When people ask me why I love Montreal so much, I don’t have to think very hard — THE FOOD.
Rumour has it that Montreal has the highest amount of restaurants per capita in North America, and while I can’t seem to find a reliable source to validate this information, I like to think it true. There are an incredible amount of restaurants in the city, all better than the other, from the cheapest take-away to the most lavish Michelin-starred establishment, and just about everything in between.
There’s no doubt about it — Montreal does food very well. Thanks to the many different cultures that emigrated to the city at some point, we have quite the variety when it comes to picking a place to eat. Poutine? Indian? Vietnamese? Sharma? Take your pick, because we’ve got it covered.
To help budget-strapped travelers or lovers of cheap, authentic food, I compiled a list of my favorite cheap eats in Montreal under $15 per head.
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15 Cheap Eats in Montreal Under $15
A brand new restaurant in the heart of up-and-coming Rosemont of latin inspiration. Locally sourced and organic whenever possible, they offer a nice twist on the traditional Mexican eatery. Quality, originality, for a fraction of the cost (more specifically, around $4 per taco).
Is there such a thing as a healthy burger joint? I don’t think so. But Burger de Ville is as close as it’s going to get: almost everything is handmade and made in-house, including the toppings and the soups. How cheap are we talking about, then? Around $5 for a regular burger, and $7 for a burger with fancy cheeses.
Wilensky’s is sort of an institution in the Mile-End. Family-owned since the opening in 1932, the place is famous for its cheap snacks, yes, but also for the Wilensky’s Special ($3.90): “all-beef salami with all-beef baloney grilled to mouth-watering perfection on a tasty roll with a hint of mustard”. But don’t try to change anything in it — the owner, Ruth, will not have your shit. Hell, they even wrote a poem about it:
When ordering a Special,
you should know a thing or two.
It is always served with mustard;
it is never cut in two.
Don’t ask us why; just understand
that this is nothing new.
This is the way that it’s been done
Montreal’s first completely vegan restaurant! Aux Vivres’ mission is simple: debunk the myth that vegan food is pretty much like eating grass – i.e., tasteless and boring. Quite the contrary! Everything on the menu is less than $15 and full of flavor. Kudos to the gyro!
While the debate between the cities with the best bagels still remains to be settled — New York or Montreal? — if there’s one thing the two metropolises have in common bagel-wise, it’s the low prices. A cream-cheese bagel and a large coffee will set you back around $5 at the Mont-Royal branch (which I strongly recommend because they have a nice seating area and good people-watching opps.)
This is one of the city’s best kept secret. Delicious, flavorful and cheap meal in the heart of the Plateau? Check! A half-chicken with fries and a salad is just under $10.
Perhaps Montreal’s most iconic joint, Schwartz has been in business for over 80 years now — the oldest in Canada according to the owners — and is as popular as ever. Queues will sometimes even round up the corner at peak hours! A thick, juicy smoked meat sandwich with a side of fries and a soft drink will cost around $10, but the experience is priceless.
One of the best eateries in Chinatown! Service is quick and efficient, as it usually is in Chinatowns all over the world. I usually go for the #33, a vermicelli bowl with grilled beef, imperial rolls, freshly sliced veggies and a bunch of fresh coriander. This meal is extremely filling and costs just $8! Bonus points for the free, unlimited green tea.
An institution among people who live or work in Old-Montreal. This eatery offers tasty sandwiches to eat on the spot or take away to the Old Port quays. Kudos to the cajun chicken sandwich ($10.95).
This hole-in-the-wall type of place is perfect for those short on time and short on money — with couscous at $8.50 and falafels at $2.25, it really doesn’t get cheaper and more filling than this. The location is also quite handy, just steps away from the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the shops of Sainte-Catherine Street (and that would explain the small food budget!)
Another blink and you’ll miss it Oriental eatery! Located a stone throw’s away from Concordia University (student areas = cheap food), Nilufar has one of the best deals in down: falafel pita + soup + soft drink for $2. The most expensive thing on the menu (a plate of merguez with 3 side dishes) will set you back $5.49.
Now what’s a trip to Montreal without a good dose of poutine? A failure, that’s what it is. La Banquise is cheap, is open 24/7, is delicious, is iconic and is all around darn good deal.
For those who decide to venture a bit further west of downtown to Atwater Market and Lachine Canal — which I highly recommend — Satay Brothers will satisfy those with a liking for Asian-Singaporean food and a small budget. The daily satay is just $6!
And last but not least, Villa Wellington is hands down the best Peruvian eatery in town, approved and ran by Peruvians. Their ceviche is simply to die for. Definitely off Montreal’s beaten track but well worth the metro ride for a good dose of fresh fish, Inca Cola and Latin American hospitality.
What are your favorite cheap eats in Montreal? Write down your suggestions in the comments section!