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Things to Do

Montreal’s Mile End neighborhood is perfect to spend the day exploring

First thing: Start your day with a bagel from St-Viateur.

St-Viateur Bagel makes arguably the best bagel in

St-Viateur Bagel makes arguably the best bagel in town. Photo Credit: Destination Canada

It was where bands like Arcade Fire, Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Grimes got their starts, it’s home to some of Montreal’s best shopping and it’s got a thriving restaurant scene. The Mile End neighborhood is also one of the city’s most walkable, making it ideal for a daylong excursion.

9 A.M. Start off with one of Montreal’s famed bagels at St-Viateur Bagel (263 St. Viateur St. W.). In a citywide battle for supremacy, St-Viateur is often seen as the winner, and one bite into the finished product will explain why: slightly crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside with a hint of smoke remaining from the wood-oven baking process.

10 A.M. The physical representation of the graphic novel publisher Drawn and Quarterly (211 Bernard St. W.) is not a superhero-heavy comic store; sections are dedicated to feminist essays, design journals and poetry collections in both French and English — the literary journal section in the front is a special treat. And yes, there are graphic novels throughout, though seemingly none from the Marvel mindset.

11 A.M. Bring your haul across the street to Le Depanneur Café (206 Bernard St. W.) and read on one of the coffee shop’s red couches; between those, the potted plants, the wood floors and brick walls, the cozy vibe is strong. Coffee, tea and baked goods are on the menu, along with light lunch fare and live music throughout the day. You’re more likely to find people on first dates here than on their laptops.

NOON For lunch, it’s a short walk to Maïs (5439 St. Laurent Blvd.), part Mexican restaurant, part hipster tequileria (look for the Ol’ Dirty Bastard Novena candle amid the liquor bottles). Even at lunch, it’s much more likely to see diners in streetwear hoodies than suits. Is its taco-heavy menu authentic? Have another Oaxacan Old Fashioned and you won’t care.

2 P.M. It’s a quarter-mile walk from Maïs to a stretch of noteworthy boutiques along St. Laurent Boulevard. There’s General 54 (5145 St. Laurent Blvd.), which deals primarily in women’s clothing and jewelry with a younger bend (look for the instant Lomography cameras for sale). Vestibule (5157 St. Laurent Blvd.) features housewares, stationary and home décor that contributes to the “art de vivre” — the art of living. And Lowell (5298 St. Laurent Blvd.) creates its leather bags and other items in Montreal workshops; its retail headquarters feels alive with creation.

8 P.M. Ile Flottante (176 St. Viateur W. St.) may be the hottest table in the Mile End. The tasting menu is straightforward, with options for three, five or seven courses, with an emphasis on seasonal offerings (which in January meant onions and fennel backing a portion of duck breast). Since you’re already giving over the dish choices to the kitchen, let the bartender recommend a wine pairing and enjoy a meal fully in the hands of professionals.

11 P.M. Go from upscale to down and dirty in a 10-minute walk. The entrance to Chez Serge (5301 St. Laurent Blvd.) resembles a barrel, while the bar’s sign is an imitation of the “Welcome to Las Vegas” marquee. That’s a strong indication of what’s to come inside, where cheap drinks are on offer and dancing on the bar is welcomed.

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