The Montreal street food ban, in effect since 1947, was finally lifted on June 20, 2013, with city hall awarding street food permits to 27 Montreal food trucks.
Since then, the food truck culture in the city has only grown, especially thanks to a 2015 expansion by Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre that brought food truck events to the boroughs of Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, Mercier–Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie, Verdun, and Ville-Marie.
The Original Selection Process
Since Montreal has become known as a tourist destination partly for its rich culinary traditions and culture, the local government wanted to ensure that reputation wasn't tarnished by the addition of food trucks.
As a result, the original 27 trucks that were awarded street food permits in 2013 were selected by a committee responsible for judging vendor suitability. The selection process was based on the “creativity and originality” of each applicant's respective menus under the guise of wishing to properly showcase Montreal's reputation as a leading foodie destination.
Montreal Street Food: Expensive but Worth the Cost
Don't expect standard (nor for that matter, affordable) fare like basic hot dogs, steaming hot pretzels, ramen noodles for $2, or a 12-inch banh mi for $3. In Montreal, street food does not equate with cheap eats.
Instead, count on spending easily $40 to feed a family of four, and to be honest, that might not be enough to fill you up, depending on the truck. For example, one can spend $10 on two banh mi style tacos that are more equivalent to a snack or $8 for an Italian sausage served on a bed of baby spinach and green beans topped with peanut sauce. While both snacks may be delicious, they aren't necessarily complete meals by themselves.
At the same time, it's not fair to generalize the above to all Montreal food trucks. Sometimes the ingredients, portion size, and prep time justify the price, and sometimes you just don't care about the cost and wanna eat something scrumptious, perhaps even high-end, on the spot.
Montreal Food Truck Season
While food trucks may occasionally be found around the city in the off-season, the best time to find street food vendors in Montreal is from late May through late August each year.
Originally a pilot project started in 2013 with 27 trucks parked at nine different locations in the city center, the Montreal Food Truck Program is now spread across five boroughs and features dozens of unique vendors.
Rules for food trucks were further relaxed in March of 2019, allowing for even further expansion—and perhaps cheaper menus—for street vendors throughout the city. Additionally, food trucks are no longer required to state their locations at the beginning of the season, meaning you'll be more likely to find different food trucks in different locations depending on when you visit.
The Angel Statue in Mont Royal Park
One of the best free events of the summer, the Sunday night drum circle put on by the group known as the Tam Tams, is best enjoyed with a plate of street food. Fortunately, Mont Royal Park is home to not one but two Montreal food truck hot spots throughout the summer.
One is the infamous Kondiaronk lookout and the other is the Monument George-Étienne Cartier otherwise known as "The Angel Statue." Some say Cartier may very well be the reason we still speak French in Canada and by extension, North America.
Where: The food trucks will be parked by the angel statue along du Parc, between Duluth and Mont-Royal (Map).
Cité du Multimédia
A charming little spot in the heart of the Cité du Multimédia—a semi-residential neighborhood crammed with high tech firms—lies on the western side of the Old Port near Montreal's iconic Farine Five Roses sign. Sample banh mi sandwiches at $7 a pop or try some more exotic, heartier dishes for a little more.
Where: Food trucks will park near the corner of de la Commune and Prince (Map).
Place du Canada
Just south of Ste. Catherine Street is a quaint square of green space used by downtown workers looking for an outdoor picnic space come lunch time. Fortunately, Place du Canada is also home to food trucks in the summer, so you don't even have to pack your own lunch to enjoy a picnic in this quiet public park.
Where: Street food vendors will be parked near the corner of René-Lévesque and Cathedral Street (Map)
With a gorgeous fountain in its center, Square Victoria is a great place to enjoy a street food lunch outdoors, especially since food trucks often frequent the square throughout the season.
Where: Food trucks will be parked near the corner of McGill and St. Jacques (Map).
First Fridays Monthly Event at Olympic Stadium
From early May through early October each year, the largest street food festival in Canada comes to the Olympic Stadium in Montreal on the first Friday of every month. Known to feature everything from tacos and lobster rolls to burgers and mac and cheese, this festive monthly event features over 40 participating food trucks from around Quebec.
Where: Food trucks and DJs will be set up in the parking lot of the Olympic Stadium.
When: In 2019, First Fridays takes place from May 3 to October 4 from 4 to 11 p.m.
A partnership between Alexandraplatz Bar and Cuisine de Rue Montréal created the annual Platz Market block party event, which lasts from late May through late August each year. Several food trucks gather and an outdoor dining room is set up for the event, which sometimes features performances by local DJs.
Where: The market is set up at 6731 De l’Esplanade Street.
When: In 2019, Platz Market takes place from May 25 to August 24.
Boroughs That Allow Food Trucks
While former and current city officials may have been on board with the ban on food trucks being lifted in 2013, many boroughs of Montreal still independently ban street vendors except on special occasions. Fortunately, more boroughs are allowing these unique eateries to park in them throughout the summer each year.
In 2019, you can now find food trucks in Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, Mercier–Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie, Verdun, and Ville-Marie. To find a specific food truck in Montreal this summer, you can visit the official Best Food Trucks website, which has a searchable map that's updated daily.