When I say Montreal and nightlife, you probably think St-Laurent, Mont-Royal, St-Denis and maybe even Crescent street.
Well think again, because there is a new bad boy on the block. It's more like a "bad girl", because this new comer is Notre-Dame street and "Dame" means Lady in French.
Just a couple of years ago, Notre-Dame street was the queen of antique shops and boarded-up store fronts.
Today's Notre-Dame street in the South-West borough is a completely different story.
The street still nurses its age-old antique shops. But in between you will also stumble on trendy art galleries, tasty restaurants, classy bistros and bars, all of which have sprung-up seemingly out of thin air.
This thin-air is actually a by-product of the new inhabitants of the South-West. The area, which includes the Atwater market and the St-Henry and Point-St-Charles neighborhoods, is sucking-up a lot of the creative juices of le Plateau Mont-Royal. Rents are so exaggerated in the Plateau that students, young professionals and artists are moving to the South-West in huge flocks.
And what do all these new inhabitants need? A lot of trendy eateries and classy watering wholes. Here is a sample of some of the hot action happening on Notre-Dame street. Be there or be square.
The Burgundy Lion
The Burgundy Lion is an English pub, and is pretty much the bar at the heart of the nightlife on Notre-Dame near the Atwater market. The bar is almost always full, and that includes Tuesday, Wednesdays and Thursdays. It's probably even full on Monday, even though I've never been there that day. Burgundy Lion also has the pleasant habit of showing all of the Montreal Canadiens' games, and serving some pretty solid English pub food, like the one you hopefully ate in a London pub before going outside for the freedom of drinking on the street and having a fag.
Joe Beef and Liverpool House and McKiernan
Joe Beef was probably the first trendy establishment to land on Notre-Dame. Opened since 2005, this smallish yet cozy and beautifully designed restaurant will fill your stomach, embolden you with pleasant alcohol fumes and empty your wallet all in one unforgettable night. An interesting account of who the real bad-ass Joe Beef was and review of the place can be found in this article.
Building up their empire on Notre-Dame street one small store-front at a time, the people of Joe Beef have now opened two other trendy eating/drinking joints, the Liverpool House (2501 Notre-Dame West) and McKiernan (2485 Notre-Dame West), both a few doors away on each side of Joe Beef. Tired of the glitter and mindless glam of the supper clubs on St-Laurent, then bring your date for food and drinks at any of these fine establishments and I am telling you, you will not forget your night.
The Corona Theater
The Corona Theater is one of the rare old-time theaters left in Montreal. Build in 1912 when Montreal was ruled by the mob and Notre-Dame street was rife with ladies selling their bodies and gents playing magical jazz (something you can still say about Montreal in general to this day), the Corona Theater was a popular spot for catching the latest sound-less movie or risqué comedy show of the times. Today, you can catch live music and other shows in the fully restored building. Maybe not as innovative as sound-less cinema was at the time, but the venue has enormous style and cachet.
Not exactly a beer-selling joint or a live music venue, Fait Ici nevertheless deserves a mention here. Fait Ici is a recently opened general store, which strives to have at least 75% of their stock come from around the province ("fait ici" means "made here"). The store is an en excellent and bold initiative, showing that you can consume local made stuff, support small or family-operated producers and still live well. It's just a good contrast to the plastic-tasting or mass production coming from the giants of retailing. If you're interested in alternative eating and business, the people running Fait Ici publish an interesting blog.
Well, that's it for tonight boys and girls. Should you think we missed some hot spots (and we sure did, like Griffintown Café for example) , then feel free to blast us in the comments section bellow.
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