1. Crazy-good coffee
Start strong with a cappuccino and a slice of panettone at Caffè Italia, an authentic, no-frills coffee house. Need proof? Just look to its loyal patrons: older Italian men and artsy locals lining the bar. Posters of Italy, original ’50s decor and TVs showing soccer games round out the atmosphere and will make you feel like you’re back in Italia. 6840 Boul. Saint-Laurent, 514-495-0059.
2. One-shock stop
You need to see Quincaillerie Dante to believe it: The store sells high-end kitchenware at the front (think brightly coloured Le Creuset pots and KitchenAid mixers) — and guns and hunting knives in the back. The mom-and-pop shop has been around since 1956. The store — with the popular Mezza Luna Cooking School next door, also owned by the family — has turned matriarch Elena and her son, Stefano, into local legends. 6851 Rue St-Dominique, 514-271-2057.
3. Foodie paradise
The Jean-Talon Market is one of the few farmers’ markets open year-round, and it’s worth bundling up for. Sample fresh foods while chatting with vendors who are evangelical about their wares. Start with the bread, fresh fruit and vegetables in the market, then eat your way to La Fromagerie Hamel, which ages cheeses in its own ripening cellar and offers Quebec cheese you won’t find anywhere else. 7070 Ave. Henri-Julien, Marches Publics de Montreal.
4. Best slice ever
Now that you’ve whetted your appetite, grab a slice at the Boulangerie Marguerita (you can probably guess their specialty). They’ve been making old-school pizza since 1910 — and they’ve perfected it. Stop by early, since they’ve been known to run out. Before you leave, grab a few fresh-baked loaves of bread to bring back home. 6505 Rue Clark, Boulangerie Marguerita.
5. French on film
The old-fashioned feel of Cinéma Beaubien sets the mood for well-curated first-run French movies and Quebec cinema. The cinema plays French-only flicks that aren’t subtitled (an excuse to brush up on your French in the most entertaining way possible). And as one of the few independent cinemas left in the city, the building’s a Montreal institution. 2396 Rue Beaubien E., Cinema Beaubien.