When people ask me why I love Montreal so much, I don’t have to think very hard — THE FOOD.
Rumour has it that Montreal has the highest amount of restaurants per capita in North America, and while I can’t seem to find a reliable source to validate this information, I like to think it true. There are an incredible amount of restaurants in the city, all better than the other, from the cheapest takeaway to the most lavish Michelin-starred establishment, and just about everything in between.
There’s no doubt about it — Montreal does food very well. Thanks to the many different cultures that migrated to the city at some point, we have quite the variety when it comes to picking a place to eat. Poutine? Indian? Vietnamese? Sharma? Take your pick, because we’ve got it covered.
To help budget-strapped travellers or lovers of cheap, authentic food, I compiled a list of my favourite cheap eats in Montreal under $15 per head.
* last updated September 2016
15 Cheap Eats in Montreal Under $15
Wilensky’s is sort of an institution in the Mile-End. Family-owned since the opening in 1932, the place is famous for its cheap snacks, yes, but also for the Wilensky’s Special ($3.90): “all-beef salami with all-beef baloney grilled to mouth-watering perfection on a tasty roll with a hint of mustard”. But don’t try to change anything in it — the owner, Ruth, will not have your shit. Hell, they even wrote a poem about it:
When ordering a Special,
you should know a thing or two.
It is always served with mustard;
it is never cut in two.
Don’t ask us why; just understand
that this is nothing new.
This is the way that it’s been done
Montreal’s first completely vegan restaurant! Aux Vivres’ mission is simple: debunk the myth that vegan food is pretty much like eating grass – i.e., tasteless and boring. Quite the contrary! Everything on the menu is less than $15 and full of flavour. Kudos to the gyro!
Perhaps Montreal’s most iconic joint, Lester’s Deli has been in business for over 60 years now — the oldest in Canada according to the owners — and is as popular as ever. A thick, juicy smoked meat sandwich with a side of fries and a soft drink will cost around $10, but the experience is priceless.
While the debate between the cities with the best bagels still remains to be settled — New York or Montreal? — if there’s one thing the two metropolises have in common bagel-wise, it’s the low prices. A cream-cheese bagel and a large coffee will set you back around $5.
An institution among people who live or work in Old-Montreal. This eatery offers tasty sandwiches to eat on the spot or take away to the Old Port quays. Kudos to the cajun chicken sandwich ($10.95).
Now what’s a trip to Montreal without a good dose of poutine? A failure, that’s what it is. La Banquise is cheap, is open 24/7, is delicious, is iconic and is all around darn good deal.
One of the best eateries in Chinatown! Service is quick and efficient, as it usually is in Chinatowns all over the world. I usually go for the #33, a vermicelli bowl with grilled beef, imperial rolls, freshly sliced veggies and a bunch of fresh coriander. This meal is extremely filling and costs just $8! Bonus points for the free, unlimited green tea.
Qing Hua Dumplings
One of the best dumpling joints in the city – where you can a huge plate of 12 steamed or fried dumplings for less than $10. The decor, as with most Chinese restaurants, is nothing to write home about but frankly this isn’t what should be in focus here!
THE best place to get inexpensive, delicious, hand-crafted doughnuts in Montreal. This Mile End’s Russian doughnut café gives cupcake shops a run for their money with its original yet simple flavours, and their shockingly low price tag at just $0.75 a piece. Their borscht is also excellent, as is their kwass.
My favourite brunch joint ever since I moved across the street. Their eggs benedict are incredibly tasty (not to mention their coffee, sourced from next door Café Odessa) and are a total steal at just $12.
Cheap Eats in Montreal: Additional Suggestions
This is one of the city’s best-kept secret. Delicious, flavourful and cheap meal in the heart of the Plateau? Check! A half-chicken with fries and a salad is just under $10. Alternatively, Romados’ sister restaurant, Ma poule mouillée, serves similar dishes just a bit further east on Rachel Street.
For those who decide to venture a bit further west of downtown to Atwater Market and Lachine Canal — which I highly recommend — Satay Brothers will satisfy those with a liking for Asian-Singaporean food and a small budget. The daily satay is just $6!
Quirky local institution (open for over 40 years now) specialising in vegetarian piled-high sandwiches and yummy soups. Particularly enjoyable in the summer, with its amazing garden in the back.
Friendly service and delicious dishes at an affordable price, from early morning until late evening. Almost everything is locally sourced and hand-made from scratch. Their caesars with edible toppings are famous across the city!
Underrated yet trendy burrito joint in Griffintown that has yet to get a negative review from local experts.
Modest and authentic Korean / Japanese oddly located in Little Italy. Their cheese katsu is simply amazing, and is as filling as it is well-priced.