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The Insider Tips to Montreal Most Locals Don’t Even Know!

Montreal Congress Centre Photo: caribb

The one thing most travellers want to know when they’re going to a new destination is “Where do the locals go?” We scoured our sources for current and former residents for the tips that most locals even don’t know about!

I would check out the fountain of fire, La Joute (The Joust). Created by Jean-Paul Riopelle in 1969, the fountain spews fire on the hour and makes for quite a spectacle. It’s located in Place Jean-Paul-Riopelle in the Quartier International de Montreal.
—Jodi Ettenberg, Montreal native and travel blogger of Legal Nomads

It’s so hard to choose one favourite restaurant, but Pullman is a gorgeous bar and is quite serious about its wine selection. It features new wine trios weekly and an exciting seasonal tapas menu. Definitely the place to go to for a fun evening!
—Sofia Shendi, Food Blogger of Food and Drinks in Montreal and Montreal resident

Climb to the top of the Chapel Notre-Dame de Bonsecours for the coolest view of the angels and Old Montreal. Don’t be fooled by the first balcony at the top—there is another level way above the rooftops. Legend says the angels turned to face the St. Lawrence River as the sailors prayed to them to thank them for making it past the rapids.
—Anne Kostalas, blogger of Dear England, Love Canada and Montreal resident

Bota Bota spa in Vieux Montreal (Old Port) is a former ferryboat, which used to work the Saint Lawrence River in the 1950sand is now an amazing floating spa that offers 2 for 1 on spa services on Tuesday. I love that I can have cocktails while getting my pedicure done.
—Natasha Nayaran, frequent visitor to Montreal

My favourite Lebanese restaurant in Montreal is Boustan. They have the best shawarma in the city. My tip: order the sandwich called the Creation, which isn’t on the traditional menu. Ingredients in the grilled pita include chicken, eggplant, roasted potatoes, coleslaw, pickled radish, and garlic sauce. I always say yes to the hot sauce. Plus, they deliver until 4 a.m.!
—Ethan Adeland, blogger of Tastes Better With Friends and former Montreal resident.

My favourite breakfast place is Bagel Etc. (4320 Saint-Laurent Blvd.; 514-845-9462) in the Mile End neighbourhood. Only insiders know about the dish called the Benny Goodman, which is not on the menu.
—Rachelle Stark, PR Consultant and former Montreal resident

Unofficially, the Montreal Botanical Garden is free after 5:30 p.m. in the summer. This offer is not mentioned on their Web site. At the Garden’s restaurant, you can listen to live jazz, French and world music from Thursdays to Saturdays after 5:30 p.m. (You don’t have to pay admission for entrance.) Cocktail and tapas are served from 4 to 8 p.m. on Thursdays to Saturdays until August 27, 2011. It is one of the prettiest patio views.
—Evelyn Reid, writer, the Montreal Guide for About.com and Montreal resident

Explore Leonard Cohen’s childhood haunts. He grew up next to King George Park (known as Murray Hill Park to locals) in the neighbourhood of Westmount. You can gawk at the mansions on the hill and walk down the hill to Westmount Park.
—Anne Kostalas, blogger of Dear England. Love Canada and Montreal resident

A great place to chill out on the weekend in Montreal is in Parc Lafontaine. Grab a baguette, some cheese and a bottle of vino, and install yourself on the little hill at the north end of the fountain. Chances are you’ll see folks playing music or practicing their circus arts. Oh, and that’s not basil that you’re smelling.
Daniel Baylis, travel writer and former Montreal resident; view his site at danielbaylis.ca

Le Cagibi—a café, art and music space—is right around the corner from my studio. I love their vegetarian chili. A sparkling pint of non-alcoholic Mystique Cider is refreshing on a hot day.
—Angie Johnson, owner of Norweigan Wood and Montreal resident.

When I lived in Montreal for five years, I would always go to Cheskie’s (359 Bernard St. W., 514-271-2253), a Jewish bakery and walk to Parc Jeanne Mance at the corner of Parc and Bernard. There is a pavilion surrounded with a moat and free tango dancing lessons on Sunday nights (check calendar for details). My favourite people-watching moment was to see the dancers reflected in the water.
—Jenna Wakini, photographer for Maclean’s and Toronto Life and former Montreal resident.

Restaurant Leméac has a night owl menu after 10 p.m. You can get one appetizer and one main for $25. This is a great deal because mains are usually $25 alone!
—Jenna Wakini, photographer for Maclean’s and Toronto Life and former Montreal resident.

Part of what makes Montreal so fun is the slew of BYOB restaurants. Along Duluth and Prince Arthur Streets, and up into the Plateau area, there’s a variety of great eats where you can bring your preferred wine. My favourite is an Afghani place called Khyber Pass (506 Duluth Ave. E.; 514-849-1775). It serves incredibly flavourful, varied dishes in a cozy inviting setting. I order the mantoo, steamed dumplings stuffed with a tantalizing mix of beef, spices and onions and topped with yogurt and tomato sauce. I also love the Kabuli palaw, a quarter chicken buried under a pile of spiced rice, cooked perfectly so the meat falls off the bone when you dig in. And now I’m hungry!
—Jodi Ettenberg, travel blogger of Legal Nomads and Montreal native

After our shop, Monastiraki, which sells local screen printed posters and curates rotating art, is to try the cheddar/fig baguettines at Boulangerie Guillaume—they are to die for!
—Billy Mavreas, owner of Monastiraki and Montreal resident

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