Restaurant alternatives for tourists

Why line up outside the most popular spots when you could eat just as well (or better) right across the street or around the corner.

This chicken from Romados may look good, but some swear that the alternatives are better.

Even if you’ve only been in town a week (or you’re only here for a weekend), we suspect you’ve eaten or at least heard of some of this city’s staple dishes, and some friend or website (maybe even ours) has likely pointed you toward ONE place you must go to try it.

Problem is, everyone has the same information, so there will be line-ups. Here are those go-tos, and equally good (if not better) alternatives, so you won’t feel like a sucker.

The classic: La Banquise (994 Rachel E.)
The alternative: Chez Claudette (351 Laurier E.)
Chez Claudette may not have as many wacky or vegetarian topping options, but they serve over two dozen varieties. And their gravy and fries are superior.

The classic: St-Viateur Bagel (263 St-Viateur W.)
The alternative: DAD’s Bagel (5732 Sherbrooke W.)
24-hour NDG eatery DAD’s, and many other local bagel joints, use the same “Montreal method” as St-Viateur, plus they have great Indian takeout and more.

The classic: Romados chicken (115 Rachel E.)
The alternative: Ma Poule Mouillée (969 Rachel E.)
As noted by our food critic Gemma Horowitz, Ma Poule Mouillée’s chicken is roasted
over charcoal, just as it is at Romados, and their spicy fries are nearly identical, too. And
as our food columnist Bartek Komorowski has said, Romados hasn’t been the same since they reopened with a shiny new grill and deep-fryer.

Italian coffee
The classic: Olimpico (124 St-Viateur W.)
The alternative: Campanelli (4634 Notre-Dame W.)
There are plenty of old-school Italian coffee joints in this city, so if you’re in Mile End or ’hoods thereabouts (like Little Italy, obviously) or out in St-Henri, where Campanelli is, get in and grab one. In a taste test, would you really know the difference?

Smoked meat
The classic: Schwartz’s (3895 St-Laurent)
The alternative: The Main (3864 St-Laurent)
There’s usually a line-up outside Schwartz’s, celebrated for its mustard-soaked rye slices, generous portions of smoky beef and kosher pickles. You can get all that at the Leonard Cohen-endorsed rival across the street, the Main, along with smoked meat poutine and perogies. Also, servers at the Main aren’t rude, and you’re not crammed into a long bench beside strangers. ■

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