If New York has its cheesecakes, Philadelphia has its cheese steaks and Chicago has its pizzas, then Montreal has not one but three ‘must try’ specialties: bagels, smoked meat and poutine.
Text and Photos by Jennifer Ellson | Additional photos from Tourism Montreal
(Originally published in Food & Travel Singapore)
Celine Dion is not the only reason why Montreal is on the map, you see. The city is also famous for its delightful culinary offerings. In fact, Celine is putting her money where her mouth is, quite literally, as she has recently become part owner of Montreal’s iconic Schwartz’s Deli.
Yes, my friends, if New York has its cheesecakes, Philadelphia has its cheese steaks and Chicago has its pizzas, then Montreal has not one but three ‘must try’ specialties: bagels, smoked meat and poutine.
Here’s a list of the crème de la crème:
263 St. Viateur West
Despite its many branches throughout the city, the original St-Viateur bakery draws regular tourists and famous Canadian personalities alike as it has become a Montreal landmark. You can order bagels to go or eat in. But if it’s the total ambience you’re after, head to the Mont-Royal branch on 1127 Mont Royal East. It is located on Le Plateau district, which is lined with cafés, restaurants and specialty food item stores, which contribute to the district’s European flair. You can order bagels for take-out, or enjoy a leisurely al fresco dining.
74 Fairmount West
A 24-hour hole in the wall often declared as Montreal’s best, which has led to some very heated discussions among Montreal bagel mavens. Fairmount sells its bagels and accouterments like cream cheese “ta pau” or “to go” only. This landmark became a must see attraction for tourists – just to see how the bagels are made is an experience in itself.
3895 Boulevard de Saint-Laurent.
If you do visit Montreal you must savor a smoked meat sandwich piled high on deli rye with mustard, pickle, and coleslaw – and Schwartz is probably the best place to have a go at it as it is one of the most famous delis in town. Prepare for a long wait, however, as it is busy night and day.
990 Boulevard de Maisonneuve
Probably the oldest smoked meat restaurant in Montreal. The original owners were the Kravitz family who emigrated from Lithuania in 1908 and brought with them this special sandwich. The first things to greet you upon entering the restaurant are several pictures of Hollywood celebrities who have eaten Ben’s smoked meat sandwiches.
Au Pied de Cochon
536 rue Duluth
Purists argue that a poutine should stay pure and simple – just a plate of french fries drenched with gravy and adorned with cheese curds. But here, poutine is elevated to bourgeois levels with the addition of foie gras.
4177 Boulevard de St Laurent
A trendy and tiny diner, it serves poutine with red wine sauce. A consistent favorite among local and international poutine fans, patrons are often willing to eat standing up when all the 13 seats are occupied.
All rights reserved (Jennifer Ellson).
- Montreal, c’est magnifique! (foodtrips.ca)
- Pass the Poutine, Please! (culturalquirks.com)
- Smoked meat, Céline-lean (myjourneywithaids.wordpress.com)
- Great dining in Montreal (thestar.com)