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Best Montreal Nightlife

AOL PICK from our Editors
Whether your seat of choice is on an elegant sidewalk terrace or crammed in beside an eclectic jukebox, Montréal has got it covered. Montréal nightlife is like nowhere else in Canada—or even North America. The combination of the Gallic pace and charm of summer’s sidewalk patios and terraces, and the exuberance of the city’s clubs and parties make this an incredible nightlife destination. Perhaps the most distinctive aspect of Montréal nightlife is the 5-à-7—a charming filler between work and dinner that has become an absolute institution in this social city. Even a fierce ice storm won’t stop locals from stopping in at their top spot. Although some trickle home after an appetizer or two, many Montréalers stay out for the night at this stage. Bars and clubs don’t get packed till 10 or 11PM—and they stay packed till 3AM. Downtown is home to many top cinq à sept (5 to 7) spots, as well as busy, pricy, lively lounges and clubs. Rue Crescent is the epicenter of downtown shenanigans, but things are pretty boisterous on party streets Peel, de la Montage, Bishop and MacKay, between Ste -Catherine and Blvd René Lévesque, too. There are also plenty of interesting nightspots in The Plateau and Mile End. Expect a mixed crowd of students, creative types and out-of-towners milling over local Maudite (“Damned”) brews. St-Laurent is the place for personable cafes and irresistible rooftop terraces. For a more Francophone take on your night out, hit the patios of St-Denis. A short taxi ride away, Outremont is where the hipsters go when they start to slow down a bit and opt for a few cocktails instead of a crate. The Old Port is the up-and-coming drinking and dancing destination, popular with visitors and a young professional set. The Village offers some of the wildest lesbian and gay nightlife in North America, and is also the place to go for mixed after-hours parties at super-clubs that keep going till dawn and well beyond.

Bu

Neighborhood: The Plateau, Mile End, and Little Italy
A little-known Mile End wine den on Upper-St-Laurent, Bu is an elegant, unpretentious spot to linger over shared plates and a few glasses of French or Italian wine. An extensive 500-option wine list is paired with regional Italian specialties, from marinated salmon with sweet potatoes to beef carpaccio. It’s a perfect place to hit after a day’s ambling in the neighborhood, when you want to have a quiet drink and conversation, or when you want something stellar to sip; Bu’s staff really knows their wines. It tends to be quiet on weeknights and you shouldn’t have any problem getting a table. On weekends, it’s a good idea to call ahead just in case there’s an unusually busy evening ahead. Make sure to look twice at the sign; pan-Asian restaurant Bô, better known for its Vietnamese than its vino, is in the next block.

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Brutopia

Neighborhood: Downtown
Billed as downtown Montréal’s premier brewpub, this raucous three-level hops haven has been pulling pints of their delicious in-house craft beers since 1997. Three outdoor terraces, tasty late-night noshes of tapas, finger food and sandwiches, and nightly entertainment ensure the mostly 20-something/student crowds arrive after class, and work and stay till they’re pried out at 3AM. Happy hour is from 3 till 8PM every day. We like to duck in on a Monday for all-day (and all night) happy hour and while away the end of the afternoon sampling each brew, including our favorite, the heady Raspberry Blond.

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Gogo Lounge

Neighborhood: The Plateau, Mile End, and Little Italy
No late night St-Laurent bar-crawl would be complete without a visit to this famed retro-themed lounge. We tend to make it our last stop since there’s something so addictive about Gogo’s kitschy cool that we have trouble leaving. It’s incredibly cheesy, but somehow so unabashedly fun that we keep coming back. Seven nights a week, Gogo is crammed with rambunctious 20- and 30-somethings lounging in hand-shaped tulip chairs or cozying up in the loft area’s booths and striped banquettes. Peruse the cocktails and martinis that fill the vintage LP-printed menus—try a Kryptonite or a Captain America—then hit the floor to dance to obscure 1960s classics, 1970s funk, 1980s new-wave anthems and modern pop gems. We’re always amazed by how many people can cram onto the tiny dance floor.

Bifteck

Neighborhood: The Plateau, Mile End, and Little Italy
Former stomping ground of Hole and Smashing Pumpkins bassist Melissa Auf der Maur and center of the city's alt-music scene, le Bif is a Plateau landmark. Students and musicians mill around in this dive bar that gets seriously packed after about 10PM. Don't come hungry, the only edible item on the menu is popcorn. The crowd, which veers from late teenage to those barely hanging onto their 30s, comes for the Windex and Kamikaze shooters, for inebriated games of pool, and for deals on pitchers in this dimly lit St-Laurent dive.

Café des Éclusiers

Neighborhood: Old Montréal
Don’t be fooled by this seasonal summer hotspot club/restaurant/lounge/beach club’s seemingly sedate locale at the water’s edge of the Old Port: Café des Éclusiers’ popularity with the well-heeled 5-à-7 crowd makes it a non-stop hive of cocktail quaffing, tapas-nibbling, see-and-be-seen activity and gawking. If you manage to arrive early enough to avoid the weekday after-work fracas and lengthy lineups, you’ll be treated to fabulous views of the Old Port and the Montréal skyline on one of the city’s most heavily trodden terraces. Alternatively, join the madness inside and sidle up to the large indoor bar. Weekends see the place transformed into an urban beach oasis, with the addition of chaises longues, and towel and drink service lending a decidedly South Beach vibe.

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