Great food begins with great ingredients, and the cultural conglomerate we know as Montreal is a fantastic place to find them. Among the vast selection of groceries and markets catering to different ethnic communities, the following five are the perfect jumping off point.
1. Sabor Latino
Highlights: Queso fresco, nectar drinks, pasteles de papa, churros
You’d be very hard-pressed to find a better place for delectable Colombian fare and warm, familiar service in the upper plateau than Sabor Latino. Their fresh cheeses are ideal for enchiladas, quesadillas, black bean soups or for adding salty richness to a bright, crunchy salad. Plus, their homemade chimichurri sauce is sure to take your tacos to the next level.
For a snack, I recommend the pastel de papa, a ball of lightly deep fried potato or yuca stuffed with seasoned ground beef. Not to mention, it’s right next door to Samos bakery, which anyone who knows me will tell you has my favorite sugar donuts anywhere on the planet- sorry not sorry, Tim Hortons.
P.S. The Main MTL‘s piece dedicated to Sabor Latino features some particularly tantalizing photos of the food itself.
2. Marché D’Afrique
Highlights: Root vegetables, spices, inquiries about ingredients/recipes
For most, this one will be more of an adventure than a simple shopping run. Once inside the densely packed establishment, you’ll notice a plethora of produce relatively unfamiliar to the North American kitchen, e.g. cassava.
Don’t be afraid to consult the staff so you can do justice to the ingredients and prepare delicious, bountiful, family-style African cuisine like savory stews and vegetable mashes.
What’s more, the extensive range of seasonings can introduce new flavors to your old favorites. Try out different combinations on steaks, kebabs, or roasted vegetables.
3. Sa et Fils
Highlights: Meat, fruit, bakery, Portuguese chocolate
Beautiful and inexpensive seasonal fruit, imported Brazilian and Portuguese sweets, and pillow-soft breads from the bakery might give Sa et Fils a strong universal appeal factor, but the real pride of the store is the butcher in the back.
Featuring what’s boldly (but accurately) deemed “Le Vrai Bacon (The Real Bacon)”, as well as lovely hunks of prosciutto, salted beef and fish, and fresh-cut steaks, Sa et Fils strives to bring superior protein to the Plateau.
They’re also one of a few stores in the area with exotic juice concentrates like guava and cashew, ready to mix for one-of-a-kind party punch/jungle juice.
4. Marché Oriental
Highlights: Dried seafood, exotic produce, condiments, bakery
You might be able to find varieties of rice, miso, and sauces at high-end groceries like Eden, but at Marché Oriental the selection is truly unbeatable.
The multitude of cured fish adds unique and distinctive flavors to soups and broths, and the fresh-baked buns are a perfect snack for the Metro ride home from Jean Talon.
They also stock imported asian fruits and vegetables, like whole jicama – a great ingredient for setting your salads apart from the average. In addition, you can purchase specialized cookware such as tamago pans to create your own sushi-ready omelet like you’d find at any Japanese restaurant or sushi bar.
5. Charcuterie Hongroise
Highlights: Sausage, deli meat, brick cheeses
When it’s high quality deli meat and expertly crafted cheeses you seek, the Hungarian deli on St. Laurent, not far from Schwartz’s, has got you covered.
Sure, you could stop a few doors down at La Vieille Europe for overpriced goods of similar quality, but nothing in the area compares to this charcuterie’s spicy sausage and other traditionally cured meats, for which the passion of owner Angelo Perusko is more than evident.
If your sandwich is fortunate enough to be stuffed with the goods from the Hungarian deli, your peers’ take-out options will pale in comparison to your modest sack lunch.
P.S. Clay Williams‘ blog post about this bomb butcher shop contains even more drool-worthy images.