Little Italy is one of the most vibrant neighbourhoods in Montréal, bursting with unique little businesses and beautiful storefronts.
At the heart of it all is Marché Jean-Talon, which has become my go-to as soon as I arrive in Montréal to pick up groceries and a few treats to bring home.
Fresh produce lines the main corridor, but along the fringes you’ll find stalls specilising in exotic charcruterie, homemade pasta, cranberry products, chocolates, cheeses, and more.
And if you’re looking to try some of the excellent maple syrup products, this is the place to go. There are endless places to buy maple syrup in Montréal (and throughout all of Canada, really), but if you’ll end up paying four or five times as much as you should if you’re not careful.
Jean-Talon is a market meant to serve the local community, however, so you can rest assured everything you buy will not just be affordable but also top quality!
Once you’ve worked up an appetite, my head just across the street to Café Saint-Henri.
Montréal has no shortage or gorgeous little cafés, but this is one of my absolute favourites!
Besides having a lovely light and airy aesthetic and adorable tiny marble-top tables, their coffee is seriously kick-ass!
All of their coffee is crafted by hand using Chemex coffee makers at a little bar designed specifically for the task.
As you can see, they take their coffee seriously here. One of my favourite parts is just chatting with the barista while waiting for my coffee to come together.
One of their best kept secrets is their homemade sodas. While the rootbear and cola are delicious, the spruce soda is out of this world!
I don’t know of anywhere else that makes anything like it (if you do, I beg you to leave a comment and let me know!), and I can’t think of anything more quintessentially Canadian than evergreens. These make fantastic little gifts to bring home, as they won’t get smushed in your luggage and won’t count against any alcohol allowance!
Little Italy isn’t the first stop of most people visiting Montréal, but it really should be. It’s full of more cute cafés and specialty suppliers than I could ever explore on my lifetime, and gives you a feel of the local culture much more than Downtown or Vieux Port, as gorgeous as both of those places are.
And next time you go, be sure to let me know what gems you find there!