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Attending McGill next year, give me some essentials!

Excited to be living in Montreal for the next few years. I'm from Toronto and love the food there, so i'm hoping to love the food in Montreal just as much!

Anyone have any suggestions for..
-Cheap student lunch/dinners as an alternative to caf food
-Moderately priced restaurants to frequent on the weekends/free time
-Must-try restaurants
-Restaurants for dates and special occasions
-Convenient eats near the campus

I visited Montreal in March and go to try Brasserie T, Schwartz, La Banquise, Lemeac, and Boustans.

Thanks so much CH!

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  1. Free food: Midnight kitchen at SSMU. I have never eaten there, but know several people who volunteered to cook. I hear that their food is delicious.
    Cheap food: Al taieb, samosa sales for fundraising in various buildings, bake sales, at least one good gorilla restaurant on Milton (sorry, can't give names, don't want to be responsible for them being shut down).
    Less cheap, but good: Akli in basement of scotiabank, cafeteria in Desautels building (they have laksa!), McCord Museum cafeteria (they have a terrace in the summer), comptoir du chef, Atti for korean, Lola Rosa (which many love, but many hate), .There are other surprising food court finds. Do a search for downtown/mcgill and you will find some more suggestions for all of your questions. They are all pretty common inquires.

    7 Replies
    1. re: hala

      "at least one good gorilla restaurant on Milton"

      Mmmmm... It's been a while since I've had some good gorilla. It's so hard to come by around these parts. What with the obvious sourcing problems and all those bleeding heart animal rights activists always shutting the places down.

      Unless, of course, you meant guerilla restaurant? ;)

      1. re: SnackHappy

        LOL Yup, would love to try some grilled gorilla.

        Thank you for catching my typo!

      2. re: hala

        Where exactly is this Desautels building? Is it part of the McGill campus? I will travel anywhere for laksa!

        1. re: hungryann

          1001 Rue Sherbrooke Ouest, Montréal

              1. re: hungryann

                Honestly, the cafeteria at Bronfman is OK but not amazing.
                The hot food options include a soup noodle (with lakhsa and tom yum soup options), ma pao tofu, and other rice/noodles with stir fries. It's better than a lot of the stuff on campus but nothing to write home about. But if you want some Asian food options, including sushi (which is available at other campus eateries), fresh rolls, vietnamese subs (chicken and beef only), and salads (mango and seaweed), you can find it here.

                Another good campus option used to be the Al-Taib at the bottom of the SSMU building but it looks like they are either renovating the place or getting rid of it this summer as that part of the building is under construction. Al-Taib had zataar and falafels, which were good, and mediocre pizza.

            1. Can't really give any recs, but can tell you what NOT to do: don't exist on caf food and ghetto pizza for your entire first year. That shizz makes you fat and then you have to diet AND study. :) Seriously, though, when I was a McGill student and lived in the Ghetto, I never really did find any really good AND cheap food. I remeber trying random places near campus (sushi, sandwiches, Indian) and never really finding any success. This was 5+ years ago tho so maybe things have changed. I just remember the immediate area around campus as kind of a food wasteland.

              1. A couple of more off-the-beaten-path McGill food options:

                The McGill Farmers' Market
                http://mcgillfarmersmarket.blogspot.ca/

                Organic Campus
                http://organiccampus.blogspot.ca/

                1. I''ve been recently re-enjoying Pita Pit again on Parc.

                  1. The area around Concordia actually has more interesting fare: look on this board for Chinatown II.

                    1. To echo others, yes, please venture beyond the ghetto! You don't have to go to Concordia to find better food than what the ghetto offers, just walk up The Main (St-Laurent Blvd.) Romados for cheap and delicious take-out chicken (and huge portions, the only meal you'll need all day for $7). Coco Rico is good, too. Jano and Le Roi du Plateau are sit-down joints that won't break your budget. All prior suggestions are Portuguese. Mazurka (Polish) and Au 14 Prince Arthur Ouest (Vietnamese) are good too. Spicy Noodle in the basement of 3575 Parc avenue (the Metro grocery store) is surprisingly good Chinese, and open til 11pm Sun-Wed or midnight on wkends. Also note that Chinatown (the original) is only 15 minutes walk downhill, then hang a left, from McGill. Lots of cheap, delicious, and late-night (like, some til 4 or 5am) options. I could name many more, but that's plenty to get started. btw, Alto's on Parc > Pita Pit (& also open til the wee hours).

                      1. amelios in ghetto is popular for italian food in evenings; royal victoria hospital at lunch has some inexpensive food in pasta area, salad bar, and teriyaki or panini area. McGill has always had some references on their website and concordia also used to have resto suggestions on their site

                        http://www.mcgill.ca/firstyear/montre...

                        March Lobos 3509 Parc has cheaper fruit and veggies than nearby metro , provigo or eden grocery stores

                        1. First off, congratulations on getting into McGill! Reading this post made me quite nostalgic.

                          When your folks are in town and are footing the bill take them to Au Pied De Cochon and Milos (both are must trys)!

                          On your own dime, visit Bangkok in Fauborg Mall (also a must try) for delicious and very authentic Thai food (do not ask them to make their food spicy!). They have a proper restaurant not too far away either.

                          When you have some time on your hands try Marven's in Parc Ex, they do a mean fried calamari. On a Saturday morning, go to Kam Phung, in Chinatown, for dim sum; that place is hopping by 11 am. Be prepared to wait! Pho Ban New York,in Chinatown, is the best pho in town.

                          Rockaberry, on St. Denis, has good pies (very generous portions to boot!). Juliette Et Chocolat, also on St. Denis but in the Latin Quartier, is great for decadent chocolate: I swear by their brownies!

                          On campus:the Law Building has a great, albeit, hidden cafeteria which serves good, fresh food.
                          +1 to the Midnight Kitchen. On Fridays, The Yellow Door (Aylmer/Prince Arthur) serves up tasty vegetarian lunches.

                          Kanda is very close to campus for your AYCE sushi fix. Fresh ingredients but mediocre sushi.

                          Le Taj, also near campus has a decent Indian Buffet and,I think, the best Indian buffet in the downtown core.

                          Like the others have mentioned, venture beyond the McGill bubble! Use the Metro to go places: Atwater Market, Jean Talon, the Plateau etc. Montreal is a very foodie city! Good luck!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: whittle

                            Another super fun place to visit is Auberge Du Dragon Rouge (up by Cremazie Metro) which is one of the 'funnest' places I've been to. It's medieval themed and their menu also reflects that: bison, boar etc. The food is very good (still remember the potatoes and boar) but a bit on the more expensive side, if you're a student. The wait staff ,dressed in medieval garb, is what make the restaurant experience memorable; they're really boisterous and very engaging: they'll make fun of you (I got roasted because I couldn't speak french and for other fun reasons as well!); and they drink while serving you, so they are a bit tipsy! Some other staff are dressed as minstrels and regale you with funny songs accompanied by string instruments they've crafted themselves!

                            It's a great place for birthdays and to have a fun night out.

                          2. Just got back from a week long stay near Guy-Concordia station. The bakery in the station has irresistible Asian breads for about a buck each. The bagel place and Thai eatery in the Faubourg shopping center on Catherine is inexpensive and really good, albeit a bit depressing.

                            1. I graduated in 09 from management...so I will say RIGHT NOW the bronfman caf is a disaster...I don't know of anyone that likes anything from there and I only buy coffee from there occasionally (and maybe a muffin if I'm hungry)

                              I am not sure if it's still there but there's Super Sandwich in the Cartier shopping mall next to bronfman (a bronfman student haunt) with good sandwiches, there's Saigon down the street going towards the Peel metro (suddenly don't remember the name of the street...Metcalfe?) - used to go there in between breaks to get peanut butter dumplings, noodles or fried banana (yeahh....sweet tooth).

                              There's a pizza place in Square Phillips near the Bay called Pizza Il Focolaio with a lot of pizza choice - I used to go there after the gym (which is up on Pine...quite the trek haha). I'll second the Al-Tahib option also. If you don't mind getting messy I'd say go to Bofingers down University towards PVM (it's near the BMO). They have some specials every day of the week and their stuff is pretty tasty (I haven't tried Le Boucan yet because the last time the RSVP got screwed up and we lost it ugh but I heard it's supposed to be good)

                              If you go to the Concordia area there's tons of Asian restaurants - the cult favourite Kazu (beware of line up) Yuki ramen in the Faubourg food court, Golden Stone (Chinese bbq, 1439 St. Mathieu St), Pret A Manger (also in the Concordia area on St Cat's - pretty good Chinese food and I'm Chinese so I'm hoping that has some merit!)

                              I usually go to Maison Bulgogi near Atwater on St Cat's for my Korean...just used to going there. I like Chez Bong too but I haven't been there lately so can't comment much if things have changed. For sushi, not a fan of Kanda after Sushi Crescent openend up but still prefer Ginza on St Denis (despite their tempura being pretty mediocre).

                              And if you don't mind making the trek up St Laurent...try Burger De Ville (5282 Boulevard Saint-Laurent). Better than those burger bars dtown that are popping up everywhere...

                              Can't forget the 3 for $2 samosa sales that almost happen every week. I held one once and made so much money, my friend and I honestly considered just doing that for a living lol. The samosas come from Pushap in Namur, FYI.

                              1. I don't know if anyone has mentioned the famous (or infamous) Segall grocery store on St-Laurent at the corner of Duluth (a bit north and east of McGill). A friend dubs it "The United Nations of rudeness", but it can be cheap, or very very cheap. I don't like their vegetables (better at Supermarché PA; both the avenue du Parc and rue du Fort branches are patronised by lots of students) but there are a lot of organic and natural foods, cheeses and yoghourts cheaper than most places; you'll see.

                                It is small, the aisles are narrow, it is usually packed. You must carry your own shopping bags.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: lagatta

                                  Ask for a box, next time you forget a bag.

                                2. Thank you so much for all the suggestions, definitely keeping a tab on this page for september to remember them all!

                                  What is the best AYCE sushi fix nearby?

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: .alias

                                    Best AYCE sushi, not too far away, would be Ginza (St. Denis/Mt. Royal). It's a bit on the pricier side but definitely worth the trip.

                                    Kanda which is right down the road from the Music Building isn't terrible at all. In fact, we'd pop in between class for lunch. Of course, after making sure there was an hour and a half at least between classes.

                                    Odaki on (St. Laurent/Parc) used to be good but it went downhill even as I was there.

                                    1. re: whittle

                                      Not all you can eat but Furusato on Bleury just below Sherbrooke is decent Japanese. I'm actually not too familiar with their sushi but I like their donburi.

                                      1. re: whittle

                                        I second Ginza. It's the best and most consistent one I've been to

                                        1. re: artstate

                                          Is the ginza in montreal the same company as the one in toronto?

                                    2. I am completely convinced that you and all your new-found friends will know where to go and what to eat. Lucky you as you will be in the heart of our city. My truly only suggestion outside of the obvious is to bring a really warm coat and flat boots as running from one building to another is a killer in winter.

                                      However, in the vein of this post and when you and a friend have a car I would get out of the downtown area on Sundays and head for Cafe Orange on Decarie Blvd for brunch; it is in a suburb of Montreal called NDG OR you can walk all through Monkland Village and find yourself a place to eat because it is one resto after another in another quaint street

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: blondee_47

                                        I think i got the jacket covered haha, not sure what boots to get, i'm a guy.

                                        I'll definitely try to check that out if I meet someone with a car handy. Can i reach it by cab?

                                        1. re: .alias

                                          24 bus west on sherbrooke goes right there. cabs are a waste of money in this city.

                                      2. .alias if you are attending McGill next year as you say; I doubt you will have much time to 'eat out'...I would suggest you hone your dorm skills and get the cookbooks out there that dedicate themselves to how to cook on a hot pot or a propane table top burner.

                                        Furusato on bleury will be considered a 'high end' resto if you will be on limited funds and there are loads of inexpensive asian restos that are closer to Concordia. You are better off hitting the other side of St Laurent and Sherbrooke which becomes East, especially the cross streets. Learn to love sushi and Noodles. By your second semester you will be a maven on this beautiful city of ours.

                                        If you are doing an undergrad do not be fooled into thinking you can study like you did to get accepted: once in the courses are 10 times the amount of work. McGill takes most of its students from out of town so don't get fooled into thinking because you got in you can rest on your laurels...i am sure you will have study-shock ... and you don't want to have to lose that Freshman Fifteen...:))

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: blondee_47

                                          I just want to have my options for food open, the time management is definitely a must.
                                          So east of the st laurent on sherbrooke has some options?

                                          i'm on rez first year, so i really just want stuff if i need a break from meal plans :( and on the weekends.
                                          Next year i'm definitely going to be cooking for myself.