Those visiting Montreal in summer, or frankly, any time of year, will likely find themselves up exploring Mile End exploring one of the city’s most diverse neighbourhoods. And while some come for the history or art scenes, if your travel revolves around food, you’re certainly in luck. There are plenty of cafes and restaurants to be found, no doubt, but in Mile End, carbs are well-represented, particularly (but not exclusively) in the form of bakeries. From bagels to babka or beer, these eight stops make for the perfect Mile End carb crawl for visitors and locals alike — no pricy food tour guide required.
Number of stops: Eight
Time allotted: 1.5 to 2 hours (depending on breaks needed for digestive purposes, people watching, etc.)
Walking distance: approximately 1.5 kilometres (just under one mile)
Time of day recommended: Any time from about 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., due to opening hours
Circular, bread-like objects consumed: At least four
Calories consumed: unknown (read: a lot)
Stop 1: Boulangerie Cheskie
359 Bernard St W
Stop number one on this farinaceous crawl starts up at the long-standing Boulangerie Cheskie (or just “Cheskie’s” on Bernard near Parc. This all-Kosher Jewish bakery specializes in everything from rugelach to sprinkle cookies, all in a variety of flavours. But it’s Cheskie’s chocolate babka, the love child of a brownie and brioche roll, that cannot be missed. Thankfully, most treats are made in miniature sizes too, so crawlers can try a little bit of everything. Conveniently open until 11 p.m. most nights, but closed Saturdays.
Stop 2: St. Viateur Bagel
263 St-Viateur St W
Mile End is where the thinner, sweeter, and less-doughy Montreal bagel was born, so this carb crawl wouldn’t be complete without a bagel taste test between the city’s two competing bagelries. St. Viateur is a large block south of Cheskie — grab a half dozen warm sesame bagels (they’re the most popular flavour, meaning they are made the most frequently and are typically the freshest) and a tub of cream cheese, and mosey on over to bagelry #2, Fairmount. Don’t forget to try one en route while they are still piping hot — freeze the rest unless you’re planning to eat them within a day.
Stop 3: Fairmount Bagel
74 Fairmount Avenue W
Fairmount is the older of the two bagel shops, although a slightly smaller operation. Ignore frivolous options like the chocolate bagels, and pick up another half dozen sesame bagels for the taste test. Side-by-side, most won’t notice major differences, although some may argue that St. Viateur’s are a tad more doughy. Argue with your friends, choose the victor, but know that from that point on you can only eat team x’s bagels for the rest of eternity.
Stop 4: Drogheria Fine
68 Fairmount Avenue W
Located right beside Fairmount Bagel is Drogheria Fine, a take-out food counter serving one thing only: gnocchi. Smothered in a hefty amount of homemade tomato sauce and doused liberally with parmesan cheese, it’s a meal in and of itself. At this point in the crawl, sharing is recommended; anyone who can finish a portion to themselves is immediately crowned crawl winner. As an aside, crawlers will likely be tempted to indulge in an ice cream cone from Drogheria’s neighbour, Kem Coba. This is a perfectly acceptable addition as long as one opts for a cone over a cup, keeping with the carb theme of course.
Stop 5: Kamenitsa
122 Fairmount Avenue W
At this point in the crawl, a more formal, sit-down stop is definitely in order to rest those legs and aid in digestion. Greek bakery Kamenitsa has been specializing in baklava and other phyllo-based treats since 1967. It recently renovated its café on Fairmount: order a coffee, a square or two of baklava, and take a breather before carrying on. Kamenitsa also make gorgeous custom cakes for special occasions
Stop 6: La Tamalera
226 Fairmount Avenue W
While Mile End doesn’t have a notable Mexican population, La Tamalera is a worthy destination in the area, specializing in tamales and tacos. Try their chicken molé tacos laden with a complex chocolate chilli sauce that takes hours (and dozens of ingredients) to prepare. Both their al pastor and carnitas tacos fare well, as do vegetarian options like eggy, saucy chilaquiles. Tamalera also sells tortillas to take home, and they’re much better than the so-so corn or wheat blobs available the average Montreal grocery store.
Stop 7: Boulangerie Guillaume
5134 St-Laurent Boulevard
The final food stop on the Mile End carb crawl is bakery Guillaume. If bread no longer appeals at this point in the day, that’s perfectly OK: grab a baguette to go. Loaves and buns may be the stars here, but don’t underestimate Guillaume’s other offerings, like snack-friendly cheesy breads or orange-chocolate ficelles; Guillaume also makes a mean chocolate chunk cookie, which strikes a balance between crispy edges and a chewy centre, with sizeable pieces of semi-sweet chocolate.
Stop 8: Dépanneur AS
5191 St-Laurent Boulevard
After an afternoon of carbs, what better way to wash it all down than with an ice cold beer? Dep AS on St. Laurent, almost across from Boulangerie Guillaume, has an almost-startling selection of craft beer from the province of Quebec. With over 600 different beers to choose from, it is admittedly difficult to know where to start, but with most sold as singles, it’s easy to curate a sample pack. Pick up a few from the cooler and make your way straight to the nearest park to crack them open and relax (that would be Parc Lahaie, one block south). Be warned: to drink in public, you technically need to have a picnic on hand, so it’s best to break out those bagels again.
Don’t want all that bread, or just want to throw some coffee, sandwiches, or other snacks into the mix? Here are some other no-fuss, casual spots along the route.
- Phyllo Bar Melina: spanakopita and other savoury Greek treats. 5733 Parc Avenue.
- Tachido: Mexican tortas, loaded up with mole, avocado, and more. 5611 Parc Avenue.
- Café Olimpico: Mile End’s beloved, extremely popular Italian coffee shop. 124 St-Viateur Street W.
- Kem Coba: playful ice cream (try the salted butter) and twisted soft serves. 60 Fairmount Avenue W.
- Boucherie Lawrence: meaty sandwiches and more from the folks behind Lawrence and Larrys. 5237 St-Laurent Boulevard.
- Dieu du Ciel: exceedingly popular Quebec microbrewery. 29 Laurier Avenue W.