A friend of mine is going to be visiting Montreal on her honeymoon soon, so I thought it was a good excuse to get my recommendations for where to eat there out in the open. Though I moved back to the UK in 2003 so I’m afraid they might not all still be there, but from what I’ve seen online, they mostly seem to still be going. (Please add comments with any corrections or further recommendations you have!)
There are many wonderful things about Montreal, that would require several posts here, but what I tend to focus on most is the food. Eating out in Montreal is cheap, easy and absolutely delicious. I think it is quite impressive that I only went up one clothes size in the 3 years I lived there, because the food is irresistable!
On “the Main” or St. Laurent, just south of Duluth is Schwartz‘s Smoked Meat Deli. I’m afraid my friend’s vegetarian husband is going to have to close his eyes and nose while she indulges in this most delightful sandwich. Mounds of steaming tender smoked beef quivering between two slices of sour dough bread. STUNNING.
Just next door, at Mondo Fritz, is something for meat eaters and veggies alike. If you like chips and gravy, you will just adore this Quebec speciality, Poutine. Poutine is chips served with gravy and melted cheese curds, which are like lumps of cheese. You get this dish at all fast food joints in francophone Canada but Mondo Fritz has a gourmet version which I’d say is unbeatable. You might want to go for the Gardinier version which has some green vegetables like peas or brocolli in it. Their gravy is vegetarian, but they also do Poutine au Steak and other meaty delights. Or you can just go for their chips straight up with a choice of about 6 different mayos. All this washed down with a nice big pitcher of beer! YUM!
Still in the same area, you must try some lovely Empanadas from La Chilenita, there are 2 branches: one on the corner of Napoleon and de Bullion, the other further up the Plateau at 4348 Rue Clark. There are lots of veggie options here, I remember one that had olives and artichokes amongst other ingredients – it was always a tough decision choosing! This is great to eat on the go, or you can sit down at one of a couple small tables to eat it – but watch out, then you will be in danger of go back to the counter and eating up their whole stock!
Next up is some proper Jewish Montreal bagels. We’re not talking any of this American doughy bread in the shape of a fat doughnut business. No. These are genuine boiled and baked bagels, and at my particular favourite St Viateur Bagel shop and you see them sliding down a big runner as they come out of the oven en masse. Pick up a tub of smoked fish patÃ© to spread on them and buy lots, you’ll eat ’em! [Cripes! They even have a website and do deliveries – I wonder how much it cost to send to London UK?!]
I’ve just been doing some research online and have an awful feeling that Mondo Fritz has closed down, which seems impossible given my rave review, but perhaps my review has come too late! Anyway, just incase, or as well, you might visit Patati Patata Friterie. It is a tiny eatery right on the corner of Rachel and St Laurent. They do a lovely little burger and great french fries – maybe they do poutine too?
Ok, so you’ve been well fed on the Plateau, so now you just want to roll yourself downtown to try out an exquisite Laham Bagine from Al-Taib, a Lebanese Bakery on rue Guy (corner de Maisonneuve). This place gets a lot of business selling pizza slices to the Concordia University students, on the downtown campus, but those really in the know will go for their own Lebanese Laham Bagine*. Its like a pizza, very thin dough with a thin spread of a spinach or ground meat topping, but the best bit is that they serve it rolled up and filled with salad. What I love about this salad in particular (though you can choose your own selection) is the pickled turnip option. This is a bright pink (they dye it with beetroot juice) chunk of pickled goodness, which you can also get served with falafel all over town.
[*In my part of London, we can get something similar known as Lahmacun which I believe is the Turkish name for the same thing.]
Speaking of falafel, they’re also worth trying if you’re on the move. Montreal has the best served falafel I’ve had worldwide: well, you know how difficult they can be to keep together in the pita bread right? Here they use a thin, round pita bread, and roll the whole thing up wrapped in parchement paper. Easy!
I’m afraid I’m going on a little too long here, and you will be running out of stomachs by the time you’ve sampled all my recommendations, but I have one more to give you, back in the Plateau. (I have to say that downtown Montreal just isn’t that great for food options, REALLY. Theres so many better choices on the Plateau, don’t even bother). Au 917 is a proper French restaurant on Rachel, near Parc La Fontaine. They serve 5 courses, and the salad comes after the main, to clean your palate before your dessert. The menu isn’t huge, but it has good traditional French options, and it isn’t so expensive, although this is somewhere to go of an evening for a special occasion. As I remember they have 2 sittings, like at 6pm and 9pm – don’t quote me on that one, call them and find out (514) 524-0094.
Schwartz’s Montreal Hebrew Delicatessan, 3895 Saint-Laurent Boulevard
Mondo Fritz, 3899 St-Laurent Blvd
Montreal Poutine – everything you need to know! (reviews are a bit out of date)
La Chilenita Bakery at both 4348 Rue Clark and 152 RUE NAPOLÃ‰ON
Hot Bagels and Polish Jokes blogpost on Hungry Mag
Article about eating out in Montreal by An Endless Banquet bloggers A.J. Kinik and Michelle Marek.
See all of my recommendations marked on Google maps, plus some others not mentioned here.
Best wishes to Lucy and her soon-to-be husband on their honeymoon!