Who makes the best Shish Taouk in Montreal?

Best Shish Taouk in Montreal? There are very few things that will drive people in Montreal to violence …for instance, saying one of the following  in Montreal will almost surely lead to a “Big Momma Beat Down”

  • Saying that the Toronto Maple Leafs are better than Les Canadiens
  • Saying that Toronto or Parisian Bagels are better than the Montreal version.
  • Wondering in public, how the hell is “poutine” not a registered food group
  • Saying/thinking/implying that there is a better “Shish Taouk” sandwich anywhere than the version that’s inhaled on a daily basis in Montreal.
  • The best Shish Taouk in Montreal is … and you don’t offer a great answer.

I for one believe after 12+ years in Canada, 60+ countries of eating strange and insane foods, there is no better fast food chicken sandwich in the world than the ones you can get in Montreal. The same way I believe that there is on better fast food fish sandwich than Bake and Shark in Maracas Bay, Trinidad.
In Montreal, there are three brand name contenders for this honor :

In fact, there is a facebook group called “Instead of Having a Cigarette after Sex, I have Sex after Boustan!” After these three brand names, there’s really a bunch of individual “Shish Taouk” vendors, who also have decent or good “Shish Taouk”. In addition, to the discussion, there is even questions about what to call the damn chicken sandwiches … I’ve gone to Israel to ask for a “Shish Taouk”, only to be told it was a “Chicken Shawarma” that I was looking for.

Imad Smaidi, the normally genial proprietor of the downtown Lebanese restaurant Boustan, veritably bristles at the mention that his shish taouk is considered by many to be the best in the city. It’s not the rating that irks Smaidi. It’s the appellation.

“Please,” he implores. “Call it its true name: chicken shawarma. This has gone on too long.”  The whole article can be found on Canada.com

Does that stop the “Shish” machine? Nope … it will always be a “Shish Taouk” to me.
As for finding “Shish Taouk” in Toronto – don’t bother, it’s horrible and pathetic. I’ve tried looking for years and there is really no comparison, so don’t bother. Toronto shawarma places are not Lebanese operated. It is possible to find better “Shish Taouk” in Ottawa, but if you’re going to Ottawa to find it, you might as well drive along to Montreal and get the real deal.
The best Shish Taouk places in Montreal are:

  1. Abu Elias on Cote Vertu in Ville St-Laurent
  2. Boustans is the best downtown – no exceptions (Amir’s on Crescent St. used to be phenomenal, but then the whole McDonaldization of Amir, merely lends itself to being average). Below is the famous trio (Shish Taouk Sandwich, Garlic Potatoes with extra garlic sauce, grilled eggplant, pickled turnips and hummus.)

Places like Basha and Amir are good but they are not the best. They’ve becom the McDonalds of Lebanese fast food, though still good but not nearly the best.
One can also ask the question, “Is Shish Taouk, all you can get in Montreal?” … obviously not …  one can find all the familiar Lebanese/Middle Eastern staples (Merguez, Falafel, Brochettes, Fatouche, Taboule, Humus, Shawarma, Shish Taouk, etc)
As for authentic  Lebanese cuisine in Montreal (outside of Shish Taouk), a good selection list would be the following:

  • La Sirene de le Mer (Good Lebanese seafood restaurants)
  • Restaurant Daou (More Lebanese good cooking)
  • Restaurant Souwar (On Cote Vertu with a speciality in Lebanese & seafood)
  • Le Petit Alep (I’ve yet to figure out the difference in Syrian vs Lebanese food)
  • Nuits d’Orient Restaurant (Great Leb food in Laval, if you’re venturing that far outside)

About Rishiray

Rishi Sankar is a Cloud HRMS Project Manager/ Solution Architect. Over the past 15+ years, he has managed to combine his overwhelming wanderlust with a desire to stay employed, resulting in continuing stints with 3 major consulting firms (IBM, Deloitte, Accenture). He documents his adventures around the world on "Ah Trini Travelogue" with pictures and stories from the road/tuk-tuk/camel/rickshaw. You can follow him on Twitter at @rishiray and on Facebook at "Ah Trini Travelogue . He doesn't like Chicken Curry but loves Curry Chicken and is always trying to find the perfect Trinidadian roti on the road. He also doesn't like cheese and kittens ... and definitely not together. E-mail from his blog is appreciated like a 35 yr old Balvenie at rishi@rishiray.com

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