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We recently headed to SF for a short getaway from the city. Not only was the weather perfect in SF, but as you can imagine, so was the food. After days of gorging ourselves silly on as many crab legs, oysters and sashimi we could get our hands on, we stopped by La Torta Gorda one early afternoon in the hopes of curing an exceptionally nasty hangover from a particularly intense evening of mini putt (s/o Urban Putt!).
Summer is here. Can you feel it? Of course you can. This isn’t just about the physical element of heat. I’m talking about the mental transformation that seems to take hold of every Montrealer as soon as the snow melts and the weather starts to turn around (think eager, shorts-wearing individuals in March where it’s totally inappropriate weather-wise, but points for bravado). It’s the uncontrollable urge to want to sit outside, have a picnic, ride a bike, drink sangria, eat on a terrasse and lick ice cream constantly. It’s the desire to undertake any one of these activities or all of them, at all times. This post is about enabling you.
This place is honestly the cutest. Maybe also one of the kitchiest but it’s a vibe I can get down with. Action figures populate little cupboard protected by glass (Mexican and other), flashing neon bulbs surround a mounted photo of Madonna and dark doodles on a black chalkboard set the mood. I especially love the sassy facts written on the wall like “Nacho chips are NOT a Mexican food” and “Achiote is a condiment” and “The green sauce is not guacamole”. Word.
XOCO is run by Rick Bayless – you may have heard of him before. Guest judge of Top Chef on Season Four, winner of Top Chef Masters, James Beard Award winner for best American chef in 1991, national chef of year in 1995, humanitarian of the year in 1998, cookbook of the year in 2001, best chef in the midwest in 2002… The list goes on. In Chicago for the weekend, we eagerly made this our first lunch destination. Not too far from the downtown core, the place is on North Clark street, next to the Frontera Grill and Topolobampo.
Way back when I first heard the La Iguana was closing, I was sad to see one of the few good Mexican restaurants in Montreal go. But now, with the opening of Ice House in its stead (literally in the exact same location) I think I may have found something even better!Only a block away from all the action on St. Laurent street, Roy is surprisingly quiet which is actually kind of nice for a more intimate dinner on a hot summer night. The place has barstools, wooden benches, convenient napkin dispensers (no cutlery given!) and an eclectic sense of decoration, with for example, a mounted rabbit with antlers attached just by the cash.
Everyone appreciates good food. When it’s cheap too, it’s a pleasant bonus – this unbeatable combination usually makes the place an instant favorite or a go-to spot. Dépanneur Le Pick Up is one of such places. Serving a number of different clubs and sandwiches for lunch – the pulled pork is notably their most famous item – Le Pick Up exudes a very friendly and very casual vibe because if you were wondering, the restaurant really is located inside a dépanneur so after your meal you can conveniently pick up a few things for the kitchen if you wish. Unfortunately the pulled pork was all out by the time we got there, so we got the club chipotle and the vegetarian Vietnamese sandwich. The chicken in the club was tender, juicy and delicious and the smoked Mexican mayo contributed a nice spicy kick to the overall flavor. The Vietnamese was quite spicy in its own right, being peppered with hot red ones throughout. Everything disappeared faster than you could say “Dépanneur Le Pick Up” – a foretelling sign that we’ll be back in no time.
El Sombrero is very easy to miss or pass by. Not looking like much from the outside – one might even write the place off before walking in. But doing so would be a fools deed. Once you do get in, head straight for the outside terrace. It’s a really great spot surrounded by buildings but still gets sunlight into the evening. The menu is quite varied and extremely authentic – most of the dishes are listed in Spanish only with only the occasional English hints. The basic plates of 5 tacos cost around 10$ – We ordered the Chorizo Tacos with Coriander Herbs and Onions and the Marinated Pork Tacos as well as a bowl of guacamole. There are also a variety of soups, enchiladas, burritos, fajitas to choose from as well as some less common traditional Mexican fare. The food was delicious and I added extra spicy chili sauce to my tacos which was perfect.