Mostly known as a hub for ristorantes, pizzerias and trattorias, Montreal's Little Italy also houses a bunch of non-Italian neighborhood eateries. One example of this diversity is Salvadoran fixture La Carreta, which I have sampled a couple times over the last decade.
Seeing as how my wife hails from the Central American republic and our last visit dates back to before the birth of our two kids, the time felt right for a return on this late-summer Friday evening.
An organic neighborhood feel naturally involves families and children, as was the case tonight; the dining room and small streetside patio held moderately-sized gatherings enjoying the last minutes of daylight.
Alas for my party, we were relegated to the desolate, dark and lifeless mezzanine section – even though the front didn't seem THAT full – which almost felt like a detention room!
tagged: BRING THE KIDS
A seemingly Pan-Latin menu peppered with common continental staples – burritos, enchiladas, tamales – also features notable Salvadoran specialties such as fried yucca and pupusas.
The latter – thick handmade cornflour tortillas – come stuffed with a choice of filling and are best enjoyed with the provided salsa roja – mellow tomato sauce – and curtido – fermented cabbage relish.
Flavors are more subdued than ones typical of other Latin American nations. Expect hearty, maize-based fare that is very easy on the wallet. Three-dollar-pupusas? ¡Si señor!
"fried yuca chips"
"plantain, sour cream, beans"
"tripe and vegetable soup"
"chicken & cheese pupusa"
"caramel sauce-stuffed churro"
"yuca flour doughnuts, house syrup"
Although the menu clearly separated starters from mains, pacing was rather all over the place; plates arrived randomly in incoherent batches separated by long pauses on occasion.
Tonight we set out seeking a quiet, casual meal among friends and children. La Carreta's relaxed vibe, affordable prices and comforting food combine for just that; making it a reliable neighborhood standby.
Granted the interior is starting to feel dated, the food can use a smidgen of zing and the service may lack structure; this pupuseria still holds a dear place in my half-Salvadoran family's heart.
tagged: PLAN B.
Price per person: $13.75
Montreal restaurant and bar reviews brought to you by two regular guys who like to eat and drink. We will go anywhere and we will say it like it is.