My stomach suffers from just as bad of a case of wanderlust as my heart, soul, and mind do. So when I took a road trip recently with friends to Montreal, Canada, for the first time, we were excited beyond words for all of the alluring food options that awaited us after a five-hour drive and hour-long wait at the U.S.-Canadian border. While this article is a brief snapshot of my time in such a beautiful city and country (literal snapshots included below), we encountered so many delicious-smelling and -looking cafes that would certainly make a return to Montreal worth it. We also lucked out on stumbling upon most of these restaurants, and overall we acquired a pretty good taste for the city and culture of this gorgeous island-city in the Quebec province. Here’s a glimpse into Stephanie, Sydney, Chelsea and Lisa taking on Montreal.
While we made great time on the road thanks to Sydney’s driving expertise, soaking in the sunshine-filled verdant New England landscape, waiting at the U.S.-Canadian border took quite a while. Once past Customs, we still had an hour of driving into Canada until we crossed several large bridges into Montreal, and then, drained, spent about an hour desperately searching for parking on the small, bustling city streets. After finally dropping our bags off, we embarked upon an evening quest with one thing on our mind – FOOD.
Boul Saint Laurent, near where we were staying, is home to an abundance of cute little cafés, bars, and chic restaurants. Three of the most popular types of food in the neighborhood seemed to be sushi (there were as many sushi options as Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts on an average American main street), Portuguese fare, and, of course, French cuisine (including stuffed crêpes and waffles). Our stomachs growling, Lisa noticed a brightly-lit storefront that was brimming with hip-looking folk, and we clambered into a trendy burger chain called Burger Royal.
Long story short: you will meet the burger of your dreams at Burger Royal (yes, I say this even as a Boston resident who enjoys Tasty Burger when the craving for red meat hits). I personally tried the Big O burger, which was comprised of a garlicky-herb spread, cheese, bacon, caramelized onions, and a very tasty beef patty, topped with a stack of hand-battered onion rings. Even the burger buns were delicious! From the entertaining names on the menu (i.e., the Pulp Fiction, the Spicy Chiquita, and the Mac Attack, to name a few, to the freshly-cut fries, this burger joint certainly made our mouths feel like royalty.
Speaking of fries, what would a trip to Montreal be without my first taste of poutine? Chelsea’s goal as soon as we crossed the border was to order up some fresh poutine, and we couldn’t have agreed with her more. The four of us devoured Burger Royal’s helping of fries, gravy, and cheese curds in no time. While I’ll admit that I initially had some reservations, we all agreed afterwards that it was the perfect side to a perfect burger. Burger Royal prides itself on fresh ingredients, and it certainly shows in their dishes. With full stomachs and big smiles, we fell asleep in preparation for a long day of sightseeing ahead of us. On the way back, we happened upon several long lines for ice cream parlors, and a few bars, one of which was a mysterious nightclub behind a random black door in the middle of the street (more on this later).
We stopped off for drinks and dessert at a local trendy bar, where the ladies enjoyed underpriced ciders and I nibbled on some apple pie à la mode, with vanilla ice cream so frothy it tasted like whipped cream – burgers and apple pie, a very American night in Canada, indeed.
Want to hear about the rest of Stephanie’s culinary adventure? Tune in tomorrow for Part Two of the story!
Post and Photos by Stephanie Cohen.