Vegetarians, rejoice! Frustrated and hungry when you hang out at bars that only serve greasy, meaty options? Head to the Plateau and try Casa Del Popolo (which means “house of the people” in Italian), best described as a shabby-chic home for the artsy and music-loving. La Sala Rossa, a small concert venue where local bands play almost every night, is their attached neighbour. The scene is vintage meets rock star; sitting at the bar, I could not help but notice a Ringo Starr doppelgÃ¤nger being served by a bartender who could have been Dita Von Teese’s twin.
Despite its vegetarian specialities, do not be worried if you are more of a carnivore because you will not even notice the lack of meat. The Tex-Mex inspired menu is anything but rabbit food. Â Share a plate of nachos piled high with tangy guacamole, cheese, sour cream and black beans, or opt for one of their three different vegetarian burritos. Just as I was wondering where they find room for all this in their kitchen, I noticed one of the bartenders expertly folding a burrito and using a microwave behind the bar to heat things up. Talk about energy conservation.
If you are not craving a taste of the South, try one of their sandwiches with goat cheese, bocconcini, veggies or tofu, all offered on different breads. The Boccolicious lives up to its name, but be sure to order it on baguette because the pumpernickel was soggy after some quality time with the nachos.
If you are drinking, try one of the six local beers on draft. Yes, tuition is due at the end of the month, but the prices beat most other drinkeries in town and perfectly cater to the mix of starving students and musicians.
Just before leaving, a band came in and one of the members was an acquaintance of mine, getting ready to play his first show next door at La Sala Rossa. That is just the vibe at Casa Del Popolo: a cozy place where you will find a familiar face.
Must-try: The heaping mountain of toppings that Casa Del Popolo refers to as nachos.
Think twice if: You are in the mood for a fancy restaurant that will require you to shower.
Bonus: Some great indie tracks playing in the dining room in between bites.
Price: $10 per person for food; drinks are $5 – $7.
Casa del Popolo is located at 4873 St-Laurent Blvd.