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inexpensive places not to miss

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My husband and I will be visiting Montreal in May for two days and one night in May. What places in Montreal (we'll have a car) should we not miss. We love chicken, fries and anything special your city has to offer. We'd also like to bring bagels back to Cape Cod. Thanks for your help!

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  1. Inexpensive:

    Chicken: I'd go for Romados on Mt. Royal for Portuguese chicken; you can get it take-out and go sit in the park. Get some spicy oil for your fries! Also recommended: Roi du Plateau at Clark and (? Someone can help me out here?); serves great inexpensive filling chicken plates.
    Fries (or, more special yet) poutine: Patati Patata on St. Laurent, the 24-hour favourite Banquise on Mt. Royal, or even Frite Alors (several locations; they have a great selection of sauces)

    Some would say Schwartz' (smoked meat) should be on the list for inexpensive "not to be missed!"(St. Laurent)

    A little pricier, but brunch at Olive & Gourmando in Old Town is something I've been doing with my guests recently and I think it's worth it for not only the great food (yes, cubain panini, I'm talkin' 'bout you!) but the ambiance of the cafe just off the cobblestoned street.

    There are plenty of inexpensive food options in the city, and you can definitely bring some bagels (the debate rages on: St. Viateur vs. Fairmount) or some other baked goods back. When I visit family I usually am requested to bring some things from:
    Le Fromentier on Laurier (tarts, stuffed bread, great nutty baguettes)
    Patisserie Gascogne (my Mom is obsessed with their pecan tart)

    Also inexpensive - and warm-weather appropriate - icecream! Les Havres de Glace at Jean Talon Market, Meu Meu on St. Denis (my favourite, and thankfully also the closest to home for me!), Bilboquet (one in Outremont, one in Westmount...others?)

    Enjoy your visit!

    (apologies for my butchering of some of these spellings!)

    2 Replies
    1. re: Loveroffreecell

      Both Romados and Roi du Plateau are on Rachel, not Mont-Royal.

      Again La Banquise is also on Rachel and not on Mont-Royal. That being said, I agree with all of these reccos. For portuguese chicken, I'm partial to Portugalia on Rachel across the street from Roi du Plateau. For got and simple burgers, La Paryse il really nice (on Ontario near St-Denis).

      If you like food, a trek to Jean-Talon Market is advisable especially since the market is emerging from its winter quietness and getting back in full gear. Hävre aux glaces is an excellent suggestion for good quality ice cream. You can also grab a european hot-dog or a merguez sandwhich at the market where you'll find cheese shops, Marché des saveurs that sells Québec terroir products and plenty more.

      1. re: Campofiorin

        Campofiorin,

        Thanks for the correction! (at least I was consistent with my mistake...eh) Further confirmation why no one ever trusts my directions :)

        Sorry for any confusion...

    2. Basha and/or Boustan for filling middle eastern fare.

      (bagel tip: slice and freeze them when you get home- they'll last for months double-bagged)

      1 Reply
      1. re: C70

        Boustan... definitely Boustan =D

      2. Ma'am Bolduc has incredible poutine for 9 dollars and change + tip.

        1. I'd have to strongly recommend lunch at Andalos Bakery in Ville St. Laurent.

          1. Hiya, here are some great threads to check out, full of unique, delicious and mostly inexpensive Montreal treats:

            Quintessential Montreal?
            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/399473

            Best of Montreal?
            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/464435

            Cheap and Delicious
            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/404453

            If you love chicken & fries, a must-visit is Chalet BBQ, a Montreal institution that's been around since the 1940s - and so have some of the waitresses (ba-dum-bum)... http://www.chaletbbq.com/

            re: bagels - agree with the rec. to slice 'em & freeze 'em as soon as you get home. Also - try to buy your bring-home batch as close to departure time as possible.

            Enjoy your trip!

            1. For bagels, keep them in the paper bag(s) until they've cooled off (pick them up just before you head out of town, and it takes a few hours before they've cooled enough) then tie them up in plastic bags (otherwise they get soggy). When I bring them to family members, they freeze them whole, and slice them before use only. Haven't tried it the other way.

              I would agree with almost all the other recommendations, but would definitely not go out of my way for Basha. There is much better middle-eastern food to be had here. (Daou for dinner, but there were a few other places mentioned over the past day or so on this board - don't have time to check now or I'd post the links...)

              1 Reply
              1. re: cherylmtl

                I bring St. Viateur Bagels back to the US almost yearly, and also have found it useful, as suggested by other posters, to slice them BEFORE freezing. They have a tendency to crumble when you slice them after freezing.

              2. Euro-deli on St-Laurent Street is a great Montreal experience.

                1. There are some great recs here already! but for what it's worth, here is my two cents:

                  I think smoked meat at Schwartz's is a must. With big pickle and fries. Classic Montreal.

                  Bagels are already on your list. St. Viateur or Fairmount are both excellent. Make sure that you have a little room in your belly to scoff one down while it is still hot. Get the hot ones (usually sesame). The hot ones don't even need butter or cream cheese or anything... If you don't mind garlic, they sell Arahova Tzatziki in small tubs, and fresh bagels smeared with this stuff is amazing!!!!! But you gotta like lots of garlic. If you go to St. Viateur, they sell the tzatziki in the shop. Also, across the street is an Arahova shop, where you can also get great lamb souvlaki pitas. These are great souvlakis, the lamb is tender and flavourful, the tzatziki is creamy and rich. If yo don't like lamb, get the chicken souvlaki pita. But skip the fries, they are only so-so at Arahova. Yeah, St. Viateur bagels/Arahovas is a great 1-2 punch. Both are open late at night, so it is a great place to go for a midnight snack.

                  Lebanese is so great here in the city. It is well worth the trek to get shish taouk (chicken kebab pita sandwiches) at Abu Elias. It is on Cote Vertu. This is a daytime thing, go for lunch. Then drive a short way east on Cote Vertu (which turns into Sauve West,but it is the same street), and stop off at the Lebanese bakery shop Patisserie Amal Bohsali for Lebanese style baklava and pastries, very dainty and very delicious. This is a very special way to spend a meal.

                  I would agree with the suggestion to try a lunch at Patisserie Gascogne, Premiere Moisson, Olive et Gourmando, or some other French bakery type place for French pastries, quiche, baguettes, croissant, artisanal breads, cheeses, all that good stuff. Nice thing about Patisserie Gascogne and Premiere Moisson, they have all these great things to buy to take home. But warning: Once you have had a good baguette or croissant, it is hard to go back to the stuff they sell in most supermarkets. A nice sandwich and salad and espresso and dessert will set you back about $15 per person (but you will be stuffed!), but if you like french food, this should not be missed. Quebec does the French experience well. And for the quality, the price can't be beat.

                  Gosh, I haven't even gotten into Poutine, or any of the other ethnic cuisines. Well, feel free to let me know if you want specific recs on these topics. Have a nice trip!

                  22 Replies
                  1. re: moh

                    Very helpful,thanks...any chicken suggestions...and yes I'd love your Poutine ideas too!

                    1. re: hobie

                      I am a fan of La Banquise for poutine. They are open 24 hours, and they have a great selection of toppings. Since they have great turnover, the cheese curds are nice and fresh. My personal favorites are the poutines with bacon and pepperoni (there are several types). Several warnings:

                      1. This ain't health food.
                      2. They have a poutine Galvaude which comes with chicken and peas. But I have heard it can be inconsistent, sometimes wonderfully delicious, sometimes the chicken is dry.
                      3. The poutines with green pepper can be very green peppery - they are usually raw bits of pepper, and I've had a few friends think the green pepper was too much.
                      4. The poutine is very filling, get the small. Order another only if really hungry. Anticipate food coma immediately after. It may be worth bringing a pillow and blanket, and taking a nap in the park nearby.
                      5. This ain't health food.

                      But the place has a great casual slightly grungy Montreal vibe.

                      Seems you like chicken a lot? WIll echo the suggestion to try some of the Portuguese chicken places, Romados as suggested by Loveroffreecell is a very yummy chicken source. I'll also put a rec in for Coco Rico on St. Laurent, really yummy rotisserie chicken. And if you go to either of these places, make sure you buy a Natas (Portuguese egg custard tart). This is a must. So yummy with that burnt bit on top.

                      1. re: moh

                        I agree, Poutine's a must, but I have to say that I prefer Frite Alors (various locations) to La Banquise. Chez Claudette (Laurier&St-Denis) also makes an excellent poutine, and an ever better poutine breakfast...Breakfast served with poutine only sounds ridiculous until you've tried it!

                        1. re: pinkatronica

                          I've had issues with Frites Alors on Parc. The fries have been rather untasty the last few times I tried them, not at all crispy, soggy. I stopped going because I didn't like them very much (and you have to understand, I love fries, and I love many different types of fries.) I would be willing to try the other locations the next time I am out near one.

                          I like Chez Claudette poutine, it is also very good. Their sauce is tasty. But I like the topping choices you can get at La Banquise. But for classic poutine, I'll happily eat Chez Claudette's version. I'm down with poutine breakfast!

                          1. re: moh

                            I had the Poutine Galvaude a few weeks back at Banquise, and am happy to report that it was as good as it always was - chicken was nice and moist this time, not dried out at all (I'm hoping that one time was a fluke, although today's review in the Gazette implies it may not have been). For poutine, that's still the place I'd recommend. Especially for someone who's only in town for a few days, and doesn't have the option of trying all the poutine possibilities in our city...

                            1. re: moh

                              I agree with your assessment of Frite Alors. Their fries have been steadily slumping downhill. They're not really soft, they're not really crispy, they're not really thin, they're not really thick... They're just kind of right in the middle, but not in a good way. They main draw is the fact that a small fries with a sauce is cheap as hell and great when you're making something at home and you want a nice side dish without any trouble or if you're out and you want a snack with a decent beer.

                          2. re: moh

                            On the Portu-chicken front, I recommend Romados above Rico. Also, if you do buy natas, there are much better ones on Pine, b/w St-Laurent and St-Denis (Bela Vista).

                            1. re: JQReid

                              I don't disagree with the natas recommendation, I think the Bella Vista Natas are wonderful. I'm just thinking of the ease of one stop to get the chicken and the natas. The natas they sell at both Romados and Coco Rica are not the best, but they are still pretty delicious. And with the construction on St. Laurent and the horrendousness of the traffic these days, one stop isn't a bad idea.

                              Bella Vista natas have the best tart shell I've ever had in the city. But my favorite filling is in the natas at Patisserie des Anges, a little further up on St. Laurent. So I go back and forth between the two patisseries to get my natas fixes.

                              Re: Romados vs. Coco Rico, I kind of feel these are two different beasts. Romados has really fabulous grilled chicken, whereas the Coco Rico chicken is rotisserie chicken. Either one is great, can't go wrong with either. It comes down to preference. I find the Coco Rico chicken has a great moistness and juiciness that you get from rotisserie cooking, whereas the grilled Romados chicken has that fabulous charred flavour that you only get from grilling, but is less moist than rotisserie chicken.

                              1. re: moh

                                The "moistness" of Coco Rico chicken has been more akin to "mushy" every time we've had it and I don't particularly enjoy the flavor either. I'm not sure why it's so popular since it tastes worse than an IGA chicken to me, but everyone seems to enjoy it. I ponder this on a near daily basis on my commute :( Perhaps I've just gone too late in the day? I don't know.

                                1. re: afoodyear

                                  Mushy? Hmmm, can't say I've noticed that. I'd give you "greasy", it is a fattier tasting chicken than grilled chicken. It is filled with the redolence of schmaltz, a flavour I love. Hence my affection for the chicken butt (pope's nose) and chicken skin.

                                  Anyhow, I wouldn't spend too much time worrying about its popularity. This is clearly a personal preference thing. The important point is that those who prefer drier, firmer chicken with a meatier texture will probably prefer Romados style grilled chicken. Please note I am not using "drier" as a negative description, merely as a descriptive term. I am very happy to swing back and forth between the two types of chicken, Coco Rico this time, Romados next time, then back and forth. They are two very different products, despite both being Portuguese chicken.

                                  1. re: moh

                                    Just thought I'd chime in and say that I checked out Romados tonight and loved it (with a slather of the hot sauce, of course.) A whole grilled chicken, order of fries and a beer for $15. Can't go wrong with that.

                                    1. re: afoodyear

                                      Was this take-out, or did you eat inside the restaurant?

                                      1. re: naturelle

                                        I am guessing from the beer comment, it was takeout. Although Romados sells beer, you are not allowed to drink it inside.

                                      2. re: afoodyear

                                        Did Romados have the chickens moving on the motorize thing(I'm looking for right term to use), when it was being grilled? Last time I was there several weeks ago, they weren't doing it.

                                        1. re: BLM

                                          Do they still season their fries with montreal steak spice? Taaastyyy!

                                          1. re: porker

                                            Not 100% sure. Didn't notice it on my previous visits to Romados.

                              2. re: moh

                                I love the poutine choux at La Banquise. Basically an ice cream scoop of coleslaw thrown on top of a regular poutine. But i must say that the poutine bourguignon at Ma'am Bolduc is my favorite.

                                1. re: blond_america

                                  Me too re: poutine bourguignonne. Soooo good.

                                  1. re: mainsqueeze

                                    I'm also a big fan of the poutine bourguignonne at Ma'am Bolduc and the choux at Banquise. Coleslaw on poutine makes for a surprisingly great soft/crunchy, hot/cold contrast.

                                    1. re: SnackHappy

                                      I prefer Ma'am Bolduc as a setting - it has such a pretty terrasse and there are a lot of trees on de Lorimier. Also a better destination for those who would rather have other homestyle Québec food, rather than poutine.

                                      Suppose Banquise is the top 3 am destination, but I've passed the age for that, I'm afraid.

                                      1. re: SnackHappy

                                        off-topic, but this reminds me of my Irish family's insistence on homemade coleslaw at the thansgiving table... it's all about the mashed potato-coleslaw-gravy bite!

                                        must try that poutine!

                                    2. re: blond_america

                                      I'll have to track down the poutine choux. I've always despised poutine for the texture (why make French fries mushy?) but the addition of cole slaw for surrogate crunchiness strikes me as a stroke of genius.

                              3. I agree 100% with moh about lebanese. If you are in the downtown area and looking for a quick, casual lunch, pop into Boustan. I was there yesterday and was reminded how phenomenal it is: char-grilled pita, crispy chicken, flavorful cole slaw and runny oozy garlic mayo in between everything.....I am drooling all over again! I had two plus a beverage, $10 incl. tax. What more could you want?

                                Edit: Boustan on the corner of Crescent and de Maisonneuve

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: hungryann

                                  I finally got to try the Boustan shish, and yes, it was very tasty. I like the fact that they grill the pita until it is crispy, and the cole slaw is delicious and a nice change from the wilty iceberg lettuce that most places put on their sandwiches. Nice to have found a go-to place for Shish in downtown Montreal!

                                  1. re: moh

                                    moh, next time you pop into boustan order "the creation". it's a chicken pita including their "vegetarian" options - the fried vegetables you see on the left. You also get the slaw and some turnips.

                                    I typically order all my sandwiches there with hummus and their spicy sauce. garlic sauce is TAME, they have the best hummus in town!

                                    ...must...go...to..boustan...right...now!

                                    1. re: celfie

                                      Well, if I had known that before... Thanks for the great tip! I was eyeing those fried vegetables and wondering how I could get me some... Combined in to a chicken pita sounds perfect!

                                      1. re: celfie

                                        The Creation? Sounds Cosmic to me.

                                        1. re: mrbozo

                                          You can order it with beef, as well. All you need do is ask.

                                        2. re: celfie

                                          Aaaahhhhhhhh! I am screaming hysterically!!!! I did not know THAT!! I have to go back ASAP...must try " the creation". BTW, when I was there, the guy behind me ordered a pita with half beef shawarma and half shish taouk and I was floored then; I also put it on my list for next time but now this "creation" is a priority. Gosh, you learn something new everyday. I love chowhound! :D

                                    2. I'm just back from "Chez Apo" the Armenian-Lebanese place that makes lahmajdoune and other wonderful savoury baked goods, as well as other treats. Forgot how wonderful the lamajdoune were, just hot out of the old wood-burning oven. Yum.

                                      420 Faillon St 514.271.1076

                                      A review of Chez Apo in the Hour, a local arts and entertainment weekly:

                                      http://www.hour.ca/food/food.aspx?iID...

                                      The reviewer is also right abut Pâtisserie Villeray's excellent baklava. They are on Villeray, one block north of Faillon and a bit west of Chez Apo.
                                      363, rue Villeray (just west of St-Denis).

                                      Both of these are easily walkable from the Jean-Talon market.

                                      1. Mazurka on Prince-Arthur has a solid lunch special for around $8.00 (last time i checked was in september). Nothing ground breaking here but you get your choice of a number of basic polish and eastern european dishes, a small bowl of soup, a small bowl of coleslaw and beet salad and a coffee/tea. Also the special is available for dinner for a dollar more and on the weekends for two dollars more. The food is good and the portions are pretty big.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: blond_america

                                          Mazurka offers good, honest food that has a stick to your ribs quality and gives a certain level of comfort. I like spicy food (Bangkok three stars), so my palate wished that I brought some hot sauce when I first tried it, but then I say to myself, "dude this is the way Eastern European food should be". A dinner will also cost you between 10-20, depending on how much you eat/drink. Most specials are around 8-12 dollars and will come with soup. Lots of cabbage, starches and sausages; mostly a beige plate (with occasional dots of beet purple), but good. I wish I tried it during those dreadful winter months, it might have been a mood-saver.

                                          1. re: emerilcantcook

                                            They will gladly bring a wee bottle of Tabasco for hot-food addicts; I have a friend who empties a fair bit of one upon each visit. Years ago, we hung out there; while I have returned since the renovation/rebuilding, I haven't been there in several years. I remember that the blintzes were nice.

                                          2. re: blond_america

                                            Mazurka is great comfort food. I go here quite a bit with my buddy, Piotrek, who jokes that he is the only Polish person in the city besides the staff.