Dinner at $8

Cheap and cheerful eats are easily acquired in this town. Here are eight dishes from fine local establishments that will fill your belly without emptying your wallet.

The mechada (pulled beef) arepa from Bocadillo

Hey, are you hungry? Of course you are. Along with hungry, though, you’re likely broke, or close to it. But that shouldn’t stop you from eating like a king — or at least a person who’s slightly more solvent. So with that in mind, we’re proud (or at least relatively enthused) to present a list of restaurants that will feed you — and us, definitely us — for $8 and under.


Bocadillo (3677 St-Laurent, 1 Mont-Royal W., 3480 McTavish)

Where else can you order a sandwich with made-to-order bread? That’s the deal at this growing Venezuelan chain, where the specialty is the arepa, cousin of the gordita and pupusa. Once the cornmeal bread is grilled to perfection (it takes about 10 minutes to achieve a hard but pliable exterior and a soft but cooked interior), it’s packed with your choice of filling, and Bocadillo offers many options ($6.09–$6.52). If you crave authenticity, skip the tuna salad and shark (what?) and go for pulled beef or grated cheese and black beans.

Banh mi

Hoang Oanh (1071 St-Laurent, 7178 St-Denis)

The mighty Vietnamese sub, a tasty side effect of French colonialism, brings together the mini-baguette (lightly lubed with a mysterious, mayo-based concoction), meat, julienned carrot and daikon, cilantro and (if you want it) bits of hot peppers to spice it up. The meat options include barbecued pork, shredded and sauteed beef and sausage, plus sliced, marinated tofu for vegetarians. It’s a winning combination, for the ridiculous price of $2.75.

Chana samosa, aka Indian poutine (but not really)

Chana samosa

India Beau Village (640 Jarry)

Some call it Indian poutine, though there are no fries or cheese curds therein (for that, it’s all about Chef Guru/Chef Guru G). Chana samosa is a staple Indian dish, and don’t let its appetizer designation fool you — it’s filling. A chopped samosa topped with chick pea curry, diced onion, cilantro chutney and a dab of yogurt, plus chopped hot peppers by request = perfection, for $3.50.

Fast food staples

Patati Patata (4177 St-Laurent)

The Plateau stalwart Patati Patata has withstood St-Laurent’s toughest times and still doles out its signature tiny burgers for $2 a pop (50 cents extra for cheese or bacon). Order a few or just one with a poutine/salad ($5.50) or fries/salad ($3.50) plate. Take it to go and eat it among the pigeons in Parc des Amériques. Notable point: Patati’s poutine is one of the few in the city that doesn’t make you feel like you’ve ingested carcinogens.

Israeli-style falafel sandwich

Panthère Verte (66 St-Viateur/2153 Mackay)

If you want something different from the usual Lebanese fare, and you want to be around vegans, head to Panthère Verte for a falafel sandwich, at $4.50 for half a pita and $6.50 for a whole one. The vegan resto offers two tasty variations, and prepares them in the Israeli style. People in the know about these things tend to express strong opinions on country of origin, and apparently this kind of falafel is somewhat of a rarity in our burgh.

Pork or duck, rice or soup

Dobe & Andy (1111 St-Urbain)
You have $20 in your bank account and enough on your Opus card to get you to Chinatown. What do you do? Withdraw that fucker (we’re talking cash only) and head to Dobe & Andy, where $5–$6 will get you an eminently satisfying serving of barbecued pork or duck on rice or in soup. If you’re feeling lavish, get both meats. It’ll still come in under $8.

Pupusas from La Carreta


La Carreta (350 St-Zotique E.)
This simple Salvadorean delight consist of thick, doughy corn tortillas fried with a choice of fillings: chicharrón (cooked, ground pork), cheese and/or refried beans, which you can then top with a delicious tomato salsa, cortida (a tangy coleslaw) and of course hot sauce. Freaking delicious, and $2.50 a pop. You’ll likely want two.

Vegetarian roti

Jardin du Cari (5554 St-Laurent)
Roti is a crepe-like wrap made with atta flour, and while wholemeal bread isn’t super exciting in itself, roti the dish is merely a vessel for curry. This fine Guyanese establishment makes a delicious potato-and-pea-based vegetarian roti ($6.50) with a curry that’s naturally mild, but easily spiced up with their various hot sauces. ■

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