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These Montreal Food Counters Have Always Offered Great Takeout

These spots have been letting clients point at what they want and take it away for years

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Before the pandemic prompted fine dining establishments to flip to takeout provisions this spring, food counters where you could pick up all the trappings needed for an entire meal — at a reasonable cost — in Montreal were in shorter supply. The counters recommended in this guide aren’t restaurant appendages; they’re destinations in their own right (though often snuggled at the back of a grocery store or serving from a shoebox storefront), and they’ve been offering no-fuss fare for years.

Some venues on this list have small dine-in areas that have been reopened. However, this should not be taken as endorsement for dining in, as there are still safety concerns: for updated information on coronavirus cases in your area, please visit the official sites of the Quebec government and Montreal’s public health authority (Santé Montréal). Studies indicate that there is a lower exposure risk when outdoors, but the level of risk involved with patio dining is contingent on restaurants following strict social distancing and other safety guidelines.

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Meli-Melo Market

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Those in the know flock to Méli-Melo for griot: The marinated, braised, and fried pork shoulder with citrus is their specialty, but there are loads of other dishes worth trying. The back-of-the-shop food counter has chicken, goat, beef, and fish dishes, always served with rice and fried plantains for a very reasonable price

Marché Oriental

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Marché Oriental has just about all the ingredients one would need to put together an Asian meal, plus one of the biggest selections of Asian tableware in the city to serve it on. But many visit for the compact front section of prepared foods instead, starting with barbecue duck and pork expertly chopped on site. Fresh spring rolls, banh beo (steamed rice flour cakes) with shrimp, homemade Vietnamese sausage, and coconut-based dessert cups are just a few of the dishes on offer.

Comptoir Sainte-Cécile

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Around since 2016, this diminutive takeout counter on de Castelnau packs a punch from soup to nuts, with specialties like apple-parsnip soup and smoked, spicy almonds and pecans. The roster of elevated yet homey appetizers and mains changes seasonally, always featuring fresh or frozen vegetarian and meaty options. There’s public seating outside with a view of the comptoir’s namesake church if waiting until you get home to devour their famous spaghetti bolognese sandwich is out of the question.

Marché Andes

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Marché Andes’ prepared food counter has daily specials for takeout covering Central and South American cuisines, including Colombian, Bolivian, and Chilean style empanadas, and Peruvian and Salvadoran tamales and pupusas. Hearty soups from the region (mondongo tripe or sancocho) round out the menu. All specials include rice, beans, and choice of salad, and are hearty enough to see most people through more than one meal.

Épicerie Conserva

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Two years in, the charming fellows at Conserva have continued to pump out homemade sausages, preserves, soups, and in-house stuffed pastas that rival the city’s top restaurants. There’s fresh produce, beer and wine, but many go to pick up their daily sandwich and savoury tarte tatin: Lunch and dinner are served.

Fruiterie Milano

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From arancini to gravlax, the kitchens tucked in the back of Milano’s sprawling premises produce meals for one (think grilled chicken with pasta, or veal Milanese with roast potatoes), and charcuterie party platters for many. Counters with prepared foods dot the store, so keep an eye peeled to find marinated octopus salad, risotto ready to (h)eat, and classic supermarket roast chicken.

Sushi Dépanneur

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Sushi Dep’s shelves are stocked with nori, Kewpie mayonnaise, colourful mochi treats, and even kimchi-to-go. Purists will love the simple, one-ingredient nigiri, sashimi, and hosomaki small rolls, but they’ve got a whole range of bigger rolls with crunchy shrimp tempura and spicy mayo, and poke bowls, too. Vegetarian options available.

Drogheria Fine

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Drogheria Fine has made its name with one dish: gnocchi swimming in tomato sauce. Tucked in a folded takeout box, the nonna-inspired, carb-caressing sauces have made this tiny storefront a cheap, cheerful, and filling destination. With their olive oils and several varieties of sauces (with or without gnocchi) available online, noshers no longer have to make the trek to this gourmand block of Fairmount West.

View this post on Instagram

Gnocchi 5$ . . . . Crédit repost

A post shared by Drogheria Fine (@drogheriafine) on

Trip de bouffe

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Plateau favourite Trippe de Bouffe has all the Lebanese food needed for a perfect mezze spread, including homemade pita, all manner of savoury pastries, traditional salads, moussaka (veg and non-veg) and trays of kibbe in family size. Don’t miss the homemade spicy labneh and finish everything off with a Mouhalabiey custard for dessert.

Oinegs Kosher

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This tiny kosher deli counter offers traditional food like chicken soup with matzoh balls, pea soup, potato knishes and schnitzel (there’s a “healthy” option for the last, though we can’t quite figure that out), as well as classic salads and dips. There’s also kosher shawarma, with vegan items available.

Dispensa

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This Old Port hideaway has been serving affordable lunchtime fare to the area’s bustling office crowd since 2014. Expect pizza al taglio, calzones, and paninos stuffed with porchetta, chicken cutlet, or meatballs. There are warm dishes, too, like chicken parmigiana and cavatelli with sausage and rapini, plus a nice selection of imported Italian oils, pastas and canned tomatoes, if your pantry needs some stocking.

Epicure Market (Multiple Locations)

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Epicure’s three city locations boast aisles bursting with pickles, pierogies, and smoked fish, but the cognoscenti head straight to the hot food takeout for a taste of home. Stuffed cabbage, whole baked fish, roast pork, and cold marinated Russian salads are ready to grab and go. Head over to the bakery counter, too, for slices of cheesecake with a layer of poppy seed to complete the meal.

Supermarché Akhavan

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Bring a few extra bags to Akhavan, and load up on borek pastries, patties (meat or veggie), pakoras, samosas, or a lahmajoun flatbread at their takeout counter. Fans of grilled meats will delight in Akhavan’s beef, lamb, and chicken kebabs prepared Persian-style. While you’re at it, pick up some Iranian yogurt with shallot (maast o moosir) and a barbari flatbread.

Falafel St. Jacques

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Vegetarian paradise Falafel St Jacques is so much more than the sum of its parts: falafel, yes, but also veggie shawarma and sandwiches with sabich (fried eggplant and amba mango condiment) and shakshouka, plus a special plate with Yemeni malawah and spicy tomato dip. Salads cover the expected bases with tabbouleh and Israeli chopped vegetable, and take a creative swing toward sweet brussel sprouts and spicy hot pepper.

Meli-Melo Market

Those in the know flock to Méli-Melo for griot: The marinated, braised, and fried pork shoulder with citrus is their specialty, but there are loads of other dishes worth trying. The back-of-the-shop food counter has chicken, goat, beef, and fish dishes, always served with rice and fried plantains for a very reasonable price

Marché Oriental

Marché Oriental has just about all the ingredients one would need to put together an Asian meal, plus one of the biggest selections of Asian tableware in the city to serve it on. But many visit for the compact front section of prepared foods instead, starting with barbecue duck and pork expertly chopped on site. Fresh spring rolls, banh beo (steamed rice flour cakes) with shrimp, homemade Vietnamese sausage, and coconut-based dessert cups are just a few of the dishes on offer.

Comptoir Sainte-Cécile

Around since 2016, this diminutive takeout counter on de Castelnau packs a punch from soup to nuts, with specialties like apple-parsnip soup and smoked, spicy almonds and pecans. The roster of elevated yet homey appetizers and mains changes seasonally, always featuring fresh or frozen vegetarian and meaty options. There’s public seating outside with a view of the comptoir’s namesake church if waiting until you get home to devour their famous spaghetti bolognese sandwich is out of the question.

Marché Andes

Marché Andes’ prepared food counter has daily specials for takeout covering Central and South American cuisines, including Colombian, Bolivian, and Chilean style empanadas, and Peruvian and Salvadoran tamales and pupusas. Hearty soups from the region (mondongo tripe or sancocho) round out the menu. All specials include rice, beans, and choice of salad, and are hearty enough to see most people through more than one meal.

Épicerie Conserva

Two years in, the charming fellows at Conserva have continued to pump out homemade sausages, preserves, soups, and in-house stuffed pastas that rival the city’s top restaurants. There’s fresh produce, beer and wine, but many go to pick up their daily sandwich and savoury tarte tatin: Lunch and dinner are served.

Fruiterie Milano

From arancini to gravlax, the kitchens tucked in the back of Milano’s sprawling premises produce meals for one (think grilled chicken with pasta, or veal Milanese with roast potatoes), and charcuterie party platters for many. Counters with prepared foods dot the store, so keep an eye peeled to find marinated octopus salad, risotto ready to (h)eat, and classic supermarket roast chicken.

Sushi Dépanneur

Sushi Dep’s shelves are stocked with nori, Kewpie mayonnaise, colourful mochi treats, and even kimchi-to-go. Purists will love the simple, one-ingredient nigiri, sashimi, and hosomaki small rolls, but they’ve got a whole range of bigger rolls with crunchy shrimp tempura and spicy mayo, and poke bowls, too. Vegetarian options available.

Drogheria Fine

Drogheria Fine has made its name with one dish: gnocchi swimming in tomato sauce. Tucked in a folded takeout box, the nonna-inspired, carb-caressing sauces have made this tiny storefront a cheap, cheerful, and filling destination. With their olive oils and several varieties of sauces (with or without gnocchi) available online, noshers no longer have to make the trek to this gourmand block of Fairmount West.

View this post on Instagram

Gnocchi 5$ . . . . Crédit repost

A post shared by Drogheria Fine (@drogheriafine) on

Trip de bouffe

Plateau favourite Trippe de Bouffe has all the Lebanese food needed for a perfect mezze spread, including homemade pita, all manner of savoury pastries, traditional salads, moussaka (veg and non-veg) and trays of kibbe in family size. Don’t miss the homemade spicy labneh and finish everything off with a Mouhalabiey custard for dessert.

Oinegs Kosher

This tiny kosher deli counter offers traditional food like chicken soup with matzoh balls, pea soup, potato knishes and schnitzel (there’s a “healthy” option for the last, though we can’t quite figure that out), as well as classic salads and dips. There’s also kosher shawarma, with vegan items available.

Dispensa

This Old Port hideaway has been serving affordable lunchtime fare to the area’s bustling office crowd since 2014. Expect pizza al taglio, calzones, and paninos stuffed with porchetta, chicken cutlet, or meatballs. There are warm dishes, too, like chicken parmigiana and cavatelli with sausage and rapini, plus a nice selection of imported Italian oils, pastas and canned tomatoes, if your pantry needs some stocking.

Epicure Market (Multiple Locations)

Epicure’s three city locations boast aisles bursting with pickles, pierogies, and smoked fish, but the cognoscenti head straight to the hot food takeout for a taste of home. Stuffed cabbage, whole baked fish, roast pork, and cold marinated Russian salads are ready to grab and go. Head over to the bakery counter, too, for slices of cheesecake with a layer of poppy seed to complete the meal.

Supermarché Akhavan

Bring a few extra bags to Akhavan, and load up on borek pastries, patties (meat or veggie), pakoras, samosas, or a lahmajoun flatbread at their takeout counter. Fans of grilled meats will delight in Akhavan’s beef, lamb, and chicken kebabs prepared Persian-style. While you’re at it, pick up some Iranian yogurt with shallot (maast o moosir) and a barbari flatbread.

Falafel St. Jacques

Vegetarian paradise Falafel St Jacques is so much more than the sum of its parts: falafel, yes, but also veggie shawarma and sandwiches with sabich (fried eggplant and amba mango condiment) and shakshouka, plus a special plate with Yemeni malawah and spicy tomato dip. Salads cover the expected bases with tabbouleh and Israeli chopped vegetable, and take a creative swing toward sweet brussel sprouts and spicy hot pepper.

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