After years of working from home in the plateau & mile-end, I find myself, to my surprise, working out of a downtown office tower, on the corner of University & de Maisonneuve.
It's been years since it ever occurred to me to have lunch downtown, and I am sad (but not surprised) to find the the culinary wasteland of downtown appears not to have changed all that much.
So I'm wondering, chowhounders, what are your favourite places for reasonably-priced lunches in the downtown area - say btw sherbrooke & rene levesque; crescent & bleury.
The only decent place I can think of is Osaka on Bleury (but that's really on the outside edge of dt).
any great suggestions?
If you are willing to head out on the metro for a stop or 3, then Restaurant Oui and Oui in De maisonneuve just next to the Guy metro station is inexpensive, delicious and fast. Or Cuisine Szechuan, they do very filling lunch specials, very spicy if you want (muy caliente!), it is a lot of food for about $10 plus tip.
Unfortunately, the places closer to your work are not so exciting, and I would tend to favour packing lunches most of the time and occasionally walking or metroing to the Guy-Concordia area, much more high yield.
Anton and James on Stanley + Ste Catherine makes terrific sandwiches for take-out or eat-in. I especially like the chicken chipotle and the wild mushroom.
Vasco de Gama on Peel and Maisonneuve serves up fresh salads and some pretty good sandwiches as well.
Zenya sushi on Ste Catherine is great for lunch and very reasonably priced.
For coffee, definitely Cafe Myriade on Mackay. They also serve up St Viateur bagels and Premiere Moisson pastries.
MBurger can be fun for lunch, as well as Europea. Europea espace boutique also delivers great lunch specials to the downtown area.
I enjoy the salads and sandwiches at Dame Nature in the Gare Centrale food court (cajun chicken panini is especially good)
Otherwise as it's been mentionned, the food court under simons offers a good variety and good places (fiore express for pasta or a more hearty meal like lamb shanks, torino for grilled chicken..)
The best place for a gourmet lunch at a reasonable place is Europea - superbe food quality for the price and much cheaper than what you would pay for dinner there.
As for cheap and cheerful I like
Cafe Presto - decent but cheap cheap italian in a tiny place behind the windsor hotel
Thai Express in Simon's food court
Il focolaio makes excellent pizzas - Phillips square
Grand comptoir - decent bistro food
L,entrecote St-Jean - a classic steak frites joint
Mangia has good salads but I find them overpriced for a counter style place
MBco has great sandwiches but the horrendous service keeps me away
Chandelier on De maisonneuve has some good salads at lunch and a nice terrace in the summer
thanks for all the responses! ... but, ug, by the looks of things i was right: still pretty dismal downtown. what gives? i guess rents are too expensive to offer good food at reasonable prices.
it's been ages since i've been to la soupiere, so i'll have to get back there.
@Shattered indeed I need to plan my day better to make my own lunch.
Comptoir du Chef, on Metcalfe, east side, close to Sherbrooke, they make a fabulous grilled sandwich, it's a take out place though; if you have a mw at the office, you could also pick up a main dish of your choice under $10.
The Bay still has La Soupière, which has a choice of hearty soups and breads. It's on one of the upper floors.
I just started working downtown too. I like the food courts of Centre Eaton and Place Ville Marie for cheap and variety. I Just tried Tandoori in Centre Eaton today, was impressed that a fast food place could have pretty good tasting curry butter chicken. I have tried some of the restaurants on street level around there haven't found one where I didn't feel like $20 for a mediocre lunch was a rip off.
There's an ok sushi place on de Maisonneuve, near Peel (south west side)... the name eludes me. Nippon?
Also, I like Basha's vegetarian plate - but don't go to the Basha on Sherbrooke near University: it's truly awful. The one under Simon's is good but the top one is the one on St-Catherine (it's the one next to the Sport Experts).
The food court has a grilled sandwich place that is pretty good, name escapes me - it's on the right side, coming from the escalators.
But having worked at that corner too, I don't think anything round there is that great for the price. Save yourself $40-50+ a week and pack a lunch, mackinaw. Your waistline will thank you too.
I like the Chinese place, Chee Chan, at the Eaton center food court. It has pretty good General Tao's chicken that you can order spicy. Just outside your boundary limits is Amelios Pizzeria. Very good pizza. MBrgr has a lunch special, although you may not find 14 for a burger, fries and drink reasonable. Bofinger on University just south on Ste. Catherine could be an option. Not a great as BBQ in the southern US but is quite good for Montreal.
There is also an Acess Asia in the Sunlife building, same owners as the one on Sherbrooke.
Soupbol is not too bad (across the street from the Bay), and the pizzeria place a few doors down from it (the name escapes me right now). Both are very busy places so you have to get there a bit before 12 if you want a table. I've also heard that Grand Comptoir (inbetween Soupbol and the pizzeria) is good, but I've never been so I cannot vouch for it.
For a good hamburger, I go to either the Old Dublin or the Keg... yes, they both have quite good ones at about $10 pp (fried included of course).
Off the top of my head, there's Access Asia on Sherbrooke just west of McGill College (although it's been pretty bland the last few times I've been there), Java U at Sherbrooke just east of University, Art Java at University and President Kennedy, Lola Rosa on Milton. There are way way more places around Concordia, but all west of Crescent, unfortunately, so a bit of a hike from University. Chez Gautier on Bleury at Milton (can be hit and miss), Mangia at de Maisonneuve and Peel. And of course all the food courts - the one below Simon's is the best of them IMHO. The Indigo Cafe is a great place to hang out on a sunny afternoon, although their sandwiches are not in the same league as Art Java or Java U's (nor is their coffee).