Photo cred - Betty Crocker Recipes
As I and many others have documented extensively, Montreal has a killer ethnic food scene. Whether you’re into Lebanese, Japanese, or something less classifiable, the city is brimming with food from cultures around the world.
Unfortunately, Montreal’s international culinary prowess has yet to extend to the food of one country: Mexico. Although my colleagues and I have taken note of the city’s most valiant stabs at bringing the cuisine here, none of them have quite managed to display the level of epicurean excellence I’d normally expect from a Montreal restaurant.
I’m not necessarily talking about a luxuriously gourmet experience. As much as I love to sit down and indulge with some chicken molé, I’d be happy to settle for just being able to grab a decent burrito on the go. I’m usually not one to patronize fast food places (in my more sober moments, anyway), but Chipotle’s burrito tops any of Montreal’s efforts. Even the cultural wasteland that is Toronto leaves us in the dust with their plethora of solid burrito joints.
To make matters worse, it shouldn’t be that hard to put together a cheap, acceptable burrito. The dish consists, at its core, of rice, beans, cheese, meat, and veggies wrapped up in a tortilla. With all of the ways Montrealers have managed to dress up the humble poutine, you’d think we’d at least be able to come up with a decent burrito.
It’s our poutine/Mexican food hybrids that make the city’s failure all the more frustrating. I love the Taquise at La Banquise, but, every time I eat it, I can’t help but wish that the effort that went into making it had gone towards creating actual Mexican cuisine. I was impressed by Frite Alors’s Taco Poutine from La Poutine Week (link), but I was left regretting that its ingredients hadn’t been utilized to make a normal taco.
The city’s failure is is even more infuriating due to my lack of doubt that a good burrito shop would be a massive success with Montrealers. In the US, Chipotle has placed branches of their restaurant in university towns throughout the country, aware of its massive popularity with students. It’s not hard to imagine students lining up in the McGill or Concordia Ghettos for a burrito from Chipotle or some place comparable. Put one on St. Laurent, keep it open late, and you’ve instantly got a massive player in the city’s ever-important drunk food scene (link).
I’m begging you, Montreal: come up with a decent Mexican place. It’s little touches like these that could help our fine city become even greater than it already is. Let’s stop being content with mediocre crap like 3 Amigos, and start pushing ourselves towards Mexican food supremacy. We’ve proved how many other cuisines we can master; now we need to stop fucking around with this one.