A Taste of Home: Finding Culinary Comfort as an International Student

Connecting with Egypt and Lebanon in the heart of Montréal

Missing the flavours of the Middle East? Here’s where to find the best restaurants and brands to remind you of home. Graphic Nadine Abdel Latif

Leaving home and traveling to a new city halfway across the world is never easy. 

Before moving to Montreal from Egypt I found myself worrying about how many aspects of home I would be losing once I’d settled into this city. However, I found myself pleasantly surprised at just how many pieces of home I found scattered around Montreal, in some of the least expected places.

For me, the essence of home and comfort is embodied in  food and cuisine, specifically the food my mother would cook. Having roots in Palestine, Lebanon, and Egypt, my mother’s cooking exposed me to the diversity of Middle Eastern and North African cuisine, and allowed me to form connections with each of these places. 

When I arrived in Montreal, I found that one of the most prominent cuisines in the city was food from Levantine countries such as Lebanon. As the days and months passed, I discovered more and more places, compiling a list of my absolute favourite spots. These restaurants and bakeries bring me back to that comfortable, nostalgic feeling of home. 


4629 Park Ave.

Serving a range of Lebanese and Syrian food, every aspect of KazaMaza's menu is to die for. Their food is so fresh and flavorful, and each dish and small mezze is home cooked and made with love. 

In all truth, it’s probably the most authentic Lebanese restaurant I’ve come across outside of Lebanon. I never got the feeling that they were trying to modernize any of their dishes in order to meet some unrealistic expectation. Each dish is made exactly how it should be, exactly how it’s been made for many generations. 

The staff and owner are so welcoming, and every aspect of the place's ambiance is so familiar. From the music to the decor, every single element of the restaurant’s space makes me feel right at home. 

What to order: Aside from my grandmother’s rendition, their Fattoush is by far the greatest I’ve ever had. I’d also recommend their Akkawi cheese and Hummus! 


3452 Park Ave.

For the entirety of my primary school years, I had a Zaatar Manouche (a flatbread with a thyme and olive oil mixture baked on top) every single day for breakfast and lunch, and never seemed to grow out of it or get bored with the flavor. It remains my favorite food to this day. 

Ôfour is the restaurant that allowed me to reconnect with that essential part of my routine and who I am here in Montreal. They take that traditional Lebanese bakery construct, and brings it to the heart of Montreal. They serve a variety of sandwiches with meat and plant based options at an extremely high quality and ridiculously affordable price. 

Their food is perfect for absolutely any occasion, and they also have the convenience of delivery with their menu available on UberEats. I would highly recommend ÔFour to anyone looking for a quick, filling, and affordable bite at the highest quality. 

What to order: Their Zaatar Manouche is my absolute favorite, but their menu is extremely diverse and welcoming for plant and meat based individuals.


277 Mont-Royal Ave. E.

Trip de Bouffe is by far my go to spot for all of my Middle Eastern pantry essentials. Primarily a Lebanese bakery and grocery store, it also has a wide variety of catering services and prepped Lebanese dishes such as Moulokheya, vine leaves, Tabbouleh, and so much more. 

I love this place because it really allows me to enjoy all of my comfort food dishes and meals from home. It’s great to have access to good, authentic ingredients without having to have those meals at a restaurant. 

What to order: Their Halloumi and Labneh, as well as their Halawa– a sesame based sweet treat that goes perfectly with tea.


5647 Clark St.

Melbourne Café

4615 St. Laurent Blvd.

Le Kahéra:

282  Mozart Ave. E.

Hibiscus juice is a very common beverage made and consumed in Egypt for any and all occasions, and was a very large part of my childhood and upbringing. Zamalek is an Egyptian brand devoted to bringing authentic Hibiscus juice, and the culture around it into Montreal. 

Named after one of the most beautiful areas in Cairo, Zamalek can be found in multiple cafés such as Melbourne Café and Le Kahéra, but also online! I would highly recommend Zamalek to any Egyptians looking for a small taste of Egyptian summer in Montreal, but also anyone looking to try a new and refreshing flavor. 

What to order: Their Sparkling Hibiscus Juice 

I’m truly grateful that I have access to these places, as they make me feel like I’m not too far away from home. In times where those cravings hit deep, KazaMaza, ÔFour, Trip de Bouffe, and Zamalek cure my homesickness ever so slightly. 

My biggest hope is that this could help international students with roots in Egypt and or Lebanon find ways to feel connected despite being so far away, and get a little taste of home—even if it’s not Mama’s cooking, 

This article originally appeared in Volume 43, Issue 1, published August 30, 2022.