Montreal's Best Bars: Plan Your Next Pub Crawl

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Choice Montreal Bars, Pubs, and Bistros by Neighborhood

Montreal's best bars include downtown bistros and brasseries like Taverne Square Dominion
Photo courtesy of Taverne Square Dominion

Montreal's best bars are all over the place. Just name your pleasure, be it live music dives, the city's Irish favorites, top brewpubs, choice sports joints, or pubs rife with sake bombs.

But for a proper pub crawl, you need to know your way around a few Montreal neighborhoods. Keep reading to discover Montreal's best bars, pubs, and bistros by general location.

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Montreal's best bars include downtown's Bar George.

Photo courtesy of Le Mount Stephen / Cindy La

For years, Montreal's downtown core left cocktail hunters wanting. Apart from Irish pubs, Crescent Street, and a handful of dives, the downtown "scene" was meh at best. But the area cleaned itself up nicely over the last decade.

sur Mackay is an elegant and low-key cocktail bar popular with locals. Over 40 different kinds of whisky too.

Private gentlemen's club turned upscale hotel Le Saint Stephen opened its repurposed doors last spring and with it came Bar George, a modern British bar with distinctively English flavors. Pimm's, gin, and whisky top the cocktail ingredients list.

Contrast and compare Britishness with nearby ​Taverne Dominion Square. Try their Ploughman's platters and sip on a gin and homemade tonic.

Then drop by Japanese cocktail bar Gokudo. It's hidden behind a "fish shack." Just make a beeline for the curtain.

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Entertainment District

Montreal's best bars include Taverne Midway.
Photo courtesy of Taverne Midway

Past the bulk of Montreal's underground shopping mecca on the eastern side of downtown Montreal is entertainment district Quartier des Spectacles

For your basic down-to-earth bar/bistro with decent happy hour specials, head to NYK'S. And order a poutine. Its house foie gras sauce and reasonable price all ingredients considered earn it a spot among Montreal's best poutines.

For a higher end bistro/Parisian brasserie experience, go to Brasserie T. It's in the thick of Place des Festivals.

For some of Montreal's best craft beer, walk up to Benelux north of Place des Arts

In summer months, Hyatt's Six Resto Lounge is glorious if only for the view on its hidden sixth floor belvedere terrace.

In the amazing cocktails department, try​ Taverne Midway on the Main.

For a see and be seen vibe, go to Pandore's rooftop for oysters and posh punches on St. Laurent block at the corner of Ste. Catherine. Or try Furco, especially on Thursday when it seems to attract more people.

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Quartier Latin

Montreal's best bars include Quartier Latin's Bar le Lab.
Photo courtesy of Bar le Lab

On the edge of Quartier des Spectacles is Quartier Latin, a small end-of-downtown district chock full of back-to-back terraces and bars.

Favorites include Bar le Lab, the ultimate stocked bar. A dozen plus brands of absinthe, over 20 different gins, and a brilliant lineup of original cocktails are on offer. 

On the edge of Quartier Latin and the Plateau, Le 4e mur's secret location isn't quite so hush anymore. But you still need to sign up as a member on the website and say the password to get in. One of the best places in Montreal. 

La Distillerie proposes great cocktails, complimentary board games, and you can even bring your own food.

Beer fans love Le Saint-Bock's creative brews. Think beer with marshmallow and blood orange. 

And shout-out to Bar à Jojo, Montreal's blues bar par excellence located in the heart of Quartier Latin on St. Denis, not too far from Le Saint-Bock.

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Gay Village

Montreal's best bars include Ti-Agrikol.
Photo courtesy of Ti-Agrikol

Head to the Gay Village to sample the goods at Le Red Tiger, Montreal's only Vietnamese pub.

Named the eight most beautiful restaurant in the world by Business Insider in summer 2017, Arcade Fire-owned Agrikol brings its Haitian sensibilities, tropical vibe, and rum-based cocktails to its neighboring sister bar, Ti Agrikol

Another choice bar in the Village is Grenade, especially for its terrace, Bloody Kimchi cocktail and salmon tartare.

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Montreal's best bars include Le Mal Nécessaire and Luwan.

Photo courtesy of Le Mal Nécessaire / Mariel Rosenbluth

For the longest time, Montreal's Chinatown had no nightlife game. Then came Le Mal Nécessaire, a tiki bar filled with trendy types sipping drinks out of hollowed coconuts and pineapples.

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Old Montreal

Montreal's best bars include Old Montreal's The Coldroom.
Photo courtesy of The Coldroom

South of Chinatown is Old Montreal and its brigade of swank nightlife destinations. If in doubt, stand around and watch where the pretty people go.

In-the-know clubbers head to Velvet, an underground venue located inside Auberge St. Gabriel.

Even more off the riff raff radar is the Coldroom, an unmarked, sign-free cocktail bar on St. Vincent Street. If you can figure out how to get to the bar, you'll love it.

For a Miami vibe, head to newly-opened Boho. Or stick with Flyjin, an Asian supperclub mainstay in the historic centre.

If you don't mind that it's a restaurant, if you can, get a table (or spot at the bar) at Le Bremner. The cocktails and food are amazing. Better yet, reserve. No room? Hop over to its bubbly neighbor, La Champagnerie. They'll even let you saber a bottle of champagne if you buy from a special selection.

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Griffintown/Little Burgundy

Montreal's best bars include Burgundy Lion.
Photo courtesy of Burgundy Lion

From a past riddled with abandoned buildings and industrial grit west of Old Montreal to today's chic condos and some of the city's finest restaurants taking up residence in the area, including Joe Beef and Liverpool House, Griffintown and parts of Little Burgundy have changed beyond recognition within the last ten years. 

Owned by the guys behind Joe Beef, Le Vin Papillon is a small but extremely popular wine bar that doesn't take reservations. Intent on nabbing a table? Get there by 5:30 p.m. and you should be good to go. Any later is a toss up.

The always lively, toujours hopping Burgundy Lion put British pubs (and whisky worship) on contemporary Montreal's map. You'd have to drink a different whisky every day for close to a year to get through their menu.

As for secret bars, try Le Henden, if you can find it. There are only 25 seats and a 45 standing capacity in the Playboy and '70s Morrocan speakeasy styled basement below upscale fried chicken joint Le Bird Bar

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St. Henri

Montreal's best bars include Canal Lounge.
Photo courtesy of Canal Lounge

Warm outside? Go to Canal Lounge, a floating café and bar on a boat in the Lachine Canal near Atwater Market. Get there early since it closes at 11 p.m.

Next, go to hidden bar Atwater Cocktail Club. It's in a back alley behind Foiegwa, a French bistro and haute diner open late and worth its own drop-in. Both are run by the same people behind Old Montreal's Barroco.

Finally, try Bar Loïc. A charming neighborhood spot for a cocktail and bite to eat, above it is live indie music haunt Turbo Haüs

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Montreal's best bars include Big in Japan.
Photo courtesy of Big in Japan

So many bars on the Plateau. Where to start.

Head to hip hop hot spot Suwu on St. Laurent for an order of their "famous" fried chicken and an on-theme cocktail. 

Play pinball and drink cheap booze or upscale drinks — it's your price choice, they've got two menus — at North Star higher up on St. Laurent.

Keep walking north and you'll hit hidden speakeasy Big in Japan and its swank candlelit interior. Keep going to make it to live music dive Divan Orange.

Take a right on Rachel and walk to Mayfair. Boozed up tea cocktails, assorted drinks, pretty folk, and British finger foods await. Current hot spot.

And experience L'Express, the ultimate Montreal bistro. Open late, sit at the bar and order rillettes or a hangar steak to go along with something off their extensive wine list.

Love Harry Potter? You might like Lockhart. It's not die-hard Harry Potter themed though. Let's say mildly inspired.

Or kick it with the locals at nearby L'Barouf or Le Boudoir on Mont-Royal. The former has a great beer menu and the latter a fantastic scotch selection, decent screens to watch the game, and the prices are right, so right you can bring your own food and staff won't care. They'll even give you flyers if you're not sure where to get takeout. 

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Mile End

Montreal's best bars include Kabinet.
Photo courtesy of Kabinet

For years, the Emerald Hotel was — and still is — the bar with no name, its tuxed-up bar staff serving elegant cocktails in a cross between a scene out of Marrakech, '50s Havana and a '20s speakeasy.

Brush up on your hipster ping pong (if you can score the table) with a glass of vino at Ping Pong Club.

Party with Mile End locals at Bar Waverly. The dance floor picks up after 1 a.m. And walk down to the bustling nightlife of Sparrow. Good drinks. Good food. Decent brunch too.

Seconds away from each other on Laurier West are Portuguese-themed Henrietta and its extensive wine list and Kabinet, an espresso and cocktail bar. Datcha is across the street if you need to dance.

Want beer over wine and cocktails? Walk another block to Dieu du Ciel, Montreal's top brewpub.

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Mile-Ex and Little Italy

Montreal's best bars include Snowbird Tiki.
Photo courtesy of Snowbird Tiki

Declared ''Montreal's hippest new neighborhood'' in 2016 by the likes of Vogue, Mile-Ex is a small, scruffy patch of blocks north of still-cool Mile End and one block west of Little Italy, a teeny neighborhood beside Jean-Talon Market.

Closed in the winter, Alexandraplatz rolls up its industrial garage door in warmer months to serve microbrews, choice wines, and crafty cocktails. People typically spill out onto the parking lot. Popular place.

Bar le Ritz PDB is probably Montreal's top dive for indie gigs. Doesn't hurt that it is/was co-owned by the city's biggest indie concert promoter, Blue Skies Turn Black.

Snowbird Tiki Bar keeps it real with umbrella drinks, garish decor, and Hawaiian shirts. Theme nights — Archie, Beach Boys, Elvis — are de rigueur.

With craft beer and a kitchen open til 2 a.m., Brasserie Harricana satiates hungry patrons all night long with a varied menu including roasted veggies, monkfish burgers, and char-grilled meats. Haute comfort.

And Notre Dame des Quilles mixes LGBT, drink specials, and bowling. Fun.

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La Petite Patrie

Montreal's best bars include La Petite Patrie's Idole and Artgang.
Photo courtesy of Artgang

It's not as easy to stumble on nightlife gems in La Petite Patrie –Little Italy's eastern neighbor– as it is in the Plateau, Mile End, and Mile-Ex. But with premier restaurants like Montréal Plaza altering the landscape, change is in the air.

Idole plays with the concept of secret society which gels rather nicely with its gothic grotto of a basement.

Indulge your inner luchador at Nacho Libre, a goofball taco bar and neighborhood favorite.

Part art gallery, part café, part brick-and-mortar apparel shop, Artgang regularly hosts epic parties of the house, hip hop, and funk variety. Check their Facebook page for the latest. 

And rub shoulders with locals at Medley, a neighborhood pub that's been on Plaza St. Hubert for years. Full every weekend night, it seems. Features regular open mic and swing nights.