Montréal Bakeries & Cafés

After two incredible decades in Montréal, I am saying goodbye to this beautiful, diverse and delicious city. Upon your request, I’m listing my favourite food places in a 4-part series; consider them yours to discover. See you in Halifax. xox

I fell in love and got married in Montréal. I graduated from culinary school in Little Italy and worked for three years at Toque!, the top kitchen in the country. I birthed three children and wrote two books here. This place has shaped me in many ways  – and even given me an accent, according to my mother.

In a new life chapter, however, my little family and I are following a dream and moving to Nova Scotia next month (more on that to come). After fielding requests for many years on my favourite eats around town, I am leaving behind my suggestions for places for you to explore.

From tiny pizza joints to elegant establishments – Montreal is a delicious city. I couldn’t fit every place on one list and so it will be a four-part series: Bakeries & Cafés, Casual Eats, Fine Dining and Markets & Shops. Ready? Let’s head out.

Montréal Bakeries & Cafés

For many years now, local cafés and toasty warm bakeries have been where I head to catch up with a friend, fuel up with coffee or simply just to get out of the house. Here are a few of my favourite spots…

I’m deeply attached to Le Fromentier, because we used to live on Rue Laurier when we were first married and we’d walk down to the bakery for our morning croissant. So romantic! It’s a long-running artisanal bakery in Montreal that used to supply the cities top restaurants with daily baking for their bread baskets. It’s every bit as good as it has always been.

Be warned that at Patisserie Rhubarb you will be faced with an impossible choice of what to order. In my opinion, they make the best lemon meringue tart in the city, so start there, and then work your way through some of the most beautiful desserts in town.

Pâtisserie Rhubarbe

Absolutely ages ago, during the cupcake craze, I sampled every cupcake in the city in search of the best. Assisted by a few of my baking friends, we hit every neighbourhood and shop fueled by a perpetual sugar high. The obvious winner came from the tiny Cocoa Locale on Park, where baker Reema stirs them up by hand every morning. I can never decide which flavour is my favourite, so get there early while supplies last and try one of each: vanilla, lemon and chocolate chai.

You can find the best baklava in the city at Patisserie Mahrouse. A pound of honey-sweetened Middle Eastern desserts from this bakery makes a fantastic hostess gift.

Le Fromentier

For a few years now, Café Boulangerie Merci La Vie has been our secret ‘country’ spot for a morning coffee and brioche on a cold winter day. Afterwards we bundle up and head for a nearby sledding hill with the kids. The coffee is fantastic, as is the entire brunch menu.

Mont St- Hilaire has a special place in our hearts, as we were married there. Now we love to return as a family and walk up to the top to enjoy a picnic with a view. Lately our picnics have been curated from Boulangerie Le Pain dans les Voiles, a lovely chain of Montreal bakeries. One branch is conveniently located in Mont St-Hilaire. Get the seafood ‘guédille‘ if it’s on the menu or any of their pizza garnies.

Le Fromentier

Occasionally I’ll get a doughnut craving that only the Polish bakery Patisserie Wawel can satisfy. I order a half dozen ponchki, two of each flavour – pastry cream, apricots and plum/prune – and share them with the kids.

As far as the best doughnuts in the city, however, I would award that honour to the deserving Léché Desserts with their killer flavours, local ingredients, and perfectly crafted doughnuts. Their passionfruit doughnut is second to none, though I wouldn’t turn down any treat from this popular spot.

Trou de Beigne is also well worth a visit, if you are on the opposite side of the city as Léché. They deliver a very modern doughnut that satisfies both the palate and the Instagrammers.

Cafe Myriade has been our coffee spot for years now, usually grabbed on the go in a desperate attempt to keep up with our kids and our hectic schedule. If you do want to sit a spell, I recommend their space on St Denis.

Tommy Café in the Old Port is such a fun spot to catch up with friends (ideally over a cronut or two). We always stop by after skating on the rink in Vieux Montreal. I guess that’s a bit of a Christmas tradition we’ve made over the years.

If you can find parking in Westmount, definitely head to the French-style bistro Café Bazin for a bite. It’s a gorgeous little space that delivers ambiance and incredibly delicious confections.

Pâtisserie Rhubarbe

It was a happy day when Mamie Clafoutis arrived in Laval at Marché 440 as there’s shortage of good bakeries north of the city of Montreal. I can recommend pretty much everything they sell, but a few favorites would be la fougasse aux deux olives and the spelt loaf.

Also at Marché 440 in Laval is the absolutely stellar Olivier Potier Pâtisserie. I’d have to do a bit more taste-testing to be 100% sure (aw shucks) but I am going to go out on a limb and say that M. Potier is the best high-end French pastry chef in Montreal at the moment. Oh my word, everything is just incredible. Great coffee, too.

Le Fromentier

Of course I have to mention Montreal-style bagels. I am a Fairmount Bagel fan, through and through, although I’ll take St Viateur too. You’ll have to conduct your own side-by-side taste test.

If you’re on The Main, definitely stop by Boulangerie Guillaume – I’ve never been disappointed with their products.

That’s it for my personal list of Montréal bakeries and cafés. Please don’t send hate mail or @ me with all the places I missed!  This is intended to be a small curated list of spots that I frequent – not a comprehensive list of Montreal’s best. 🙂

ALL images by Tim Chin of Tim Chin Photography. 

Have fun caffeinating and carb-loading in Montréal!

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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Comments

  1. Hi Aimee-

    I have followed your blog for some time now and knew that you were based in Canada, but did not realize you were in Montreal. I’ve loved your blog but can relate to it even more now…my daughter is studying as an international student at McGill! This is her third and final year and we have enjoyed getting to know the city. She has lived on Rue University, in the Ghetto on Ave Coloniale and now in Westmount. We feel like we have eaten our way through the city, but apparently not! Can’t wait to try out some of your recommendations on our next trip. Best wishes to you and your family as you embark on a new adventure in Nova Scotia!

  2. Looking forward to welcoming you to the East Coast!! I love living just outside Halifax. The colours are glorious right now. I hope everything goes smoothly with the big move!

  3. Lisa Noble says:

    Aimée: So glad the adventure continues. I just pinned this column to my places to eat board! Looking forward to East Coast recommendations as you find them!

  4. Thank you! I live very far away from Montreal but you have inspired me to not only put Montreal on my bucket list but also continue to explore the wonderful little places to eat in Winnipeg! I really enjoy your blog and look forward to your story in Halifax. In fact, tonight we are cooking one of your recipes..the incredibly simple one where you can roast almost any seasonal vegetable with chicken or sausage on a stainless baking sheet! My whole family loves it! Easy, fresh, tasty, healthy, uses up produce in the fridge! I have also started washing all my produce before putting it in the fridge so that it’s ready to be consumed. Thanks for the ideas!

  5. Hi Aimee,
    I happened to find your blog many years and also shared it with my daughter. We both were very interested in your recipes so much so that when you came to Atwater library we met with you. I bought my daughter Brown eggs and jam jars , signed to both of us and we have enjoyed many of your recipes. Blessings to you and your family in this chapter in Nova Scotia

  6. Hello Aimee, thanks for remembering us amid the hectic moving schedule. Congrats on finally able to sell your homestead and to Nova Scotia, living close to your relatives. I hope you will keep blogging.

    Thanks for the wonderful bakery list in this post. I was in Montreal but never found any of these gems. They must be truly local knowledge. The bakeries make me drool. Now, I need to take a trip there from the US.

    P.S. I am super health conscious for food — eat to live – is my motto. I combine my deep cultural food/herb knowledge in my cooking. Sometimes I dare dream to work with you on this blog., haha.

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