A version of this article was first written for Tourisme Montreal.
Tapas, meze, pikilia, pintxos, petiscos… whatever the country they hail from, the concept is basically the same: an array of small plates, cold or warm, meant to be shared among friends over drinks or a glass of wine. Popular all over the Mediterranean, from Portugal to Lebanon, they often act as starters to a meal or can even replace one. Tapas and their equivalent are enjoyed differently in various countries. In Spain for example, it is not that uncommon to do a tapas crawl, moving from one bar to the next and enjoying a drink and a few dishes at each establishment. In Lebanon, a Sunday lunch including mézés followed by grilled meats and seafood and accompanied by Arak can take up to 5 or 6 hours. I remember getting so fidgety as a child during such meals but I miss them so now that I’m far away.
I personally love this type of food, when you order a great number of dishes and pick from them all, which allows me to taste everything. Here are a few of my favourite Montreal tapas-meze-pintxos-petiscos spots:
Restaurant Damas: Restaurant Damas features typical Syrian mezes from Damascus and Aleppo in a setting worthy of the Thousand and One Nights. Give the fatteh a try, it’s a personal favourite of mine.
Tapas 24: This tapas spot in Old Montreal is in collaboration with award-winning Spanish star chef Carles Abellan and features inventive dishes from Barcelona set in a breathtaking decor. Its sister restaurant, Tapas24 SnackBar is also a great spot for a quick lunch, brunch or snack. Try the papas bravas, delicious mix of fried potatoes, aioli and brava spicy sauce, my favourite!
Tapeo: Inventive Spanish tapas are the norm in this Villeray spot that’s been a crowd favourite – and one of my personal faves – for over 10 years. Everything is delicious but I have a soft spot for the patatas bravas that remind me of my first trip to Spain.
BarBounya: Turkish mezes by chef Fisun Ercan have the starring role in this Laurier Avenue address where conviviality is encouraged by the communal seating and great ambiance. Weekend brunches also include a variety of delectable breakfast “mezes”, including the sinful kaymak, a thick cream served with honey.
KazaMaza: Typical Middle-Eastern mezes are served at KazaMaza, including a great array of brunch dishes every Saturday and Sunday. I highly recommend the “fattet hummus” a layered dish of chickpeas, yogurt, fried pita bread and pine nuts.
Restaurant Daou: The ambiance at this traditional Lebanese restaurant may be a tad ordinary but the food never disappoints. It’s where I head when I’m feeling homesick.
Pintxo: Pintxos (pronounced pintchos) are typical small dishes from the Basque region of Spain, which is what’s on offer here, along with a great selection of Spanish wines.
Le Petit Alep: Unique mezes from Aleppo in Syria, where Armenian and Syrian culinary cultures blend. The wine list is also formidable. On Tuesdays, the kebbeh labnieh (stuffed kebbeh balls in a yogurt sauce) is one of my favourite comfort food.
Confusion Tapas du Monde: As the name suggest, the Quartier Latin-established Confusion Tapas du Monde features small dishes from around the world.
Taverne F: Typical Portuguese petiscos in the heart of Quartier des Spectacles, perfect for before or after a show at Place des Arts and with a great view of the stage during Montreal’s outdoor festivals.
Restaurant Ikanos: If contemporary Mediterranean and Greek seafood and fish mezze are your kind of game, then Ikanos has a whole menu of delectable items that will make your day.
Club Espagnol de Québec: Traditional tapas – and more – are served in an old school Spanish club with old expats and young hipsters sharing the same enthusiasm for food, sangria and soccer. Sit on the terrasse in the summer and reminisce about that trip you took to Spain or dream about the one you will some day take.
Bar Tapas Taza Flores: Taza Flores has been dishing out great bites and drinks at its lovely Parc Avenue address since 2004.