Style Star (and New Mama) Ruby Brown on Her Favorite Spots in Montreal

Ruby Brown Headshot

Ruby Brown left her hometown of Montreal to pursue a career in modeling, but she’s managed to make her way back and couldn’t be happier. “As we say in French, ‘Il fait bon vivre à Montréal,’” she says. “It’s a vibrant, unique, European-flavored city—the only city in North America where French language and culture prevail.” She also notes that there are more restaurants per capita than anywhere else in Canada. “Montrealers are real foodies,” she says. The fashion scene is pretty fantastic, too, as her picks below reflect. And an entrepreneurial spirit fits right in; Brown’s made-to-order fragrance business is thriving. “I’ll work seven days a week if I’m passionate about something,” she says.

It’s also a great place for kids, explains Brown, who’s a new mom to three-month-old Ella. “She’s small enough that I can bring her everywhere with me right now,” says Brown. “My life is fuller now as a mother than I could have ever imagined.”

Portrait courtesy of Genevieve Charbonneau.

Ruby’s Picks

  • Agrikol<br><em> Gay Village</em>

    Gay Village

    Win Butler and Regine Chassagne are Montreal natives, though you probably know them better as members of the rock band Arcade Fire. What you probably didn’t know is that they’re also restaurateurs—they opened this Haitian bar and eatery in Ville-Marie in 2016 (Chassagne’s parents are from Haiti). As you might expect of a restaurant named after a type of French-Caribbean rum, the cocktails here are home runs. We’d go for the Kokonut, made with rum, coconut cream, and a mix of tangerine, lime, and passion fruit juices. And if you order only one thing from the food menu, make it the pain patate. It’s a rich, sweet potato cake soaked in sugarcane sauce, baked with nutmeg and cinnamon, and sprinkled with rum-macerated raisins and perfection.

  • Art Mûr <br><em> La Petite-Patrie </em>

    Art Mûr
    La Petite-Patrie

    Established in 1996, Art Mûr, one of the largest contemporary galleries in Montreal, plays an important role in pushing the city’s creative landscape forward. Known for its roster of both local and Canadian artists, and particularly for its support of up-and-coming talent, the gallery regularly collaborates on shows with independent curators and larger Canadian museums. Look for monthlong shows by artists like Saskatchewan painter Judith Barry, whose semi-aerial landscape paintings are rendered beautifully in oil.

  • Denis Gagnon<br><em> Old Montreal</em>

    Denis Gagnon
    Old Montreal

    Denis Gagnon has an uncanny ability to work with leather in a way that feels sculptural and romantic at the same time. He works in a largely black palette, and no, his designs aren’t for the faint of heart—with details like exposed gold zippers, sequins, and cutouts on blazers, asymmetrical dresses, and blouses. Gagnon, also known for his thick black eyeglasses and heavy French-Canadian accent, was born in Montreal, so after spending years abroad working in Morocco in costume design, his return was a homecoming. The brand is adored for its eclectic ready-to-wear and custom one-off creations; the flagship store, located on a cobblestoned street in Old Montreal, has been around for almost a decade.

  • Jean-Talon Market <br><em>Little Italy</em>

    Jean-Talon Market
    Little Italy

    There are several European-style markets across Montreal, but Jean-Talon is one of the best known, as well as the largest. Open since 1933, the market shines year-round: In summer, stalls overflow with fresh fruit and produce from local farms and fresh seafood from the Gaspésie region; in winter, you can buy every imaginable maple treat (fudge, taffy, syrup, you name it). A few of our favorites include Havre aux Glaces for unusual sorbets in flavors like masala chai, lattes at Café Saint-Henri, and Quebec cheese at La Fromagerie Hamel.

  • Leméac<br><em> Outremont</em>


    Since its 2001 opening, Leméac has steadily grown to be one of Montreal’s best restaurants. Come here for classic French comfort food, like steak-frites and cabillaud (cod), as well as an extensive (and pretty intense) wine list. Save room for the cheese plate or one of the dozen of homemade desserts made in-house each night. In true Parisian-bistro style, the interiors are warm and it’s always packed with a good mix of locals and tourists. There’s a terrace that’s perfect for an outdoor Sunday brunch in the spring or summer.

  • 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.

  • Ritz-Carlton Montreal <br><em> Downtown </em>

    Ritz-Carlton Montreal

    As far as Ritz-Carltons go, the Montreal location is OG. (A bit of trivia: Opened in 1912, it was the first property in North America to bear the Ritz-Carlton name.) A four-year, $200 million renovation resulted in 129 slick, revamped rooms, which feature the creature comforts you’ve come to expect from the hotel group (marble-lined bathroom, city or garden views, heated floors, a soaking tub). Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Maison Boulud offers chef Daniel Boulud’s refined take on French food with an emphasis on locally sourced Quebec ingredients. The greenhouse is open year-round and is a picturesque spot to take in a meal and the action on Sherbrooke Street. Afternoon tea is kind of a thing here, too, and there are two seatings in the Palm Court, at 12:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. (Reservations needed.)

  • 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.