This article is updated on a regular basis. A version of this article was first written for the Tourisme Montreal blog.
In the last few years, Montreal has seen a boom in artisanal boulangeries (bread bakeries) and pâtisseries (pastry shops). From specialized cupcake stores, designer donuts and dainty French pastries to more traditional buttery baked goods, croissants and crusty baguettes, the city has it all. Here’s a breakdown of all sweet things Montreal has to offer organized by neighbourhood, so that you may always find your way to the closest flaky, gooey or crispy delectable snack…
This is easily the neighbourhood with the highest concentration of boulangeries and pâtisseries in Montreal. Considered one of the hippest areas in the city, this predominantly francophone hood counts a lot of French ex-pats as residents. This may be why so many boulangeries have opted to set up shop here, often competing for the title of best croissant in town within a few blocks of each other. Among those are Boulangerie Mr. Pinchot, Boulangerie Les cop’ains d’abord (three locations) and Fou desserts, which are all within walking distance so you can go on a croissant crawl and judge for yourself. Another contender in the croissant debate is Pâtisserie Au Kouign Amann on avenue Mont-Royal est. The almond croissant there is my favourite but people flock to this tiny spot specifically for a slice of their famous kouign amann, a layered butter and sugar cake from Brittany with addictive qualities. Mamie Clafoutis on Saint-Denis is also another great spot for croissants, breads and baked pastries like their near perfect cannelés or the nutty pistachio and almond pavé with cherries.
If it’s macarons you’re looking for, no need to look further than Boutique Point G, the definite winner when it comes to this delicate confection that has been all the rage for the past few years. Classic flavours like chocolate and lemon share the beautiful store with seasonal sensations such as this Spring’s violet and honey and last Valentine’s Day cherry confit made with local cherries.
CRémy Pâtisserie is a well-known and well-loved sweet spot specializing in donuts, brownies and révelos (cake pops). Look for the new CRémy food truck out on the streets this summer, which will be delivering their sweet confections and over-sized donuts all over town.
Located near a stretch of Laurier Avenue east that is becoming more and more trendy, Pâtisserie Rhubarbe is one of my favourites. The desserts here are elegant, dainty and although based on French classics, always created with a slight twist that makes them extra special. The tarte au citron is especially delicious, so are the éclairs that are adapted to each season. Just around the corner is Le fromentier, one of the first artisanal boulangeries in Montreal where you can not only buy great bread but also cheeses and charcuteries for an easy picnic in nearby Parc Laurier.
ROSEMONT/PETITE PATRIE/LITTLE ITALY/VILLERAYThe Little Italy neighbourhood of Montreal has its share of traditional Italian pastry shops like Alati Caserta where the ricotta-filled cannoli have become famous across the island. They are filled just as you order them to prevent them from going soggy and are just perfect to eat at the little park across the street with a strong Italian espresso from one of the many caffès around. These days, a new crop of pastry shops has slowly been asserting its presence in this neighbourhood, some with an Italian influence like La Cornetteria and its flaky cornetti (Italian-style croissants) or cronetti (their version of the 2013 cronut craze) and some with a more rustic and traditional feel, like the adorable Mlles Gâteaux, located in the heart of Villeray, just a few blocks north of Little Italy and serving excellent desserts like a decadent carrot cake with pineapple and carrot confit. Further south, Pâtisserie Bicyclette is a neighbourhood spot serving old fashioned desserts such as rustic pies, cakes and cookies. If you’re a doughnut fan, Trou de Beigne, one of the best artisanal doughnut providers in Montreal has taken up residence in a fun and colourful space in Petite Patrie with 9 doughnut flavours on display at all times, including some of their classics as well as seasonal ones. A new bakery with a Scandinavian flare has just opened in Rosemont. Automne Boulangerie makes amazing bread (try their fig and anise one) and pastries and is the latest baby from chef Seth Gabrielse and award-winning bread maker Julien Roy.
The area also has a lion share of critically acclaimed bakeries; including Le pain dans les voiles and their award-winning baguette and absolutely delicious croissants and pizzas. Joe la croûte, another excellent spot located within the Jean-Talon market will surely win you over with the Mythique, a crispy roll containing black olives, sheep’s milk’s cheese, garlic flower and sea salt. If you prefer sweet to savoury, the Troubadour (apricots, hazelnuts, sea salt) is also an excellent choice. A little further east, De froment et de sève offers many breads that you can buy to go or enjoy at the on-site bistro. Give the maple butter croissant a try or enjoy one of the many sandwiches prepared on their homemade bread. One of Boulangerie Les cop’ains d’abord’s three stores is located on rue Masson in Rosemont. This artisanal bakery has been known to make one of Montreal’s best croissants.
OUTREMONT/PARK EX/MILE END
Outremont is well known for its many leafy parks, its mansions, and its many restaurants along Van Horne and Bernard streets. It’s also known for the excellent breads and baked goods found at Mamie Clafoutis, famous for its nut and blue cheese baguette or its Mamie Choc, a decadent mile-high rich and moist cake, my idea of the absolutely perfect chocolate cake. Just a few doors down, take a bite of Le Paltoquet’s buttery croissant, which, although smaller than some of their competitors, have been declared the best in the city by connaisseurs. If you are looking for something more traditional, Jewish Boulangerie Cheskies has been celebrating the neighbourhood’s cultural heritage with its excellent chocolate babka and rugelash. The newest addition to the area’s sweet spots is Gâteaulogie, a cute little shop on Van Horne Avenue serving cupcakes, cake pops, whoopie pies and macarons.
The Mile-End is the hottest neighbourhood in Montreal these days. It’s no wonder then that some of the city’s sweetest addresses are found in this hip and trendy area. Boulangerie Hof Kelsten and its owner, baker extraordinaire Jeffrey Finkelstein, have had some of the best restaurants in town on their client list. One bite of the rye and caraway seed bread will have you converted and a slice of the chocolate babka will have you hooked.
Boulangerie Guillaume just a few blocks up the street has become a staple for its excellent breads and flaky pastries. The array of breads can be dizzying but the cheddar and fig baguette or L’Écolier – a chocolate bread – are always a great choice.
When it comes to cakes, the Mile-End has two addresses to check out: Cocoa Locale and its exquisite and dainty artisanal creations with a touch of vintage and Dolce & Gâteaux, for all your gourmet cupcake needs.
You can easily walk from one end of Old Montreal to another while eating your way through its many fantastic pastry shops. On the far west side, Olive & Gourmando has been serving some of the city’s best baked goods for the past 10 years. You can’t really miss it, it’s the spot with the line up outside. The chocolate and banana brioche is a must as are the cheese croissants, brownies and cookies. If you’re gluten-intolerant, you’re in luck! Cookie Stéphanie up the street is the place for you to indulge without worrying.
Further down towards the Old Port you’ll find Maison Christian Faure, the best French-style pâtisserie in town. Pastry chef and Meilleur ouvrier de France [MOF] Christian Faure creates elegant classics and seasonal desserts at his pastry shop, café and pastry school all rolled into one. The praline Paris-Brest is the best one you’ll ever taste this side of the Atlantic and the chocolate soufflé is exceptionally decadent (for in-store consumption only) (read my full review here).
Head north to the adorable cupcake store Les Glaceurs and even further east to Bar à beurre where you will find an array of mini cakes, macarons and homemade breads. If you are on the lookout for something more exotic, Pâtisserie Harmonie in Chinatown offers several pre-packaged options like sugar-coated donuts or their version of pig-in-a-blanket.
Downtown is not necessarily the first Montreal neighbourhood that comes to mind if you’re trying to locate your next sweet fix but a couple of spots are unique to this area and make it worth the trek. If you’re a cupcake fan, then you’re well served in the downtown core. One of Les Glaceurs’ four locations is in the heart of downtown where they serve some of the best cupcakes in Montreal. Another cupcake store is Dolce & Gâteaux, serving gourmet and elegant cupcakes.
If you have food allergies and are always on the lookout for a dairy, peanut, gluten, egg, lactose or any-allergen-free dessert, you’re in luck with Pâtisserie Petit Lapin in Westmount. For having tasted their allergen-free cupcakes, I can assure you that they rival any “real” ones in taste and texture.
Café Bazin is the latest addition to the Westmount restaurant and pastry shop scene. Chef Bertrand Bazin has partnered up with chef Antonio Park to open a pastry shop slash French bistro serving classics such as bœuf bourguignon and vol-au-vent as well as excellent desserts. Try the coffee and chocolate tart and the chocolate cake.
The west part of Montréal has been seeing a renaissance of sorts for the past couple of years. This includes the revival of retro desserts like donuts at Léché Desserts, a designer shop with decadent flavours like peanut butter & jam, chocolate mousse or strawberry shortcake when Québec strawberries are in season.
Rustique Pie Kitchen is another shop delving in the art of old-school desserts, in this case “a country pie stand in the city”. From blueberry to cherry to banana cream, the flavours change with the season. It is recommended to taste several of the mini-pies and to buy some for the road, you’re going to want one later.
If you find yourself in Verdun, Boulangerie Rustique Sweet Lee’s makes homey desserts like brownies and muffins but their specialty is the stuffed croissants, like the raspberry or lemon blueberry. They share a space with Café Saint-Henri so you can enjoy your pastry with a great cup of coffee.Patrice Pâtissier located in Little Burgundy just below downtown is easily one of the best pâtisseries in Montreal. Pastry chef and owner Patrice Demers has a huge following and his fans – a category to which I belong – swear by his financiers (brown butter cakes), his kouign amann (layered butter and sugar cake originally from Brittany) and his various verrines (layered desserts in jars). If you decide to sit and order dessert, go for Le Vert, a decadent (and now famous) dessert involving green apples, pistachios, olive oil, cilantro and a yogurt and white chocolate cream.
Newcomer pastry chef Nick Kemball has made a splashy entrance on the Montreal pastry scene with his unconventional shop Libertine Bakehouse. The branding of the store is reminiscent of a vintage tattoo parlour and features a dessert-loving skull. The pastry case is filled with delicious desserts (try the chocolate and banana tart, my favourite!) and whimsical combinations such as a miso and chocolate Paris Brest.
The second and much anticipated location for La Bête à pain is in the heart of Griffintown. They will be serving their exceptional breads, pastries, lunches and brunches at this location as well. Read below to find out what you should be ordering here (basically, everything!).
THE VILLAGE/EAST END
De farine et d’eau fraîche is most certainly one of the cutest pastry boutique and cafés in the city. Owner and baker Marilu Gunji is the brilliant mastermind behind the adorable cookies, cakes and desserts – including the delicious chocolate ball filled with custard – which are all served on dainty vintage porcelain (read my full review here). The newly opened Arte e Farina has mastered the art of Italian pastries. The pannetone is an absolute must around the holidays but anything you get from here will surely hit the spot, including the delicious pizze.
Further east around the Hochelaga Maisonneuve neighbourhood, you’ll find a bread and pastry baking institution, La Fabrique ArHoMa and its sister store – ArHoMa Boulangerie Fromagerie located even further east. The breads have been proclaimed the best in the city and the pasties, including tarts, mousses and cakes, are just as good. Further east in HoMa (Hochelaga Maisonneuve), Les Gourmandises de Marie-Antoinette offers French-style pastries, chocolates and macarons.
Travel north into Ahuntsic where you will find La Bête à pain, one of the best sweet spots in Montreal. All the breads here are exceptionally good, so are the pizzas with their daily toppings. The cannelés – crunchy on the outside and creamy on the inside – are truly exceptional (read my full review of their brunch here).
I sometimes simply head to my local Première Moisson for a sandwich, a baguette or a cake. Yes they have several locations around the province and have become somewhat of a small chain but they have somehow managed to keep an artisanal approach to baking. Their croissants are buttery, their baguettes crispy and their Royal chocolate cake delicious. I also like purchasing their frozen puff pastry for all my baking needs.
Check out my Google map of Montreal’s best pastry shops and bakeries with the location of all of these places. It’s a handy tool to have when you’re craving a sweet fix.