Nothing quite says Montreal like Le Plateau. From the colourful victorian town homes to the the vibrant street art to even the cool hipster style, this is the quintessential Montreal neighbourhood.
One of the major arteries running through this area is St. Laurent boulevard which hosts a number of nightlife spots and respected institutions like Shwartz Deli and Moishe's Steakhouse. It's also the street that unofficially divides Montreal into the Anglophone side to the west and the Francophone side to the east. In recent years, the Plateau has seen an influx of French ex-pats who are proud to call this neighbourhood home. When you think about it, it's really the perfect neighbourhood to practice your français.
It's also the perfect place to shop if you're looking for one-of-a-kind finds. You'll be hard pressed to see commercial chains like Starbucks or Timmy's around these parts. Here, independent boutiques, quirky cafés, and unique restos reign supreme.
If you're looking for more of an insider's guide to the Plateau, then check out these personal recommendations from our teachers and staff.
Calling all tea enthusiasts! This Japanese tea room comes highly recommended by Lina, our administrative coordinator originally from Saitama, Japan. Not only does Cha Do Raku sell imported tea from Japan, but it also hosts traditional tea ceremonies. This fall they have added a weekend brunch to their unique which you can check out here on their Facebook page.
2. LIBRAIRIE LE PORT DE TÊTE 262 Mont-Royal Ave E, Montreal, QC H2T 1P6
A true neighbourhood bookstore for all your French literature desires! Recommended by Laure, on of our longtime French teachers, you can find this little bookstore nestled on Mont-royal street just steps away from the metro. This place frequently hosts book launches and panel discussions in French so check out their website for future events!
3. BAR DARLING 4328 St Laurent Blvd, Montreal, QC H2W 1Z3
Chill café by day, happening bar by night-- it's where all the cool kids are hanging out these days (including Jimmy our photographer). Having recently opened in March of this year, Bar Darling is undoubtedly new to the scene, but with its unique décor and unpretentious vibe, this place has already proven to be the new darling amongst the Plateau nightlife crowd.
4. BLUE DOG BARBERSHOP 3958 St Laurent Blvd, Montreal, QC H2W 1Y3
Another multi-purpose venue, Blue Dog is an acclaimed barbershop by day and a retro hip-hop lounge by night where you can break it down to your favourite hip-hop classics, grab a grilled cheese sandwich (Thursdays), and feel nostalgic while you play Duck Hunt. Right next door, you'll find a funky hair salon called Danny's Coiffure, which is frequented by several E-QIP staff members. Fun Fact: The woman who owns Danny's salon is actually married to Danny, the guy who runs the Blue Dog Barbershop --a real Plateau romance!
5. SAINT SUSHI 424 Avenue Duluth E, Montréal, QC H2L 1A3
Ahhh, Saint Sushi. This place is hands down a real gem and comes highly recommended by Precilla, our graphic designer. What's more is that the staff here are super down to earth and welcoming. The inside is not too shabby either. The traditional art is juxtaposed with the modern hip-hop beats and menu item names like "The Tupac Maki" and "The Madonna Maki." When there, order the lobster "Christmas Tree" and the tasting menu. Amazing! If you don't believe us, their Google reviews speak for themselves.
6. MURAL FEST
One of the more defining features of the Plateau is the impressive concentration of murals adoring St. Laurent and its neighbouring streets. Where some cities aim to cover street art, Montreal actually embraces it. In fact, it celebrates it. For the past five years now, Montreal has hosted the Mural Festival which gives local and international street artists the opportunity for artistic expression. We're just wondering when Banksy will finally leave his mark here.
So the next time you happen to be in the neighbourhood or just wondering which café or tea shop to try next, go ahead and explore one of our tried and true recommendations. We promise, you won't be disappointed.
Photos by: Jimmy Santos