Portugal street celebration. Photos by Cindy Lopez
In an already packed Montreal festival schedule, make room for the summer’s biggest sporting event. Yes, it’s World Cup of Soccer! Over the next month (June 14–July 15), 32 countries will compete for soccer supremacy in Russia, so there will be a time difference for watching games live. Bars, restaurants and venues for special viewing events will accommodate soccer crowds for morning games (8 a.m. and 10 a.m.) and early afternoon games (2 p.m. and 3 p.m.). A word of advice: most venues get packed for games, so show up early. Some places will take reservations, some are first come first serve, so I recommend calling ahead. Even finding a place at the bar can become its own sport.
There are plenty of places to watch soccer in this normally hockey crazed city. But for a real World Cup experience, here are a few soccer-friendly spots around the city where the atmosphere will be just right:
If you want to go the pub route, Burgundy Lion (2496 Notre-Dame W., (514) 934-0888) is the ultimate home of the “Beautiful game.” It’s all about pints and pub food, but watching soccer there is an experience itself, whether you’re cheering for England or the other clubs. I would say the same of their Mile End sister bar Bishop & Bagg (52 St-Viateur W., (514) 277-4400), for the food, cocktails and how packed it gets each time I pass by there for a match.
St-Laurent Boulevard is known for packed bars during World Cup, and plenty of impromptu street celebrations whenever there’s a Portugal or Brazil victory. Consider yourself warned — the street parties go on for a couple hours. Bar St-Laurent Frappé (3900 St-Laurent, (514) 289-9462) is home to mainly Latin American fanbases. This sports bar gets packed quickly well and has a rooftop terrasse and small street terrasse for games. Champs bar (3956 St-Laurent, (514) 987-6444) is considered St-Laurent’s sports bar institution, with wall-to-wall TVs and large crowds for Portugal games. Club Espanol de Québec (4388 St-Laurent, (514) 842-6301) is the social club with the back terrasse that will get packed when Spain plays. Along with the good soccer vibe, they also serve solid tapas.
If you want to stay in the downtown core, Bier Markt (1221 René-Lévesque W. (514) 864-7575) is a good bet for the soccer crowd, having served as the unofficial home of defending champion Germany during the previous tournament. Come for the food and craft beer, stay to cheer for Germany, Belgium or a potential surprise team.
Back on the Plateau, Bar l’ Barouf (4171 St-Denis (514) 844-0119) will be cheering loud for les Bleus this tournament. This multilevel bar on St-Denis (with a good beer selection) had a tendency for crowd spill-out as fans end up outside on the street watching games though their big open windows.
Bar Monsieur Ricard
If you’re more in the mood for a good coffee than beer, Café Club Social (180 St-Viateur W., 514) 495-0114) has that good combination of easy going café vibe and casual soccer-watching spot. It does get packed quickly, both inside and on the side terrasse with some onlookers hovering over the fence. Caffe Italia (6840 St-Laurent, (514) 495-0059) is another café option if you simply want to sip espresso and enjoy the old fashioned café atmosphere and just focus on the game. Yes, Italy may not be in this World Cup but you may still enjoy watching matches in Little Italy.
I’m always a fan of the neighbourhood bar where everyone knows everyone. Bruno’s Sports Bar (313 Beaubien E., (514) 271-8364) fills that role in Little Italy, and it’s always full for soccer games. There are plenty of TVs inside, and a terrasse where everyone stops by to check the score. Bar Monsieur Ricard (4543 Parc, (514) 678-1862) is a Marseilles-inspired bar is known for its France fans, snacks and a packed terrasse that fill up super early. ■