Time Out named it the world's 18th coolest neighbourhood for good reason.
Montreal's Villeray neighbourhood is currently having a moment. Time Out named it the 18th coolest neighbourhood in the world in 2021 and, according to locals, it's for damn good reason.
Bordered by Highway 40 in the north, avenue Casgrain in the west, boulevard Jean-Talon in the south and rue Garnier in the east, Villeray is packed full of shops, restaurants, cafés, bike paths, charming architecture, green spaces and community gardens. Parc Jarry and Jean-Talon Market are also mere blocks outside the neighbourhood's technical border lines.
Keen on exploring one of the coolest parts of the city, but not sure where to go? We asked two experts for help: Villeray residents Émilie Bouchard and Stéphanie Guéritaud, both of whom have called the neighbourhood home for at least 15 years.
Bouchard is an arts, culture and heritage coordinator who says, "You never get bored in Villeray" and Guéritaud is a stylist, journalist and decor blogger who says, "Villeray is a very lively neighbourhood" with a great sense of community.
Le pain dans les voiles
Address: 357, rue de Castelnau E., Montreal, QC
Why You Need To Go: Guéritaud calls this place "the one and only bakery." But you don't need to take her word for it. Its baguette won the title of second-best baguette in the world at France's prestigious Mondial Du Pain competition in 2011.
"A must for its variety but also for a coffee and croissant on its little terrasse!" said Bouchard.
Café Larue & Fils
Address: 244, rue de Castelnau E., Montreal, QC & 405, rue Jarry E., Montreal, QC
Why You Need To Go: Bouchard called Café Larue "the typical Villerois café" so if you want to get the true neighbourhood experience and live like a local, head to one of its two Villeray locations.
Address: 345, rue Villeray, Montreal, QC
Why You Need To Go: Guéritaud described Mesón as one of Villeray's "amazing places" to eat, especially if you want a Spanish vibe. Bouchard recommended checking out the brunch menu.
Le Petit Alep Bistro
Address: 191, rue Jean-Talon E., Montreal, QC
Why You Need To Go: Guéritaud said Le Petit Alep is a "classic" that's "great if you want to share inexpensive Lebanese dishes." Bouchard recommends the "exquisite mouhamara."
Crèmes, Café & Amour (Cream, Coffee & Love)
Address: 26, rue Gounod, Montreal, QC
Why You Need To Go: Guéritaud said this café is the neighbourhood's "newest little Instagram gem." It serves sandwiches, ice creams, gelatos, pastries and coffees, and — thanks to the colourful, floral decor — it makes every day feel like Valentine's Day.
Pro Tip: If you're there, you can also head across the street to the new Cantine Emilia, which Guéritaud described as a "really cute and relatively new place with affordable Portuguese specialties."
Address: 519, rue Faillon E., Montreal, QC
Why You Need To Go: This was one of Celine Dion's late husband's favourite restaurants, Guéritaud told us. And, according to reports, she's correct. René Angélil clearly had good taste when it came to spotting talent so we'll take his word when it comes to food, too.
Address: 7659, rue Saint-Denis, Montreal, QC
Why You Need To Go: From Miss Villeray to Brasserie EtOH, Guéritaud said Villeray is "a great to have a drink" but one of her favourite spots is Huis Clos, an organic wine bar and restaurant with a huge drink menu including fun cocktails.
Address: 426, rue Faillon E., Montreal, QC
Why You Need To Go: Bouchard suggests the rose and pepper latte at this cozy, boozy coffee bar.
Address: 432, rue de Castelnau E., Montreal, QC
Why You Need To Go: This coffee shop is known for its delicious Italian coffee, massive sandwiches, and seasonal terrasse. A Yellow Page article described the owner's vision for the decor as something that could "blend in seamlessly with any stunning Wes Anderson movie" — and the Wes Anderson vibe is exactly what Bouchard said she likes best about it.
Address: 661, rue Jarry E, Montreal, QC
Why You Need To Go: "There are several grocery stores/fruit stores in the neighbourhood that are adorable. The people are really welcoming and we keep in touch as time goes by. The Tsikinis fruit shop with its employees who have been there forever," Bouchard said.
According to Bouchard, the service alone makes this the perfect spot to pick up fruit on the way to a Parc Jarry picnic during the warmer months.
Address: 380, rue Jarry E., Montreal, QC
Why You Need To Go: Bouchard called Boulangerie Jarry "super accessible" with "delicious food." In particular, she said the tourtière de Millet is excellent.
Pro Tip: She also shouted out Fanfare's quiches and Le P'tit Atelier's turmeric baguette if you want to do a bakery crawl.
Librairie L'Écume des Jours
Address: 420, rue Villeray, Montreal, QC
Why You Need To Go: Bouchard recommends this friendly neighbourhood bookstore with a focus on local Quebecois literature.
Address: 347, rue de Castelnau E., Montreal, QC
Why You Need To Go: "A little hidden gem on de Castelnau is Boutique Randolph where you can buy the best board games…and even attend events where you can play them," said Guéritaud.
Address: 300, rue Villeray, Montreal, QC
Why You Need To Go: Bouchard said this is one of the numerous shops near Parc Jarry that "reflect the image" of the neighbourhood. Articho sells Quebec-made artisan gifts, accessories and more.
Address: 232, rue de Castelnau E., Montréal, QC
Why You Need To Go: This restaurant/grocery store is a go-to spot for prepared meals, ciders and beer, according to Bouchard.
Knuckles Cantine & Vins
Address: 241, rue Jarry E., Montreal, QC
Why You Need To Go: Bouchard said Knuckles, a new-ish casual Italian eatery on the rue Jarry strip, is really nice with large tables, making it COVID-19 friendly. Not to mention, the food will make you drool.
Address: 194, rue Jarry E., Montreal, QC
Why You Need To Go: Bouchard suggests picking up a sandwich at this simple and charming little lunch counter and sandwich shop.
Pascal le Boucher
Address: 8113, rue Saint-Denis, Montréal, QC*
Why You Need To Go: While Bouchard is vegetarian, she said "carnivores agree that Pascal le Boucher is a must." And while she doesn't go there for the meat, she does go to Pascal to pick up Clos Saragnat cider so you can really get it all there.
In Quebec, a vaccine passport is required to access many businesses and activities deemed non-essential, including restaurants and bars.
*This article has been updated.