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Downtown student restaurants

pudgymillions Aug 31, 2009 03:16 PM


I'm a new arrival in Montreal - starting at McGill law school this week. I would like to compile a list of inexpensive, good-value restaurants within easy lunchtime biking distance of McGill's downtown campus. I expect I will both poor and busy for the next few years, so price and convenience will be paramount concerns. Though this is my first Montreal post, I have been reading a lot of your recommendations and have already tried several restaurants with great success. To get the ball rolling, I'll start with 3 downtown(ish) restaurants I have tried that meet my criteria:

1. La Maison du Nord - I had the pork sandwich and tend to agree with the prevailing notion that the pancake was perhaps a little too heavy, but I wouldn't hesitate to eat it again and I'm excited to try the dumplings.

2. Cuisine Bangkok - I was a little sceptical when I found it in a food court but was really impressed by the chicken pad thai and saw dozens of other things on the menu that looked interesting.

3. Schwartzes - I will be a regular...

Other things I would be interested to find include but are not limited to: sandwiches, kebab/shwarma/falafel, chinese bbq, burgers, wings, pho...

If you have any other recommendations that would be helpful for a student (coffee, for instance), they would be appreciated.


  1. b
    bigfellow Aug 31, 2009 03:37 PM

    Next to the new John Molson School of Business building at Concordia on de mainsoneuve is Antep Kebab with I found to be very good quality and quite inexpensive!

    1. kpzoo Aug 31, 2009 03:53 PM

      Hiya, here are some great threads on cheap eats downtown. Luckily your options are wider than ever before! My personal faves: Boustan (Crescent & de Maisonneuve) for shish taouk, and Tapioca Thé (de Maisonneuve & Pierce, near Guy) for Szechuan. Welcome to Montreal!

      Delivering our daughter to McGill

      Chinatown 2

      Specific restos:

      thali - new indian downtown

      Tapioca Thé?!

      BUNS, minimal hamburger joint on St Catherine

      Picks vs. BUNS: Burgers

      Antep Kabab: 1626 Maisonneuve (the place bigfellow just mentioned

      Not limited to downtown, but still worth a look:

      Best $10

      Top Cheap Eats of Montreal (see the more recent posts - thread is old

      1 Reply
      1. re: kpzoo
        wilmagrace Aug 31, 2009 05:13 PM

        pick up FREE montreal mirror , weekly community paper everywhere including in different levels of la cite boutiques etc (before thursday when new edition comes out) as CURRENT EDITION has student survivor guide including restos and cheap eats, health food stores, breakfast/brunch, vegetarian restos, ethnic foods, all-night & late night eats, student-friendly cafes, etc has addresses, telephone numbers and comments on all their listed suggested places. Also has lists of everything else you could possibly need to survive student life in Montreal. You will enjoy strolling through chinatown especially on Sundays, Bejing on far Western side is a favourite, I go there for ginger lobster but they have lots of choices. http://www.restaurantbeijing.net/

        the current edition is online but i dont know for how

      2. blond_america Aug 31, 2009 09:38 PM


        Here is a thread about hidden gems in the Concordia area.

        1. m
          mak2k Sep 1, 2009 06:37 AM

          don't forget AlTaib and boustan for good lebanese food

          13 Replies
          1. re: celfie
            The Chemist Sep 2, 2009 05:15 AM

            Agreed. Boustan or bust... I just wish their potatoes would be fresher and not reheated in the microwave on Styrofoam. Although Medina in the Cathedral isn't bad either. I really like their cabbage salad.

            1. re: The Chemist
              hungryann Sep 2, 2009 11:39 AM

              "I just wish their potatoes would be fresher and not reheated in the microwave on Styrofoam"
              I know, it always makes me think that weird chemicals are being absorbed by the potatoes but I dare not say anything. Although the owner is super friendly and always smiling with me, I think any such commentary on my part will dissolve our good relationship.

              1. re: hungryann
                The Chemist Sep 30, 2009 05:59 AM

                The owner can be kind of odd though. One time he asked me if I believe in god. This struck me as sort f wired. Try Medina though, not for the sandwich, but for the plate. get the cabbage salad =D

            2. re: celfie
              mainsqueeze Sep 2, 2009 06:46 AM

              I find the manakish at Al-Taib or Al-Taib Express to be fine. And cheap.

              I do not like the food at Al-Taib Grillades.

              1. re: mainsqueeze
                moh Sep 2, 2009 08:07 AM

                Mainsqueeze, I am with you on the manakish. I quite like that thing, and its price cannot be beat. I can't comment on the rest of their offerings, as all I have had there is the manakish.

                1. re: moh
                  celfie Sep 2, 2009 05:20 PM

                  to grillade al taib's credit, they throw in a pickle with their chicken pitas which doesnt fit at all but at least it's a decent tasting pickle

                2. re: mainsqueeze
                  mainsqueeze Sep 17, 2009 10:20 AM

                  I've tried Arouch a couple of times now and I think it's better than Altaib for manakish.

                3. re: celfie
                  mak2k Sep 2, 2009 08:20 AM

                  well granted the only thing i ever eat there is a slice of pizza, which beats double pizza and those that taste like carton in that area, i never ate anything else there except for the manakish, which is good.

                  1. re: mak2k
                    celfie Sep 2, 2009 05:22 PM

                    their pizza is too doughy and the pizza tastes like nothing

                    1. re: celfie
                      pudgymillions Sep 16, 2009 08:06 PM

                      anyone have any pizza recs that meet the above criteria?

                      1. re: pudgymillions
                        cherylmtl Sep 17, 2009 09:51 AM

                        Pizza at Amelio's on Milton (especially the pizza bianca) has its fans, and McGill Pizza (also on Milton, but right next to campus) makes a slightly greasy but decent pizza, which they now sell by the slice at $2 per (and they make a more than acceptable club sandwich, too).

                        1. re: cherylmtl
                          The Chemist Sep 30, 2009 06:00 AM

                          People knock McGill Pizza but when you order it fresh, it's not bad at all.

                          1. re: The Chemist
                            cherylmtl Sep 30, 2009 06:27 AM

                            It's certainly better than the slices they sell at the Engineering cafeteria...

                4. TheSnowpea Sep 16, 2009 08:36 PM

                  I like the Vietnamese restaurant below Cheap Thrills on Metcalfe; it's near McGill and has decent offerings. Cuisine Szechuan is a short-ish walk away and I always have leftovers... And you have to go to Myriade for coffee.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: TheSnowpea
                    caramielle Sep 17, 2009 09:18 AM

                    That would be Saigon...my friends some times go there although it's not the best Pho they've had. If you have enough time, going down to Chinatown is a good bet. I usually go to the Concordia area for lunch with my friends (I used to go to McGill too - I just graduated :D). There's a good pizza place near The Bay - Pizza Il Focolaio. Used to go there all the time until my schedules didn't allow me to. Wood stove thin crust pizzas...yum :)

                    For Korean...I've tried Chez Bong in Chinatown (1021 St Laurent), and that was pretty good although some of my other friends have said otherwise. There's also Towa on St-Catherine closer to St-Mathieu in the Concordia end.

                    Grillades Bizou on Bishop is good too...as usual, near the Concordia area

                    1. re: TheSnowpea
                      cherylmtl Sep 17, 2009 09:46 AM

                      We went to Saigon a little while back, and thought it was really ordinary, expensive (considering), and very bland. Perhaps it was just what we ordered (I think I had a tom yum soup, can't remember what hubby had) - perhaps we were there on a really bad day, but I don't plan on going back. Does anyone else have any feedback on it?

                      1. re: TheSnowpea
                        braveman Sep 24, 2009 07:24 PM

                        Did you try Ba-Le on Mackay near Concordia. They have the best vietnamese sandwich. They also server other traditional vietnamese food as well. I come there very often to get my sandwhich for lunch. I tried their PHO soup several times. I love it too. Ask for beef sandwich, I think that is one of the most popular choice on their menu. If I remember well, they also have a lot choices for vegeterian, but never try.

                      2. rwarren Sep 26, 2009 08:03 PM

                        have you been in the bistro in the Bronfman building yet? cheap and flavorful asian food. the beef with black beans has a good kick to it.

                        the bronfman bistro has small peanut dumplings but there are even better ones in the Thai Express in Cours Mont Royal. There's a big lineup at lunchtime but it's worth the wait!

                        for a little Zen with your coffee go to the Presse Café on de maisonneuve near peel. a little steep but quite relaxing ambiance. be sure to get a coffee stampie card. (actually ask for a stampie card in ANY coffee shop you visit regularly, including the ones on campus)

                        And if I ever happen across a samosa vendor on campus, I always buy some. Look for a big cardboard box lined in foil.

                        bon appetit from a mcgill employee.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: rwarren
                          caramielle Sep 27, 2009 11:40 AM

                          i agree with the samosas...Bronfman tends to have a lot of samosa sales (I'm a graduate from the BComm) and they get their orders from Pushap. $2.00 for 3 samosas, it's pretty filling. As for the Bronfman bistro, my friend told me their Tom Yum is pretty good.

                          1. re: caramielle
                            foodinspace Sep 30, 2009 06:47 AM

                            I tried the Tom Yum yesterday...really good!!! And plenty filling for $7.40 (w/tax).

                        2. blehfu Sep 29, 2009 04:48 PM

                          If you are a graduate student, you'll have full access to Thompson House, the graduate students center. Not only do they have a cheap bar, but they do have a little restaurant in the basement that serves lunch weekdays. Not anything terribly special, but decent.

                          If you want to go hippie/vegan, also consider Midnight Kitchen (McGill) and People's Potato (Concordia). Food quality is inconsistent (depends on who's working I suppose) but at pay-what-you-can, it's to be expected.

                          As a side note, there's a little stall, Caravelle, in the food court at 2020 University (in the basement) which has a beef carrot curry rice exactly the way my mom used to make it (Chinese style) for $6. Unless you can stomach the soul deadening decor of food courts, I'd recommend it to go.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: blehfu
                            Shattered Sep 29, 2009 08:18 PM

                            "consider Midnight Kitchen (McGill) and People's Potato (Concordia)"

                            Baaaaaarrrrfffffff! Consider it considered: not even fit for a dog. I'll stomach food courts over that crap anyday.

                          2. x
                            xIcewind Sep 30, 2009 05:18 AM

                            As a current student at McGill, some of what I say may not exactly be the most nutritious, but they sure are cheap.

                            1) Edo Japan in the food court at the Eatons center. $6.64 for chicken teriyaki, vegetables, and rice. A free drink if you show your student ID.

                            2) There's a korean restaurant underneath the scotiabank center/theatre that sells tonkatsu (fried pork cutlet). Something like $9.14/ box, comes with vegetable tempura, salad, miso soup, rice, and cutlet.

                            3) Thali near Concordia, $8 for more food that I can eat in one sitting

                            4) P.M on St. Cats, cheap food, good food.

                            5. Tapioca The or Cuisine Szechuan, both good spicy Chinese food.

                            Sorry if I repeat anyone's recommendations. It's early in the morning.

                            1. sinjawns Sep 30, 2009 07:15 AM

                              Can't beat the lunch special at La Paryse, on Ontario near St. Denis. Close enough on bike.
                              Great hamburgers and fries... high quality at a reasonable price.

                              1. s
                                sharkbait88 Oct 1, 2009 09:01 PM

                                best place on campus in my opinion has got to be the architecture cafe in the basement of the Macdonald Harrington building. i was ordering a wonderfully crisp and light samosa when a scruffy man speaking with a jamaican accent dropped off a load of fresh rotis, jamaican patties, and soups. i'm guessing they get most of their stuff from reputable restaurants outside campus. pretty reasonably priced, and has got a very large variety of stuff. always packed during passing period.
                                i personally like angela's for pizza (so far, haven't tried too many pizza places, but i heard il foccacio, dont know if thats how you spell it, is great as well)
                                a second on cafe myriade, they make the best cup of coffee i have ever tasted and they serve fairmount bagels to boot.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: sharkbait88
                                  divya Oct 28, 2009 08:09 AM

                                  Al-taib on Maisonneuve

                                  the new one- opposite Antep kebab/Araouch
                                  food and service is good- eaten there for the last 3 months.
                                  Platters ~9.99/10.99 incl. lentil soup/salad and main dish: 2 pices of Kobbeh/rice/1 tomato

                                  Yesterday- went there and was told: salad is NO MORE incl., even though the menu shows it. The rice quantity is lesser, I know because I have a photo of my first plate , 3 moths ago- (was so excited , had to mail it to friends)

                                  I am upset. (is this a strategy by rest. to cut costs) >>>>>>>>>

                                  1. re: divya
                                    afoodyear Oct 28, 2009 04:02 PM

                                    It's sad times when restaurants are reducing rice portions to cut costs :(

                                2. s
                                  sharkbait88 Oct 28, 2009 02:46 PM

                                  just some feedback on Cuisine Bangkok in the fauborg which I went to for the first time today.
                                  Price was great, got the lunch special beef red curry with spring rolls.
                                  Got tons of rice with slices of beef, a smattering of red and green bell pepper slices and loads of bamboo.
                                  i'm going to be a bit tough, as i'm comparing this to thai food i usually get back at home, and this was a weak red beef curry. the curry was more like watered down sauce, and it didn't even look red, it was just like watery brown. the beef was in slices, but it was cooked ok.
                                  as far as flavor goes, they got it down, at least the spiciness.
                                  its sad that this has been touted as "the best thai" in montreal, but despite these shortcomings, it was overall above average and i will probably go back to try some of the other menu items.

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: sharkbait88
                                    TheSnowpea Oct 28, 2009 07:00 PM

                                    Meh, I used to like them when I lived nearby, over a decade ago, but like the Faubourg itself, they've gone downhill.

                                    1. re: sharkbait88
                                      hungryann Oct 28, 2009 07:08 PM

                                      Their curries tend to be watery. I guess they're cheap on the coconut milk.

                                      1. re: hungryann
                                        carswell Oct 28, 2009 07:22 PM

                                        I agree. Other dishes -- including the squid with eggplant and the pad thais -- are generally safer bets. But it also depends on who's cooking, and even then... The place has definitely lost some of its mojo.

                                        1. re: carswell
                                          hungryann Oct 28, 2009 07:30 PM

                                          Their pad thai is good. I've had the squid with the eggplant; loved the eggplant, wasn't too crazy about the squid. Too chewy and rubbery. I have been meaning to go back and try the shrimp with eggplant but haven't gotten around to it. Too many interesting eats in the surrounding area to explore!

                                          1. re: carswell
                                            sharkbait88 Oct 28, 2009 07:53 PM

                                            thanks, i'll definitely have to try that. i really want to give them another chance hearing so many people recommending them. maybe pad thais will be better.
                                            btw, has anyone ever ordered the garlic pepper chicken? thats my number one favorite thai dish, but i didn't try it this time around. or should i pass over that as well in favor of pad thais?

                                      2. carswell Oct 28, 2009 07:59 PM

                                        How can it be that no one has mentioned Maison Bulgogi? Zero ambiance but some of the best -- and most affordable -- Korean cooking in town.

                                        7 Replies
                                        1. re: carswell
                                          sharkbait88 Oct 28, 2009 08:10 PM

                                          how do you compare this to manna? i've heard that ownership has changed since the last time i went, which was sometime last year. i walked by and saw a bunch of lunch specials, but haven't eaten there yet.

                                          1. re: sharkbait88
                                            carswell Oct 28, 2009 08:18 PM

                                            Ownership has changed where? If it's at MB, it's news to me. I've not noticed any change in personnel.

                                            In any case, I've not been to Manna in many a moon. Way back when, it won by default. These days, when Korean restos are popping up like mushrooms after a rainfall, word is it's lacklustre. Maybe moh -- the closest thing the board has to a Korean authority -- will chime in.

                                            1. re: carswell
                                              sharkbait88 Oct 28, 2009 08:38 PM

                                              sorry, i was referring to manna ownership.

                                              1. re: carswell
                                                moh Oct 28, 2009 09:35 PM

                                                I would not claim to be any kind of a Korean authority, just another hungry eater...

                                                I have dropped Manna from my rotation because i definitely find it lackluster, but I have not been since aforementioned change of ownership.

                                                Maison Bulgogi is of course a personal favorite of mine. I find it is cheapest if you stick to the soup menu, the soups are definitely the most bang for your buck if eating alone, as they stand alone as a meal (They usually come with rice and side dishes). When eating in a group, a lot of the other dishes can be ordered and shared family-style, but if you aren't careful, the cost could run up to $20/person very quickly, not as cheap. Goodness knows, there have been nights when I have not been so careful, and then there you go, budget blown. But we have eaten extremely well, with large quantities for that price.

                                                I really love their pork/kimchi/tofu sizzling plate dish - it is my new favorite dish there. It has converted me into a cooked kimchi eater (my mother would never believe it).

                                                1. re: moh
                                                  sharkbait88 Oct 29, 2009 07:03 AM

                                                  thanks! maybe i'll end up trying both and giving some feedback on manna food :)

                                                  1. re: sharkbait88
                                                    moh Oct 29, 2009 07:28 AM

                                                    Feedback on Manna would be awesome! With all the new korean restos, it is getting harder and harder to keep up with the eating.

                                                    Resto Pub City
                                                    20820 Ch Cote N, Boisbriand, QC J7G, CA

                                                  2. re: moh
                                                    sharkbait88 Nov 21, 2009 05:15 PM

                                                    just a little review on maison bulgogi
                                                    went for lunch on friday, i ordered the soon dubu and my friend ordered the kimchi chigae. the appetizer dishes were decent, the kimchi was a bit, meh. not spicy in the least but it was ok. the soon dubu was different than what i had back home, but it was pretty good. i tried my friends kimchi chigae and i loved it. great flavor! overall, cheap, good, and filling.

                                            2. s
                                              sharkbait88 Nov 23, 2009 12:20 PM

                                              i just discovered an ideal student joint in le cartier next to the sofitel on sherbrooke. i always see people coming out of there with brown paper bags and sandwiches, so being hungry and on the hunt for something decent and cheap, i went in, skipped past the overpriced opiano cafe/resto and went to the depanneur right in between opiano and the cleaners. lo and behold! a variety of sandwiches on buns kind of like the vietnamese baguette sandwiches, from stuffed chicken to ham and cheese. the most expensive item on the menu was around 4 bucks, and i had the cheapest, egg salad sandwich at a whopping $2.75 taxes included. consisted of a generous portion of egg salad and some iceberg lettuce on a warm and slightly crusty baguette. it wasn't mind blowingly good, but for a student, it was flavorful, filling, healthy and most definitely cheap. definitely will go back there again when i'm having the munchies!

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: sharkbait88
                                                The Chemist Nov 23, 2009 12:45 PM

                                                It's called super sandwich. McGill grad students are 'putting these guys kids through college' =D

                                                1. re: The Chemist
                                                  sharkbait88 Nov 23, 2009 02:33 PM

                                                  definitely grateful for that :)

                                              2. thehotplate Nov 25, 2009 04:17 AM

                                                Congrats on starting at McGill, I'm just finishing up my last year. Actually, you should check out my cooking show, The Hot Plate, on tvmcgill.com!

                                                Cheap/delicious food is definitely feasible in Montreal so here are a few of my favorites...

                                                Breakfast - Place Milton, Dusty's (the special is amazing and only $10 tax/tip included)
                                                -pizza: Danny's (de la montagne and st. cats)
                                                -sandwich: Eden Organic Groceries (make your own), Schwartz (obvs), shwarmas in Gert's Bar on McTavish (promise not bad)
                                                -sushi: ocean sushi (des pins and st. urbain)
                                                -burgers: patati patat (rachel and st. laurent)

                                                Best Cafe with Sandwiches: Cafe Neve and El Mundo (delicious and affordable coffee and sandwiches) cafe neve has a killer giant cookie

                                                Cheap Asian food (in Chinatown around de la gauchetiere and st. urbain):
                                                - Hanashima (shabu shabu)
                                                - Beijing (chinese - best in the city and zagat rated, try the shrimp in lobster sauce)
                                                - Pho soup - Pho Bang New York or Pho Bac

                                                Italian Eatery: Euro Deli (St. Laurent and Prince Arthur)

                                                That is kind of a start I suppose, sorry if that is a bit overwhelming, let me know if you have specific cuisines in mind and I'll shoot you some more suggestions!

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: thehotplate
                                                  sharkbait88 Nov 25, 2009 06:47 AM

                                                  thank you very much for all the great suggestions!

                                                  1. re: thehotplate
                                                    The Chemist Nov 25, 2009 07:22 AM

                                                    Been trying to find good food around McGill for 4 years now on a grad student budget, and here are my additions/corrections =D:

                                                    Sushi: Osaka on Park (De Bleury) and Sherbrooke - Inexpensive and, if you know what to order, decent, especially by Montreal Sushi Standards (MSS's).

                                                    Pizza: McGill Pizza - If you order it fresh, it's actually quite good.

                                                    Lebanese: Medina, in the cathedral food court - You get EPIC portions and the cabbage salad and chicken are, in my opinion, better than Boustan. They don't grill the pita, but I get the plate, so yeah.

                                                    Chinese: Walk to Guy and Sherbrook and hit up Cuisine Szechuan - Best Chinese I have had, period. Get the spicy peanut tofu and the dumplings in spicy soup (back page).

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