Where: Located on 4607 Rue Saint Denis. Just north of Rachel, Restaurant La Matraca is close enough to the Main for some post-shopping eats, but just far enough north to always manage to find a parking spot. There are a few other “Mexican” restaurants in the Plateau/Downtown area, but this place takes the taco in terms of authenticity. Tacos have become somewhat of a fad in today’s foodie society, but La Matraca has stuck to its guns, pumping out simple, straightforward authentic tacos and specialty sandwiches. Recommended by one of my favorite Montreal chefs (whom also happens to be Mexican), I knew this place would not disappoint. I was not wrong.
Kind of Food: Tacos and specialty sandwiches. Nowadays when we think tacos, we think giant flower tortillas (corn if you’re lucky) stuffed with pulled pork, pickled beets, and other whacky stuff– but there’s none of that Americana here. This is pure authenticity. Tacos are served on freshly made corn tortillas about three inches in diameter with a choice of beef, pork, or chorizo sausage. Prepared in several different ways, you have about eight different tacos to choose from (con queso is an option for many too– that’s cheese to us gringos). The tacos are simple– meats marinated to perfection, well seasoned, and just s sprinkle of onion and cilantro to top it off. The specialty sandwiches tow the party line by maintaining this uncomplicated deliciousness. Fresh Mexican buns and well-prepared, well seasoned meats make for a Carnaval in your mouth.
Usual Suspects: My father always said “You don’t eat at a Chinese food restaurant that doesn’t have any Chinese customers.” The same can now be said about Mexican joints. You know this place is serving it up right when not a word of French or English can be heard. The majority of their clientele are Mexican expats. This is the real deal.
Why I love it: I have looked for reasons to hate this place. The service is sub-par, and generally there is a 30-minute wait before the entrees even hit the table. The food, however, is stellar. The tacos are small but deceptively filling. The sandwiches are thick, hearty, and dripping with sauce. Make sure to ask your waitress for extra napkins before the food arrives, you’ll need ’em. For those worried about spice, all dishes are prepared relatively mild, and are served with three choices of hot sauce (lil’ spicy, spicy, and mucho spicy). I still cannot figure out which is which, so I invite you to try all three. Just don’t mistake them for soup.
Why you’ll love it: If you love to travel and eat authentic foods, this is as close to Mexico as you will get without your passport. Deciphering what the waitress is saying is part of the charm and the simplicity of your meal will have you coming back for more.
Who to take: Perfect for an after-work chow down with friends/colleagues or on a weekend where you plan to spend the rest of your evening on the couch. You will be full, and you will be lethargic. That being said, pretty good place to take your significant other if food is something that brings you together. I would not however, suggest this for a first or second date– you might want to get comfortable with each other first before conquering this meal.
I ordered: An order of Flautitas– a Mexican entrée of fried corn tortillas stuffed with cheese and bean paste. A crowd pleaser but pretty standard. If you aren’t that hungry, you can skip the appetizers. One Chuleta con queso taco– grilled chopped pork. For someone who doesn’t eat a lot of pork, this has turned me onto it. Two Campechano tacos– a mix of meat including chorizo. This taco is bursting with flavour. If you are only going to eat one taco, this might have to be it. Finally, the Matraca sandwich– a well marinated beef sandwich with just a little bit of spice, topped with tomatoes and big wedges of avocado.
Rating: 4.5/5 some of my favourite food in the city– the service can step it up a little though.
Contact: 4607 Rue Saint Denis, 514-285-0777
Hours of operation:
Monday – Thursday 12:00pm to 11:00pm
Friday – Sunday 11:00am to 12:00am
As a self proclaimed foodie, Adam Lew will try anything twice; unless its a tomato or a mushroom. Ketchup is for suckers and cheese always wins.