As I mentioned in my last post, I’m a huge fan of Boustan. This late-night Lebanese spot is a Concordia student’s staple, whether you’re vegetarian or a die-hard meat-eater, due to its proximity to the Sir George Williams campus downtown. Tragically, it’s on tourist-infested Crescent Street, but don’t let this scare you away from the place. (Even at 3 AM.)
A family-run restaurant, Boustan is primarily run by “Mr. Boustan” and his sons. They’re always gregarious, and if you come regularly, they’ll know your face and name your order before you can say anything. As I always order the veggie pita, and used to stop in at least once a week, I often got the “HEY! Veggie pita! Spicy?” greeting when I came in. Now I get “HEY! Long time no see!” Either way, I like feeling like the owners remember me, even if we aren’t on a first-name basis, and they’re always chatty and upbeat.
As I said, I always order the veggie pita, because I was convinced to try one by a vegetarian friend of mine when I first visited. I was hesitant at first, and argued that I was no longer a vegetarian, but she told me, “Trust me, it’s really good.” So I got one, and she was right; it’s really good! It’s definitely not your typical Lebanese “veggie” pita, either, as it doesn’t rely on falafel for its tastiness. Instead you get an herbed omelette, garlic potatoes, eggplant, cauliflower, hummus, some vinegary coleslaw-like cabbage, a couple of hot pink beets, and a spoonful of what appears to be tzatziki all wrapped up in a pita (last time I hit them up they even had a choice between whole wheat or white), with or without a spoonful of spicy sauce, all of which they then toast on the grill.
It’s absolutely unlike any other sandwich I’ve ever tasted, and it’s totally addictive. Particularly if you get a side of their garlic potatoes. Yum!
Aside from this tasty pita, you can also get the typical chicken or beef shwarmas, or a plate of meat and potatoes and/or rice. They’ve also got stuffed vine leaves and various other sides, but most people tend to get the pitas. Especially if Mr. Boustan and I are there goading them to get the veggie pita, as he will often say, “You don’t like, you don’t pay!” to convince people to give it a try.
They always pay.
At 3 AM when the bars close up, Boustan is often hopping with late-night diners looking to refuel. There are longer line-ups, and Mr. Boustan’s patience seems to wear a bit thin with all the drunken hooligans, but he’s still serving up the best cheap-eats in town, and does well in the Best of Montreal survey every year. This year he even took #1 in the Best Middle-Eastern division!
Overall, I think Boustan is one of my favourite places in Montreal, not only for its food and quick service, but also for its genuinely friendly atmosphere and commitment to staying small. It’s not a chain, you’ll have to drag your ass down to the one-and-only Crescent Street location to get your fix, but it’s totally worth it. Besides, where else will you see a photo of the owner posing with former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and yours truly? Only at Boustan, baby!
ADDRESS: 2020A Crescent
HOURS: Daily 11AM-4AM