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Montreal Food Writers, Editors, and Photographers Share Their Go-To Spots in 2021

Perennial favourites like Plateau ramen house Yokato Yokabai and Chinatown diner Dobe & Andy were standbys for more than one

person holding bowl of ramen. Yokato Yokabai/Facebook

As is tradition at Eater, we close the year by asking a group of food writers, editors, photographers, and others about town to weigh in on the past year in food. Their answers — unedited (except for grammar and translation) and in no particular order — will be revealed in several posts by the time the clock runs out on 2021. Here they share their go-to spots over the past year.

Daniel Bromberg, Eater Montreal contributor: This year was different as I tried to share the love as much as possible, which meant I wasn’t often going back to the same places. That said, there were a couple stand-outs: for one, the outdoor pop-up events at Candide were great (I attended three), while I found myself going back for budget-friendly, street-side eats at the likes of Mitch Deli and Pizza Bouquet. Worthy of mention is Mellön for beers, Vinvinvin for glasses of natural wine, L’Entre-Pots for brunch, and most recently to Dobe & Andy in Chinatown — I can’t believe I’d been missing out for so long.

JP Karwacki, editor, Time Out Montreal: Early in 2021, before the lockdown ended, pies from Gentile Pizza Parlour and regular sandwiches from Bossa, Pavillon Snack Bar, and Provisions helped me gain my quarantine fifteen (thanks for that). But when dining rooms reopened? It’s been all about going to as many different places as possible — highly recommend this practice — so I haven’t been haunting any one place.

Clay Sandhu, food editor, Cult MTL: My go-to destination for 2021 was probably La Franquette. Louis and Renée are hospitality pros, and I’ve been a big fan of everything they do since I got introduced to them through their Baby Duck pop-up series back in 2019. If you’re into French food, exceptional cooking (let’s be real, who’s not?), and good wine then La Franquette should be your go-to, too.

Rachel Cheng, photographer and food security and restaurant work activist: Noodles were on speed dial for me this year: the hand-pulled noodles from Nouilles de Lanzhou, the black pepper duck chow mein at Dobe & Andy, fresh pasta at Etna Pastificio, and the veg ramen at Yokato Yokabai (I know – how can a vegetable ramen beat out a tonkotsu? It doesn’t, it’s just something else entirely, and their vegetarian ramen with a kombu and shiitake broth is comforting while staying light, and topped with lots of tofu and vegetables). And if I wasn’t eating noodles, I was probably eating takeout from Larrys.

Elise Tastet, founder and CEO, Tastet: Monarque for any client lunch, Réservoir for a personal lunch, Juni for fancy and delicious takeout, Bottega for pizza, Otto bistro for ramen, Bar Henrietta for drinks, and Pumpui for the best Thai :)

Ivy Lerner-Frank, Eater Montreal contributor: Life was pretty circumscribed this year, so my real go-tos were the Fruiterie Milano and Jean Talon market. I cooked. A lot. When I needed to get out of the house for a coffee, the new Café Noble on Alexandra always had a cortado and a sunny spot on the sidewalk for me. We had takeout pizza from Gema more often than I can remember; I’ll always be grateful to Gema’s manager, Carlos, for his cheerfulness (and for their Tuesday and Wednesday specials). And when things just got too sad, a bowl of sliced pork congee with century egg and a you tiao at Yin Ji Chang Fen invariably cheered me up. That and whatever Thai salad Pumpui had happening at the time.

Iris Gagnon-Paradis, restaurant reporter and critic, La Presse: Rouge Gorge is my go-to spot when I just want to drink a good glass of wine and eat a little (the food is surprisingly good). For lunch in Old Montreal, Mélisse never disappoints. I always like to go to Mitch Deli to buy great wines and grab huge sandwiches. I’ve been happy to revisit some of Montreal’s great tables, which were as good as ever: Maison Publique, Marconi, Vin Mon Lapin, Lustucru, and Montreal Plaza. I often grab coffee at Pista (Masson or Beaubien), Maesmi, and Paquebot (Old Montreal), and never say no to ramen from Yokato Yokabai.

Alison Slattery, principal photographer, Two Food Photographers: I loved being on the terrasses at Maison Publique, Cicchetti and Salle Climatisée. I also ordered oodles of takeout from Aunt Dai, Shoshur Bari, and Le Petit Sao.

Erik Leijon, freelance writer, Montreal Gazette, Cult MTL, and others: Besides the couch? My wife and I are not all the way back to weekly restaurant nights, but nearly every weekend, I’d make my way to St-Patrick for a Dreamy and Messorem double shot. What could be better than impossibly buttery biscuits, cardamom rolls, possibly the best iced lattes in the city, and a four-pack of unique sours in cool cans? I also wrote a story about the fried chicken phenomenon for the Montreal Gazette and truth be told, I think fried chicken is addictive. Friday night would hit and so too would the cravings. Olivia’s Authentic Chicken tumbled in sauce takes the top prize, in my books.

Tommy Dion, food blogger, Le Cuisinomane: All the Montreal cafes were I tackled countless hours of work! Micro Espresso, Pastel Rita, and Café SAT were among them. In terms of restaurants, Knuckles wins the prize.

Jason Lee, food blogger, Shut Up and Eat: I made an effort to try as many new restaurants as I could but found myself gravitating to my favourites: Restaurant Nguyen Phi, Le Bay Ca Phe, Dobe and Andy, Beijing, Kim Fung, Resto Mukja and Chez Yanna. These places provided comfort in this very strange time.