Deps are Montreal’s unsung heroes: They’re comrades, helping us grab one last beer or pack of smokes for the night, and they’re commissaries for our recipe’s missing ingredients. They’re pharmacists for painkillers and condoms. They’re often our most reliable neighbours, and they can make for pretty good friends.
The term ‘dépanneur’ means "to help out of difficulty" or "troubleshoot" in Québécois French, so it stands to reason that they’re going to be able to be restaurants, too. Even with all of our city’s places to eat, a dep can be as good a place as any—sometimes better—for Montrealers to be able to get a quick snack until street vendors make another comeback.
From spots that make a more-than-decent sandwich to complete meals on the cheap, we’ve pulled together a list of the best depanneurs worth eating at.
Pollo Gustoso de Campagne
3396 Beaubien Street East
Pass through the aisles of products pulled from just about every continent save for the Antarctic, and you’ll come to a counter slinging some of the city’s better fried chicken. The pandemic’s boom of takeout operations may have created a lot more options, but while that was happening, this place was easily ahead of its time—and super cheap, too.
2501 Logan Street
When signage proclaims that it’s as much a dep as a place to get Chinese food, you know you need to try it. This is one of those proof-of-concept spots where the lower the price goes, the better the food tastes. That said, from tempura shrimps and egg rolls to pad Thai and pad see ew, General Tao, chow mein, and even bowls of pho, it’s all good, and a meal here just barely breaks the $10 mark.
Depanneur Le Pick-Up
7032 Waverly Street
One of the few spots that’s so recognized for its food some would argue it’s barely even a dep. Le Pick-Up brings its owners’ New York roots to the city with a bodega-style spot complete with swivelling stools and outdoor diner tables regularly stacked with clientele. Try the cubanos, chipotle chicken clubs, those grilled halloumi and pulled pork sandwiches everyone orders, burgers, all-day breakfast—and always pull a bottle out of the fridges to go with it.
928 Mont-Royal Avenue East
Since the pandemic, we’ve gotten so used to seeing retail corners in restaurants that we forget we were doing that long before 2020 came around. This grab’n’go comptoir and a wall of Japanese imports has been doing what it does since 2015, and they do it well, pulling together a menu full of maki, hosomaki, nigiri and sashimi, onigiri, poke bowls, and more at cheap and filling prices. Hands down a solid spot for lunch.
282 Mozart Avenue East
This dep from Egyptian owners Michael Mankoura and Sandra Besada is where cultures come together in one entity, serving street food-style dishes you could find on the streets of Cairo—only with a Montreal touch. You want shakshuka? You got it. Slices of cured and spiced basterma steak in a croque-monsieur? Coming right up. A beef-stuffed hawawshi dough pocket? No problem. All that and more at this Jean-Talon Market-adjacent spot.