Spend a day in Montreal’s Mile End neighbourhood and you’ll see artists, writers and musicians, video game designers, small-business entrepreneurs and young families with children who will grow up to be video game designers and entrepreneurs. You’ll see as many hipsters as you’ll see Hasidic families. You’ll see an impressive spectrum of Montrealers as well as incognito wanna-be Montrealers – on this day, why not claim your place among them…
The Mile End neighbourhood, just north of the Plateau neighbourhood, is bordered on the north end by Van Horne (the street just north of Bernard), on the west by Parc, on the east, well, let’s say a few blocks past Saint-Laurent, and on the south, that’s questionable territory too – some would say Laurier while others claim the block south of Saint-Joseph, home to music-venues Casa and Sala Rossa. But no one seems too up in arms about it; Mile End is cool like that.
So first things first: food. No, wait, real first things first: coffee. Coffee abounds in Mile End and everyone has a favourite caffeine supplier. I vacillate between Olimpico on Saint-Viateur and Caffè in Gamba on Parc at Fairmount. Navarino offers up delicious sandwiches, salads and Greek-style pastries to go along with your cup of joe, while Café Falco on de Gaspé has interesting Japanese lunch specials to pair with speciality syphon coffee, and Boulangerie Guillaume has some of the best bread and pastries around.
So, yes, Mile End does love its food. Each main drag (and sometimes a block or so off the main drag) seems to be packed with restaurants – in one block of St-Laurent Boulevard alone there’s Lawrence, Azuma Japanese restaurant (5263 St-Laurent), Sparrow (5322 St-Laurent), Burger de Ville (5282 St-Laurent), Magpie Pizzeria (just off St-Laurent, but very close!) and many more.
Mile End is famous for a few food-related entities, primarily bagels (St-Viateur Bagels and Fairmount Bagels – everyone has their preference), but also Wilensky’s Light Lunch. I would also include vegetarian restaurants La Panthère Verte, Cagibi and La Lumière du Mile End, as well as Mile End’s many brunch options, which we’ve already devoted a whole article to.
Hot local designers and cute second-hand shops dominate the shopping scene in Mile End. Find the goods from Jennifer Glasgow and other local designers at General 54, Atelier b, Body Bag, Samuel Mercure and jewelry designer Charlotte Hosten, not to mention designers’ studios in the industrial buildings east of Saint-Laurent and the brand names at Jeans Jeans Jeans. Annex, Local 23 and Citizen Vintage are among several second-hand clothing stores in the area. Get your vinyl fix at Phonopolis, which sells new and used records as well as tickets to shows – and Montreal has a lot of those.
People-watch, kick back and have a good time at known neighbourhood bars like welcomingly swanky Baldwin Barmacie, Dieu du Ciel brewery, Waverly, Royal Phoenix (Mile End’s “official” LGBT bar), Sparrow, Cagibi and a host of others, from local dives to swanky wine bars. The Rialto Theatre is often host to live music and theatre, and Casa del Popolo and La Sala Rossa have live music and DJs every night of the week.
If you’re looking for a different kind of relaxation, yoga is the name of the Mile End exercise game: try Naada, Montreal Sivananda Yoga Centre, Equilibrium. There’s even a bouldering rock climbing gym in Mile End now. Walk to the east end of Saint-Viateur and discover an oasis of trees and tall grass – soon to have park status due to the work of diligent residents. Like most Montreal neighbourhoods, Mile End is perhaps best experienced by walking along its tree-lined streets, on your way to an inspired night of revelry or a well-deserved rest after a fabulous day.