Just because poutine is popular doesn't mean it's easy to score a proper bowl here in San Diego. More often than not, you'll order something called poutine, and wind up with the kooky equivalent of a Canadian taco that uses pita bread for a tortilla.
Maybe that's an exaggeration. But still - get your sweet potato fries, rabbit, salsa and any other weird So-Cal twists out of this Canadian comfort food classic. It's a thing of beauty on its own!
To be fair, options for toppings are aplenty at Mess Royale - Hillcrest's new haunt dedicated to Montreal classics - where you can choose from lobster to cheesesteak or maybe just some pulled pork to accompany your gravy-smothered fries.
Yet, the "OG" has my heart for being the perfect munchies meal, with layers of flavorful hand-cut fries - soft with crispy edges - scalding hot beef gravy that collects in the bottom of the bowl and cheese curds that slightly melt from the hotness of it all. Rawr.
It smells really good inside Mess Royale, because besides its bubbling pot of magic gravy, cooks are doing up pastrami burgers, porky grilled cheeses and "toasties," i.e. Montreal style hotdogs served in a piece of grilled, buttery toast. There's also imported St-Viateur Bagels from Montreal, plus other breakfast-like items, include an egg and bacon topped poutine.
Even though it's the antithesis of hot weather fare, San Diegans seem to be all about Mess Royale, so get there while the line isn't too long.
Note: While this is a Monday Munchies feature, Mess Royale is currently not open on Mondays, so you'll just have to go any other day of the week to satisfy your munchies.
142 University Ave., Hillcrest. messroyale.com
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