Where to go on a Budget?
- waxyjax Jul 21, 2004 02:28 PM
i'm planning a trip to Montreal from August 12-16.
i'm on a budget and was wondering if you could recommend any good hole-in-the-wall eateries, markets or inexpensive cafes and restaurants.
we may "splurge"--and by that, i mean eat at one restaurant where the main courses cost around $20 CAD.
also, any good bar and club recs would be appreciated!
i'm still trying to figure out my housing situation...i may try to stay in the student residences at Universite de Montreal...
as for food, i like everything--i definitely want to try some french cuisine.
as for bars, i like hip places--but would like to avoid anything overly pretentious...same goes for clubs. i'm pretty open about music, but my friend would probably be more into rock, brit pop, new wave or electro.
by the way, are there any quebecois dishes i should make a point to try?
thanks for your suggestions!
If you stay at UdeM's residences, you won't exactly be in a happening part of town - which is OK if you have transportation or don't mind longish subway rides. I don't know that area very much anymore, but close by there is Cote-des-Neiges street, which has several places to eat. For a quiet place to have a few beers in the neighborhood, brewery La Maisonnee (5385 Gatineau) was a favorite of thirsty students in my days. Across the street is Le Crocodile, a bar that's not exactly hip but is close by (30-40s crowd).
Other suggestions: El Zazzium (closest location would be on Avenue du Parc, just north of Mont-Royal) - gringo mexican place that's kind of fun, though not exactly high-end eating (if you order their "Le Monstre" platter and succeed in eating it all, they'll give you a T-shirt). For authentic Quebecois dishes, your best bet would be La Binerie Mont-Royal (on Mont-Royal just west of St-Denis), which serves the kind of food we all ate as kids (and thankfully don't anymore).
Fun bar with tiny dance floor and varied music: Taverna, corner of St-Laurent and Bernard. Other cool bars (no dance floors): Le Cheval Blanc (Ontario and St-Hubert), a small bar that was also one of the first Montreal micro-breweries; Bily Kun (Mont-Royal), a larger and trendier "sister" to Cheval Blanc; Edgar Hypertaverne (Mont-Royal further east), for artists and pseudo-artist Plateau types. Hip but not obnoxious club: Mile-End, (5322 St-Laurent - sit-down bar downstairs, house music upstairs). I would not recommend any club on St-Laurent between Sherbrooke and Des Pins (unless you like waiting in line forever, then getting sardined between obnoxious people while listening to R&B and hip-hop).
Have fun !
Personally, I wouldn't recommend Zaziumm to anyone: every time I've been there, it's been mediocre at best. (I've been more than once only because of group plans out of my control.) It's only marginally better than Taco Hell and almost certain to disappoint anyone who's experienced decent Mexican or Tex-Mex.
The most happening places are downtown and the Plateau, which are fairly large areas. The main streets to check out:
- St-Laurent, from Sherbrooke all the way up to Bernard. Below Sherbrooke there's a mildly seedy strip, then you get a tiny Chinatown.
- St-Denis, from Ste-Catherine all the way up to Mont-Royal.
- Mont-Royal, from St-Laurent to Papineau.
- Ste-Catherine, from Guy to Papineau, and all the side streets. This is a very long stretch, not all of it is interesting, and it is clogged with shops and tourist traps- but as a first-time tourist you should probably check it out.
re: Rich Cianci
Not to knock your suggestion I've not read Cheap Thrills Montreal but why, oh why do they list L'Académie, Montreal's leading purveyor of mock bistro food, as the first recco on their website? Aye aye aye!
Sarah Musgrave's Resto à Go-Go: 180 Cheap and Fun Places to Eat and Drink in Montreal (ECW Press, $16.95) is another guide I haven't read. Ms. Musgrave is the Gazoo's casual restaurant critic.
Depending on where you're coming from, it might not be such a big deal, but my wife and I like to hit Chinatown for the "Lobster Festival" promotions. One restuarant (Shandong?) has featured TWO whole lobsters for as low as CAN $12.95 in the past. For this price, it's the basic garlic-ginger prep, but the lobster speaks for itself.
My top budget recco downtown is Cuisine Bangkok, the Thai food stall on the second floor of the Faubourg Ste-Catherine. Also, there's Le Paris (www.clic1.com/paris/accueil.html), a half-block west of the Faubourg, for French classics like brandade and, on Saturday afternoons only, roast chicken. One can get away from Brunoise (www.brunoise.ca) for as little as C$29, and that includes an amuse, first course, main course and dessert. Le Bouchon de Liège (8497 Ste-Dominique, 514 807-0033) serves cutting-edge French market cuisine for an amazing $28 for three-courses. And there are tons of ethnic eateries, too many in fact to draw up a list without some guidance as to your likes and dislikes (cf. Johnnyboy's query).
A few fave cheap eats (mostly in the Plateau/Mile End area):
Euro Deli Batory (Polish), on St. Viateur W. across from Café Olympico (aka Open Da Nite: I'm not convinced it's truly the best coffee in town, but it is very good, and cheap -- $2 for a latte, $1.25 for an espresso). Batory has great hearty fare; used to be unbelievably cheap, now it's merely cheap. Limited hours and limited seating: basically a lunch place only.
Super Marché Andes (Salvadoran?): Pupusas and other Central American treats, with a seating area next to the grocery aisles. On the east side of St-Laurent, above Marie-Anne.
La Chilenita mainly serves Chilean fast food (particularly empanadas, $2 each, and quesadillas, about $5), plus Mexican-style fare such as burritos. Two locations: on Marie-Anne near Clark, and at the corner of Napoléon and Hotel-de-Ville (I think).
Le Roi du Plateau (Portuguese) is pricier than the above but still very reasonable (mains from about $10). 51 Rachel W; reservations highly recommended: 514-844-8393. (Note: with the less expensive Portuguese places, it's usually wise to stick with specialties like grilled chicken or lamb chops; seafood is often handled rather clumsily with the exception of things like grilled sardines or squid.)
Many swear by the BBQ chicken at Coco Rico (St-Laurent at Napoléon), but I find the roast pork and the BBQ ribs much more ably done (chicken tends to be dry and/or greasy, IMO).
Then there's smoked meat. Schwartz's is a must, but if you've been-there-and-done-that, the Main (just across the street and south a little) is pretty good too and you rarely have to wait for a table. Also in this area, some of the deli/butcher/grocery stores make good sandwiches (from $3-6): Vieille Europe, Charcuterie Hongroise, Slovenia.
Chinatown has plenty of reasonable places, many of them not Chinese; on St-Laurent between René-Lévesque and Viger you'll find many Vietnamese Pho joints. Avoid the Chinese buffet on de La Gauchetière (the name escapes me, but you can't miss it), unless you want to gorge on all-you-can-eat Chinese BBQ, which is good quality. The associated bakery (same building, separate entrance) is pretty good too.
The sit-down places on the main Chinatown strip run the gamut, but many are reasonable. Beijing (on de La Gauchetière, near St-Urbain) is a favourite; a pretty lavish dinner for two is about $40-50, though you can spend a lot less or a lot more depending on your tastes. Seafood is their forte, but the Yeung Chow fried rice makes for a great cheap meal (about $6), and the General Tao chicken is well above average.
As for bars and clubs, the best bet is to go with neighbourhoods. If you want friendly dives and unpretentious clubs, explore St-Laurent between des Pins (Pine) and Rachel. For glitz, try St-Laurent between Sherbrooke and des Pins (exception: Biftek is possibly one of the best dive bars anywhere), or Crescent St. There are also some interesting places farther up St-Laurent, in the St-Viateur vicinity.
.all of which is really only scratching the surface.