Unike the little villages that pepper Montreal where one can find an abundance of local ethnic specialties – dragon’s beard candy and dim sum in Chinatown and fresh canoli and pizza in little Italy – you can smell the grilling of Portuguese chicken from almost any corner of town…
There are certain things that we Montrealers like to call our own; bagels, smoked meat, potholes, our European sophistication and now added to the list, Portuguese chicken. The greatest thing about Montreal’s Portuguese chicken is that you can find a spot in any neighborhood – the smell is distinctive – just follow your nose.
Ask any local where you can score some great chicken; more often than none, you’ll be pointed in the direction of Rôtisserie Romados in the Mile End. This mainstay of Portuguese chicken has been perfuming the neighborhood with wood charcoal smoke for years.
On a good day, the line can reach out the door, but luckily for you, the knives of the people talking your orders are as sharp as their tongues yelling for the next person in line. Full chicken, half, quarter-leg, quarter-breast, no matter that fraction of a chicken floats your boat, signature Portuguese piri prir (spicy) sauce will be offered, and the answer should always be yes.
Sitting on a stoop or taken home and plated, for under ten clucks ($10), your walking out of there with a container full of chicken, a pile of Styrofoam burning French fries and green stuff to make your mom happy. Other notable informal spots include Jano and Coco Rico around the corner on St-Laurent and Chez Doval (all in the Plateau area), Rôtisserie Mavi in Cote des Neiges, and Galo, all the way uptown.
From the ultra-casual to fine dining, the frango scene in Montreal is diverse, welcoming the newest Portuguese spot in town, Helena, headed by executive chef, Helena Loureiro (also of Portus Calle). Inspired by her mother’s recipe, she puts her signature refinement on our famous Portuguese chicken.
Helena’s contribution to the chicken scene comes as a crispy cornish game hen. With a two-day brine and a plated flourish of the same traditional piri piri sauce, typical fries are replaced with homemade seasoned potato chips.
If you’re looking for a place to eat, and find yourself in a random part of town, follow your nose, chances are you’ll find Portuguese chicken being grilled.