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Metro Roulette: Bien at Beaubien

Posted by MP / August 8, 2006

Beaubien001.jpgThe orange line's Beaubien metro station is two stops north of the CN train tracks that roughly bisect this fair city into its northern and southern hemispheres. Beaubien station will likely never win any design awards. Its concrete bunker is uninspired, and the overflowing garbage cans framing the entrance are putrid fly zones.

Landscaping is accidental, marked by hardy dandelions poking out of cracks in the sidewalk. And a note to you social urban geographers: Beaubien is one of the few metro stops in Montreal that's physically attached to a social housing complex.

But don't let the drabness fool you. Beaubien is the gateway to one of Montreal's most interesting, dynamic, multi-hued and generally kick-butt quartiers.

Once hailed as the new Plateau, Rosemont-Petite Patrie/Little Italy has somehow managed to hold on to its working-class roots, rising rents notwithstanding, with plebes, bobos and Bill 101 families mixing it up in relative peace on stoops and in back alleys.

If you like cheap ethnic food then Beaubien is your stop. From family-owned trattorias to tiny hole-in-the-wall Indian eateries, there's a place to satisfy every craving for very little dough.

Beaubien4.jpgHead east on Beaubien Street where you'll find a gem of a greasy spoon on the north side, oddly named Nouveau Système. The lights are bright, the waiters have clean nails, and the breakfast is criminally cheap (bacon and eggs for less than 4 bucks.)

Further east on Beaubien is the charming Italian-owned Bruno Sports Bar (313 Beaubien St. East), where men born before colour TV wear wife-beaters, hold court on the makeshift sidewalk terrace and unashamedly whistle at pretty girls (they even bought me an espresso). Beaubien2.jpgThe coffee is strong, the TV screens are big and women are scarce. Good spot for football junkies, or for the cruising kind, if that's your scene.

Head north to St-Zotique Street and hang a right, where you'll find what is arguably the city's best Salvadorian food at La Carreta (350, St.-Zotique East). Pupusas are made fresh every day and they fry up a plantain that will make you blush. The homemade coleslaw is pleasantly spicy and they do takeout. Yum!

If pizza is more your thing, Pizzeria Napoletana is the real deal. This corner restaurant at Dante and de Gaspé Streets serves up the best thin-crust pizza north of New York City. It's technically closer to the De Castelnau metro stop but it's just a short jaunt from Beaubien.

While you're there walk off your slice(s) in Dante Park where there's always a bocce game underway for your entertainment pleasure.

Beaubien metro is also the shortest route to a great or awful open-concept shopping mall, depending on your taste. Beaubien3.jpgRunning north-south along St-Hubert Street, the "wedding" mall includes covered sidewalks for your comfort and discount stores galore. If you need a bridesmaid dress, a veil or dye-able shoes, St-Hubert and Beaubien is good strip to hit up.

Clothes and food alone do not make a vibrant quartier. Neither do bars for that matter. But there are a couple of great boîtes a stone's throw away from the Beaubien metro. Zoobizarre (6388 St-Hubert) has welcomed Sexy Boy and World Provider in recent times, and has its own website. I'm impressed, but I also just got high speed Internet last year.

And check out Madame Edgars (6370 St-Hubert) if you haven't already, where Pop Montreal 2005 hosted its "Post Pop" shakedowns into the wee hours. Must be nice not to have a day job.



rrrobyn / August 9, 2006 at 12:50 am
the bruno sports bar guys picture is awesome omg
j mac / August 9, 2006 at 11:26 am
Over the years, as it has become weirder and more random, I've really warmed to the St. Hubert Plaza. Are there even any wedding boutiques left there? It's a total hodge podge of shops. Also: How did the residents of the second-floor apartments and offices let those steel-and-glass canopies get built right on top of their windows?
Sacha / January 26, 2007 at 10:33 pm
when i lived there only a year ago..we didnt talk about beaubien the new ''plateau''. it was a ethnic place where every youngsters could chill, the good old hood. Damn i miss those days. now im gone and ive always lived there, its just stupid how the hood is changing.
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Ale / February 4, 2015 at 03:32 am
Carole / Je vais tout faire pour aller e0 cette feate de quartier. C est teellment rare les activite9s dans nos parc l hiver. Je ne savais pas qu il y avait un carnaval l anne9e dernie8re. Je vais m assurer d eatre bien informe9 les prochaines fois. Je ne pensais pas qu il y avait d autres activite9s ailleurs que dans le parc Moslon. C est teellment un beau parc. J espe8re que cette anne9e il y aura les sculptures de glaces! 0 0

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