Shawarmas and pitas are among McGill students’ favourite foods. With their special sauces and spices, they make for comforting, savoury, and yummy choices. While it’s not all that hard to find a place that serves Middle Eastern food in Montreal, if you don’t find the right place your experience will be mediocre at best.
We all have our go-to places for the nights when braving the kitchen just doesn’t appeal. These are often near by, but once in a blue moon there is a truly compelling reason to get out of the McGill bubble and head towards Concordia. One such draw is a truly delectable Middle Eastern fast-food restaurant by the name of Nilufar.
A block past the Guy-Concordia Metro Station, this unassuming gem is not very noticeable amongst all the other restaurants one can find on rue Ste. Catherine. The sign is now, after 20 years in business, a faded green and pink banner, and the place looks rather run-of-the-mill. This impression doesn’t last long, once you get inside.
Nilufar is best known for their soup, falafel pita, and drink combo which comes with a big serving of soup, a pita with two medium-sized tomato and lettuce falafel, and a choice of lemonade or peach juice for just under three dollars, tax included.
Over the past few years, I’ve tried my fair share and have become something of a falafel aficionado. I’ve bought falafel balls from Costco, I’ve made them from a pre-made mix bought at my local grocery store, and I’ve had the dish at other restaurants. It’s no exaggeration when I say that Nilufar’s is the best falafel I’ve tasted. It’s crispy on the outside yet moist and flavourful on the inside—the perfect texture.
While the unbelievable price might have you think that you’re in for some questionable ingredients; this is far from the truth. Nilufar’s menu boasts homemade barley, vegetable, lentil, Moroccan, and Tanzanian soups, just to name a few. They don’t have all of these options every day, but you won’t be disappointed with any soup you choose; all are hearty and will more than fill you up. My personal favourites are the Moroccan and the barley, but if you like something a little spicier, the Tanzanian soup is definitely for you.
As a vegetarian, I have only tried Nilufar’s falafel, but the restaurant also offers a multitude of meat dishes. Fear not, meat-lovers, you’ll be just as satisfied with your savoury shawarma as the veggie lovers are with their falafel. You will just have to pay a little bit more. Nilufar also serves Halal food, and is vegan friendly—making it a perfect option for any restaurant-goer.
While Nilufar offers catering—including personalized menus—for private events, most people prefer to dine-in, whether by themselves for some peace and quiet, or in a group to catch-up with friends. An added bonus of dining at Nilufar is the short wait. Food is served in less than eight minutes—or 15 on a particularly busy day.
With its quick service, home-made food, and cheap prices, Nilufar is great for students looking for satisfying, filling, and home-cooked meals on a budget.
Nilufar is located at: 1923 Rue Sainte-Catherine O, Montreal, Quebec
Opening hours are: Mon-Fri: 10:00-21:00, Sat: 11:00-19:00, Sunday: Closed.