You haven’t truly experienced summer in Montreal until you’ve spent a few leisurely afternoons drinking the day away on a sunny terrasse or in a city park, but sometimes — on those “40 degrees with humidex” days — an ice cold cocktail on a sun-drenched terrasse just won’t cut it. Enter the following spots: local cafés, bars and restos that offer a cool, dark refuge from the hazy dog days of summer. Oh, and most of them have air conditioning, too.Read More
14 Places to Cool Down on a Hot, Sweaty Montreal Summer Day
These bars, cafés and restaurants keep cool when the sun is hot.
Pile Ou Glace Gelateria (multiple locations)
Montreal is flush with great ice cream, but this Little Italy gelateria (which also serves cakes and savoury food) offers something most shops don’t: indoor seating. Grab a cone (in classic flavours like pistachio, chocolate and hazelnut) and enjoy it away from the gelato-melting threat of the sun (there’s also outdoor seating for you sun-worshippers). If you’re after something with a bit more of a kick, Pile ou Glace also does a mean affogato. There’s a second location up on Fleury.
Café Saint-Henri HQ
Get your coffee frappe-style at the headquarters of this ever-expanding Montreal chainlet, and enjoy it in sleek, modern (and cool) surroundings. The large industrial building near Jarry Park is cool and concretey, and also houses coffee classes and St-Henri’s lab. The coffee is always great, the pastries and brunch are simple and delicious and there’s plenty of space to work, but on especially balmy Montreal afternoons, you may find that the top-notch A/C is your favourite part.
Another cafe where the air con is always doing its job (and then some). Escape the heat and enjoy siphon coffee, pastries and Japanese-inspired dishes (the onigiri is especially delicious) in a converted warehouse space that’s magically bright, yet not aggressively sunny.
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Café Myriade (multiple locations)
This friendly, unpretentious café serves great coffee and tasty, dietary restriction-friendly pastries (sourced from local bakers). Myriade is ideal for the caffeine-craving and working lunch crowds all year round, but the Plateau outpost is especially worth a visit during the warmer months thanks to the stellar A/C. (Myriade’s other locations are great too, but not as amenable to laptop-squatting.)
Dieu du Ciel
There are few better ways to enjoy summer than with a cold, crisp pint of local beer and some bar snacks in hand, and this cozy Mile End pub serves some of the best craft brews in town. Skip the terrasse and opt for a table inside; Dieu du Ciel’s dark interior feels like something you’d find on a Belgian pub crawl and is perfect for escaping the sun over a few rounds. Note that it tends to get crowded during the after-work hours, but it’s also open from 11:30 a.m. each day.
Another leafy, hidden terrasse to help you hide from the sun while still taking advantage of eating in the great outdoors (during the few months when it’s possible to do so). This Afghan resto’s flavour-packed platters are best washed down with a nice chilled bottle of wine: Khyber Pass is a BYOB, so don’t forget the rosé. It’s only open from 5 p.m. daily, but still a great option to escape your unairconditioned hotbox apartment.
The cool, shady terrasse at this attractive Haitian-inspired eatery is best enjoyed with one of their summery rum-based cocktails in hand (the name, Agrikol, comes from the name for French Caribbean sugar cane rum, so you know the Village resto and its adjoining bar, Ti-Agrikol, takes their rum seriously). If it’s too hot outdoors, the inside is a funky, high-ceilinged space with lots of air flow.
Leafy Square Saint-Louis is the perfect place to lounge in the shade on sunny summer afternoons and enjoy a relaxed, fountain-side picnic; thanks to the park’s seasonal snack kiosk, you can have your picnic catered with ice cold drinks, cookies, ice cream and quick, simple savoury items.
Beloved Plateau coffee and sandwich shop Santropol is a favourite for its cozy atmosphere, community outreach and simple-yet-delicious (and vegan-friendly) sandwiches. Come summer, its appeal increases tenfold thanks to a cute, plant-filled and very well-shaded terrasse, while the dimly-lit interior stays cool even on scorching days.
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Le Mal Nécessaire
The decor in Chinatown tiki-bar Le Mal Nécessaire screams sticky summer night, but step into the dark basement bar (located beneath a Chinese restaurant) and you’ll find yourself enjoying a nice reprieve from the heat outside—ideally with a nice cold cocktail in hand (either served in typically tiki style from a pineapple, or one of the bar’s less ostentatious but equally tasty options).
Sometimes Montreal’s balmy summer weather calls for an afternoon a sunny terrasse, and other times it calls for a basement hideaway: for the latter category, there’s Clandestino, a cool underground (literally) mezcal and tequila bar. Clandestino doesn’t open until 7 p.m., but with Montreal’s summer nights sometimes staying above 25, there’s no time limit on the need for a chilled out, dark escape.
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Crew Collective & Cafe
The historic Royal Bank building in Old Montreal keeps its cool with aplomb, probably due to some very thick stone walls — head inside, and you’ll find Crew on the main level, serving all manner of coffee, pastries, lunches, and more. The prices are slightly geared towards the professional types in the area, but you’re also paying for a stunning setting.
With so many stellar dining options in Montreal, there’s usually little reason to resort to food court fare (save for the hordes of starved-for-time crowd of office workers, of course), but at the same time, few restos who can compete with sweet, sweet shopping centre A/C. Place Ville Marie’s Comptoir Général manages the best of both worlds, offering tasty (if slightly pricy) fast food options (including a taqueria and a salad counter) for those seeking refuge from the heat.
Hotels are always a good bet for solid A/C, and the swanky Fairmont Queen Elizabeth (which also houses a large artisan food hall full of high-end goodies) is perfect for a lazy meander on a sweltering hot day. While you’re there, stop by Nacarat, the Queen Elizabeth’s classy cocktail bar with a creative, flavour-forward menu (on which the drinks are categorized by flavour profile).