As the temperature drops, final exams rear their ugly heads, and the red zone sluggishly persists in Montreal, going out to buy groceries is sometimes the only excitement I find myself getting in a day otherwise filled with Zoom meetings and assignments. Changing out of my comfortable but not-so-stylish sweatpants into, well, my comfortable and slightly more stylish sweatpants, I find myself having a “main character” moment each time I finally leave the comfort of my bed to buy groceries, as if I’m starring in my own rom-com. After all, grocery stores are one of the few places left open in Montreal that allow us to encounter new people. A novel form of excitement exists in 2020, often felt through the rare interactions we have with strangers. And if we’re elevating the experience of simply leaving our homes to buy groceries, why not elevate the products we’re buying and the stores from which we buy them too? Check out these six Montreal markets below to expand beyond Milton-Parc and get out of your grocery shopping comfort zone!
Let’s start with a classic. One of Montreal’s oldest (and cheapest) grocery stores, Segal’s market is an absolute gem located on Saint-Laurent boulevard. Founded in 1927, Segal’s Market harbours a unique sense of community that you likely won’t find at any other grocery store in Montreal. The bustling shop is filled to the brim with various products, creating an exhilaratingly chaotic atmosphere beloved by everyone from McGill students to long-time Montreal residents. Notably, the store has a large supply of organic options as well as many locally grown fruits and vegetables, which are sold for a fraction of the price you’d find at many other grocery stores around the city. I’d say Segal’s delightfully quirky vibe is epitomized by this: shopping carts filled with baguettes, random crates of $1 chocolate, compost bins full of olives, and their iconic tofu wall. If you’re looking for great products, cheap prices, and a way to support a local business during this pandemic, Segal’s market is definitely a place to check out! And remember: Segal’s does not provide any plastic bags, so make sure you remember to bring your own bags or are prepared to carry back all your groceries in a recycled cardboard box!
Hours: Monday-Friday / 9:30am to 8:30pm
Saturday / 10:00am to 9pm
Address: 4001 Boulevard Saint-Laurent, Montreal, QC H2W 1Y4
Located a short metro ride away from campus in Montreal’s Côte-Des-Neiges neighborhood, Epicure Market offers a wide variety of Russian and Eastern European foods. In fact, it’s the largest European food chain in Quebec! Interested in trying some new pastries? Check out Epicure’s bakery and indulge in everything from freshly baked breads to delicious baklava. No sweet tooth today? No problem! Epicure’s deli counter has a large assortment of sausages, hams, and cured meats. They also serve lunch, so if you’re craving a full meal, definitely stop by their Mix-&-Match, ready-to-eat counter featuring various European specialities. After visiting Epicure Market a few weeks ago with some friends, I have two personal recommendations that I definitely encourage you to try: their house-made perogies and frozen cheesecake bars! These cheesecake bars are life-changing (and they have a whole freezer section dedicated to various flavours.) Since its opening in 2011, the market’s quaint environment, lovely staff, and, of course, delicious food have continued to attract customers from all over Quebec, and if you’d prefer to stay cozy inside your home, they now offer a delivery service as well!
Hours: Monday-Friday / 8am to 9pm
Saturday-Sunday / 9am to 8pm
Address: 5252 Pare St, Montreal, Quebec H4P 1P5
Do you ever find yourself craving some amazing coffee while also realizing you need to pick up some unorthodox ingredients for dinner? Why not do it all in one trip! Located in the heart of downtown Montreal, La Finca Cafe and Market acts as both your local coffee shop and grocery store. Their mini-market offers a unique selection of products that change with each season, allowing for a constant influx of new discoveries and creations. They strive to support small businesses from all around Montreal, sourcing many of their products from local sellers. They have everything from craft beers ,to fresh fruits and vegetables, to even artisanal plantain chips! To see all their products as well as the businesses who make them, definitely check out their website or take a quick trip downtown to visit them – and try their grilled cheese sandwich and mocha latte while you’re at it!
Hours: Wednesday-Friday / 8:30am to 5pm
Saturday-Tuesday / 8:30am to 4pm
Address: 1067 Rue de Bleury, Montréal, QC H2Z 1N1
After arriving in Montreal this August for my first year at McGill, I quickly learned that Lola Rosa restaurant on Milton and Lorne was a McGill and Montreal staple. From their black bean burrito to their chipotle chili, this restaurant’s offerings nearly convinced me to go vegan! Since Montreal entered the red zone this past October, I’ve been unable to indulge myself in the classic Lola Rosa dining experience. While browsing their website the other day though, I made a new discovery: Épicerie Lola Rosa. Consisting of meal boxes, five-minute meal kits, and signature housemade products such as fruit candies, cookies, and spreads, Épicerie Lola Rosa allows you to experience some of your favorite Lola Rosa dishes all from the comfort of your own kitchen. You can choose to reheat prepared meals or recreate some of their tastiest recipes made from fresh and local products! Their various boxes and kits come with ingredients ready to cook, and directions specific to recipes can be found on their website. If you’re ever in the mood to cook, but don’t know what to make, Épicerie Lola Rosa can send you the perfect box of ingredients (I know I’m definitely considering buying their Nacho Mountain kit.) And if you’re still not convinced, all their containers are 100% compostable! Orders can be picked up from any Lola Rosa location or delivered to your address.
Hours: Monday-Sunday / 11:30 am to 9:30pm
Address: The internet!
As one of the leading Asian grocery stores in Montreal, Kim Phat was founded all the way back in 1986 with the goal of providing Quebecers with access to classic and delicious products from all over Asia — and with three current storefronts, it’s clear they succeeded! Now, the grocery store is almost always the first to be referenced to someone in search of a good Asian grocery store in Quebec…and with good reason. Each store seems to have everything your heart could desire, from specialized bakery sections that provide fresh breads and pastries every day, to live fish counters with aquariums, to even a Cantonese barbecue counter which prepares amazing dishes on the spot. And, of course, Kim Phat has all your favorite Asian snack foods. If you’re really in the mood to cook an authentic dish, Kim Phat even sells specialized kitchen supplies, such as woks and rice cookers, and they provide various recipes on their website. With friendly staff, delicious products, and a great goal in mind, Kim Phat is definitely a considerable Asian grocery store to check out in Montreal!
Hours: Saturday-Wednesday / 9am to 7pm
Thursday-Friday / 9 am to 8pm
Address: 3588 Rue Goyer, Montréal, QC H3S 1J1
A great way to end our recommendations today is another classic located on Saint-Laurent. L’Española is a great place to check out if you’re in the mood for some amazing Spanish and Latin food. Originally founded in 1964, they’re now one of the leading Spanish and South American grocery stores in the country! They have delicious products imported from all over Spain and South America, with everything from artisanal Gazpacho to Alfajor cookies to specialty cheeses! And don’t forget about their Garcima Paella kits. That’s right, you can make your own traditional Paella on these special cooking stands from the comfort of your own home! L’Española offers both grocery delivery and in-person shopping right now, so you can pop in anytime you like! The store’s warm atmosphere and selection of products ranging from olive oils, sausages, pottery, and even a wall of espadrille sandals transport you into another world and evoke the feeling that you’re in a cute little shop in the middle of Spain.
Hours: Monday – Wednesday / 10am to 6pm
Thursday – Friday / 10am to 8pm
Saturday / 10am to 5pm
Address: 3811 St Laurent Blvd, Montreal, Quebec H2W 1X9
And those are my recommendations. Grocery stores are one of the only red zone-appropriate activities we can all partake in, and Montreal is brimming with creative and cosmopolitan options to explore. So stay safe, grab those reusable bags, and have fun strolling through this city’s awesome grocery store scene!