As soon as July hits, every Montreal culture and food blog explodes with lists of patios (aka terrasses) that you SHOULD NOT miss. But let’s be honest, they’re just regurgitating the same trendy spots we knew about already or the places we found 5 years ago. Moreover, you might be able to get a pint of blonde or a mediocre glass of rosé, but then you’re sitting there…feeling tipsy, thinking to yourself “yeesh – I really wish I could have something other than nachos right now”.
Which is where I come to the rescue. I’ve sought out some spots that don’t only have that perfect outdoor space to enjoy our precious luminous warm weather, but you can eat something decent too! This list is by no means exhaustive. Just a bunch of places I’ve hit up in the last month and some I think you probably overlooked and shouldn’t. I’ve tried to keep the neighbourhoods diverse but mostly central. So cheers my friends. Drink, eat and take advantage of those stunning Montreal summers.
1) St.Ambroise Terrasse
Ok ok, I know – I’m not the first to divulge this idyllic spot. However, this year, the McAuslan brewery has upped the ante by upgrading and extending their outdoor seating just off the Lachine Canal. Not only can you sample their entire St.Ambroise beer options straight from their origin, but they’ve added an extended menu replete with pulled pork sandwiches, grilled burgers, sausages and yes, nachos (options to have them with hummus keep it real). On beautiful weekend afternoons you’ll find the terrasse packed with regular ‘ol St-Henri locals, bikers taking a break (you can’t miss ’em sporting their padded shorts, gloves and helmets), families who know there’s enough room to let your kids be themselves and have a cold pint, and others there to check out the occasional live music, films and outdoor events planned throughout the summer months.
McAuslan Brewery – Terrasse St.Ambroise
514-939-3060 ext. 0 (For questions or reservations)
2) Terrasse Place d’Armes
This recent discovery was a complete fluke! After an indulgent meal for a certain someone’s 30-something birthday at Moishes (taking advantage of the after 9 special of course), we were craving a little fresh air and something to settle our very stuffed tummies. A 15-minute walk and we found ourselves at the Place d’Armes hotel thinking we might hit up the Suite 701 bar. Instead, we were directed up the elevator to the top of the hotel where behold…two floors of a stunning terrasse with 360 degree views of the city. Two amazing cocktails later, the discovery of a full bar menu (we passed this time but vowed to go back to have a taste), a stunning breeze, a great crowd (not too young, just there to enjoy each other’s company), upbeat but subtle music, we left knowing this was truly a perfect Montreal outdoor spot.
3) L’amère à boire
When we think of St-Denis patios, we usually come up with the usual suspects, Le St.Sulpice with its sprawling multi-level pitcher-strewn patio, the typical Trois Brasseures chain or the excentric Bistro à Jo-Jo. When I hit up St-Denis, I inevitably find myself at L’amère à boire, a micro-brasserie with its own distinct flavours and a relatively extensive menu. Most of the nibbles are a bit off the beaten path. I’ve tried their rabbit burger, dumplings, curry cigars and a host of other distinctly fun options. I also happen to be a huge fan of stouts and they’ve got a couple really unique drafts to choose from. They have two small terrasses, one in the front and another gardeny nook in the back. If you can’t snag a seat outside, they keep their floor-to-ceiling windows completely open accentuating the huge open space as well as a second mezzanine floor and a third floor for private parties.
Brasserie Artisanale L’Amère à Boire
2049 Saint-Denis Street
Montreal, QC H2X 3K8
4) Benelux Verdun
I definitely could have included the original Benelux on Jeanne-Mance and Sherbrooke, but I specifically wanted to point your attention to the new Benelux, thefirst bar opened in Verdun in 138 years! In 1965, Verdun finally allowed eating establishments to serve alcohol, but until last year, you could not find a stand-alone spot for a pint in this notoriously dry borough. Thanks to the very persistent owners of this micro-brewery, Verduners can finally drink somewhere other than their front stoops. Their massive, stunningly designed patio extends around the side of the old bank where Benelux is housed. As early as March, I was sitting outside, enjoying a house-brewed pint of maple porter under a heatlamp seated on an elevated banquette on the side of the building. For your munchies, you can stick to snacking bites like marinated olives to a choice of grilled sandwiches or sausages (think chipotle turkey avocado or smoked meat) – done up with some wicked flavours, served with quality chips and mostly ranging in the $8-$9 area. Tuesday nights feature $2 tacos and Saturdays after 5pm they break out their smoker and offer a plate and a beer for $10.
Brasserie Benelux, rue Wellington
4026, rue Wellington
Verdun, QC H4G 1V3
5) The Main
Oh Harlie…the Main? Really? But yes! This Montreal institution, often overlooked by tourists blinded by Schwartz’s lines, has for the first time, put up a small patio on St.Laurent blvd. Now, I don’t want to start a Montreal smoked meat war, and I am not the pickiest by any means, but there is something about that spicy, fatty, tender meat that makes me tingle when I think of it. And possibly even more enticing is the late-night scene that evolves as weekend nights elapse. It is people-watching in all its bizarre glory. That being said, for less than $15, you can walk out stuffed to the brim with smoked meat, fries, a pickle, coleslaw and a drink. According to their site, they were recently featured on the Food Network’s You Gotta Eat Here.
The Main Deli Steak House
3864, Boul. Saint-Laurent
Montreal, QC H2W 1Y2
6) Brasseur de Montréal
In it’s 7th year in operation, this brewery has become a Montreal staple. Their labels are unmistakable, the choices enormous and if you hit up the brewery itself, you can be party to a host of new flavours the public has yet to try. More importantly, they have a truly unique spot where rue Guy meets the triangular corner of Wellington and Ottawa. Their food options have drastically improved over the last couple of years, and evenings will find the patio packed to the brim with diners and 5 à 7’ers alike. From comfort food like shepherd’s pie, to the obligatory juicy burger, salads, tartares, grilled fishes and meats and upgraded poutines (am intrigued, of course, by the veal liver, mushroom and bacon poutine), there’s pretty much something for everyone. The terrasse is enormous and the service is A+. They have also recently opened up a second resto-bar on the corner of Duluth and St.Denis in the old Continental spot. Talk about a boozey Montreal success story.
Brasseur de Montreal
Tél. : (514) 788-4505
7) Rufus Rockhead
Like many Montrealers, I love my patio-hopping as soon as I have a free Sunday afternoon. Or a Wednesday. Or Thursday… Anyway, about an 8-min walk from Brasseur de Montréal will find you on Notre-Dame in the newly-revived Griffintown/Little-Burgundy neighbourhood where restaurants are sprouting up like weeds (pretty ones though). Rufus Rockhead is the bar attached to and owned by the upscale Shinji restaurant next door, which yes, I have also tried (nb: while slightly unbearably expensive, their unique sashimi and Japanese-inspired dishes are truly exquisite and the interior design is mind-boggling). The same can be said for Rufus Rockhead, which has the same jagged but flowing seating design (check out the swings on the second level), 3 bars for those packed evenings, a nice selection of reasonably priced drinks and small sharing plates created by the Shinji chefs. Coined as a supper club, it seems more like a neighbourhood hangout to me – which is what it should be. The patio outside is slightly marred by the sceney, blaring music coming from next door neighbour Grinder (don’t get me started on the mediocre food and SUV limos pulling up on a Saturday night), but if you can tune it out, you can enjoy a well thought out patio flanked by fresh herbs. We ordered a slew of small dishes (think veggie patties, tatakis, dumplings and an evolving menu of original small bites), each better than the next and ample for a group of friends to soak up summer pints.
1726, rue Notre-Dame Ouest
Montreal, QC H3J 1M3
8) Fiddler’s Green
Upon returning from a two-week vacation in Ireland a couple years ago, my partner and I despairingly dreaded the return to watery, bitter, improperly poured Guinness. That is, until we discovered the Fiddler’s Green, a somehow overlooked spot surrounded by the perhaps more popular Irish pubs such as McKibbons, HUrley’s and Ye Olde Orchard. So I am taking this opportunity to expose the small, but delightful Fiddler’s Green, that pours in my Guinness-snob opinion, the best pint in the city. Wednesday nights bring together sometimes a dozen musicians for traditional Irish music sessions and if you’re looking for Irish ex-pats, well, you’ve found ’em. Their patio is on Bishop St. (about halfway up the street from René-Levesque) so needless to say, the action on weekend evenings is always entertaining. The extremely affordable pub menu has a few surprises which I have slowly and methodically been discovering. The calamari is outstanding – tender and just flash-fried, their cod tacos are also fantastic and great bang for your buck. The bacon cheeseburger is homemade on a significant bun and comes with their thin-cut herbed fries, and if you’re feeling gluttonous, go for the towering mac and cheese with bacon or the coquilles st.jacques with wild cod and jumbo shrimp. There are copious salads, fish dishes and other options for those with a slightly lighter appetite. For those of you looking for a quick, easy bite and a pint after work, they even have a 3-course special for $12.99. Slainte!
Fiddler’s Green, Irish Pub
1224, Bishop Street
Montréal, H3G 2E2
9) La Succursale, Brasserie Artisanale
Ok so I threw this in here without a ton of experience, but every time I venture north-east of the downtown core, I am taken aback by the thriving food, culture and bar scenes that have taken over some of our older neighbourhoods. On a recent bike ride, I went with my partner up to his old hood on Masson street in (Vieux)-Rosemont, to see how things were progressing. Over the last couple years, we’ve been up there a few times and have been continuously surprised by restaurants catering to a new young professional crowd that has migrated north of the plateau, hot spots such as M sur Masson and Madre. Recently, in search of a cold pint after a few hilly kilometers (hey – you’ve gotta stay motivated right?), we found ourselves back on Masson at La Succursale, yet another micro-brewery that is making beer exciting again. We each had a nice pint and sat at their large windows overlooking the patio and enjoyed a stunning open-interior and bustling afternoon street scene. While we didn’t try the menu this time, we were intrigued by the small bites that others seem to be enjoying that pair well with a nice cold pint – charcuterie, cheeses, hummus platters, lamb meatballs…nothing groundbreaking but much appreciated! So for those of you headed east, don’t forget that Montreal extends past Jean-Talon and east of St-Hubert…and it’s totally worth exploring.
3188 Rue Masson
Montreal, QC H1Y 1Y1