Most visitors to Montreal are well aware of the city’s lively culinary scene. Foodies gravitate to Downtown Montreal and the Old City to feast in cafes and restaurants. But have you ever considered starting your food journey outside of the downtown core?
On this food tour with Fitz & Fowell, discover one of Montreal’s most captivating culinary neighbourhoods – Little Italy and the Jean Talon Market. The walking tour starts on Saint Laurent Boulevard, between Jean Talon Street and St. Zotique Street. After World War II, thousands of Italian workers and peasants landed in the Port of Montreal and settled in this neighbourhood, along with other diverse ethnic communities in the Rosemond-la Petite Patrie area. As our guide tells us, “This is the real Montreal.”
The quaint streets are lined with renowned restaurants and fine epicurean grocery stores. If you’re looking for gourmet produce, Chez Louis and Chez Nino (above) sell some of the best fruit and veggies in the city. Most upscale Montreal restaurants get their produce from these two stores.
In the heart of Little Italy is the Jean-Talon Market– the largest open-air market in North America. Visitors can easily spend a half day (or more) wandering the Market, where food samples are plentiful and part of the browsing experience.
Merchants lure patrons into their stalls with tastings of fresh fruit and veggies, wine, rhubarb juice cheese, cider, and chocolates. Our group spends most of our visit munching on delicious freebies. “The Mushroom Pusher of Montreal is over here,” our guide says. We stop in front of Les Jardins Sauvages (below), overflowing with every variety of mushroom under the sun.
Did you know that Montreal has more choice for baguettes than in Paris? With over 300 producers, you better believe it. As our tour guide tells us, “There’s a battle between the upscale breadmakers to bake the best loaf in the city.”
Word on the street is that Joe la Croute (above) holds the coveted crown. Fresh loaves are baked daily and sold by the weight. I have to elbow my way through the Saturday morning crowd to sample a piece of Goji bread.
The best time to visit Little Italy? During a soccer game between the Portuguese and Italian teams! The two communities share a neighbourhood border, making for some serious drama and excitement during a game.
Want to go on a Montreal food journey? Check out the half day A Foodie’s Tour of Little Italy with VDM Global or a full day Flavours of Montreal Food Tour with Fitz & Fowell. If you want to explore Little Italy on your own, here’s a map.