Enter Damas, a stylish eatery with Syrian flair that continues to be a fan favourite in Montreal, even making the cut as one of Canada’s top 100 restaurants. Though many associate the city with European resto bars and cafés, Montreal’s food culture is much more nuanced than that. The perfect example? Damas.
Damas specializes in authentic Syrian cuisine on the daily. Located in the quiet neighbourhood of Outremont at the corner of Van Horne and Bloomfield, this upscale restaurant has a simple facade that opens up into a vibrant, Middle East-inspired interior. Mosaic tiles, Arabic motifs, and jewel tones await, not to mention the incredible dishes.
The house specialties include a range of barbecued meats, fish, and curries. Some of the most exciting dishes are the Friki (braised lamb shoulder on a bed of whole smoked wheat, nuts, and raisins) and my personal favourite, the Shish Taouk (Damascus style marinated chicken breast with homemade pickles and ketchup, served with sumac french fries). One item you can’t leave without trying? The hummus; it is perfection. The hummus and mutabbal (found in the Cold Mezzes section of the menu), are prepared fresh daily and paired with the most delicious pita you’ve likely ever tasted. I also highly recommend ordering the Tatar Borek as a starter (found in the Hot Mezzes section) – these are essentially Syrian dumplings stuffed with lamb, pine nuts, and coriander, and served with a mild yogurt sauce.
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The impressive wine list has bottles starting at $50, while the bartenders serve up inventive cocktails, such as the Syrian Apricot Gimlet made with rye, Damas tea, and apricot. Alternatively, if you prefer something sweet, I recommend the Pomegranate Cobbler consisting of vodka, pomegranate, sumac, lime, and prosecco.
One final tip? Visit Damas in the summertime when you can take advantage of the restaurant’s spacious outdoor patio.