Neighbourhood Watch: Around Montreal's Jarry Park
Don't just pass through the area for the Rogers Cup or another Jarry Park event: Stick around and explore
Tennis fans flood Montreal’s Jarry Park every summer towards the end of July for the Rogers Cup, but so often people zip in and out of the area without getting the lay of the land. That’s a shame: It just so happens that Jarry Park, located in the northern part of town, is at the meeting point of three of the city’s hottest neighbourhoods right now: Little Italy, Park Extension and Mile Ex (which Vogue magazine called “the most interesting area in town”). It’s an unusual trifecta in a way: Little Italy mixes old country shops and restaurants with a new brand of resident that’s keen of cool coffee shops and microbreweries. Mile Ex is a mix of tiny two-storey houses and striking architectural projects, with a mostly modernist flavour – it’s where grown-up hipsters come to build their dream house. And Parc Ex is the city’s most multicultural neighbourhood, with shops, restaurants and businesses representing Greek, Southeast Asian, African, Caribbean and Eastern European cultures. There’s barely a chain store in sight.
So whether you want to eat, drink or be merry, here are Billy’s picks of where to go after the match – or whatever else you may be up to while in Montreal.
Jean Talon Market
This Little Italy landmark is just a couple of blocks from the southeast corner of Jarry Park, yet it’s a universe unto itself. One of the city’s oldest public markets, it’s a bustling repository of fresh farmed fruit, veggies and plants, with buskers setting the mood on weekends, weekly cooking classes and restaurants and food stalls all around the perimeter for limitless nibbling as you shop. People travel from far and wide for to seek out the meat-on-a-stick stall in the southwestern quarter.
Corner of Jean-Talon and Henri-Julien
Pile ou Glace
This gelateria on St-Laurent near the corner of Jean-Talon serves up a changeable selection of special flavours, all homemade on the spot. The spumoni is delish, as is the pistachio. Take a seat on the sidewalk terrace to people-watch on one of the Main’s most interesting stretches while you listen to amateurs play the public piano nearby.
7084 Boulevard St-Laurent , 514-273-3999
The stylish chairs at this peach-leather-and-Carrara-marble brasserie along Jean-Talon are bound to be a relief for anyone recovering from stadium seating. Grab one of the tables or saddle up to the long bar and order from the ever-changing list of home brews, always creative and tasty. The tasting flight is a terrific deal: four three-ounce glasses of your choice for $10.
95 Rue Jean-Talon Ouest, 514-303-3039
Bar Le Ritz P.D.B.
In the mood for some live music? You’re in luck: One of the city’s top venues for indie acts is a 10-minute walk from the park. It’s open every night for inexpensive drinks and a casual good time (try the happy hour specials). More nights than not you’ll be able to catch a band or two on the roomy stage in the back. Cover fees are always reasonable.
179 Rue Jean-Talon Ouest
For a feast following a day of tennis or playing the flâneur, find this fine dining gem amid the residential streets of Mile Ex. Its blond wood tables are a wonderful place to hole away and enjoy a “cocktail sauvage” (wild cocktail) or two as you mull over what to order for dinner. The menu is meat-heavy and focuses on local produce and protein, some of it foraged (think venison steak, beech mushrooms and honey from the restaurant’s own bees).
271 Rue St-Zotique Ouest, 514-270-8000
Montrealers celebrate the reopening of this favourite summer-only Mile Ex hangout every year. Its vast space opens up onto the street with a roll-up door that makes it feel somewhat like you’re drinking in someone’s garage, only more chic and filled with hipsters. The cocktails are delicious: The bourbon lemonade is addictive, but the “harisake” cocktail is unique in its fresh ginger and sake-inflected splendour.
6731 Avenue de l’Esplanade
Dépanneur Le Pick-Up
It might take you a couple of tries before you find this spot amid the maze-like residential neighborhood, but it’s worth the adventure. This corner store-cum-lunch counter serves a few things that draw fans citywide, like the fried halloumi sandwich served with tangy purple coleslaw or the veggie pulled pork sandwich, made with fried tofu and smothered in barbecue sauce. Any good dépanneur offers goodies to take home with you, and Le Pick-Up obliges with local honey, gluten-free beer and baked treats.
7032 Rue Waverly, 514-271-8011
Dépanneur Le Pick-Up
India Beau Village
Park Extension is home to arguably the city’s best crop of South Asian restaurants, and among all the offerings, this is the one to try first. A mere two blocks from the northeasternmost corner of Jarry Park, it’s a large dining room that never requires reservations. The chicken korma, chana samosa, lamb with spinach and tandoori shrimp are all specialties.
640 Rue Jarry, 514-272-5847
Hidden amid the residential streets of Park Extension you’ll find one of Montreal’s most famous and unassuming steakhouses. Expect lineups out the door on weekend nights, but during the week or at weird times you’ll find a spot fast at one of the long shared tables. The $25 ribeye is still the deal of the century, and the fried calamari is best doused in Marven’s sauce — a tangy house mix whose secrets many have spent hours trying to decipher.
880 Avenue Ball, 514-277-3625