Hometown Guide: A Top Montreal Curator Takes Us on a Food and Fashion Tour

Hometown Guide: A Top Montreal Curator Takes Us on a Food and Fashion Tour

  azamit headshot goop

Whether she’s talking outfits, dinnerware, or restaurants, curator Azamit is blunt in the very best way. Her short, passionate, spot-on recommendations reflect her years as an editor at Elle Canada and Elle Quebec and, now, as the founder of [email protected], a five-day event that brings together some of the city’s best (and lesser-known) designers under one roof. Once a year, Azamit and her team curate a shoppable selection that includes everything from fine art prints by Anml and Esser candles to LLY jewelry and tableware by Ceramik B.

If you’re in town for [email protected], absolutely don’t miss it; if you’re not, Azamit’s long list of Montreal highlights will take you to the chicest corners of the city: Michel Brisson (“The best men’s store in Montreal—both locations”); Denis Gagnon (“Best womenswear designer in town”); Les Étoffes (“Minimalist, timeless pieces”). Azamit says that the Montreal Street Murals are prettiest in the fall, that Big in Japan is brilliant for drinks, and that the best bagels really are at Fairmount.

Portrait courtesy of Atelier Vingt Quatre

What to Wear

Azamit's Picks

  • Alexandraplatz <br><em> Mile-Ex</em>


    In the rapidly changing part of town known as Mile-Ex—once full of disused warehouses—a plethora of bars, breweries, and galleries are taking root. In the summer, Alexandraplatz, named in homage to the popular square in too-cool Berlin, takes over a stretch of empty space and turns it into a block party with food trucks, communal tables, and a packed bar serving cocktails, beer, and wine. The booze is good, but the atmosphere is electric. Bring cash.

  • Big in Japan  <br><em> Le Plateau Mont-Royal</em>

    Big in Japan
    Le Plateau Mont-Royal

    It’s only fifty seats, and there’s no sign out front, but that’s kind of the point. Despite the name, Big in Japan isn’t meant for a big crowd. Behind an unmarked door at the corner of Boul Saint-Laurent and Rue Rachel, though, it is one of the best spots for late-night cocktails in Montreal. If you’re feeling adventurous, the specialties are amazing prune wine, sake, and Japanese whisky.

  • Candide<br><em> Sud-Ouest </em>


    What was once a nineteenth-century stone church rectory in Sud-Ouest is now one of Montreal’s buzziest fine-dining restaurants. The farm-to-table concept is familiar, but Candide sets itself apart with a tasting menu of beautifully presented dishes, with the vivid colors of each ingredient on full display. The menu changes monthly, but you’re likely to find a mix of jewel-like edible flowers, tomatoes, and eggplant; electric-orange carrot medallions; snow-white crabmeat; and bowls of ripe blueberries and raspberries among the various small plates. The wine list is one hundred bottles deep, and the sommelier, Emily Campeau, is a trusty guide for pairings.

  • Crew Collective & Café  <br><em> Old Montreal</em>

    Crew Collective & Café
    Old Montreal

    Crew Collective & Café is one part public coffee shop and one part coworking space for local creatives. The building itself—housed in the ornate former Royal Bank headquarters—is reason enough to visit. The speedy Wi-Fi and strong matcha lattes are two more.

  • Élément de Base <br><em> Saint Laurent </em>

    Élément de Base
    Saint Laurent

    The Montreal-based furniture maker is a homegrown, direct-to-consumer outfit: It collaborates with local designers for its robust selection of sofas, armchairs, benches—you name it. And because it’s working in a smaller way that’s more integrated with the local community, it’s able to offer competitive pricing on its pieces, too. The best way to peruse the selection is on the site or via the beautifully curated Instagram feed, but there are also two showrooms in Montreal where you can test out, say, a sectional, in person before you commit.

  • Les Étoffes <br><em> Mile End </em>

    Les Étoffes
    Mile End

    Les Étoffes’ something-for-everyone edit for both guys and girls translates to pieces by Christophe Lemaire, Patrick Ervell, and Unis, each one lovingly picked by Diana Taborsky and Christopher Girard, who have run the shop together for almost a decade. There are small giftable items, too, like a selection of beauty products by goop-favorite Grown Alchemist; journals by Maya Assouad, which are handmade right here in Montreal; and Linda Farrow eyewear.

  • Le Serpent  <br><em> Old Montreal</em>

    Le Serpent
    Old Montreal

    Housed in a former foundry and arguably one of the chicest reservations in the city, Le Serpent’s industrial-looking dining room is outfitted with modern art installations, making for a particularly unexpected experience (exactly what you’d expect from the team behind Le Club Chasse et Pêche). In keeping with the minimalist aesthetic, the Italian-inflected menu of pasta, fresh catch, and meat-centric dishes is streamlined and unfussy—a testament to chef Michele Mercuri’s knack for restraint.

  • Le Vin Papillon  <br><em> Little Burgundy </em>

    Le Vin Papillon
    Little Burgundy

    In Little Burgundy, the team from the always-packed Joe Beef and Liverpool House have created a veggie-friendly restaurant that even the most salad-averse locals have grown to love. It helps that Le Vin Papillon doesn’t treat produce in a typical way. You’ll find smoked carrots that act as a stand-in for brisket, hearty wood-roasted cauliflower, and squash fried in brown butter with muhammara (a Middle Eastern red pepper and walnut spread). The list of natural wines is extensive, curated by one of Montreal’s best sommeliers, Vanya Filipovic, who can tell you exactly what will taste best with your dinner.

  • Mélisse <br><em> Old Montreal </em>

    Old Montreal

    Step into Mélisse and you’ll feel like you’re in LA: light wood; a bright, high-ceilinged space; and lots of plants. (Also LA-like: eating on the patio, weather permitting.) Breakfast and lunch are light and focus on seasonal produce (tartines, salads, satisfying egg dishes), while dinner is full of shareable plates, like grilled veggies and charcuterie, plus more substantial items, like grilled pork shoulder peppered with cherry tomatoes and pistachios. The 100 percent organic wine list is short but brilliant.

  • Michel Brisson <br><em> Le Plateau Mont-Royal </em>

    Michel Brisson
    Le Plateau Mont-Royal

    This clean, sleek, minimalist space mirrors its wares—lots of Dries Van Noten, Lemaire, and Acne Studios, which draw the city’s creative class (art directors, architects, and the like). There are plenty of pieces for both men and women, and the men’s rack has some pretty fantastic options for women, too. There’s a nice selection of accessories (wallets, backpacks, and totes) from WANT Les Essentiels de la Vie, a line started by local twin brothers Byron and Dexter Peart. There’s a second outpost in Old Montreal.

  • Olive & Gourmando <br><em> Old Montreal </em>

    Olive & Gourmando
    Old Montreal

    Many would argue that Olive & Gourmando offers some of the best sandwiches in Old Montreal—and we agree. The O&G grilled cheese alone has us swooning with its thick caramelized onions and Gouda with house-made ketchup. The team at this charming neighborhood breakfast and lunch spot is devoted to rich dishes (think: shirred eggs and ricotta tartine), paninis, homemade soups, salads, and baked treats. There are no reservations here, so come early before the rush (or if you’re in it, order a coffee and scone while you wait).

  • Patrice Patissier <br><em> Sud-Ouest </em>

    Patrice Patissier

    Pastry chef Patrice Demers has created a minimalist dessert haven at his Sud-Ouest patisserie, which showcases his incredible skill for creating classic desserts with a twist. The offerings here are a form of art, with finishing touches on, say, a chocolate alpaco with glazed apricots or a buttery Kouigan Amann that are so perfect, you almost don’t want to disrupt them with a spoon. Demers and his team also offer baking workshops as well as a limited lunch menu during the week.

  • SSENSE <br><em> Old Montreal </em>

    Old Montreal

    Sure, there’s the beloved, only-in-Canada department store empire Holt Renfrew, but Montreal is also home to a five-story, David Chipperfield–designed brick-and-mortar store of one of our favorite online sites, SSENSE. It offers an encyclopedic array of brands, from Balmain to Charlotte Olympia to Diemme.