The bulk of this guide was brought to you by John Maher with contributions from Barry Hum and William Dziambor. Extra information was added by Kar Yung Tom.
Coming up this weekend, Montreal will be flooded with Magic players from around the world. As native Montrealers, we’re hoping to give some pointers to those that are visiting our beautiful city!
First things first, it’s February. We grew up here, and even we think it’s crazy cold. A lot of the charm of Montreal is only present in the summer months with terraces and short skirts, but not to worry, it’s still a great place in the winter! The best thing to do is prepare for the cold.
Currently, they are forecasting highs around 0 Celsius (32 Fahrenheit) and lows around –16 Celsius (3 Fahrenheit), and that does not include the wind-chill. With wind-chill, you can expect it to drop up to another 10 degrees on occasion.
To enjoy the weather, you will need a decent pair of boots or thick shoes (no Converse, you will lose toes), decent winter jacket (or lots of layers with sweaters and hoodies), gloves or mittens, and a hat (Mana Deprived has some dapper looking toques available). Another good idea is a scarf or neck cover, but we wouldn’t say it’s absolutely mandatory.
Another quirk about our beautiful city is language. Quebec is a French-speaking province, but Montreal has a relatively large English speaking population. Politics aside, it creates quite an interesting culture. Now, in most areas downtown, you should manage getting by with only English, but there are exceptions. Here are a few French phrases that may help you in your adventures.
Hello : Bonjour
Where is the Subway? : Ou est le Metro?
Where is the washroom? : Ou sont les toilettes?
Thank you : Merci
How much? : Combien?
While we aren’t the city with the best public transit in the world, it is pretty good for people in the downtown area. Subway, Metro and taxis are all pretty available. Since the event site is right downtown, public transit and walking should get you to where you want to go.
The Trudeau Airport is about 20-45 minutes from downtown (depending on traffic) and there are a couple of options to get to the site. For a taxi, the usual rate is around 40$.
If you don’t mind a slightly longer trip, the 747 bus line goes from the airport to Berri-UQAM station, with stops along that way. The price of this trip is 9$ and should get you within a metro ride or a couple minutes walk to the site or your hotel. If you are not traveling in a group or just need to get to a metro station, this is your most economical option.
Check out the following link for more information on the 747:
If you’re looking to explore Montreal a bit during the week, the Subway system (known as the METRO in Montreal) is probably the way to go. There are station dotted around the island and should get you to where you want to go. The 3-day pass is 18$, with a 6$ cost for the card. An advantage of this is that it includes the 747 bus, so you can deduct 9$ if that’s your plan.
More information can be found at:
Now, for the important stuff!
There are an abundant number of restaurants in Montreal and it would be impossible to name them all. A rule of thumb that I use anywhere I travel is that if it’s busy, then it’s usually pretty good. I’ll try and put down a few options that myself or friends really enjoy, as well as a few dishes Montreal is renowned for. Typically, gratuity is not included in the bill and 15% is considered a normal contribution.
Poutine, a Quebecois delicacy is a must for anyone visiting, although it has a pretty bad reputation health-wise. The traditional poutine is French fries, topped with curd cheese and then smothered in hot gravy. These past few years, restaurants have been fancying them up quite a bit (duck and foie gras poutine, lobster poutine, etc.), which culminated in the first poutine week Montreal this year. Here are a couple of the most popular places:
La Banquise: Open 24 hours a day; it is the most popular poutine place in Montreal. While not in the downtown core, it is definitely worth the hike. They have a menu of around 30 poutines, along with the typical greasy spoon fare. Depending on what time, you should expect a wait. Around Dinner, Supper and 3 am, there’s usually a 20+ minute wait for a table. It is a 10 minute walk from the Mont-Royal metro station. Meals are around 10-20$.
Poutineville: As you can see from the name, salads aren’t their speciality. Poutineville is not a typical greasy spoon and it has brought a little more classiness to the poutine. It has quite a few poutine options, as well as sandwiches (quite possibly the best “smoked meat” sandwich I’ve ever had, blasphemy I know), burgers and salads. A fun option is a “build your own” poutine, where they give you a sheet of paper with all the options and you just check off what you want. With half a dozen cheese options, and over a dozen meat and vegetable options, you’ll never have the same poutine twice. Open from 8am to 5 am, it’s usually packed after 10 pm, so takeout may be an option. 35 minute walk from the event site or 10 minute walk from Beaudry metro station. Meals are between 15-30$.
1365 Ontario East
Smoked meat is another dish Montreal is popular for. Debate rages over who has the best, but here are a couple that are sure to satisfy.
Schwartz’s Deli: World famous smoked meat that has been around for almost 90 years has to have been doing something right. If you’re a smoked meat fan, this is the place you want to check out. 15 minute walk from the Sherbrooke metro station. Meals are 15-20$.
Dunn’s Famous: A few years younger than Schwartz’s, but just as good in my opinion is Dunn’s. Their biggest advantage is their proximity to the event site. 15 minute walk from the Palais des Congres, or a quick stroll from the Peel metro station doesn’t even give us enough time to walk off all those extra calories from our meal. Expect 15-25$ for a meal on this extensive menu.
Bofingers *** CLOSED ***: During his visit to Montreal, Scotty Mac was looking for the Keg, one of the more famous steakhouses in Montreal. He wasn’t able to find it, but his nose drove him to Bofingers, a place for all your pork and beef ribs needs. Scott has said that he MUST go there this weekend.
While it’s not a classic Montreal dish, sushi has been getting more and more popular in our city. I don’t think we can compete against cities on the ocean, but there’s something about all you can eat, raw fish that really tempts us. Be careful when ordering all you can eat, since if there are more than a couple pieces left uneaten, they will be charged to your bill. Here are a couple of all you can eat places!
Kanda Sushi ***CLOSED***: With locations dotted all around Montreal and off the island, this is probably the most recognized name for sushi. Some people will debate the quality of the sushi, but we’ve never personally had any issues at any of their locations. The closest location is a 10-minute walk from the event site or a couple minutes walk from the McGill metro station. Prices may vary, but expect between 20-30$, and that’s before adding sake.
Senzuru: One of the newer sushi places. Everyone who we’ve heard that has tried it has loved it. Not even a 10 minute walk from the event site.
1050, rue Clark
A big advantage to having the Pro Tour at Palais des Congres, is that it is a stone’s throw from Montreal’s China town. With plenty of asian restaurants near by, there’s no shortage of porc buns, dumplings, pho or any other asian dish. Here are some of our favorites:
1027 St-Laurent, 2nd floor
Pho Bang New York: Home of the Ivan Wong eating challenge (don’t ask). Probably the best pho restaurant in the area, but their rice combos and vermicelli bowls are equally good. 10 minute walk from event site.
Beijing: Probably have the best staff to take care of non-chinese clientele. The food is good and service is great, this is where you go for your typical chinese fried rice/noodle type stuff. 5 minute walk from event site.
90 La Gauchetiere
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Keung Kee: Probably the highest quality of food in chinatown, they have good seafood if you’re into that. 10 minute walk from event site.
70 La Gauchetiere, 2nd floor
50 Rue de la Gauchetière Ouest
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La Popessa: Not asian as all, this little fast food spot is all about the pasta. You pick your pasta and your sauce/meat/vegetables combo and then it’s prepared right in front of you. The quality is great for the price and it’s always prepared fast. Another advantage is it’s situated in the event site.
115 Rue Saint Antoine Ouest
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Now, I’m sure that’s a lot to digest (pun intended), but there are many more places out there that are just as good that we haven’t been tried. Don’t let us dictate where you should or shouldn’t eat!
What everyone has been waiting for.. BARS!!! There is a multitude of drinking establishments in Montreal, but here are a few of our favorites.
McKibbin’s Irish Pub: McKibbin’s is a good place for everyone. Main floor is a pub with live music most nights. Food is great (try the bison burger) with quite a few brews on tap. Upstairs, it’s more of a club atmosphere with dancing and loud boom boom music. Language won’t be an issue here. A 5 minute walk from the Guy-Concordia metro station.
1426 Bishop St
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Hurley’s: Another establishment with a very pubby atmosphere. Lots of beers on tap with a pretty impressive selection of scotches and whiskeys. Food is good and it usually has live music. It’s a pretty big place, so it has room for large groups. It’s only a 10 minute walk from the Guy-Concordia metro station.
1225 Rue Crescent,
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Pub St-Paul: A great rock n’ roll bar in old Montreal and also the location of the ManaDeprived Pro Tour party on Saturday night. With good beer and good food, the location and view is really what puts it ahead of other places in Old Montreal. I hear that there will be karaoke on the Saturday also. A 10 minute walk from the Champ-de-Mars metro station or a 15 minute walk from the event site.
124 Rue Saint Paul Est
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Bar La Quincaillerie: This great bar with a hardware store theme, usually has pretty good deals on drinks. They have shelves with board games and encourage patrons to pick one up to play on their large tables. It’s not uncommon to find some players drafting at this bar over a pint. It also has the advantage of being next door to La Banquise, so you can drop in after having a poutine! A 10 minute walk from the Mont-Royal metro station.
980 Rachel E
Le Deux Pierrot: If an old fashioned, dancing wild time is your cup of tea, le Deux Pierrot is probably a good call. They usually have good deals on pitchers and it’s not unusual to have whole groups of people dancing on the tables. This is a good place to hear some authentic Quebecois music! A 15 minute walk from the event site or a 10 minute walk from the Champ-de-Mars metro station.
104 Rue Saint Paul Est
Vieux Montréal, QC
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Pang-Pang Karaoke: Your typical Karaoke bar with individual rooms for groups. A good place to goof off with friends and hear some really bad singing. 10 minute walk from Guy-Concordia metro station.
1226 Rue Mackay
Foufounes Electriques: If punk rock is more your scene, les Foufounes Electrique is for you. Mosh pits, tattoos, piercings and wild haircuts are all very common sights here, but everyone is always welcome. I don’t think there are any places in Montreal with better deals on drinks than here. A 2 minute walk from the Saint-Laurent metro station.
87 Rue Sainte-Catherine Est
Face to Face Games: During the Pro Tour weekend, all of our favorite vendors will be on site with the cards you’ll need. If you’re hoping to avoid a headache and want to pick up your cards before, who better than Face to Face games? Located in Verdun, they have all the cards you’ll need. They’re only a 5 minute walk from the De L’Eglise metro station.
4425 Rue Wellington
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Bell Center: For any hockey fans, you can’t come to Montreal without checking out the holiest of buildings, the home of the Habs, the Bell Center. The Montreal Canadiens occupy a very special place in the hearts of most Montrealers, and most young hockey fans dream of one day playing on that ice. While we don’t think you’ll be allowed to play on the ice, guided tours are offered if you call and reserve in advance (pretty sure they’re free, but not 100%). There’s also a hall of fame at the Bell Center, but from what we’ve heard, it’s not worth the price. If you’re looking for souvenirs, there’s nothing more Montreal than the gift shop at the Bell Center.
If you’re really looking for the whole experience, there is one game at the Bell Center during the Pro Tour, against the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday the 16th. Getting tickets from the box office is close to impossible, but there are usually a ton of scalpers loitering around the Bell Center on game days…they’ll be the ones shouting “tickets tickets” on the street corners. While scalping is illegal in Montreal, it is generally accepted and most law enforcement officials turn a blind eye.
1909 Avenue des Canadiens-de-Montréal
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For those of you looking for some adult entertainment, there is an abundant amount of these clubs in Montreal. You won’t have any difficulty find them, but obviously some are better than others.
Chez Paree: Gentlemen’s clubs in Montreal are contact during private dances, but you may want to ask the dancers before diving in. Chez Paree on Stanley street is probably your safest bet in the downtown area.
1258 Rue Stanley
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Cabaret Les Amazones: If you don’t mind a 10-15 minute taxi ride, Les Amazones in Notre-Dame-de-Grace may be the best value with its cheap cover and decent drinks… and don’t worry, the dancers are just as good as anywhere else.
6820 St Jacques St
Le 281: For male dancers, we haven’t been to any places, but among our lady friends, you can’t go wrong with Le 281. Located right across the street from Foufounes Electrique, you may want to pre-drink there first. Gentlemen, if you’re hoping to go, you need a female chaperone to go with.
94 St Catherine St
Well, that’s all we have time for, but please feel free to add any suggestions or spots you like in the comments!