5 Must-See Montreal Attractions for Leonard Cohen Fans

Since Leonard Cohen’s death in 2016, fans from around the world have been flocking to Montreal to pay homage to the iconic musician by following in his footsteps. Take a walking tour of five places he frequented—some of which even inspired his work.

Moishes SteakhousePhoto: Courtesy of Moishes Steakhouse

Moishes Steakhouse

When Leonard Cohen passed away on Nov. 7, 2016, his family held a wake at Moishes Steakhouse. Opened in 1938, the Montreal institution strikes a perfect balance between old and new Montreal: its classic Jewish dishes pay tribute to the restaurant’s Romanian roots, while the dining room’s beautiful graffiti murals evoke the multicultural, ever-evolving Plateau-Mont Royal neighbourhood. Owner and operator Lenny Lighter—son of late founder Moishe Lighter, who won the restaurant in a poker game—recalls Leonard Cohen visiting regularly with his children and his mother. According to Lighter, Cohen’s favourite dish was the lamb chops, and his go-to wine was a red Bordeaux. “Everything you read about [Cohen] being a sweet and soulful person is absolutely true,” Lighter says. “That was his nature, and he had a great sense of humour.”

Use our list of things to do in Montreal as your guide to the best this vibrant metropolis has to offer year-round!

The Main DeliPhoto: Robert Liwanag/readersdigest.ca

Main Deli Steak House

A short walk southeast from Moishes on Boulevard St.-Laurent is Main Deli Steak House, one of Montreal’s most famous old-school delicatessens. Serving Jewish staples like potato latkas and pickled beef tongue sandwich to the city’s after-hours crowd, it was reportedly Leonard Cohen’s favourite smoked meat joint in Montreal, even beating out the legendary Schwartz’s, which is situated right across the street. Waitress Anastasia Xenos, who served Cohen many times in the 23 years she’s been working at Main Deli, recalls the late singer-songwriter frequently coming into the eatery alone, sitting in the first booth on the right side of the dining room (his favourite spot), and ordering the deli’s famed smoked meat sandwich.

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Leonard Cohen MontrealPhoto: Robert Liwanag/readersdigest.ca

Parc du Portugal

In the 1970s, Leonard Cohen purchased a triplex on Vaillières Street facing Parc du Portugal, located northwest from Main Deli on Boulevard St.-Laurent. Designed by architect Carlos R. Martinez and built as a tribute to Montreal’s large Portuguese community, Parc du Portugal features a fountain, a gazebo, benches and tile walkways. Cohen referenced the park in his poem “Titles” from the collection Book of Longing: “From a third-storey window above the Parc du Portugal, I’ve watched the snow come down all day. As usual, there’s no one here. There never is.” Parc du Portugal was the site of a makeshift memorial by Cohen’s followers when he passed away in 2016, and on the one-year anniversary of his death, fans painted lyrics from his famous “Hallelujah” on the sidewalk surrounding the park.

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