I was so excited when I discovered Nilufar last year; I was told this was the place to go for good food that’s cheap. I definitely wasn’t let down!
Located on Ste. Catherines St., about a five minute walk from the Sir George Williams campus, Nilufar, which means “Lily of the Valley,” serves up healthy and fresh Middle Eastern cuisine.
For only $2 you can get a tasty falafel sandwich, a soup, and a drink. It’s a deal that is hard to beat.
The falafel sandwich is great. The falafels are moist on the inside, crispy on the outside, and are a perfect blend of flavours. They are wrapped in a pita and topped with tomatoes, lettuce and hummus. It’s a small portion, but when combined with the soup, it makes for a filling snack. The lentil soup is my favourite.
The small family-run business will be celebrating its 18th anniversary on Halloween. Nilufar Al-Shourbaji, the owner’s daughter, is the cheerful girl behind the counter.
“My mother is the magic behind the food,” she said.
There’s nothing fancy about the place, but the food, the value, and the friendly atmosphere are what makes it worth it. It’s really a great alternative to the abundance of unhealthy and sometimes expensive food options around the downtown campus. Another added bonus—it’s vegan friendly!
Located on 1923 Ste. Catherine St. West
Schnitzel and ice cream are part of a well-balanced student diet
Located at a short distance from campus on Sherbrooke St., this charming cafe serves a combination of Persian and Israeli inspired cuisine. Prices range from $2-10. All of the food they serve is homemade and when the season permits, produce is picked from the owner’s garden.
Reza Avi Ensafi and his mother Paris run the cozy cafe and have been for the past six years. His high-energy and good-natured attitude along with his mother’s nurturing smile are what makes this place unique.
They offer a number of homemade desserts, coffee and tea on any given day. I’ve had their homemade vanilla, saffron, honey and pistachio ice cream, and let me tell you, there is nothing quite like it!
It’s their famous chicken schnitzel sandwich that always keeps me going back for more. It is served on a fresh ciabatta roll, topped with lettuce, tomato, pickles and mayonnaise. To kick things up a notch, ask them to spice up your sandwich. The combination of flavours is mouthwatering! It is worth the $6.25. For an extra dollar or two I usually add either one of their tasty soups or salads to complete the meal.
They also offer vegetarian options for veggie lovers. It’s a delightful and reasonably priced eatery that will satisfy your appetite guaranteed!
Located on 6929 Sherbrooke St. West
Chinese comfort on the second floor
On the second floor of an unassuming building, nestled just behind the John Molson School of Business building on de Maisonneuve St. W., Shi Tang is just as easy to miss as it is to find; all you have to do is look up.
Shi Tang is a local fixture that serves up some cozy Chinese fare. Be warned though, it’s a little different from the other Chinese restaurants around the city. It is another iteration of the new variety of Chinese restaurants that surround Concordia University, serving up a taste and feel straight from the mainland.
If you find the restaurant and gather up the courage to climb the stairs, you will find yourself in a different world. The place sports a coat of institutional white walls and linoleum floors; and just to warn you, there are no English or French menus.
In short, the immediate feeling is one of intimidation and perhaps alienation, but the warm smile of the staff and the buzz of student banter will provide you with the bravery to order.
Shi Tang is the Chinese word for “cafeteria,” and that’s just what it is. There are long wooden tables and benches, and most importantly, a kind looking lady with a spoon in hand standing over a hot array of glistening Chinese food, ready to serve you. The place serves an assortment of hearty Chinese dishes canteen style where you just point at what you want.
The food is affordable, delicious and most importantly, comforting. Suddenly, all the obstacles and foreignness of the place seem to take a backseat to the act of sharing a meal with the people around you. Good thing you looked up.
Located on 1622 de Maisonneuve West
I Pick Picks
Picks serves up casse-croûte food in a warm hole-in-the-wall setting. Tiny and unimposing, a fluorescent “open” sign encourages you to enter, and the food makes you never want to leave. The joint offers up a criss-cross of food cultures as the premise of the restaurant is to offer up the Korean take of various American street foods. The results are intensely satisfying.
Picks grills up one of the best burgers in the area (much better and slightly cheaper than neighbouring Buns). In addition, there are some novel toppings such as kimchee, eggs and a large assortment of sauces. I recommend the chipotle mayo and the dried tomatoes and basil sauce.
From the fries to the chicken burgers, everything is made to order. Though it might take a little longer than other fast food places in the city, the food comes sizzling.
Finally, what elevates this greasy spoon above the others is the KOGO. What is the KOGO you ask? It’s a corn dog embedded with french fries. Try it out in all its greasy glory.
Located on 1407 Rue Saint Marc Montreal