My Montreal Road: Kelly-Anne goes exploring

Kelly-Anne Maddox relocated to Ottawa from BC in 2010 and is busy being a mom to her one-year old daughter.

There are some streets that you pass by so often that they just become a nondescript part of the background. Such was my relationship with Montreal Road – not a destination, but a conveyor belt to the naturopath’s, the doctor’s, the bank, the drugstore, the gas station, a quick Timmie’s stop.

Kelly-Anne Maddox

About a week ago, though, I thought it time to look into what Montreal Road has to offer, and started by exploring the block between North River Rd. and the Vanier Parkway. My only interaction with this part of the street had been the occasional stop, on nights when I was too tired to cook, to pick up a Combo #3 and coconut soup from Bon Thai, arguably the best takeout Thai food I’ve had.

As I ventured into deepest, darkest Vanier, I was pleasantly surprised to discover a veritable meeting ground of cultures; in the East View shopping plaza, an east African restaurant, Maskali, is just a few doors down from George’s Meat Shop, a halal butcher offering a wide assortment of Mediterranean and Mideast foods.

Kelly-Anne's husband at El Tucan

In the Green Fresh Supermarket at the north end of the plaza my inner foodie was regaled with exotic fruits and vegetables, and treats like ginger ice cream and potstickers. And then I found a hidden gem on the far wall, a takeout counter with freshly prepared Chinese food – beef and mushrooms, tidy packages of sticky rice, steaming pork buns, even whole barbecued duck. My mouth watered as my eyes roamed over the smorgasbord, and on to an obscure bakery corner rife with golden sunshine rolls, fragrant coconut rolls, chestnut buns, barbecue pork buns, and red bean buns, all still warm.

Unfortunately, just as I prepared to load up on goodies, I was told that the takeout counter only takes cash and, alas, I had come armed with my debit card. The store does take plastic for groceries, however, and I contented myself with schlepping home a hefty melon, one of the best I’ve had in years.

A few days later the owner of La Lumière, an African and Caribbean shop on the other side of the street, explained to my husband and I the medicinal properties of traditional African foods. We ventured into Mercado Latino grocery and deli, and browsed their South American products, including corn tortillas, mole, Herdez salsa, and green and red sauce for enchiladas, a family favourite at our house. The highlight of the day was by far a pitstop at El Tucan, a Tex-Mex and Slavadorean restaurant. 

We were lured in by the ad for milkshakes to go in the front window, and were greeted with a vibrant and colourful atmosphere; welcoming and friendly servers, Latin soap operas playing on big screen tvs, and tables of Spanish-speaking diners.

Inside El Tucan on Montreal Road

The menu offers a variety of traditional Salvadorean foods, like a variety of pupusas, and tamales, and also promises more standard fare like enchiladas, burritos, and tostadas, and a Canadian twist with Yuca poutine. We ordered the Yuca con Chicharron between us and were delighted with what can best be described as deep fried deliciousness – thick strips of Yuca topped with coleslaw, tomato sauce and little bits of pork.

Elated with our find, we made a most definite mental note to return in the near future for dinner, heartily agreeing that sometimes the best destinations are found off the beaten path.

Thanks for the post Kelly-Anne! We can’t wait to see where you go exploring next…