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Well-Fed and Socially Conscious in Montréal

Montréal Restaurants + Bars Insider Guides
by Jean-Francois Oct 3, 2009
An increasing number of restaurants in Montreal are becoming socially engaged, on top of offering healthy and ethical food for our bodies and planet.
Café Rico

A pioneer in providing fair trade coffee in Montréal, Café Rico is a simple (yet excellent) place to grab a fresh cup of coffee or quick food like sandwiches, soups and pastries. This busy address has now expanded into a small and more elaborate restaurant next door.

Café Rico is located on the Plateau Mont-Royal at 969 Rachel E. street on the corner of Boyer near the Parc Lafontaine (15-20 minutes walk from either Sherbrooke or Mont-Royal metro stations). Free Wi-Fi available. Cash only. ($5-10)


Born over 30 years ago as an alternative café in an area deprived of restaurants, Santropol has evolved into an eclectic and charming venue that offers a generous menu. There are more than 30 large sandwiches, all of which are a force to be reckoned with.

On the ethical and socially engaged front, Santropol is hard to beat. The café has been distributing its own fair trade coffee for many years. It also runs a community kitchen that delivers meals to elderly people, it’s pioneered green roofing projects in the city and has been holding several ongoing workshops related to sustainable living and ecology.

Santropol is located on the Western bank of the Plateau Mont-Royal neighborhood in an area known as the McGill ghetto (full of university students) at 3990 St-Urbain on the corner of Duluth street (15-20 minutes walk from Mont-Royal or Sherbrooke metro stations). Credit cards are not accepted. ($10-20)

TribuTerre Bistro

Previously known as ‘Tibet Libre’ this cooperative endeavor has expanded its operations and moved to a new location. It offers vegetarian, vegan and a few meaty meals, all mainly inspired by Italian cuisine.

Most of the ingredients used are organic and local, including organic beer and wine. The stars of the show are the perfect pizzas – even the vegan cheese proves to be drool-worthy. Other simple, delicious options include pasta dishes, paninis and tapas.

TribuTerre makes excellent food but it is also on a mission: 1% of its profits are donated to organizations working with cultures in peril (such as Tibetans, with whom they have worked for several years). It is also active in the local community and promotes social, ecological and economical awareness.

TribuTerre is located North-East of the Plateau Mont-Royal at 2600 Jarry E, corner of 2nd avenue (either get off at Jarry metro station and take a bus going east on Jarry street or get off at St-Michel station and take a bus going north on St-Michel blvd). ($10-20)


Riding the craze for raw food, this young and small restaurant offers an original and delicious menu of uncooked meals and juice. Crudessence aims to embody and promote respect for all living things by providing a truly ethical eating experience. All of the food they serve is organic and locally grown.

Highlights include a raw lasagna made from sliced zucchini, portobello mushrooms and a creamy cashew sauce. There are many other unique offerings on the menu, like the sunflower curry pâté sushi and a creamy vegetable/nut mousse in a dried tomato crust.

Crudessence is located on the outskirts of the Plateau Mont-Royal neighborhood at 105, Rachel W. street, near the corner of St-Urbain (15-20 minutes walk from Mont-Royal metro station). ($15-35)

O Noir

Both a culinary adventure and an exceptional opportunity to experience what it’s like to be blind, O Noir welcomes you into its completely dark restaurant. Tasting, touching and engaging in conversation take on a depth you may never have experienced before.

There are no shortages of enticing plates at O Noir. A big favorite is twice-roasted peppers with warm halloumi cheese, capers and olives. For carnivores, the five spice fillet mignon is a sure bet.

The food is prepared and served by visually impaired people. 5% of the benefits from the restaurant are distributed to local organizations which serve the blind community.

O Noir is located downtown at 1631 Ste-Catherine West, near Pierce street (5 min walk from Guy metro station). Reservations are often necessary in the evenings and especially on the week-ends. ($20-35)

More Food On Matador

Not full yet? Check out our 10 Essentials For Switching To A Vegan Kitchen. Feel free to also indulge your inner foodie by eyeballing Anatomy of a Smörgåsbord. Those looking for a new take on Thanksgiving should take a peak at our five new turkey recipes.

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