Stay Toasty Warm and Comfy in Chilly Montreal
From comfort food to cosy sweaters, here's everything you need to survive in one of the coldest big cities around
Montreal has one of the most terrifyingly bone-chilling climates of any major city for much of the year. Fortunately, the locals have cosying up an art form, especially from fall to early spring. From cookies to coats, these restaurants, cafés, bars and stores await to provide just the warming refuge you need on those frigid Montreal days and nights. (And while you're there, don't forget you can also hide in the underground city.)
Sweater store: Les Etoffes
Cushy knits, perfect beanies and boiled-wool jackets for him and her await at Les Étoffes, a distinctly tasteful hole-in-the-wall store in Mile End that carries brands including SAMUJI-Helsinki, Apiece Apart and SNS Herning. You’ll also find footwear and accessories of all sorts, including gorgeous bags. The mood here is Euro and subdued, and the focus is on goods that are impeccably made.
5253 Boulevard St-Laurent, 514-544-5500
Brunch spot: L’Gros Luxe 100% Végé
This is the vegetarian kid in the L’Gros Luxe family, a small chain of decadently delicious comfort-food restaurants. This St-André location on the Plateau is the absolute cosiest: dark-painted, dimly lit and filled with the comforting smells of tater-tot poutines and French toast. And let’s not forget the bloody caesar served with fried pickle wedge.
3897 Rue St-André, 514-447-2227
Coffee shop: Café Sfouf
In the heart of the Centre-Sud neighbourhood you’ll find the vast warmth of this café, where the quality of the coffee is only surpassed by the kindness of the staff. The sharing tables, mismatched chairs and low-hanging bulb lighting establish a convivial mood from the start, while the kiddie play area pushes it into almost-too-homey territory. Every coffee comes with a homemade petit four. How adorable is that?
1250 Rue Ontario Est, 514-507-8777
Pub: Dominion Square Tavern
Your best bet for a post-work or pre-movie hangout downtown, this is a restored 1920s pub whose impeccable period décor features rich woods, caramel leather seats, terrazzo flooring and little tables that invite close contact. Reserve a spot for the weekend roast to get the full British Sunday dinner experience (Yorkshire pudding included).
1243 Rue Metcalfe, 514-564-5056
An Old Montréal classic that shines in wintertime, Gibby’s rugged grey-stone walls (unchanged since the 19th century) and low ceilings inspire long feasts by the hearth crowned with their famous flambéed cherries jubilee. The spiked coffee menu – prepared tableside on a cool bar cart – is a must for the show alone.
298 Place d’Youville, 514-282-1837
Wine bar: La Buvette Chez Simone
The Plateau boasts one of the most comforting spots to share a bottle of wine or two: La Buvette Chez Simone, whose wooden interior brightened up with coloured accents is an extremely comfortable place to while away a couple of hours. Order a whole roasted chicken from the blackboard menu to share as you sip – it comes quartered on a wooden slab with sauce and roasted veg.
4869 Avenue du Parc, 514-750-6577
La Buvette Chez Simone / Courtesy Amielle Couâtre
Sandwich shop: Olive + Gourmando
Right at the epicentre of Old Montreal, Olive + Gourmando serves the most delectable soups, sandwiches and baked sweets ever (the cookies are incredible) in a packed space featuring high tables with stools and the heartwarming aroma of freshly ground coffee and melting chocolate. It’s always hustle-bustle here, making it prime people-watching territory.
350 Rue St-Paul Ouest, 514-350-1083
Olive + Gourmando
Brewpub: Dieu du Ciel
This is the spot to hole up for an evening of pint slinging, especially if you want to taste some of the city’s best craft brews. Its spot right on the corner of Laurier in Mile End is prime real estate, and the cherry wood furniture and red walls make you’re somewhat like you’re in a womb – a boozy womb.
29 Avenue Laurier, 514-490-9555
Tea salon: The Cardinal
“Velvety” is The Cardinal in a word. This second-floor tearoom in Mile End conjures memories (real or not) of British grandmothers dolling out cuppas after a brisk walk, with a side of homemade scones, Victoria sponge and finger sandwiches with the crusts cut off. A giant mongolfière chandelier crowns this stunning space with checked floor and glossy black wooden chairs.
5326 Boulevard St-Laurent, 514-903-2877
Cocktail bar: Big in Japan Bar
The long hallway that leads you in from the unmarked door on St-Laurent creates all the distance you need between you and the outside world, enveloping you in the chic, curtain-lined embrace of Big in Japan Bar’s amber hued space. The long bar is the friendliest of places to saddle up to, to decompress among the twinkly candles and light fixtures fashioned from empty Japanese whisky bottles.
4175 Boulevard St-Laurent, 438-380-5658
Coat shop: Kanuk
There’s no more Montreal than Kanuk, a 42-year-old FUBU brand of winter wear that fans argue outdoes even Canada Goose in terms of heat power. The man-made materials used in their construction are key in their resistance to Quebec’s sub-zero temperatures. Over the years the cuts have gotten progressively urban (look for the collab with Montreal designer Philippe Dubuc this season).
485 Rue Rachel Est, 514-284-4494