thinks of “fine-dining”, the Gay Village may not pop immediately into your mind. However recently, new restaurants and re-invigorated staples seem to be putting the area in a new culinary light!
Saloon: Saloon is a village staple. They recently revamped their menu and it’s never been better. It seems everyone has eaten at Saloon at least once, and most keep on coming back because it proves to be a safe bet for reasonably priced good food. The waiters are also always rather good looking, so that’s another reason to go.
Nuvu Bistro: Relative new kid on the block, Nuvu Bistro really raises the bar for fine dining in this area. It’s been open for just over a year now and it truly offers an experience! The black and white decor is so modish, you feel like you’re eating in a space ship! The pricing is a bit high for the amount of food you get, but the taste and presentation fills the gap. This place is probably about as trendy of dining experience you’ll find within the confines of the Gay Village so definitely worth a visit. The only thing I found annoying was the inability to have a conversation because of the loud music, and there also appeared to have some sort of dancing light show that was as if a child was playing with the dimmer switch. Watching my dining partner disappear into darkness and then emerge again all whilst straining to hear me did put a damper on all this place has to offer.
Chez Ma Grosse Truie Cherie: Chez Ma Grosse Truie Cherie has to be one of the most beautiful restaurants I’ve seen in awhile. The decor can only be explained as vintage industrial meets art deco meets french country? Long communal tables fill the space beautifully and the large terrace is about as enchanting as can be. The food, wine, cocktails and service is all top notch. I suggest trying their 5-a-7 happy hour for a nice bite to eat and a relaxing drink! I can’t stress enough of great this place is. Perfect for large groups such as birthdays!
Carte-Blanche: Winner of the 2008 Grand Prix du Tourisme-Quebecois award, 2010 Regional Chef Award from the SCCPQ and the Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor, Carte-Blanche is obviously an incredible restaurant. Chef Andre Loiseau has created a menu that offers you both comfort food, or something much more contemporary. Whatever your taste buds are in the mood for! Not exactly on the cheap side, but still very affordable for special occasions!
Milles-Grammes: Sandwiches, milk-shakes, and sangria oh my! The restaurant formally known as Kilo has now been renamed almost the same thing “Milles-Grammes”. This place is the best to pop in for a quick bite for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Cheap eats, good quality grub and a great place to people watch has kept Milles-Grammes (née: Kilo) in business for years.
Cabaret Mado: Cabaret Mado is Montreal’s premier drag cabaret. Mado is known around the world for her quick wit and dazzling costumes. Her variety show on Tuesday nights is extremely popular with students and locals due to the reduced cover!
THE LESBIAN PLAYGROUND
Drugstore: If Montreal could have a “Cheers”, where everybody knows your name. I like to think Drugstore would be it. A comfortable place where everyone is welcome. Beer and laughter flow freely whether it’s watching the sport game with tons of awesome lesbians or watching the amateur drag-show on Saturday nights.
Podium: Podium is a boutique that sells men’s clothing and accessories imported directly from Japan. It’s only been open two years, but has already amassed a dedicated clientele of all ages. Tim Nguyen (Podium’s owner) says “People come here to find something edgy and unique. The people that shop here want something that you can’t find in the more generic chain stores.”
Priape: Priape is an adults-only emporium that explores the saucy side of life. No cameras are allowed inside, so you’ll have to use your imagination. From adult oriented DVD’s, magazines, sexy underwear and massage oils – this store has a little something for everyone. The real fun begins when you descend the staircase into the basement. You’ll just have to see it to believe it.
Fetish Armada: A new addition to Saint-Catherine Street in the Gay Village is Fetish Armada. Leather, rubber, underwear, and toys are abundant here in an environment that provides an “un-awkward” place to shop. It’s well designed and the staff are friendly and informative!
Amherst Street is called “The Village’s other street”. It intersects Saint-Catherine about half away through the Gay Village. A leisurely stroll up this street you will find antique shops, a couple cute eateries, and lots of neat boutiques! Honourable mentions are: Farine & L’eau fraiche, and Chipotle & Jalapeño. Full street profile here.
Complexe Sky, 1474 Sainte-Catherine Street East, (514) 529-6969
Unity, 1171 Sainte-Catherine Street East, (514) 523-2777
Parking, 1296 Rue Amherst, (514) 282-1199
Saloon, 1333 Sainte-Catherine Street East, (514) 522-1333
Nuvu Bistro, 1336 Sainte-Catherine Street East, (514) 940-6888
Chez Ma Grosse Truie Cherie, 1801 rue Ontario, (514) 522-8784
Carte Blanche, 1159 Ontario Est, (514) 313-8019
Milles-Grammes, 1495 Saint-Catherine Street
Cabaret Mado, 1115 Sainte-Catherine Street East, (514) 525-7566
Drugstore, 1366 Sainte-Catherine Street East, (514) 524-1960
Priape, 1311 Sainte-Catherine Street East, (514) 521-8451
Fetish Armada, 1201 Saint-Catherine East , (514) 419-1089