Nowhere has the term “hole-in-the-wall” been more applicable than in Montreal’s Plateau-Mont Royal. Every few blocks, in between the Plateau’s signature brownstone apartments, a bar is hiding on the corner of a residential street. Keeping with the area’s welcoming atmosphere, these bars are filled with friends meeting after work, or couples on casual dates. These days, it seems as though every street from Saint-Laurent to Saint-Denis boasts its own bar where locals gather like in a scene from How I Met Your Mother. The appeal of the hole-in-the-wall bar is undeniable. There is something about these places that makes you feel as though you’re a regular regardless of whether it’s your first time or your hundredth. Whether celebrating the end of midterms or mourning a fallen GPA, these bars along Rue Roy are the best places to feel at home over a pint of beer.
Icehouse is the perfect place for southern comfort food and a welcoming environment. It’s easy to understand why anyone might count this bar among their favourites. Located on the corner of Rue Saint-Dominique and Rue Roy, it is completely unassuming from the exterior. It is set apart from surrounding apartments by the white fairy lights strung around the outdoor patio. On the inside, however, the restaurant keeps to its Texan theme. The menu features fried chicken served in white and red striped buckets, tacos with pulled pork and fried shrimp, and pitchers of bourbon lemonade. Instead of conventional tables, patrons can gather around red picnic benches and drink out of star spangled pint glasses. Before the food arrives, a host will set the table with a brown paper tablecloth. Although the paper is perplexing at first, it is explained when the server dumps food meant for sharing directly onto the table. The cozy white lights, Texan flags, and old-school pictures of pin-up girls make for a unique experience on this inconspicuous street corner.
Bar Watts, on Rue Roy just west of Rue Saint-Denis, is identifiable only by a small white sign which bears its name. This sophisticated bar opened only a few weeks ago, and is the kind of hole-in the-wall that looks mysterious and unassuming. From the outside it blends into the houses that surround it, with a black painted front door and lack of window; however once inside, Bar Watts is anything but plain. At times, the bar verges on a slightly Gothic ambience; behind the DJ booth stands a three foot tall statue of the Virgin Mary which looks down on the dance floor. The restaurant is dimly lit by candles, and bottles line the walls, flickering in the light. In the front, there are sit-down tables and seats at the bar where patrons can bask in the stylish atmosphere. From there, people can watch as servers bring out delicious personalized pizzas and mini meatballs from a window that overlooks the kitchen. Their fancy pizzas have toppings like cauliflower, prosciutto, and arugula, but half-price pizza nights on Wednesdays and Sundays make this the perfect place to amble over with friends.
Else’s location at the corner of Rue Roy and Rue De Bullion earns its hole-in-the-wall status, but this restaurant is anything but anonymous. Famous for its neon blue exterior, Else’s is hard to miss. This neighbourhood bar was opened 21 years ago by a Norwegian woman named Else, who had newly arrived in Montreal. Although much has changed since it opened, Else’s has always been a spot for Plateau residents to meet over drinks and warm food. As the name itself implies, Else’s feels like stepping into a friend’s house. Potted plants hang from the windows and the tables are arranged in a haphazard mess; there is little sense of formality to the pub. You can chat for hours with friends over a hot cider or a pint of beer, and not want to leave. Else’s also puts a funky twist on typical bar food. Instead of your standard burger and fries, their menu includes everything from mini bison, quinoa, and fish burgers to veggie tacos and spicy chicken wings with sesame noodles.