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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.
Restaurant Maïs is finally here. You’ve been waiting for it. Even if you didn’t realize it, all this time… you were craving tacos. Montrealers like myself have long been jealous of the plethora of bone shakingly good tacos Toronto has long enjoyed. Anchored Grand Electric and La Carnita, I have trouble eating anything but tacos whenever I’m in town.
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.
We spent the day walking and shopping all over the city of Toronto, from the downtown core all the way through to Parkdale. With tired feet and hungry stomachs, we walked just a couple blocks more to wait in line at Grand Electric. Arriving only two minutes before opening at 6 pm, a huge line had already amassed outside its wooden doors. A good thirty to forty people had gathered in anticipation of being among the first to be seated that Saturday night. We were hopeful but dubious as to whether or not we would get in on the first round.
Montreal’s beloved taco truck Grumman ’78 is all grown up with a stationary location to call it’s own. After years of leading a nomadic life, some weekends parking at Nouveau Palais, sometimes at 630 de Courcelle, Grumman ’78 has opened a shop without wheels in the faubourg.
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.
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.
Foregoing dinner for the legendary Grumann tacos, our stomachs were rumbling with hunger. As soon as we spotted the bright yellow Nouveau Palais sign on Bernard street, we promptly made our way inside and eagerly made our orders. While most places with shabby exteriors repel potential customers, the Nouveau Palais does the opposite, attracting people from all across the city (we made a special trip!). The layout and the furniture of the place resembles a diner, with worn leather banquettes and booths, dim lighting and a long bar, except it also has a DJ booth, out-of-this-world food and an unmistakable cool.