For those of you who don’t know, the Montreal Mirror releases a survey every year where people can vote on the “best of” various categories in this city. The categories include the best Montrealers, Media, City Life, Nightlife, Music, Film & Arts etc., Consumer Madness (stores), and of course Chowtime. The many categories in the Chowtime section includes everything from best restaurants, to best individual foods, to best ethnic food, and everything in between. The rankings are based on the results of the previously mentioned survey, i.e. whatever you read is what “Montreal” considers to be the best of. Sometimes they get it right, and sometimes it’s just so wrong. Since there are MANY categories, I will only showcase those I completely agree with, disagree with, and some notable pleasant surprises.
Boustan: One again they’re in the top 3 for best late-night eats (#2), best middle-eastern (#1), and best falafel (#3). Not a surprise here since they’ve done it so well before.
La Banquise: Who can argue with best late night eats (#1), best fries (#5), and best poutine (#1) which is by far the mecca in the city. Few poutines compare to the diverse selections of this joint.
Cosmo’s: 11 bar seats, a minuscule kitchen that continues to produce mounds of darn right good food, and colorful staff that make you laugh and feel right at home. Not a stranger to the best breakfast (#2) category, Cosmo’s never lets up and still makes the best breakfast potatoes in the city.
Thai Express: Best Thai (#1)? Really? I am one of those who truly enjoys their pad thai made spicy, but come on, there must be better thai places than this! Come to think of it…I REALLY like Thai Express. For some reason I always tend to gravitate towards it when wandering the food courts. Do you?
McDonald’s: Best cheap eats (#4) AND best fries (#2)??? Come on!!! There are far better fries that exist and MUCH better cheap eats. Bottom line: McDonald’s is gross and should not belong here. Period. Which brings me to my next point…
Best Fries: OUTRAGE!!! McDonald’s as #2????? What is wrong here!!! It was ranked above Patati Patata, La Belle Province, AND La Banquise??? I demand a recount. This just can’t be right.
Best New Restaurant: Buns (#2) and Gourmet Burger (#3) should definitely be there. Buns has surpassed people’s expectations with their fresh, simple, and delicious menu. Gourmet Burger offers some great options to customize their order, and of course an unlimited amount of complimentary dipping sauces are always appreciated.
Best Burger: Always a hot topic on many Montreal food forums: “who has the best burger”? Well Montrealers, the verdict is in. Buns (#1), M:BRGR (#2), La Paryse (#3), Patati Patata (#4), and Mr. Steers (#5). I think these are fair assumptions, and of course, many of you will disagree with me…but that’s ok.
Best Noodles: If I were to reward a “flying under the radar but that makes a lot of sense” award it would have to go to the #4 selection: Chez Mein, or as many of you know it as $2 noodles. Fluffy egg noodles topped with a velvety peanut sauce poured on from the large plastic peanut butter container and served from the open window at 3:00am on the corner of St-Laurent and Pine. Worth the wait and always a good choice.
Best Non-Chain Coffee: Cafe Myriade is no surprise in this category. With a cult-like following from professionals to students, Cafe Myriade has quickly become the only coffee place to go to when you are in the mood for one of the best latte’s ever, a soothing cup of tea (served from their tea pots that actually turn out to be about 2 cups), and/or an expanding supply of homemade cookies and pastries. As soon as this place opened, I remember saying to Anthony Benda (owner and second place winner of the Canadian National Barista Championship), “Thank you for opening a REAL cafe in a saturated area of burnt and overpriced coffee”. I still stand by that comment.
I’m sure it would have been easy for the Mirror to create this list on their own. They truly believe, and so do I, that asking Montrealers what the “best of” in all categories is the proper thing to do. It just goes to show you that this list is to each his own. It indicates that Montreal has a very robust, active food and lifestyle scene that will forever encourage debate. Until next year.