Spring Break amazingness? You can have it all in Montréal. With its 3 a.m. closing hours, drinking age of 18 and hugely depreciated dollar (the whole city is basically a 30% off sale), Montréal is a win-win-win Spring Break party proposition. Let the following be your guide to doing it up right.
There are those of us who would argue that the eating and pre-drinks portion of the evening is the most critical phase: not only are you laying a base for the remainder of the evening, you’re setting the tone. If you’re starting out on the Plateau Mont-Royal, imaginative hipster magnet and oyster/cocktail bar Le Majestique is all eye candy and killer cuisine. Fab fun food and drinks are also the raison d’être of L’Gros Luxe (Caesars topped with hamburgers, ’nuff said), and Big in Japan’s delectable small plate menu and vibrant vibe have also made it big in Montréal.
If downtown, head to Sainte-Catherine Street West for Imadake, another Japanese small plate pub with a fun bordering on raucous atmosphere (which may have something to do with their signature “sake bombs”). Dominion Square Tavern is a must if only for the beautiful 1920s setting, though the wicked pub grub and old-timey cocktails are a big added bonus. And a bit north of downtown on Sherbrooke Street lies laid-back artisanal brewpub Benelux, known for their European-style hotdogs and signature suds that slay.
Located near the corner of Sainte-Catherine Street and Saint-Laurent Boulevard, Accords Le Bistro offers a chill eating and drinking environment in the heart of the action (open until midnight). Right around the corner, directly across from storied drag/burlesque club Café Cléopatra (one of the last vestiges of the former red light district), is the coolly retooled Taverne Midway, which offers a tip of its hat to its past while celebrating the present with a connoisseur’s collection of alcohols and creative cocktails. Walk a little further south on Saint-Laurent to find (if you look carefully) trendy and, as you might expect, very relaxed basement tiki bar Le Mal Nécessaire, which serves some of the craziest Polynesian-inspired cocktails going with Chinese finger foods.
Starting on the Plateau, along a five-block stretch of Saint-Laurent Boulevard, and just off of it, are over 20 small and medium-sized dance clubs that party up seven nights a week. Techno, bass, dub, hip-hop, club hits and house – and all flavour of beats between and beyond – can be found in fave places like Tokyo, Rouge, Muzique, Le Belmont (which also has live acts, mostly hip-hop), Blizzarts and Blue Dog (intimate rooms right beside each other) and Pinq Taco (with its urban Mexican theme). The larger, completely unique Apt. 200 (designed to resemble an enormous apartment) pretty much guarantees good times as does the nearby Café Campus with its major club nights on Tuesdays, Thursdays and weekends.
Downtown is where you’ll find the big-room staples of the city’s dance scene with world-class clubs Stereo and Circus – both known for both quality of sound and international-calibre DJs – dominating the afterhours action. The striking New City Gas complex (situated in a vast, former industrial-era building in the city’s Griffintown district) offers a one-of-kind experience, while Club La Boom serves up house music hits in three high-energy rooms, including a Latin room, in the heart of downtown.
On Sainte-Catherine Street East, the legendary Foufounes Électriques offers dance nights that range from 1950s to alternative to electro to pop to punk several nights of the week and live music in between. Keep going a few blocks east and you’ll pass by understated new electro venue Newspeak with its unmistakeable underground vibe. A few blocks after that and you’ll arrive in the Gay Village, where your party options are virtually limitless. That being said though, foolproof party places Club Unity (multiple styles of music) and the Sky Complex (same) are absolutely must-do destinations for queer-friendly folks.
Ask any Montrealer where to get (what feels like) that life-and-death-necessary, post-party poutine transfusion, and chances are the first thing you’ll hear is La Banquise. Its location slightly off the beaten path, beside Parc Lafontaine on the Plateau, doesn’t stop the hungry from lining up by the dozens for more than 30 types of poutine served 24 hours a day. On Saint-Laurent Boulevard, The Main Deli Steak House (open until 5 a.m. every day) was once a late-night haunt of Leonard Cohen’s back in the day and is famous for its smoked meat and potato verenekes (with fried onions and sour cream… mmm). And speaking of famous delis, the aptly titled Dunn’s Famous Deli (open 24/7) on Sainte-Catherine Street downtown offers the experience of an authentic old-fashioned diner (with authentic Montréal smoked meat), right down to the old-school red leather booths and stools.
Back on Saint-Laurent, much-loved greasy spoon Montreal Pool Room, which hasn’t actually had a pool table in eons, is a favourite of late-night partyers and claims a reputation for having the best “steamies” (hotdogs in steamed buns) in town. It’s open until 4 a.m. And further up the street, decidedly healthier, perennially popular tiny corner diner Patati Patata (renowned for its veggie poutine) is open until 2 a.m.
Getting dim sum in Chinatown is a tried and true, post-night-out Montréal tradition, and not just because of the convenient concentration of dim sum places (Maison Kam Fung is a favourite) located right between downtown and Old Montréal. There’s just something about those delectable little fried/steamed dumplings that takes the pain away.
On the Plateau, in the shadow of Mount Royal on resto- and boutique-lined Duluth Street, is the quintessentially Montréal Café Santropol, renowned for its healthy, over-sized sandwiches and warm, quirky décor. A few short blocks away are both Beautys Luncheonette on Mont-Royal Avenue (an authentic diner / time capsule opened in 1942) and the decidedly more modern Bagel Etc. (celebrated for, among other things, their sensational huevos rancheros with bacon). Both spots are known for their generous portions, and both are monstrously popular with young Montrealers.
Lawrence on Saint-Laurent is a consistent hit with a crowd-pleasing brunch that somehow manages culinary excellence, affordability and unpretentiousness all at the same time. Fabergé Restaurant on Fairmount Avenue isn’t lacking for attraction or imagination either (look no further than their fried chicken waffle and their breakfast poutine). And while on Fairmount, don’t miss out on a chance to grab a bag of Montréal’s world-renowned, trademark, hangover-chasing bagels at Fairmount Bagel (open 24 hours). Lastly, if it’s a little hair of the dog you’re looking for, head to SuWu on Saint-Laurent for their bottomless mimosa brunch on weekends. Following that, you’ll be primed to head back to the beginning of this list.
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