The Best Joints on Montreal’s Main Strip

Montreal is Canada’s Sin City. Last call is later than most other major Canadian cities (get with it, Toronto), and the rents are so cheap that a lot of the residents don’t seem to have jobs. They call themselves artists, I believe. The city is big enough and has enough culture to pass the cosmopolitan test, but small enough that a cab ride to any given spot is no more than ten dollars. Meeting up with friends has never been easier. Fin-de-sciecle architecture and French speaking denizens will make you feel like you’re partying in Europe, and the legal age here is 18. Interpret that as you will. When in town, focus your energies on one of Montreal’s main arteries — St. Laurent Boulevard. Known as “the Main” to locals, this street divides the city between English and French, and it has enough bars and eat-spots to fulfill any debaucherous desire. The Main cuts right through Montreal’s two best neighborhoods, the Plateau (which has the highest concentration of artists in North America), and the Mile-End. Here are a few of the best spots to hit on St. Laurent if you’re in town for a weekend. You’ll have no trouble discovering the rest on your own.

If you’re not into drinking on an empty stomach, stop by the Euro Deli for oozy spinach and cheese calzones or Montreal’s biggest and best slice of cheese pizza. Warning: You’ll have to navigate past crews of hipsters hanging on the front steps (if it’s summer). Copacabana (not to be confused with the cheesy nearby dance club of the same name) is a great, cozy dive bar with palm trees painted on its walls and plenty of cheap and delicious Quebecois beer. Home to an Indian-inspired scratch kitchen, it’s where you go when you have nothing better to do. Pistol is a classy dive that was all the rage when it opened up five years back, but its popularity has since, thankfully, cooled down. Now it’s just the perfect place to grab a pint and a sandwich named after a James Bond movie.

Tokyo is Montreal’s all-purpose bar. In the summers, they open up a massive two-level terrace, and inside there’s a big enough dance floor for those craving top 40 standards, plus a smaller, slicker side room for those looking for a party with a little more edge. It’s home to Wednesday’s best party (rock night), and the bartenders are pretty (boys and girls both). Go late, when the long lines tend to disappear. Blizzarts is your guaranteed good-time spot. Small, intimate dancefloor and even smaller, more intimate booths. Its mix of electro and rock dandies brings out all kinds of people. Mostly cool ones.

Korova is named after the Korova milk bar of A Clockwork Orange fame, but instead of furniture shaped like naked women and drug-laced milk, there are very drunk people and a foosball table. The Green Room is still on St. Laurent, but it’s about ten blocks up from the other places I just listed. In Montreal, that’s considered a long distance, so some people tend to cab up there. It’s the primary rendezvous joint for many of the Mile-End’s locals, and they host concerts and gallery showings from time to time. Regular DJs bring back the same young faces. Saturdays are sweaty, and the staff is sweet.

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