HOTSPOT: Gokudo – Le Coq de l’Est – Byblos

What are you doing this weekend? The answer is in our Hotspot section, where every Friday, we share favourite spots to sip a cocktail, grab a bite and, come morning, brunch that pesky hangover away. See you there!

🍸 The Lantern Marks the Spot

Stepping in to Gokudo is like entering a Japanese dream that you never want to wake up from. Tucked behind a fish shack, this hidden cocktail bar is doused in elegance and mystery, transporting you to the underground world of Japanese sake. It’s the perfect place to bring anyone you want to impress…

Instagram @gokudo_Mtl

The cocktail list plays on three flavour profiles: floral, smoked, and fruity. The tequila-based Okame is a combination of litchi, orange flower and honey. The BunShin features pepper and hickory (a tree native to China), plus a healthy shot of whisky. The Saigo Takamori is a blend of raspberry, hibiscus, cassis and sake. Prepare to be stunned, intrigued and enthralled.

Instagram @gokudo_mtl
Instagram @gokudo_mtl

There are also sakes and spirits, plus a simple bar menu, with standouts including a fresh, well-balanced squid salad and a spicy scallop cone. (At $6-7 per portion, it would be a mistake not to indulge.)

Everything is perfectly curated in this secret spot—so perfect, in fact, that you’ll walk out and wonder if it was all but a dream…

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On Hochelaga Street, way in the east end of Montreal (technically Tétreaultville), you’ll find a no-frills chicken joint serving plates of pure pleasure. Managed by a couple that has worked in some of the hottest restaurants in town (Joe Beef, Liverpool House, Pied de Cochon), the spot is 100% worth the detour.

Facebook Le Coq de L'Est 2015
Facebook Le Coq de L'Est 2015

At Coq de l’Est, it’s all about chicken, ribs and poutine in a kitschy vintage décor: Think tons of old cookbooks and lots of chicken statues. Everything on the menu is delicious and it’s a far, far cry from the rotisserie chicken you may remember from your youth. For starters? The chicken is prepared tandoori-style and served with mint pesto and butter sauce. The ribs are deep fried (!) and smothered in a mind-blowingly delicious mustard or spicy sauce. Even the fries are noteworthy: Unpeeled potatoes fried to a golden crisp and served piping hot. Can you imagine the poutine?!

Facebook Le Coq de L'Est 2015

So it’s simple: Your taste buds will be happy, and so will your bank account. Make the 20-minute drive from downtown Montreal to enjoy elevated cuisine in what used to be a divey diner.

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🥓Take your Taste Buds to Iran for Brunch

When classic eggs-and-bacon brunch starts to feel a little uninspired, make a beeline for 1499 Laurier East. At Byblos Le Petit Café, you’ll find a menu packed with fresh, exotic flavours to jump-start your day in the tastiest possible way.

Facebook Byblos Le Petit Café

Here’s what you have to order: The feta cheese (served with fresh herbs and nuts), the yogurt dip, and the feta omelette. Yes, it’s a little feta-centric but no, you definitely won’t be disappointed. Brunch is served with sweet and pita bread plus homemade jam (the rosewater is divine, but there are 15 other flavours if you’re just not that into floral…), rounding out the perfect-for-two meal.

Facebook Le Coq de L'Est 2015

Expect to find the darling dining room packed during peak brunch hours, to feel a strong family and community vibe, and to have your tea refreshed constantly (it’s unlimited). You’ll leave happy and satiated, and ready to enjoy a stroll through the cute Mile End neighbourhood.

Hint: Groups will only be seated when the whole crew arrives, so stick together!