Montrealers can reel off their preferred places for the best coffee, the best bars to drink at and best restaurants in the city right now—don’t think it’s any different for grocery stores in Montreal. We’ve got our own best-loved spots for around-the-world food shopping that will send you away to every continent on the planet (Antarctica too if you count fish, you penguins), all without leaving the comfort of your city’s limits. Most stores have terrific counters with prepared foods, many have recipes online and several even have cooking classes in Montreal. And if you don’t know how to use what you find, these spots are staffed by great gastronomically-inclined Montrealers, so just ask how they use ingredients or what they love to eat at home: They’ll steer your stomach in the right direction.
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Check out the sheer variety of grocery stores in Montreal
Tucked in a strip mall in Greenfield Park, halal grocery Marché Ariya’s aisles are stocked with grains, beans, juices, teas, and beauty products from Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, and the region. The real reason for a visit, though, is to check out their food counter, featuring reasonably-priced mouthwatering Afghani kebabs (on platters or in sandwiches), and to look through the window to the in-house bakery, pumping out Afghani naan bread covered in sesame and nigella seeds.
West African spice mixes, from Nigerian pepper-soup spice, to calabash nutmeg and suya—a blend of ginger, cayenne, and roasted peanut powder—are some of the treats at this small Park Ex grocery. The butcher counter is popular here, with goat meat and hard chicken, a special muscular free-range bird. Hair and beauty products abound at Ghanacan, including African shea butter — the perfect salve to counter winter dryness and soften your skin.
With three megastores and a majority investment from IGA in 2018, Kim Phat is one of the leading Asian groceries on or off the island. Each store has its own Hong Kong-style bakery and barbecue stand, a live fish counter, and cuts of meat not generally offered in grocery chains. Fresh herbs like curry leaf, culantro (and cilantro), plus tofu—fried, fresh, and five-spiced—mean you’ve got everything you need for dinner here.
This chill neighbourhood épicerie is located on a stretch of Saint-Hubert known more for its party dresses than pastries. Showcasing high quality local meats and cheeses, you can see the chef-owners busy in the back making their own charcuterie, pastas, sauces, preserves, desserts, and dinner dishes for takeout. Loads of fresh veggies, breads from Automne Boulangerie, and a well-curated beer selection round out Conserva’s offerings. All that, and they cater too!
This Italian specialty shop focuses on three key items: cheese, charcuterie, and pasta, with sweets, coffee, and sandwiches on the side. You can get lost perusing (and tasting) their 300 kinds of cheese, from saffron and peppercorn pecorino to all kinds of Parmigiano-Reggiano and a 100-pound Auricchio provolone. Meats are sliced to order or pre-packaged, perfect for snacking. Check out their lunchtime and takeout foods, including calzones, arancini, and milanesas.
La Vieille Europe’s staying power on The Main—over six decades!—is a testament to the quality and range of products here. Yes, their European and local cheese selection is remarkable, and the charcuterie impressive (how many kinds of chorizo are there, anyway?) but the way they’ve kept their hearty sandwiches while innovating with high-end cooking oils and upscale cocktail syrups ensures a loyal clientele. One-stop shopping for a 5 à 7 and beyond.
If you’ve always wanted to make your own tajine, Marché Kohinoor’s five halal supermarkets have the ingredients, from the natural clay vessel to cook it in, the spices, grains, and meat to make it delicious, and a carpet to sit on while you eat it. Kohinoor’s aisles are packed with fresh and frozen goods from North Africa, the Middle East, and the Indian subcontinent. Each shop varies its offerings depending on the clientele and neighbourhood.
From small Indian eggplants to the long vegetable known as drumsticks—an essential ingredient in South Indian sambar—this family-owned business in Park Ex is a bustling centre for Indian and Sri Lankan fresh and packaged ingredients. Huge cans of mango pulp for making lassi are adjacent to ever-popular Haldiram-brand packaged snacks from India, perfect for munching on while watching a game of cricket in nearby Jarry Park.
All of NDG seems to shop at Marché Akhavan, whether for household staples or all things Iranian. Nuts, dried fruit, and mounds of fresh herbs—essential to Persian food—compete for space with spices, saffron, a huge variety of rice, and an eye-popping tea aisle. (You can even buy special glass teacups to serve it just right.) Leave time for Akhavan’s food counter for grilled meat or some kibbeh with polo rice after shopping.
The anchor store of Little Italy, Milano has been going strong for 65 years and keeps adding new products as the storefront expands horizontally. Fruits and vegetables are picture-perfect (organic, too), takeout meals and pastas are made in-store, the charcuterie is authentic Italian, and the butchery features Quebec Wagyu beef. Burrata? Check. Olives, olive oil, balsamic vinegars, chocolates? Check. Even the cleaning products and soap section is worth a visit. A classic.
You’ll find Haitian spicy peanut butter, Dominican Republic oregano, fresh soursop, and homemade coconut macaroons at Méli-Mélo on Jarry, but don’t miss the home cooking in the back where they’re serving dishes like griot (crispy pork shoulder marinated in citrus and habanero pepper), beef with okra, and goat. On the weekends, there’s special freshly ground corn to make maïs moulin (corn grits), too. Worth the visit just so the cashier can call you chérie.
From its beginnings on St-Denis in 1978 to six stores across the province, Tau has metamorphosed into a health-focused enterprise offering organic vegetables, meats, grains, baby food, and even wines. The emphasis on beauty and health means they sell natural cosmetics and hair dyes, Bach Flower Remedies, Dr. Bronner’s soaps, and every manner of natural vitamin supplements, powders, and bio-essentials to beautify yourself from the inside out.
Miyamoto has been in Westmount’s Victoria Village for almost 40 years. There’s maki for takeout and sushi-grade fish in the freezer, instant miso soup and golden curry packs, seaweed, Kewpie mayonnaise and fresh wasabi, and delicious crunchy snacks. Miyamoto’s shows their homage to Japanese culture in beautiful Japanese knives, ikebana flower arrangement “frogs”, and heirloom-quality Iwachu cast-iron teapots. Read their website to learn more about this family’s compelling—and very Canadian—story.
Korean grocery Jang Teu is well known for its enthusiastic staff, cooking classes, huge choice of housewares and kitchen electronics, and...kimchi. Everything to make your own kimchi, in fact, including traditional clay pots and plastic bins for mixing and fermenting, dried pepper flakes and powdered chilis, Chinese cabbage, green onions, daikon radish, and garlic. Add to that a myriad of frozen dumpling and rice cake options, and it’s paradise for Korean food lovers.
This enormous Kosher supermarket specializes in food that meets Jewish dietary laws: everything in the store, including household staple brands familiar to most shoppers, has Kosher certification. Those with dietary requirements will appreciate the gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan options available here. We love the smoked fish, kosher sushi, the takeout counter with prepared foods (schnitzel!), the considerable pickle collection, and the bakery section, which rivals some more popular Mile End spots.
Central and South American foods are the focus of the Andes Market: dried chiles, bottled salsas, frozen fruit purees, masa corn meal to make tortillas (and fresh tortillas, blue and yellow) line the shelves of this community resource. We crave their bakery treats: Mexican conchas, Colombian pan de queso (cheese bread), and alfajores, South American almond cookies stuffed with dulce de leche. Check out the adjacent restaurant for platos tipicos from all over the region.
Marché PA aims to please, and the crowds keep coming to their Mile End, downtown, and Laval shops. It’s no frills, but the curation is definitely there, whether for fruits and vegetables — where else can you buy snap peas in bulk? — or for their meats, charcuterie, and cheeses. The PA Nature shop is chock-full of organic and natural products and produce, and the hours — from early morning to late at night — can’t be beat.
Adonis has everything. For Middle Eastern, Lebanese, and Mediterranean products, this behemoth of gastronomy purveys an exhaustive array of foods to meet the needs of every Montrealer, regardless of their culinary allegiances. Their branded bakery (four types of pita!), prepared foods (think dips, pickles, salads, vine leaves, and more), French and Middle Eastern sweets, Halal and non-Halal meats, and organic, antibiotic-free fish truly serve the people. Run, don’t walk, to the nearest one.
Just north of the Metropolitan, La Pistacherie features a long counter bursting with fresh raw and roasted almonds, peanuts, and cashews in every variation of salted, smoked, lemony, and barbecue flavours, plus sunflower seeds, pepitas, and in-house snack mixes. Roasting every other day, La Pistacherie prides itself on carefully selected spices, olive oils, pomegranate molasses, gift boxes with Middle Eastern sweets and nuts, and beautifully crafted backgammon boards. We’re crazy about their smoked pistachios.
Head to the second floor of the Faubourg Ste-Catherine for downtown’s newest Asian and South Asian market, steps from Guy Metro. Marché Newon has a dizzying array of fruits, veggies, seafood, and an extensive freezer selection of seafood, dumplings, parathas, lumpia wrappers, and loads of ice cream. The newly-opened fish section features fresh oysters and live lobsters. Hot sauce fans could be busy here for days: give yourself time to browse.
Serrano, Iberico, or acorn-fed? Staff at L’Española have the answers to all your ham questions, and know everything about maté, too: they’ve got all the leaves, gourds, and silver straws to keep you caffeinated 24/7. L’Española’s paella kits - gas grills on stands, plus pans big enough to feed a crowd — are perfect for balconville grilling. Cheeses, olive oils, jams, pottery, and two walls full of summer-invoking espadrilles round out the offerings here.
Pickles, pirogies and pastries sum up Epicure Market, a local European chain concentrating on Russian and Eastern European foods. There’s a smoked fish section with sturgeon, salmon, and whitefish, barrels of herring, and more varieties of kefir than you knew existed. The hot food and salad bar, with specialties like Russian Olivier salad and baked salmon, is wildly popular at lunchtime, but we’re all about the sauna hats tucked away in the front corner.
Marché Oriental is a Jean Talon Market neighbourhood favourite, with fresh noodles and tofu, a sparkling fish section and butcher counter, and a wide variety of herbs, leaves, fruits, and vegetables essential for Vietnamese, Thai, and Chinese cooking. There are fantastic takeout options, here, too, from their barbecue stall to fresh spring rolls and coconut-tapioca desserts. We love the housewares aisle; the large soup bowl collection rivals some of the city’s toniest décor shops.
These fishmongers are keen to promote their native Îles de la Madeleine heritage: with traditional music playing in the tiny blue-and-white kitchen and cooks busy making fish pies, it’s a homey feeling at Fou des Îles. Oysters, shrimp, scallops and a wide selection of fish are sold here, with a commitment to stocking as much as possible from Ocean Wise, Fourchette Bleu, and Sea Choice suppliers, ensuring a sustainable and environmentally friendly choice.
LOCO stores have a cozy feeling, with serve-yourself bins for grains, beans, oils, nuts, and snacks. It’s more than that, though, with cloth bags for your baguette, zippered lined pouches for sandwiches, beeswax reusable wrap, natural soaps, and detergents in bulk, plus organic veggies, fair-trade coffee, and even feminine products. It’s a remarkable selection worth checking out to see how you can minimize your use of plastic and be kind to the planet.
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