A superb way to way to spend a summer afternoon in Montreal is with a trip to Fairmont Avenue in the Mile End. With the highest density of artists in North America and diverse multicultural roots, the Mile End neighbourhood is at once hip, laidback, quaint, and vibrantly alive. It’s also jam-packed with some of the best places to eat and drink in the city. Half-a-block in particular, however, on Fairmont Avenue between Clark and St Urbain, is summer food heaven. Three beloved and uniquely Montreal-style businesses have formed a small oasis of outdoor eating that has lines forming from early afternoon until late at night. Kem Coba, an artisanal ice cream shop, Drogheria Fine, an Italian food shop, and the iconic Fairmont Bagel offer some first-rate outdoor eating with a sunny sitting area in front.
Note: All three of these businesses are cash-only.
Kem Coba is arguably Montreal’s best-known ice cream shop. The artisanal ice cream and sorbet comes in a range of unique flavours, such as lychee, hibiscus, Vietnamese coffee, Caribbean soursop, or peanut and honey. In addition to by-the-scoop, they offer a soft-serve twist that pairs two flavours for delicious combos such as Mango and Dulce de Lèche, or Madagascar Vanilla and Passionfruit. Opened in 2010 by two classically trained pastry chefs, the shop has become widely known throughout the city and draws crowds that line up for a block or more on warm days.
60 Fairmont Avenue West
2. Drogheria Fine
Serving only one dish—Potato gnocchi cooked in homemade tomato sauce and served in a $5-box topped with romano cheese, Drogheria Fine is one of the Mile End’s most charming food establishments. It’s a tiny, one-room shop that barely fits more than 3 or 4 people inside at one time. The gnocchi is served through a window to customers who line up on the sidewalk outside. Litre jars of Italian tomato sauce and olive oil line the walls floor to ceiling which greatly adds to the charm of the place. The aroma of Italian Grandma-style cooking wafting up the street smells truly delicious.
68 Fairmont Avenue West
3. Fairmont Bagel
Fairmont Bagel was the first bagel shop in Montreal. It was first established on St. Laurent Boulevard in 1919. Thirty years later, the famous Montreal-style bagel bakery moved to its present location on Fairmont Avenue and is still run by the third generation of the Shlafmans—the family who founded it almost 100 years ago. Fresh and warm from the oven any time of the day, the bagels are rolled by hand and baked in a wood-fired oven. It’s also open 24/7.
74 Fairmont Avenue West