A couple of nights ago, I went on a Lebanese cheap eat binge with a friend. In a two hour span, we drove to 4 different places where we ate 6 different meat-laden sandwiches (for the most part) and 2 plates of sweets. It inspired me to write this post about my favourite Middle-Eastern cheap eats. A lot of these spots are located in the suburbs but if I can venture out there for some good food, so can you. I promise it will be worth the trip!
Note: I will keep adding to this list as I eat! If you have a favourite spot, leave me a comment and I will try and visit.
BOUCHERIE ABU ELIAS
733 Côte-Vertu Boulevard, Montreal
514 747 7754
This butcher shop / grill meat vendor is the perfect combination and judging by the line-up every time I go, I’m not the only one who seems to think so. Try the brain or raw liver sandwich if you dare but if you’re less adventurous, the soujouk sandwich, a spicy Armenian sausage, is absolutely delicious, so are the arayes, a layer of kafta (spiced ground meat mixed with onions and parsley) sandwiched in a pita bread and grilled.
LE PALAIS DU CHAUSSON
77 Henri-Bourassa West, Montreal
514 336 0838
This place carries what is probably the best manouché in town. In Lebanon, we eat these for breakfast but I enjoy them at all hours of the day. The classic manouché is a flat bread baked with a mix of zaatar and olive oil spread on top. There are also cheese manouchés which are just that, a flat bread baked with a mix of cheese spread on it. Le palais’ dough as well as spice and cheese mixes are perfect. It is not a place to eat but more a place to pick up so go early in the morning and buy yourself a pack of 4 manouchés when they are still warm from the oven and enjoy!
3858 Boulevard Perron, Laval
450 686 2446
Yes, I trekked all the way to Laval for the first time a few days ago to have one of the best falafel sandwiches I’ve ever had at this little, family-run, hole in the wall and it was absolutely worth it! The falafel are freshly fried, crunchy on the outside and juicy on the inside. The sandwich is packed with fresh herbs, crispy turnip pickles and the most delectable tarator sauce, a mix of tahini, lemon juice and garlic. It rivals some of the best falafel sandwiches I’ve had in Lebanon!
759 Côte-Vertu Boulevard, Montreal
514 748 0028
Despite its name, this is not the place to have a falafel sandwich. Instead, have a french fries sandwich. Yes, you heard me right. It doesn’t seem appealing but it’s quite common in Lebanon and it is definitely addictive. The sandwich is packed with golden fries, mayo-laced coleslaw, garlic sauce, pickles and ketchup all wrapped up in either pita bread or a baguette (go for the pita!) then grilled. One bit of this and I was hooked! Best of all, it’s open until midnight, perfect for those late night greasy food cravings.
6170 Sherbrooke West, N.D.G.
514 485 4887
15760 Pierrefonds Boulevard, Pierrefonds
514 620 5551
One goes to this Persian supermarket to shop for interesting items, like fresh roasted nuts, pickles or any number of imported exotic goodies but it would be a shame to miss the food counter in the back. The grilled meats are out of this world but I fell hard for the khoresht gheimeh, an Iranian lentil & french fries stew that just blew me away.
LAHMADJOUNE BEIRUT OR CHEZ APO
429 Faillon East
514 270 1076
A lahmadjoune (or lahmajun or lahmajeen) is an Armenian specialty that’s very popular in Lebanon where you’ll find one of the largest Armenian communities. It’s a thin, crispy circle of dough topped with a slightly spicy mixture of ground meat and tomatoes. Once it’s baked, you can then top it with an extra squeeze of lemon, some tabasco sauce or some plain yogurt (which you must do at home since they won’t do it at this particular place). Chez Apo is a hole in the wall in the Villeray neighbourhood that makes the best lahmadjoune in town in a wood-burning oven. It’s another place where you take your goodies to go then try to make it home before polishing off the whole pack.
PÂTISSERIE AMAL BOHSALY
1420 Sauvé Street West, Montreal
514 920 0999
Ok kids, I’m going to divulge a secret here: Amal Bohsali is one of the best Arabic pastry shops in Lebanon and they just happen to have a store right here in Montreal! How lucky are we? Everything there is as delicious as it is fresh and you will want to try it all! My favourites are the halawet el jibn, a cheese dough rolled around cream (or ashta) and drizzled with orange blossom and sugar syrup and the znoud el sit a dough wrapped around cream (ashta), fried then drizzled with orange blossom and sugar syrup. Don’t miss out on the knafeh, a blend of cheeses topped with semolina dough and served with sugar syrup. It’s one of the most traditional breakfasts in Lebanon!
FALAFEL ABOU HANNA
4660 Boulevard Des Sources, Dollard-des-Ormeaux
514 560 0777
From time to time, I find myself in the West Island. When I do and whenever I can, I stop by Abou Hanna’s for a sandwich. For the few couple of years, he’s been making his falafel in a tiny little space on Boulevard des Sources in the heart of the West Island. He is all smiles all the time and his falafel are always delicious. They are made à la minute and are crunchy yet super moist. The sandwich is then filled with fresh condiments and tarator sauce. Eat it on the spot in the adjoining dining room or on the terrasse in the summer or take it to go.
LA FOLIE DU KOSHARY
144 St-Mathieu, Montreal
514 507 3006
There aren’t that many Egyptian restaurants in Montreal. Come to think of it, I don’t know of any until La folie du koshary opened up in December 2013. Koshary is the Egyptian street food par excellence. It’s poor people’s food and it’s meant to keep you full all day long. It’s a mix of rice, lentils, chickpeas and pasta and it’s topped with a tomato sauce and fried onions. You then drizzle hot sauce and a lemon, vinegar and garlic sauce on top before mixing the whole thing and eating it with a spoon. It’s good and very filling indeed. La folie du koshary also sells other Egyptian street food like taamia (or falafel) and foul (fava bean paste). The colourful decor – including an authentic koshary cart – is worth the trip.
2020 Robert-Bourassa Street (University)
514 842 9494
Right in the heart of downtown is a great little spot for fresh and healthy falafels. Falafel Avenue makes 4 different kinds of falafels balls from the classic to an herby one and one filled with cheese. Top your sandwich with fresh veggies and the usual accoutrements as well as flavoured tahini sauces, my favourite being the spicy one. If you want something completely different, give the Big FA a try. The falafel mix is spread on a custom made bread and is then baked to perfection. Top the sandwich with your favourite toppings and the result is an even healthier, hearty, baked version of the classic falafel. However, I personally prefer the crunch of the classic fried falafel balls. You can also order the falafel croquettes separately with the different tahini sauces to dip in.