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Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives (Canadian Version)

My boyfriend and I have spent the entire summer working so we can travel around Canada from mid Sept - December. We're huge fans of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives so we really want to do our own version. We're from Toronto so we want to get out of this city. We plan to venture around northern Ontario, PEI, Nova Scotia, British Columbia AND we've recently added Quebec to our list (even though we don't speak a lick of French). In case you haven't seen DDD, we are looking for places with huge portions of homecooked/fresh food. We want to chow down with the locals so no chains and no shmancy gourmet food! Just great institutions :)

Thanks for your help!

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    1. re: celfie

      The food is gross. You only stop to see the dinosaurs

    2. In Montreal, I think Chez Philippe on Amherst and Paul Patate in St-Henri would fall into that category. Dépanneur le Pick-Up would also be a good "modern" option.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Whygee

        Paul Patate would be an excellent choice. It's in Point St-Charles, however, not St-Henri. If you're up in Mile-End grabbing bagels (not DDD but still worth doing!) then you can visit Nouveau Palais on Bernard just east of Parc...it's a nice relic in that fast gentrifying area.

        Paul Patate
        2606 Rue De Coleraine, Montreal, QC H3K1S7, CA

      2. Hi folks, please limit your responses in this thread to places in Quebec. The OP has posted on four Canadian boards, so if you have a suggestion for one of the other areas they're visiting, feel free to posted on the appropriate thread. You can see all the threads by clicking on lecanadienfoodie's username below their post. Thanks for your cooperation.

        1 Reply
        1. Definitely check out Cosmos in NDG for breakfast. You need to sit indoors to soak up all the local flavour - it's definitely entertaining. Behind the counter, members of the Koulakis family and longtime staffers banter with each other and with customers. There was even a documentary made about the place and its people called Man of Grease.

          Oh yeah, and the food is just what you're looking for. They're known for their heart-stopping Creation sandwich, massive mish-mash omelette, and their delectable homemade-daily home fries.

          Cosmos Snack Bar
          5843 Rue Sherbrooke W, Montreal, QC H4A1X4, CA

          2 Replies
          1. re: kpzoo

            MAN OF GREASE
            Thursday March 4, 2004 at 10 PM ET/PT
            repeating Saturday March 6, 2004 at 10 PM ET
            repeating Thursday December 23, 2004 at 10 PM ET/PT
            repeating Saturday December 25, 2004 at 10 PM ET/PT

            Cosmos is a cubbyhole of a greasy spoon in Montreal. Tony Koulakis, 66, has been sweating it out behind the grill on Sherbrooke St. for nearly 30 years. His all-day, cholesterol-laden breakfasts are legendary. Customers come far and wide to chow down on house specialties like "mish mash"-a combo of ham, sausage, bacon, salami, onions, tomatoes and eight eggs. Even Koulakis, a chain-smoker, sometimes warns his customers of the health risks. So when rumours of his impending retirement hit the street, filmmaker Ezra Soiferman was there to record the drama.

            The result is a quirky, yet poignant documentary portrait of a local Montreal legend in Man of Grease.

            Soiferman looks at how this dedicated, passionate and eccentric immigrant (known affectionately as "The God of Potatoes") turned his tiny restaurant into a city institution. One year before retiring, Koulakis placed his beloved Cosmos in the trust of his three children, and travelled-for the first time in nearly three decades-back to his homeland of Greece. There, Koulakis revisited his birthplace on the sun-drenched island of Crete.

            The documentary features Koulakis's many loyal customers, friends and family who provide insight into the culture of diners and why they are so popular. Cosmos regulars don't come strictly for the food, but for the sense of belonging, the everyday drama, the counter conversations that often segue into philosophical debates and arguments about hockey, and above all else, for Tony Koulakis.

            Man of Grease tells the story of a young man who arrived from a foreign land, worked hard to create something special, and many years later, looks back at what he has achieved.

            Man of Grease is produced and directed by Ezra Soiferman of Perpetuum Productions of Montreal.

            1. re: celfie

              oK the food isnt great but its kitsch -- the BIG ORANGE Gibeau Orange Julep catches your attention on the Decarie, has fast food (have veggie burgers, club sandwich as well as usual hamburgers, fries, poutine, corn dogs- I have only had the hot dogs) and picnic tables. But on Wednesday evenings between 7pm and 10pm hot rods and antique cars turn up, you might just get an orange julep and go somewhere else for the meal. No inside tables but has an awning.

              and here is what you can look at in parking lot while enjoying your orange julep:


              open 24 hours a day in summer

          2. DECARIE HOT DOGS. That place got some of the best greasy spoon food in Montreal, and the staff are hilarious.

            1. From what I've seen of the show, I think Cosmos would fit. Also, what about Scratch Kitchen? It's like a restaurant within a dive-y bar called Copacabana. They have really good Indian-ish food (not sure how authentic, but definitely tasty). Not necessarily huge portions but it is quirky and dive-y. Santropol might also fit - it has funky atmosphere and a neat back garden in the summer, and huuuuuuge sandwiches that some people love.

              3990 Rue Saint Urbain, Montreal, QC H2W 1T8, CA

              5 Replies
              1. re: stak

                Oh - let me add: La Banquise for all the crazy poutines, and maybe Patati-Patata for its cuteness. And maybe Romados. And I would agree with Schwartz...I think if huge portions is a necessary criterion, it will be harder to find places in Canada than in the States - which is not a bad thing, in my books. But if you're looking for casual, creative places with character and love from the locals, we do have lots of those.

                1. re: stak

                  all those places have huge portions

                  1. re: celfie

                    What I said about portion sizes was more of a general comment that it is harder to find huge portions around here. The places I mentioned were the ones that I could think of that fit with the OP's request, which included huge portions. Yes, a half chicken and "small" fries from Romados will feed me and my husband with leftovers, and each sandwich at Santropol seems to contain an entire block of cream cheese and half a loaf of bread; however, at Scratch Kitchen and Patati (and anything other than the mishmash at Cosmos) I find the portions quite reasonable. Some of the portions on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives are just over-the-top disgustingly huge.

                    3990 Rue Saint Urbain, Montreal, QC H2W 1T8, CA

                    1. re: stak

                      scratch kitchen is not the sort of place featured on DDD
                      DDD is americana style diners and that's what the OP is looking for
                      which pretty much doesnt exist here
                      closest thing is beauty's

                      1. re: celfie

                        I disagree. I think Americana-style diners are part of it, but I've seen Mexican food, Italian food, Hawaiian food, and more on the show - and the places he visits are not all "diners". Some are diners, some are drive-ins...and some are dives.
                        It's interesting to see how different people interpret this question, on this board as well as the other Canadian boards where the same question was asked.

              2. Many would disagree that this place should be included on this list, but I think Schwartz's smoked meat is exactly what the OP is looking for. Its small, dinerish with a great reputation and great food.

                Have fun and please report back.

                Schwartz's Montreal Hebrew Delicatessen
                3895 Boulevard Saint-Laurent, Montreal, QC , CA

                1 Reply
                1. A few more time-tested institutions to recommend:

                  La Binerie on Mont-Royal East @ St. Denis - distinctive Quebecois favorites
                  Chalet BBQ on Decarie near Sherbrooke - Amazing local-style rotisserie chicken, the place hasn't changed in decades
                  Snowdon Deli on Decarie north of Queen Mary - more side dishes than Schwartz's, more like a real deli/diner
                  Royal Submarine on Bernard @ St. Laurent - classic subs, going strong for more than 50 yrs
                  The Main (across the street from Schwartz's on St. Laurent) - more diner-y than Schwartz's

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: anachemia

                    I am not sure I would classify some of the above restos as Diners a la the tv show...chalet BBQ is a specialty joint with only one kind of food and that is BBQ chicken the same with Snowdon Deli offering Deli delights...my version which I have yet to see in Montreal is a real diner that serves a multitude of different diverse and home made 'not on any other menu' kind of fare.

                    However on my way home from Toronto and I cannot remember where I made a pit stop at a Diner truck stop off the 401 and all I can remember of it is saying "Wow" a true diner....now I wish I could remember I just know I was alone, feeling sick with a cold and it was right off the highway with a car/truck garage repair shop on the same lot.

                    The restaurant was attached to a store that carried all kinds of fishing gear and hunter stuff....
                    Anyone know of what I speak?

                    1. re: blondee_47

                      Whether Chalet BBQ is a "diner" or not (and I agree that it's probably not) it certainly fits the OP's search for: "places with huge portions of homecooked/fresh food. We want to chow down with the locals so no chains and no shmancy gourmet food! Just great institutions :)" I encourage the OP to try it out - it's a classic Montreal institution, been there since the 40s, with delicious, cheap food!

                      As far as the place off the 401, I'd suggest you post that Q on the Ontario board. ;-) Good luck!

                  2. I definitely second Le Binerie. Nothing froufy, real,quinessential quebec grub - tourtiere, pate chinois, cretons, feves au lard - everything made in house. Owners are really nice and friendly. The beans are so good (but not so good for you :) )

                    1. Anecdote is a great diner. Corner of St Hubert and Rachel. Terrific hamburgers (many variations), but they have a signature meal too, the Tofu Club. It is incredibly tasty and so totally unique. You don't have to be a vegetarian to order it, it's that good. Worthy of a feature on the DDD or your own personal version.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: 1963

                        Anecdote, without a doubt, serves the worst breakfast I have ever eaten. As a result I would never try any other foord there. In case you wonder why I say that - my reply is plastic bread, watery eggs, undercooked bacon and coffee that is worse than Tim Horton's.

                        1. re: Bwitch

                          Never had breakfast there, but lunch and dinner food is great diner fare. Really nice fries too.
                          I guess there are few restaurants that can do all 3 meals of the day well.

                      2. i'm surprised nobody mentionned smoked meat pete. The fact that they LOOK like an american diner is worthy of a mention.

                        1 Reply
                        1. In Le Bic on the way to eastern canada visit:
                          Restaurant Du Pecheur Enr (418) 736-5001
                          2734 132 Rte E, Le Bic, QC

                          For chowder.

                          Restaurant Du Pecheur Enr
                          2734 Rte 132 E, Le Bic, QC G0L1B0, CA

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: ScoobySnacks20

                            Could also add Cantine de la gare in Rimouski. Great poutine.

                            1. re: Campofiorin

                              Yes, and Snack Bar D'amour in Rivière-Du-Loup. These places also have a bunch of interesting local specialities. The menu at Cantine de la gare is chock full of stuff I've never heard of and can't figure out from the name, and I can never ask too many questions because when I've gone they've always been in a rush.

                              Snack Bar D'amours
                              47 Boul Cartier, Riviere-Du-Loup, QC G5R5Z3, CA

                              1. re: Campofiorin

                                Well, if we're going off the beaten track, check out this buffet in Tadoussac:


                                The best Tourtière du Lac St-Jean I've ever had, one of the best stick-to-your-ribs meals I've ever had. I made room for all 4 of their dessert pies, too (and Tadoussac is a beautiful town).

                            2. pretty great Caribbean place across from Vendome metro, at 5155 de Maisonneuve W.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: bakersdelight

                                Also at Vendome is Copoli (5181 De Maisonneuve W)

                                1. re: melani1

                                  Ooh, that just reminded me: on St. Jacques between Girouard and Cavendish (quick bus ride from Vendome metro), there is a Dic Ann's - interesting little local burger chain, named for the couple who founded it several decades ago (Dominic & Ann). Their unique twist is the spicy meatsauce they put on everything (even their poutine), as well as the fact that the burgers and dogs are all flat as a pancake.
                                  It's a fairly new location, but the walls are covered in hockey memorabilia which adds some local charm and history. For an even more authentic experience, visit the original location in Montreal-North (long drive up to the top of Pie-IX, IIRC)