I spotted this place the first time I walked by it. It had the right look, but after years of disapointing diners in New York, I didn't get my hopes up. When my Significant Other found an apartment three blocks from it, I thought that I'd at least have to check it out.
It's an old school diner on Mont-Royal and Boyer. It has a counter with a grill behind it when you first walk in. I think the guys who run it are anglo. They definitely speak both english and french but they tend to speak english more. All the waitstaff are french, mostly women, representing the best range of diner service. There's the ones who aren't middle-aged yet, but already have a warm, matronly air who make you feel really good about your order. There's the young, kind of hot ones that you seriously contemplate hitting on, but you know that Johnny their badass boyfriend with the car would probably stomp you and then there's the really old ones who are gruff and tough but you still feel a teeny bit of love there. And of course the guys at the counter. I've never been very good at being cool, so I don't try to often. But with these guys, man, I feel compelled to play it real tough and straight. You can't fool around, but you've still got to show respect for their craft. There's the one little dude with his shirt opened to the third button and his salt and pepper chest hairs showing. He's like 5' 2" and you know he's pleased a lot of ladies. And then the darker, joking guy who gets frustrated really quickly if you're not sure about your order. He holds the spatula like he's ready to chop off your fingers with it. I definitely rehearse before going to the counter.
Their burger kicks ass. The meat is good and the bun is big and flat. You should get it "all-dressed" which means chopped lettuce pickles and some other stuff. I think that "all-dressed" is a french word. You pronounce it like it was french. The fries are good, but not my favorite. They are a bit too potatoe-y and soft for my liking, but the flavor is great (I prefer crispy). You get a trio, which is a sandwich, fries and a breuvage for 5-7 bucks depending on the sandwich. The burger trio is $4.85 before tax. But I still remember the day I went in there and only ordered a burger and the bill came back and it was $3.20. I almost wept.
The other thing is that their smoked meat sandwich is really good. I don't know where they get their meat, but it competes with Schwartz's as far as I'm concerned. I love Schwartz's. If I ever get the desire to commit suicide, I may just go to Schwartz's and eat sandwich after sandwich until I explode. But the Mont-Royal Hot Dog smoked meat sandwich is no joke. They use the right bread, slap some mustard on there and pile the meat on real thick.
My new logement is even closer to Mont-Royal Hot Dog than my girlfriend's! It's almost too close. I went a bit crazy for the first week, so now I've pulled back and am rationing visits for when the time is right. There is a small counter (different from the pick-up counter) of five seats in the smoking section that I like to sit at and read the paper. They always have copies of the Journal (the Montréal tabloid) there. Once, my girlfriends next door neighbour, un pure laine (pure wool, true Québecois), who rides a giant touring bike on the weekends and works repairing high-tension lines, saw me there and shook my hand. He's a bit of a regular (well I've seen him there two other times) so I think that got me some props among the staff.
It's awesome for people-watching as well. A classic Québec couple, the big-bellied, overly-tanned guy with the pink acapulco tank top and gold chains and his overly-skinny girlfriend, both smoking. Right next to them, an elegant older woman, hair pulled back in a tight bun spoon poised over the crown of whip cream on a bowl of green jello. Oh man, I'm starting to get hungry. Too bad my girlfriend and I got two trios from there last night!