A version of this article was first written for Tourisme Montréal. I have added a few spots in this version.
I am of Lebanese origin and when I crave a taste of home, I turn to any of these Middle Eastern restaurants for a trip down my culinary memory lane.
What Daou lacks in atmosphere it more than makes up for in food quality and taste. This traditional Lebanese restaurant is a white-tablecloth kind of place where the waiters have probably been there for 20 years. The food is excellent, especially the kebbé nayyé (beef tartare) and the mashawi (grilled mixed meat platter).
Damas on Park Avenue was ravaged by a devastating fire a few months and the whole food loving community held its collective breath until it was announced that it was relocating to brand new spot on Van Horne Avenue that’s been open for a few weeks now. This has to be one of my favourite spot for Middle Eastern food, specifically Syrian in this case. All the mezza are fresh and delicious but try some of the house specialties like the eggplant fatteh or the moloukhiya.
BarBounya and Restaurant Su
Both these restaurants are helmed by Turkish chef Fisun Ercan. Su serves traditional Turkish food including mezes and main dishes. BarBounya is a mezes bar with emphasis on small Mediterranean-inspired dishes that are meant to be shared. They also both serve of the best brunches in town.
Alep and Le Petit Alep
I have been a fan of Le Petit Alep for years. I head to this little bistro located across the street from the Jean Talon Market when I am craving a spicy terbialy kebab (filet mignon in a spicy sauce) or one of their daily specials. Its big brother Alep serves the same menu in a more upscale atmosphere. If you’re a wine fan, both restaurants have two of the best wine lists in the city.
Whether you’re an herbivore, an omnivore or a carnivore, Omnivore is a great spot to know. Located on the Main on the Plateau Mont-Royal, the grill specialist uses maple charcoal for all the grilled meats and the freshest ingredients for their many salads and spreads. The Omnivore grocery store and catering business just opened up at 54 Marie-Anne West for all your take-home needs.
Located in Saint-Henri, this bustling spot serves Middle-Eastern inspired dishes such as great falafels and delicious kefta made with the freshest ingredients and served with their homemade pita bread. Whatever else you may order, you must try the garlic labneh with dukka, fresh mint and paprika oil. It’s addictive!
Rumi serves food inspired by the Silk Road, happily combining the cuisines of the Middle East, Central Asia and North Africa for a true culinary trip to exotic faraway lands.
Byblos Le Petit Café
Known for their impeccable feta cheese omelette served for breakfast daily, Byblos is a cozy café with a varied menu of delectable Persian specialties that include spreads, rolls, couscous, sandwiches and desserts.
I really can’t pick a favourite dish at this Mile End address. No, wait! Yes I can and it’s the fattoush salad with crunchy fresh vegetables, crispy pita bread chips and a tangy sweet dressing made with lemon juice, sumac, pomegranate molasses and olive oil. Set in a funky yet simple decor complete with brick wall, Kazamaza is a vibrant restaurant serving traditional mezes as well as mains and grilled meats. Try their cherry kebabs and the delicious omelette with kawarma (lamb confit) served at brunch.
On the go:
In addition to these listed below, don’t forget to check out my article on my favourite Middle Eastern cheap eats.
Chez Apo: Head here for their delicate lahmadjun, an Armenian specialty consisting of a thin circle of dough topped with a slightly spicy mix of ground beef and tomatoes and baked in their wood-burning oven.
Chez Fourna specializes in one of favourite Lebanese street foods, a manouché (a round dough topped with zaatar, a mix of wild thyme, sumac, sesame seeds and salt).
Arouch is a family-owned restaurant that now counts several locations. Arouch specializes in Lebanese “pizzas” topped with everything from zaatar to soujouk–a spicy Armenian sausage.