a quaint french café in mile end, montréal


Mile End is a part of Montréal much like Brooklyn, New York: varied immigrant communities, Hasidic Jews and artsy hipsters coexist, making it a sister neighborhood to Brooklyn’s Williamsburg.

It is known as the center of Montréal indie music, cultural diversity and all things “Montréal cool.” In this area of Montréal can be found a plethora of restaurants, cafés, designer boutiques, art galleries and one strangely placed porn theater.

The origins of the name “Mile End” are uncertain. The most prevalent explanation is that it is derived from the one-mile distance of the neighborhood’s south boundary [Mont Royal Ave] from Sherbrooke Street. Despite the uncertain source of the name, it is widely known as Montréal’s hippest neighborhood.

I made my way to Mile End, hoping to find a pot of gold in the form of a great café. As many of you know, I am always on the lookout for a quaint little spot to sip a latte, watch people, and take in the texture of a city. After I posed the question to a few locals and sifted out the answer of “Starbucks Café,” I made my way to the one recommendation that seemed legit – Café Sardine.

Tucked away on Fairmount just off of the main street of Saint-Laurent, Café Sardine met all of my expectations – and more. The interior is reminiscent of something one might find on the Rive Gauche in Paris, with dark wood, a full bar, proper espresso machines, and the atmosphere to match. The staff was friendly and the latte was perfection in liquid form. For foodies, there is also a full kitchen, and those around me who were eating all had grins from ear to ear.

My understanding is that Café Sardine has only been open a short time, so I wish it a long and happy café life. My favorite thing about the café was that in the men’s room there was an old early 20th century telephone on the wall. When I picked it up, I could hear a narration (a book?) by a man with a regal “Masterpiece Theater” voice, sounding very early 20th century. This detail is just one of many at Café Sardine that enhance the coffee experience.

If you are in Montréal be sure to take a moment to visit Café Sardine!

Café Sardine is located in Mile End at 9 Ave. Fairmont est at Saint-Laurent.

[2015 Update: Unfortunately Café Sardine has closed its doors depriving Montreal of a great cup of espresso.]