If there’s one thing that our international students claim to miss the most from home—above family and friends, pets, the comforts of home—it’s the food. Yes, of course, they miss their loved ones, but while Mom and Dad or a long-distance partner are usually a mere FaceTime call away, there’s no such easy fix for your grandmother’s signature dish or your favourite street food from the stand around the corner from home.
Don’t get us wrong: Montreal has lots of great food. And it’s not just the tourist faves like poutine, bagels and smoked meat; Montreal has the most restaurants per capita in all of Canada, and that means a vast and varied food scene.
But sometimes you just can’t beat the flavours of home, especially on the days when you’re feeling a little homesick. To that end, we’ve decided to bring you our favourite restaurants doing regional or national cuisine from around the globe, starting with a country known for its delicious food, and one that many of our students over the years have hailed from: Mexico.
Montreal hasn’t historically been known for its Mexican food, but thanks to a growing Mexican population (and a growing love of good tacos), the city’s Mexican offerings have been steadily growing and turning out really delicious fare. With dozens of Mexican or Mexican-inspired spots in the city, this list is hardly exhaustive, but we think these five spots are la crème de la crème. If any of your favourites are missing, please do let us know--there’s no limit to quality Mexican food we’re willing to try (all in the name of research, of course)!
The cuisine at this taqueria is the real deal; arguably the closest you’ll get to “genuine” Mexican food in Montreal. It’s hard to go wrong with the homey Mile End spot’s menu of tacos and tortas, but the tacos al pastor (spicy pork with pineapple served on a corn tortilla with onions and cilantro) are especially delicious. La Matraca is also known for its harder-to-find comfort food dishes, like chilaquiles and choriqueso.
For lunch, it’s all about the tacos at Maria Bonita, a fun, colourful Plateau restaurant, but by dinnertime the focus switches to cazuelitas, tasty Mexican casseroles served with corn tortillas. Other bites include small plates like sopes and ceviche, plus Mexican soups, salads and beverages.
Sweet and simple El Rey del Taco, which sits on the edge of one of our fave food spots in the city—Jean Talon market—has an extensive menu of tasty tacos, tortas, enchiladas and more, with plenty of vegetarian options.
The plates at hip, street food-inspired joint La Tamalera are as fun and colorful as its Mile End interior. In addition to tacos, tortas and (of course) tamales, there are other classic Mexican dishes on offer, like barbacoa and chilaquiles, plus a solid selection of vegetarian-friendly plates and a great brunch menu.
Montrealers love tacos, and this is one of the best taquerias in town. Located in the heart of Chinatown, La Capital has a small but creative menu of tacos and quesadillas. Perfect for late-night hangouts, there’s also a great drinks list featuring tequila, mezcal and cocktails.