Eating interesting and authentic foreign cuisine doesn't have to break the bank. A lot of foods which best embody a culture are found on the busy streets of their country of origin, and are generally inexpensive. Cartel Street Food Bar, located in the Mile End, embraces the street eats of Mexican and Peruvian creole cultures in its menu, with delicious results. Housing a fully stocked bar (with original cocktails) and great daily deals, Cartel is a perfect tapas style bar where you can eat a lot of cool new foods, and even some twists on North American dishes, like poutine.
The focus of Cartel's cuisine is authentic taqueria and chifa foods. Taqueria, as the name hints, is a Mexican food style serving dishes like tacos. Chifa refers to Peruvian cuisine that sprung from Chinese influences. The combination of Mexican and Peruvian-Asian dishes may seem strange, but only to those who haven't eaten Cartel's delicious and popular street eats.
Cartel's fish tacos are a big hit for good reason. Prepared in a Baja Californian style, a large piece of white fish is lightly breaded, fried, and then placed in a white flour tortilla. Placed inside to give some spice and texture is a homemade red sauce and Mexican cream with cabbage. Tender and zesty, Cartel's fish tacos quickly took a place in my personal ranking of best tacos in the city.
A little more off the taco-beaten track are the Pe King Duck tacos. Taking inspiration from the classic Asian dish, the Pe King duck tacos are filled with duck breast flavoured with a sweet sauce. The duck filling in these tacos tasted great, an authentic recreation of the original dish, but I found the tortillas to be a little too crumbly. I didn't have the same problem with the fish tacos, so this could have been just bad tortilla luck. Either way, the Pe King Duck tacos are a cool spin on a traditional dish.
Great as a shared plate is the Muay Thai grilled chicken. You can find similar eats at a Muay Thai kickboxing match in Thailand. Darkly grilled to attain a crunchy texture with a smokey flavour, the chicken paired very nicely with a passion fruit dipping sauce served alongside. Sweet and smokey, the Muay Thai chicken is a great plate to share among friends.
The great part about Cartel is the communal aspect of most of the dishes, if you choose to share. A bunch of different dishes can be ordered and everyone can have fun trying things out. Or, you can just order for yourself and not have too spend too much. If you're on the go, Cartel even has its own food truck serving out a lot of the dishes I got to try. With amazing daily deals (Monday night 2 for 1 drinks, Tuesday two dollar tacos? Hellz yes) you can eat cool new foods with friends and not have to keep your eye on the tab.
That means you can expect scrumptious fried chicken (Le Coq Frit is actually owned by director of the night market and Chinatown merchant Yifang Hu), slushie drinks, and artisanal ice cream in flavours like lemon yuzu, strawberry lychee, Vietnamese coffee or taro.
Many people at the market opted to try massive Korean rice dogs, whole grilled squids or deep-sea octopus tentacles on sticks, spiral potatoes, kimchi fries, and stir-fried noodles.
Admission to the market is free. Most dishes range from $4 to $8, with premium dishes costing between $9 and $12.
Marché Asiatique de Montréal 2021
Price: Free admission. Menus range from $4 to $8, with premium dishes costing between $9 and $12.
When: August 12 to October 3, 2021. Thursdays and Fridays from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. & Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 11 p.m.
Address: Place des Souhaits (corner of boul. Saint-Laurent & boul. René-Lévesque O.)
Why You Need To Go: Delicious Asian street eats at affordable prices and the most beautiful ambiance.
The event name, Sudbest, perfectly captures the goal of the event. Organizers call it the Sud-Ouest's "largest commercial revival initiative," bringing forward as many of the borough's merchants, artists and artisans as possible.
"The Market is intended to be a tailor-made economic stimulus tool for artists and merchants in the Sud-Ouest by giving them a commercial opportunity to promote themselves as part of an event reflecting the neighborhood," said restauranteur Gaelle Cerf, one of the event leaders, in a statement.
At the market, you can expect to find a 100% Quebec wine and cider bar run by the owners of the new convenience store Le Cinq à Sept (Ville-Émard), a bloody caesars bar at Lord William Pub and a "post-pandemic" beer made specially for the event by 4 Origines Microbrewery.
You'll find food trucks, a Perles et Paddock oyster bar, jerk chicken grilled by Boom J, Food'elles and more.
At this month's event, DJ Kelly (Rap Mommies) will be spinning on Saturday from noon to 10 p.m. On Sunday, you'll find Jazz St-Henri, 99 Wolves, and ELMNT at the DJ booth.
Fifteen stands are expected at the first Le Sudbest weekend, according to communications coordinator Julie Poulin. But Poulin told MTL Blog there are already 35 kiosks confirmed for the next event on August 28 and 29.
The third and final (for now) Sudbest weekend is scheduled for September 25 and 26.
Entry is free and dogs are allowed on a leash.
Sudbest Neighbourhood Market
Price: Free entry! No cash is accepted on-site (so pay by card or by scanning a QR Code thanks to the CHK PLZ app)
When: From noon to 11 p.m July 31 to August 1, August 28-29 & September 25-26
Address: 40, rue des Seigneurs, Griffintown, Montreal, QC (Behind Arsenal, along the Lachine Canal)
Why You Need To Go: Check out the SudBEST merchants, artists and artisans that the Sud-Ouest has to offer!
Chow down on tacos and support small businesses all at once.
You know it's peak summer when you're kicked back on a terrasse with your crew, a cold drink in your hand and a plate of tacos to chow down on.
Montreal's food scene is chock-full of taquerias whipping up traditional and revolutionary versions of this favourite Mexican dish. Downtown is home to some of Montreal's most eclectic and inventive tacos, while up in the Plateau, there's a lineup of more traditional options. Then there's the Mile End, Jean-Talon Market and the list goes on.
With so many options to choose from, a taco tour is definitely in order. Why try just one place when you can try them all? That said, it can be hard to know where to start, which is what the Jarritos' Taco Tour Map is for!
These nine Montreal taco joints are all worthy of a visit, and each one is a great place to kick off your itinerary. The best part is you'll be supporting small businesses and tucking into the city's best tacos at the same time. Now that's how you do summer.
La Capital Tacos
Price: Individual tacos from $4.50
Address: 1096, boul. St-Laurent, Montreal, QC
Why You Need To Try It: La Capital Tacos can be found in Montreal's Chinatown, and it's easy to see why this street food-inspired Mexican restaurant is so popular.
Their menu has everything from pulled beef to confit pork, and a vegan tinga taco that's served with cashew-nut cream and tofu. This is a great spot to start your taco tour because you can order one taco and try a few, or you can get three of a kind for $12 if you know what you want.
Why You Need To Try It: Escondite is one of Montreal's most-loved taco joints. With lots of fun twists to be found on their menu, this restaurant serves up a range of Mexican eats including tacos (obviously), ceviche and inventive cocktails.
They have a deep-fried chicken taco that comes with cornbread croutons, and another with sirloin, grilled cactus and pickled jalapeño. With so much variety on the menu, you can (and definitely should) make an entire night of eating here.
Why You Need To Try It: Le Mariachi serves up some of the best veggie tacos and burritos in the city. A must-try on the menu is the taco frits: fried wheat tacos stuffed with Cajun-style mashed potatoes and topped with crema, cotija and pico de gallo.
You can enjoy this delicious taco and many more in Le Mariachi's new dining room. All you need is an ice-cold Jarritos to wash it all down.
Why You Need To Try It: If you're in search of authentic Mexican eats, El Rey Del Taco is the place. Located in a tortilla factory, this taqueria dishes out street food that you can enjoy on their terrasse that backs onto Marché Jean-Talon. What could be better than chowing down on taco pollo on a balmy summer night overlooking the market?
After filling up on some of the best tacos in the city, you can check out their dessert menu which is full of Mexican treats like churros and tres leches cake.
Why You Need To Try It: From its decor to its menu, Ta Chido Snack Bar is full of character. This restaurant is a family-owned taqueria, and all food is cooked with 100% fresh and homemade ingredients.
You can feel that much better swinging by Ta Chido for lunch, dinner or maybe both knowing that you're supporting your fellow Montrealers. With a street-side terrasse and a generous menu, Ta Chido will be one place you'll want to head back to more than once.
Why You Need To Try It: Vegans, rejoice and get ready to live your best life at Antidote Bouffe, an all-vegan restaurant located in Hochelaga. This innovative resto offers a tasty taco plate you can enjoy inside their rustic walls or outside on their terrasse.
You get three tacos, topped with barbecue-seasoned soy "meat," pickled onion, corn, coriander, spice mayo and their house salsa. If three isn't enough, you can add extra tacos to your plate for $4 each.
Why You Need To Try It: If a picture could speak a thousand words, this one would be saying "yum" many times over. At Tacos Victor, creativity is the name of the game — think tacos loaded with fries, towering molcajete, creative cocktails and a whole range of ceviche.
You can pick up some traditional tacos to snack on individually or go big with their Tacobox (12 tacos, piled high with fries, guac and a whole bunch of extra toppings). Wash it all down with a Jarritos and you're good to go!
Why You Need To Try It: From its stylish interior decor to its tasty eats, Tacos Frida is not only big on authentic flavours, but an authentic experience too. Just as you're sinking your teeth into one of their many tacos (Oaxaca-style grilled beef, anyone?), the friendly atmosphere will make you feel right at home.
Along with plenty of carnivorous options, this restaurant has two veggie tacos on the menu, mushroom or grilled cactus and a wide range of drinks including Jarritos, horchata and wines.
Wherever your taco tour takes you, you can make this summer the most memorable one yet using Jarritos' Taco Tour Map to choose your stops in and around the city. If you don't see your favourite taco joint on the list, you can nominate it to be added to the map, too!