Story by Janine MacLean
Vacay.ca Food Columnist
MONTREAL, QUEBEC — We all know a weekend in Montreal can be foodie heaven — Au Pied de Cochon, Joe Beef, Garde Manger … some of Canada’s best and most innovative chefs thrive in this city, where every day folks are well versed in all things gastronomic. But Montreal can also be foodie heaven for the everyday visitor travelling on a shoestring, with some of Canada’s best artisan bakers, chocolatiers and diners.
Here are some of Vacay’s top picks for Montreal’s best eats that won’t break the bank:
How could this place not make the top of the list? For 80 years, Schwartz’s has been serving mouth-watering Montreal brisket sandwiches to hungry patrons, and it hasn’t changed in all that time. Seriously! The stools haven’t changed, the recipes haven’t changed — even some of the cooks, by the looks of it, haven’t changed.
A Montreal staple; a Montreal tradition: from the outside this deli looks like one big revolving door with a constant stream of customers coming in and out. You can spot the joint a mile away because of the all-day massive line up along the sidewalk. But who cares if you have to wait an hour to get a table? Once that tender, flavourful meat hits your tongue, you’ll forget the entire ordeal.
Keep in mind this is quite possibly the messiest, most minimalistic (meat, bread and mustard), tastiest sandwich you’ll ever eat. The bread ends up a soppy mess and the mustard will get all over your hands and you’ll still be sitting at that booth, smiling like an idiot, because you’ve just eaten Canada’s most delicious sandwich. A sandwich at Schwartz’s will set you back a mere $6.15, making it a must-try on your next visit to Montreal.
Schwartz’s Montreal Hebrew Delicatessen
3895 St. Laurent Boulevard, Montreal, QC
Les Chocolats De Chloe
Every French-speaking city needs that special chocolaterie and on the charming tree-lined Rue Duluth you will find the best chocolate shop in Montreal. Les Chocolats de Chloe specializes in artisan truffles, handmade chocolate bars and other cutesy choco-creations. Chloe’s chocolats make wonderful gifts, but one also has the option of buying “a” truffle (as if) and the chocolate bars, which come in different flavours (our favourite was milk chocolate fleur de sel, $6) make great travelling companions as you head out for a sightseeing adventure through the city.
For $11.50, you can pick and choose six of the many truffles on display. Making great gifts for someone who lent you their place to stay or indulgent snacks on the train ride back home, there are lots of intriguing and even strange flavours to choose from, all made with high-quality chocolate from around the world. Some of their best truffle flavours include: fig and balsamic vinegar, milk chocolate and fleur de sel ganache, hibiscus flower and raspberry, Sichuan pepper, praline, and earl grey tea. Just … yum.
546 Rue Duluth Est, Montreal, QC
Telephone: 514 849 5550
If you believe that no trip to Montreal is complete without consuming inappropriate amounts of Canada’s most-beloved poutine, you’re not alone. La Banquise is just the place to go if you’ve been barhopping, you’re hungry and it’s 2 am. With 25 different kinds of poutine, drunken Montrealers have been frequenting this place for 40 years.
Twenty-five different kinds of poutine is kind of overwhelming — especially if it’s your first visit to La Banquise, so let’s take a walk through the menu:
If you absolutely love putting hot sauce on everything you eat, try the Poutine Kamikaze (Merguez sausages, hot peppers and tabasco, $8.60 regular size).
The combination of flavours on the Poutine Dan Dan (pepperoni, bacon and onions, $7.55 regular size) should be illegal — but after a night at the pub it’s like a dream come true.
Lastly, if you come to Montreal to indulge in your love of smoked meat, you must try the Poutine Obélix (Montreal smoked meat poutine, $8.25 regular size).
We can’t say this place is good for your heart. All we can say is, for the price you pay you are getting a lot of delicious, cheesy, flavourful poutine and you’re in Montreal, for Pete’s sake. Live a little! You’ll be glad you tried this place.
994 Rue Rachel Est, Montreal, QC
Telephone: 514 525 2415
Portuguese rotisserie chicken? You can count us in every time. Especially if it means going to Romados, a Montreal staple for pastries, chicken and fries.
Widely known as “the best chicken in Montreal,” Romados has built up quite a reputation for itself — including making it onto the inaugural Vacay.ca 50 Top Restaurants in Canada List. The extreme out-the-door lineups are reminiscent of those at Schwartz’s. The reason being? Juicy, succulent, fall-off-the-bone chicken that comes in three different (mega)combos and is finished with a delightful piri-piri-esque sauce.
Finishing off a plate of chicken and fries at Romados is no small feat, but one will often see even the tiniest of humans polishing off half-chicken dinners like their life depends on it — the food there is just that good.
And get this: the three different chicken combos are all under $10. Can we get a hallelujah? That includes a half-chicken combo ($9.19 tax inc.), a quarter chicken ($7.23 tax inc.) and a quarter-breast meal ($8.15 tax inc.).
“If you’re thinking of coming to Montreal and you want to come to Romados, you must try the chicken with fries (spicy) and the nata”, says Marlene from Romados.
The nata she speaks of is a traditional Portuguese egg tart, which costs $1.10 and is heavenly. Most of the pastries at Romados come already portioned and are very reasonably priced at a little over a dollar per slice of cake or pastry.
115 Rue Rachel Est, Montreal, QC
Grains de Folie
I don’t know about you, but something as simple as waking up after having a great sleep and eating a delicious breakfast is one of our favourite ways to enjoy vacation. Enter Bistro Grains de Folie: our favourite inexpensive breakfast (or lunch, or dinner) joint in Montreal.
Walking into the bistro, you’ll find a mishmash of studious university kids, elderly folk enjoying a chat and young adults out for brunch. The service is great and so are the pancakes. While we don’t generally condone overly complicated menus, at Grains de Folie they have a breakfast option for any possible mood you might be in, or craving you might want satiated. One section for breakfast combos, one for different styles of eggs benedict, one for crepes, sandwiches … and the list goes on.
Our favourite order? Easy. The blueberry pancake combo with bacon, homefries, two eggs any style, whole wheat toast, fruit and coffee … and maple syrup. An enormous plate of food that costs a mere $8. With such a huge breakfast to plow through, one is expected to take their time. The staff at Grains de Folie have no issue with customers lingering over one last cup of coffee and the ambience is perfect for doing just that.
It makes for a pretty great start to your day — especially if you’re visiting during the cold winter months.
3817 Rue Saint Denis, Montreal, QC
This place stole our heart the second we walked through the tiny door. We didn’t make it very far, as the itty-bitty hole-in-the-wall boulangerie was packed with a line-up that went straight out the door and onto the sidewalk. Beginning to sense a pattern? We’ve learned that if you’re visiting Montreal and you see a line-up, it’s best to join it. Don’t ask questions, just join the queue and enjoy whatever lies ahead, because it’s bound to be delicious.
This place was no exception to the line-up rule. In bins lining the wall were breads of every kind. Artisinal in every sense, no two loaves looked the same, but they were luckily labelled in English and French.
This is a great place to grab a light lunch if you’re on your way to a park, or even just walking around and exploring the city for the day. They make smaller “personal”-sized loaves for those who want to snack as well as the more standard loaves of rye and baguette.
“I come here every day,” the young woman in front of me quips, “I cannot resist their breads.”
It’s hard to choose what to eat with so many delicious-smelling loaves of bread, but in the end we have to recommend the fig and cheddar sourdough. Who needs a sandwich when you have such delightfully chewy sourdough bread with fig and cheddar “surprises” nestled deep inside the doughy interior? It makes a great, light lunch and at $2 per personal-sized loaf it’s an artisinal steal.
17 Avenue Fairmount Est, Montreal QC
MAP SHOWING THE 6 MONTREAL EATERIES MENTIONED ABOVE
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