My Montreal Is Better Than Yours*
Once again, bloggers are having their way with Budget Travel: A.J. Kinik and Michelle Marek--who write a wonderful blog, "...an endless banquet"--show us all where to eat, shop, and play in the city that they obsess over better than anyone else.
Little Italy starts just to the north of Mile End. The bright new star there is a world-class pizzeria, Bottega. Meanwhile, the Villeray district, north of Little Italy and Jean-Talon Market, is notable for its very good Lebanese eateries and bakeries. Chez Apo, our favorite, specializes in lahmajoun, Armenian-style flatbread topped with spiced beef and baked in a wood oven.
There are dozens of South Asian restaurants in Park Extension--our favorite is Malhi Sweets. The Punjabi menu includes an irresistible malai kofta, a superior channa samosa, and the city's finest pakoras.
The Côte-des-Neiges neighborhood, specializing in Caribbean cuisine, is another of Montreal's melting pots. Mr. Spicee, a Trinidadian takeout, makes outstanding patties and "doubles"--curry-loaded sandwiches, starting at $1.50, that are smothered in tamarind sauce and hot sauce.
When it comes to greasy-spoon breakfasts, we go to Cosmos in Notre-Dame-de-Grace for the counter-service-only charm and a lineup that includes two legends: the Mish Mash (scrambled eggs with bacon, salami, ham, and cheese) and the Creation (a BLT with fried egg and salami).
Our top three? Easy.
Restaurants specializing in small plates have been ascendant over the last couple of years in Montreal, as they have been elsewhere. The best is Tapeo, where the Spanish menu includes spicy clams with chorizo, bacon-wrapped pan-seared scallops with quince marmalade, and the most heavenly tortilla we've encountered.
The Plateau is known for its cozy neighborhood restaurants, and La Montée de Lait might be the quintessential one--it's also got the most imaginative prix fixe in town, a breathtaking selection of cheeses, and a surprisingly large wine list.
Chef Martin Picard's famous Au Pied de Cochon--with its deep-fried foie gras fritters, foie gras poutine, and pied de cochon topped with (what else?) foie gras--has been the sensation of Montreal's culinary renaissance. Picard's sugar-shack chic is no gimmick--it's an homage to the elemental combination of meat, fat, and fire, and it's a perfect snapshot of Montreal's particular joie de vivre.
97 1016 blvd. St-Laurent, 514/393-8116, pho $5
3895 blvd. St-Laurent, 514/842-4813, schwartzsdeli.com, sandwich $5
9 rue Duluth Est, 514/849-7779, brunch from $7
34 rue Rachel Ouest, 514/282-1519, BBQ chicken $10
4177 blvd. St-Laurent, 514/844-0216, fries $2
Wilensky's Light Lunch
34 rue Fairmount Ouest, 514/271-0247, Wilensky Special $3
115 rue St-Viateur Ouest, 514/948-2161, pierogies $4
65 rue St-Zotique Est, 514/277-8104, bottega.ca, pizza $11
420 rue Faillon, 514/270-1076, flatbread $4.50
880 rue Jarry Ouest, 514/273-0407, malhisweets.ca, malai kofta $6
6889A rue Victoria, 514/739-9714, sandwich $1.50
5843 rue Sherbrooke Ouest, 514/486-3814, Mish Mash $7
511 rue Villeray Est, 514/495-1999, restotapeo.com, clams $8
La Montée de Lait
371 rue Villeneuve Est, 514/289-9921, prix fixe $36
Au Pied de Cochon
536 rue Duluth Est, 514/281-1114, restaurantaupieddecochon.ca, fritters $3 each.