Greatest eating places in Montreal to eat Haitian meals
This article is part of a series on Canadian food and travel sponsored by Destination Canada.
In the summer of 2016, I drove north from New York City with my Haitian and French-speaking parents and a good friend to visit the Francophone city of Montreal. One of our main goals was to eat (and drink) well and plentifully, a goal that we fortunately achieved with ease. The tone was set on our first night when we stumbled upon the newly opened Agrikol, a hip and impressive Haitian restaurant in the gay village that happens to be the owners of the two founding members of the acclaimed Canadian indie rock band Arcade Fire.
There we enjoyed modern interpretations of the staple foods I ate including accras, delicious deep fried malanga fritters and griot, flavorful, juicy fried pork. We also polished an entire bottle of Barbancourt, Haiti’s most famous rum, which makes it a little difficult to remember everything we ate. We went in hard! The experience was so amazing that since then I’ve wanted to delve deeper into the city’s Haitian food scene.
While fine dining and ultra-heavy Canadian home cooking get the most press, Montreal has an incredibly diverse culinary scene that reflects local immigrant enclaves originally from Central America, North Africa, Portugal, South and East Asia, and the Caribbean. Montreal’s Haitian community is a thriving population that grew significantly in the 1960s and 1970s when many of the Haitian elite (doctors, teachers, etc.) fled to the French-speaking city to escape the infamous dictatorship of François Duvalier. Today, the Haitian population in the greater Montreal area rivals those of NYC and Miami. As a result, Haitian culture, and with it food, has a permanent place in Montreal’s cultural identity.
Much like the food scene in Montreal itself, Haitian cuisine is a great mix of different cultures and influences, especially French, West African and Caribbean culinary traditions. In Montreal, Haitian food compliments the bold and rich flavors of French-Canadian cuisine; You can also find fusion dishes that you can’t get anywhere else, like griot poutine or a burger with deep fried plantain buns. In recent years, it has become quite a popular dish in Montreal thanks to restaurants like Agrikol, and new places have been popping up at a breakneck pace.
Growing up in a Haitian household myself, Haitian food is by and large my favorite food. My childhood was all about cooking and eating with my family, which meant I got a healthy dose of Bannann Peze (squeezed and double-fried plantains with a hint of lime and salt), rice and beans, steamed or fried meat, and more to me took ridiculous (even dangerous) amounts of scotch bonnet peppers. In other words, I know a good griot when I see him. I recently spent a weekend in the French-Canadian city, scouring the streets (and my Google Maps) to find some of the most creative, inspiring, and noteworthy Haitian cuisine options in town. From local favorites like Méli Mélo Market, which has some of the best pork in town, to holes in the wall like Merson’s Patisserie, which offer perhaps the best Haitian beef patties I’ve ever tried, here’s just a humble one Choosing where to eat Haitian food in Montreal.
7 Must-See Haitian Restaurants in Montreal:
Just ask for what you want.