Montreal’s rich and complex dining scene goes through its fair share of fads and trends every couple years. Of late, we’ve witnessed an explosion in Japanese izakayas, which were followed by Neapolitan pizzerias and more recently taquerias. The following list showcases our city’s various takes on the Mexican staple, from its most traditional form to experimental renditions that are bound to amaze. [Image credit: iStock]
Open since June 2016, Emiliano’s is a newcomer attempting to revolutionize our conception of Mexican cuisine. The menu promotes the country’s rich, diverse culinary heritage from its origins and influences to regional flavours. Omnipresent favorites such as tacos, tamales, quesadillas and enchiladas are taken up a notch with queso fresco, mole and al pastor. Throw in the contemporary plating and you end up with one of the most unique Mexican restaurants in town.
Everyone’s favourite taco truck added a brick-and-mortar location in burgeoning Saint-Henri, pre-gentrification. Step into this boisterous “garage” of sorts for some tacos made with carefully sourced ingredients such as their prime steak taco, pulled pork banh mi taco or – our favorite – the divine lamb curry taco. Be sure to catch this Montreal street food pioneer outdoors come festival season!
Texan chef Nick Hodge blessed us Montrealers with the opening of this Tex-Mex “hole” in a hidden Plateau corner just off of Saint-Laurent. Help yourself to some finger lickin’ fried chicken, tacos, burritos and his bourbon lemonade (how about a pitcher of that?); you’re in for a treat. Be warned; utensils are not part of the vibe here, so be ready to get messy!
Amid the multitude of taquerias popping up all across town is La Capital, dishing out street-inspired tacos and other small Mexican plates out of a Chinatown locale. Tacos – such as grilled AAA rib-eye beef or deep-fried beer-battered shrimp – are served in threes, providing good bang for the buck and a nice sharing option.
The kitchen’s output at this nuevo latino Little Italy outfit flirts with art. The Mexican fusion dishes are so pretty and technical you may not want to eat them, but we strongly suggest you do. This is some seriously delicious food. Case in point: the taco de bacalao, which boasts Mexican beer battered deep fried cod in a homemade beet tortilla with remoulade.
Another Plateau (relative) newcomer, T & T – as the name suggests – specializes in both tacos and tortas – a Mexican panini of sorts. Enjoy the casual, fun vibe with an assortment of proteins to fill your taco such as pork belly, steak and Mexican sausage. Libation options abound, from mezcal cocktails to variations of micheladas.
L’El Rey del Taco – an authentic Mexican eatery – is one of the most hidden gems in the Jean-Talon Market. Once a small dive, this Mexican restaurant has grown over the years and even boasts a small dining room. You can dine in or take out – the level of deliciousness remains the same. Here, the taco is truly king: chicken (marvellous), pork, steak, beef tongue, lamb, chorizo, fish...everything tastes so good!