Welcome to StreetFoodMontreal.com, your number one source for all things street food in Montreal.
I love street food. It’s unfortunate, though. Montreal is not allowed to have street food unless there is a festival, organized street closure, or anything else where cars are not allowed to pass through. This past year, we have experienced the emergence of street food in Montreal: burgers, grilled teriyaki squid, mangoes on a stick cut into flowers and sprinkled with cayenne pepper, cheap $2 noodles drenched in peanut sauce, freshly baked cookies, piri piri chicken sandwiches, lobster rolls, and of course, tacos.
The popular venues where street food emerges is the Jazz Festival, the Just for Laughs Festival, the 3 times St-Laurent boulevard is closed, Osheaga, Les Francofolies, and the annual Sherebrooke street sidewalk sale (I cook Italian Sausages every year at Cavallaro) to name a few. It’s not uncommon to see long lines filled with patient, eager, and hungry people willing to wait to get delicious treats handed to them. Sometimes, and I mean sometimes, we receive better food from a street vendor than we would in some restaurants. Some types of street food I would like to see emerge: dim sum, pasta, meatballs, grilled cheese, and anything on a stick.
The elephant in the room…”why don’t we have street food”? There are many reasons, without one definitive answer. It boils down to permits, and the law. In my opinion, there’s a lot more than the law that comes into place; it’s simply a logistical issue. Compared to Toronto, New York, LA, San Francisco, Vancouver, or Portland, Montreal just doesn’t have the physical space for such a thing to exist. Many restaurants will be very upset if they had a street vendor parked outside their restaurant, creating unnecessary and unfair competition. Then there’s the matter of garbage. Who will clean it up? Who’s responsible? What about cleanliness? All major issues that can be dealt with carefully.
The only way street food can exist in Montreal is if it’s regulated. We are able to handle it. Street food in Montreal can work if there are rules. Here’s a short list of my suggestions:
- Designate specific areas and specific times where street vendors can park to sell their food.
- Street vendors must be responsible for cleaning up designated areas and leaving them the way they found it.
- Permits should only be given to those who are operating from a mobile kitchen. Those who use off-site commercial kitchens to prepare their food ahead of time should be approved by health inspectors, for obvious reasons. I certainly don’t want any surprises in my shawarma.
What place does street food have in Montreal? Right now, it’s a special treat we are privileged to have a few times over the summer, and a bit less in the spring and fall. It’s easy, accessible, and fun. I firmly believe Montreal can support street food. It just needs to be done properly, with regulation heavily involved.
So why build a site dedicated to a new food trend, revolving around a city that doesn’t allow it (yet)? Let this site be your guide for all street food in Montreal. Let’s celebrate what we have right now, and hopefully, one day we will all have the pleasure of visiting food trucks, eating under the sun, and enjoying it with complete strangers.
Welcome to the street food movement in Montreal.