The quality and range of options for grocery shopping in Montreal is exceptional, which is no surprise given the cosmopolitan makeup of the city. Pretty much everyone is a foodie who wants to show off their skills, so be prepared to be invited around for dinner regularly and don’t be afraid to return the invitation. The quality of food available is certainly one of the benefits of moving to Montreal.
Most Local dépanneurs (corner stores) sell basic items such and tinned and frozen food, but very few sell any fresh groceries. Most neighbourhoods, particularly around the Plateau and Mile End, have small specialty ethnic food stores and ought to be explored and patronised if possible. Below is a concise run-down of markets and supermarket chains for grocery shopping in Montreal.
Grocery shopping in Montreal: Public markets
Jean Talon Market: This superb farmers’ market in Little Italy is arguably the best in town. It’s open year-round, even during Montreal’s severe winters, and during the peak summer period (between June and October) its open-air arcades are occupied by about 300 vendors, mostly farmers from the countryside around Montreal. Even if you’re not living near the Little Italy/Mile End area, a trip to Jean Talon Market is definitely worth the effort.
The market is surrounded by other food businesses: meat, fish and cheese stores, bulk food emporia, dealers in spices and imported goods, bakeries, restaurants and a branch of the SAQ, among others. (Métro: Jean-Talon)
Atwater Market: Located in the Saint-Henri area and eight decades in operation, this farmers’ market, housed in long Art Deco building, is home to an array of quality butchers and the Première Moisson bakery and restaurant. The outside market has many stalls which sell both local and imported produce, as well as two cheese stores, a wine store specialising in local spirits and a fish store. (Métro: Lionel-Groulx)
Lachine Market: The Public Market of Lachine, which is accessible by bike from the cycle path of the Lachine Canal but not within walking distance of a Métro station, was recently renovated. It is the oldest public market in Montréal. Apart form the regular products that you can normally find in public markets, you will find here a butcher’s shop, a fish shop, a fine product store and a café where you can relax. It is open year-round, so you can buy fresh products in any season.
Maisonneuve Market: Exterior stalls and ten indoor food stalls are open year-round at this market in the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve area. Offering a variety of products found at large markets including flowers, fruits, vegetables, meats, cheese, fish, baked goods and locally-made products, the market is surrounded by some stunning buildings. The Beaux-Arts style building is the former site of the old market, built before World War I. In the middle, the fountain monument of Marius Dufresne is composed of a statue by Alfred Laliberté (1915), which depicts a market gardener of the 17th century. (Métro: Pie-XI, Viau)
Grocery shopping in Montreal: Supermarkets
IGA : A full-service province-wide chain, IGA has opened in multiple Montreal locations in recent years and is one of the best choices available for grocery shopping in Montreal. You can get excellent cheese, bread and fresh meats here, with a huge frozen section usually found somewhere down the back.
Provigo: A chain of large supermarkets, often selling higher end brands. A weekly shop here can often come to more than $100 at the till, but the quality is usually worth the outlay.
Metro: With ample locations across the city, you could find yourself living close to Metro supermarket. That’s good news is you enjoy a broad selection of local and imported beers, but bad news if getting absolutely everything on your shopping list as Metro is often out of some goods you would expect to find in an urban supermarket. Late opening hours are a bonus, however.
Couche-Tard: Not quite a supermarket but definitely more than a regular dépanneur, Couche-Tards can be found across Montreal. Don’t expect fresh products, but rather the kinds of things you would see in 7-eleven in the US: pre-made sandwiches, coffee, salty snacks, dairy and alcohol.
Costco: You’ll need a membership ($55 per year) but it pays itself off very quickly. A massive warehouse that houses a lot of the key day-to-day items you buy at the grocery store, insiders know to go for their very high quality meats and produce, as well as for buying toiletries in bulk. It’s also a good place to go if you’re looking to buy a new flat screen TV or any other electrical goods. Beware, you’ll be buying in large quantities so make sure you have ample freezer and fridge space and a car (or a willing friend with one), but it’s worth it if you’re buying for more than a couple of people.
A longer list of chain and independent grocery stores can be found here.