Laurier Ouest: A neighbourhood guide to Montreal's hidden luxury avenue

Blending the high echelons of Montreal culture with bohemian lotus-eating, Laurier Ouest is a rare gem of a neighbourhood in Montreal.

The Main

The Main

June 2, 2024- Read time: 10 min
Laurier Ouest: A neighbourhood guide to Montreal's hidden luxury avenueAnother day at chef Pamika Sukla’s one-two punch of traditional and inspired Thai food alongside deep cellars at Le Wine Room. | Photograph: Courtesy SDC Laurier Ouest

Running from Saint-Laurent Boulevard up to the city’s green lung of Mount Royal, Laurier Ouest’s concentrated strip forms brackish waters where Outremont and Plateau intertwine with one another as it crosses multiple main thoroughfares of the city. Walking along its stretch that as many as 45,000 residents call home, one finds over 100 boutiques, over 30 restaurants and bars, and timeless moments of art and festivities to explore.

Reveling in the lap of luxury, spontaneous and unexpected moments of artistry, exploring a bazaar’s worth of curated shops and artisans, atmospheric destinations for dining and drinking—here’s what to experience on Laurier Ouest, day or night.

Retail therapy: Shopping on Laurier Ouest

Laurier Ouest’s original claim to fame lies in its wealth of high-end fashion boutiques: Curators of some of the best this city has to offer as well as homegrown designers that have laid the foundation for the street’s notoriety.

The precision leather and travel goods of Annick Levesque, local sketches, cuts and sewing from François Beauregard, explorations of femininity through fashion at UCHUU, award-winning indie menswear from École de Pensée, the inspired design and ethical materials of MYEL’s jewlery (that now sports a unique design shop attaché 207 Ouest), Atelier Boutique Isabelle Elie, even the now-international shoe brand La Canadienne that dates back to 1987—all of it comes from this slice of the city.

Michel Brisson himself of the eponymous boutique, who's been running his business for over two decades. | Photograph: Courtesy SDC Laurier Ouest

And then there are the curators who pull together collections that stay ahead of the fashion curve: The Saucier + Perrotte Architectes-designed boutique set in a former bank that hints to its highly-prized collection, Michel Brisson is an amazing source for high-end, ready-to-wear minimalist and contemporary clothing, shoes and accessories. There’s the ecological, timeless and versatile fashion and lifestyle products of Boutique Departement. Brigitte Gasparyan’s Boutique Le Boudoir holds the keys to a lot of collections from around the world and refreshes it all weekly. Even the children’s shop Billie le Kid can turn heads.

This only scratches the surface, and Laurier Ouest has grown beyond fashion as well. The street’s overall collection also includes spots like the homeware shop Boutique Crème, the publishing house and bookstore of La Pastèque, art supplies from Lézard Créatif, and the interior designers of Moine Urbain Compagnie whose wares can be found in millionaires’ homes and VIP lounges of airports.

Creating the perfect pairing of lavish living, one can relax their feet after a long day of shopping by paying a visit to spots like Spa St-Laurent, Beauties Lab, Spa De Molinard, Les Bains de Cléopâtre, Lio Fratelli, and Illusarium.

The (golden) upper crust: Restaurants on Laurier Ouest

Art imitates life, right? So as if they were drawing inspiration from all the high fashion drawcards of Laurier Ouest, the time-honored restaurants of the area and their famed chefs also keep the bar raised.

We’re talking about homages to foundational French cuisine like the inimitable Leméac or the classic Chez Lévêque, or the twists of creativity only Montreal can come up with at La Chronique.

Marianne Côté, sommelier of La Chronique. | Photograph: Courtesy SDC Laurier Ouest

Just as precise and unique, Japanese cuisine is also found on the street; these include institutional place like Jun I from chef Junichi Ikematsu and his dining boutique Ôkini, as well as the swish services of sake and sushi from Mikado and the refined work of Côba Sushi. Even Sushi Dept, which focuses on making the best damn takeout in city, makes great sushi.

Chef Junichi Ikematsu of Jun I and Ôkini. | Photograph: Courtesy SDC Laurier Ouest

Finally, no trifecta of world-famous cuisines would be complete without Italian food, which Fiorellino (set in a jaw-droppingly awesome dining room_ and Il Paggliacio (with its amazing wine selection and honest cooking of simplicity) both make with unforgettable style.

But while all these names have long acted as gastronomic anchors in the area, Laurier Ouest has become an up-and-coming area for eating out as younger and equally exciting names have begun showing up.

Among these include the caviar bumps, grand hotel-inspired menus, and choice drinking of Kabinet; chef Pamika Sukla’s one-two punch of traditional and inspired Thai food alongside deep cellars at Le Wine Room; and the Chinese restaurant Oncle Lee that sets a new standard in the city for its contemporary approach to its cuisine.

And what’s all of this without dessert? Completing Laurier Ouest’s full package of offerings are the bakeries and sweets: Pastry chef Michele Halwaji’s award-winning and Middle Eastern-influenced desserts and cakes at Maison Halwa, Pâtisserie Mélilot’s photogenic French pastries made by a trifecta of industry veterans, and some of the city’s most decadent ice cream at Iconoglace.

Rather have a coffee? Hit up Café Novanta or Toi, moi & Café and watch the world go by.

Cheers to that: Bars and nightlife on Laurier Ouest

If the dining scene on Laurier Ouest isn’t indicative of the street’s evolution in recent years, the bars and nightlife is the proof. Several destinations have set up shop here, and together capture the full range of the high-class-meets-bohemian-living atmosphere the area’s now known for.

Alongside the aforementioned Kabinet (just as good for drinks as it is for bites), Bar Henrietta is among the most popular terrasses in the area come summertime, and with good reason: Its combination of traditional Portuguese tavern vibes with modern style, natural and organic wines, and skill with cocktails keep its tables in high demand—good thing they don’t take reservations.

Later at night, the nightclub Datcha will be the one overflowing. Its low-lit, cocktail-forward bar consistently brings both established and young blood from the DJ scene, and keeps the scene fun with extra events like jazz and tarot readings.

Video: @bardatcha / Instagram

But if buzzy terrasses with mixology and dancefloors aren’t your thing, Laurier Ouest provides those looking for something on the complete opposite side of that spectrum with not one but two options: Dieu du Ciel!’s brewpub is a pioneer of Montreal’s craft beer scene and unsurprisingly sees crowds kicking back at all times of the year to sip pints of their classics and try their latest experiments; meanwhile there's Taverne du Pélican, which feels like it can only be described as a modern dive bar with its classy interior, is a perfect spot to drink cheap, eat well, and enjoy company.

Finally, keep an eye on the five-storey, 40-room Hôtel Mile End designed by architect Henri Cleinge that includes a restaurant and gallery space from Hubert Marsolais of Le Club Chasse et Pêche.

Expect the unexpected: Culture and things to do on Laurier Ouest

Recent years have seen festivities creeping onto the strip—a lot of locals remember when Guatemalan-American artist Joshua Vides transformed the Lave-Auto Laurier carwash into a 2D black and white cartoon.

These days, Laurier Ouest’s been bringing the party to Montreal: Its festival Mile End en fête completely overtakes the street and spills out as far as Saint-Laurent Boulevard, Parc Avenue, and the streets of Bernard, St-Viateur, Fairmount. Combining pop-ups with artistic performances, DJs, concerts, family activities, and a discovery passport to guide newcomers and uncover gems for longtime Montrealers, it serves as a premier event to explore the area over one weekend, and leaves its mark through things like murals from local artists Ankh One and Seth.

It's also worth mentioning that come Christmas time, the street’s turned into a holiday village worth exploring that brings in a lot of locals (and that’s saying something about Montrealers who stay home during winter).

If you can’t make it to either party, there are other occasions worth checking out: Place Kate McGarrigle, named after the Montreal author and composer, features a public piano in the summer that draws in flash performances and free practice. There’s also the Roman Catholic Saint-Viateur d'Outremont Church which bookends one end of Laurier Ouest and plays host to inspiring classical music—what’s better than a church, designed specifically for acoustics, to listen to live music?

Finally, one can either enjoy the art collections of Le Salon Art Club or just appreciate the architecture and museum of the Pompiers Auxiliaires de Montréal firehall.

Swiss-born MontrealerJean-Daniel Rohrer of Le Salon Art Club (right), who's been devoted to painting since 2004. | Photograph: Courtesy SDC Laurier Ouest

Discover everything—and we mean everything—Laurier Ouest has to offer here.

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