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Hood Guide

Mile End is Montréal’s Williamsburg, complete with good restaurants, tons of bands, and Hasidic Jews that will cross the street rather than walk next to you.

by Kraft Dinner, Christine Murray, and Paul Spence
Mar 22 2001, 5:15pm

A lot more people say they live in the Plateau than actually do. This mammoth pseudo-neighborhood is pretty much anything northeast of downtown, from St. Laurent to Papineau, Sherbrooke to Laurier; anything else is “Plateau adjacent.” While the St. Laurent portion is mostly Portuguese run (meaning: great roasted chicken), it’s also Le Neighborhood de la Separatisme. Don’t be surprised to see fleur-de-Lis flags outside of houses and sexy Francophone girls riding bikes. If you want to meet one, learn to say, “Vive le Québec libre.” Don’t say, “Voulez vous couchez avec moi” or “Hi, I’m from Toronto.” Stroll down Mont Royal for vintage clothes shopping or up St. Denis (St. Laurent’s hot French sister) for better shopping options and, of course, the bistro L’Express (try the Canard au Sel Gris)

Mile End is Montréal’s Williamsburg, complete with good restaurants, tons of bands, and Hasidic Jews that will cross the street rather than walk next to you. It’s a crazy mishmash of Polish, Jewish, Spanish, African, Caribbean, and Greek that’s reflected in the unreasonably good restaurants that can be found there. You can’t swing a bat without hitting an indie-rock guy with thick-rimmed glasses, so if you want to blend in, try wasting a huge amount of time drinking coffee at a place like the Social Club or eating pierogies at the Polish Euro Deli Batory. 

St. Henri is exploding these days because it’s so close to downtown and the Lachine Canal. All the factories that were built in the industrial boom in the mid-1800s either have been converted into luxury condos with private docking on the canal or are depressingly empty, which of course is where all the fun happens. The best thing about St. Henri is watching condo-dwelling yuppies trying to awkwardly coexist with down-and-out boozehounds. One Jamaican roti from Bon Appetit de Caraibes will literally feed you for two days while a round of drinks for five at Black Jacks comes to under $12. It’s open past 5:00AM using their “restaurant” license as a cover.

The neighborhood of Hochelaga/ Maisonneuve is many things to many people. For some it’s a dead-end shithole they desperately need to get away from. For others it’s a comfortable stretch of over 30 blocks east of downtown where they can pretty much do whatever the fuck they want and nobody will say anything about it. It used to be one of the richest neighborhoods in the city and is now one of the poorest in the country. If you’re into decaying architecture check out the turn-of-the-century markets, old stone public baths, and the like. Or if you’re more the sexy-topless-breakfasts/getting-cigarettes-delivered-to your-door-at-two-in-the-morning type, there’s that too. For fun there’s Quilles Darling (bowling) and Lion D’Or (live shows), which really couldn’t be further apart from each other on social scale. One caters to out-of-work poor people with lame hips, the other to lame hipsters with poor taste. 30 bucks at Quilles Darling is a fuckin’-A-rights night on the town, whereas at Lion D’or it’s the cover.

AKA the Point. Located along the canal, this would be a great spot for a nice evening stroll if the threat of anal rape wasn’t so in-your-face. It’s slowly being cleaned up, but people who are hoping it “keeps it real” are just trying to sound cool and don’t actually live there. The main church here has a decent weekend bazaar where you can sometimes find weird shit. Actually this place is a dump; don’t go here.

It’s one of Montréal’s smallest neighborhoods and is packed with Greeks, Haitians, Pakistanis, Algerians, Salvadorians, and Vietnamese. But mostly this place is known as Little Bangladesh (except with better dental hygiene and without the acid throwing). For mouth-shattering Indian food try any restaurant on Jean Talon or Jarry. Mahli Sweets is one of the best.

Whenever anybody jokingly refers to this place as “Chinablock,” we have to roll our eyes. Yeah, it’s small—we get it! Still, this place is really fucking small and, of course, stinky. The area is marked off with two huge pagoda-style gates that some people believe were put up just so that Chinese business owners wouldn’t expand out of their ghetto, which kind of makes sense. Walk down De La Gauchetière and you’ll see what we mean. For the best roast duck in town try Restaurant Hong Kong on St. Laurent, and for dim sum the only place to go is Kam Fung (upstairs in a minimall) on St. Urbain. 

This is a burb west of downtown where Russians, blacks and white-trash wannabe gang-bangers cohabitate. Every hip-hop act in Montréal seems to big-up NDG like it’s some kind of Montréal equivalent to the Bronx or Compton, but we’ve been there and it’s just a suburb. It’s a place where you can easily buy ganja, and if you use the word “ganja” you probably belong here. Cosmos is the only hole-in-the-wall worth mentioning here, try the Mish Mash omelet: four eggs, bacon, sausage, ham, salami, tomato, onion, cheese, and toast. It will literally kill you.

We almost skipped Verdun but then we remembered that it’s built around a huge mental institution (the Douglas) that hosts a Celtic festival on its grounds every year. Even if Celtic music makes you feel like you’re getting skull-fucked by a fiddle, losing your shit with a crowd of mentally-ill people is a religious experience. They know how to p-izz-arty!

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There are a bunch of other areas we could mention like the West Island 18 (cultural wasteland where all the tete carrés, blokes and maudite anglais breed like rats), Little Italy 19 (great fresh fruit market), the Gay Village 20 (horrible latex club fashion, glory holes, assorted faggotry), St. Leonard 21 (secretly gay working-class ginos), Cote St. Jew 22 (also known as Cote St. Luc, where all the Jews are, duh) but there’s really nothing worth checking out there, so whatever.