Montreal is known across Canada as a foodies paradise. With row after row of restaurants, pubs, diners, and bistro’s, you can literally go on a culinary adventure in just a couple of square blocks. While there are countless superb restaurants, I always like to find out what city’s are famous for. Something locals go back to week after week due to brand loyalty, an unquenchable craving, or from sheer addiction. Ask a true local Montrealer this question, and besides Hab’s games, there’s three things you can almost guarantee everyone will agree on.
1. Schwartz’s Montreal Smoked Meat Sandwich
Schwartz’s has been serving hungry french and english Canadians since 1928. Besides being a Montreal landmark, it’s known to most as being the last true Montreal Smoked Meat restaurant. Meat is cured for at least ten days then smoked in their brick smoke-house which has 84 years worth of delicious buildup, ensuring a romantic taste of yesteryear finds its way into each slice of this succulent meat.
Their most popular dish is the Montreal Smoked Meat Sandwich. Slice after slice of hot, delicious Montreal-Style Smoked meat, served between a soft rye bread with a squirt of mustard. Space is tight at Schwartz’s, and you’ll often find a line waiting outside, but the wait is always worth it. Trust me!
Pro Tip #1
They say if you want to eat it right, you have to order it a Medium-fat Smoked Meat Sandwich with fries, pickle, coleslaw, and wash it all down with a black cherry soda.
Pro Tip #2
Shwartz’s is a cash-only joint delicatessen. Fill those pockets with some money before you dive into one of the best sandwiches on earth.
2. La Banquise Poutine
I once wrote about my favourite poutine joint, but with the help of Marie-Julie Gagnon, esteemed Montreal travel writer, I have seen the light. I am no longer a devout loyalist to Chez Ashton’s thrown, I’ve had to hand that title off to La Banquise. La Banquise serves 25 different types of poutine, all of which have their own unique spin on the classic dish of fries, cheese curds, and gravy.
Try La T-Rex, your classic fries, cheese curds, and gravy with hamburger meat, pepperoni, bacon, and diced hotdogs, smothered on top of this classic french-canadian dish. Or get a little exotic, and go for La Taquise, the classic poutine dish served with guacamole, sour cream & tomatoes. My personal favourite; however, is La Duleton, your classic poutine served with hamburger meat & onions.
Poutine is best enjoyed after a long night of drinking, which is convenient, because La Banquise is open 24 hours a day. Stuff your gut full of one of these delicious poutine dishes before passing out for the night and you stand a much higher chance of being a functional human being in the morning.
3. The Montreal-style Bagel
While the New York Bagel often overshadows the Montreal Bagel, it is not for good reason. Montreal-style bagels are in a league of their own. They are handmade and baked in a wood-fire oven and consumed by hundreds of thousands of hungry Montrealers each morning.
Preparation is a bit different than the New York bagel. The recipe for Montreal-style bagels is slightly different, and they’re each boiled in water that’s been sweetened with honey. After a quick dip in the water, they’re baked in a wood-fire oven, then coated in either black poppy seed or white sesame seed. You’ll find that Montreal-style bagels are typically smaller than the New York bagel and are often found to be sweeter, due to the honey-water soaking.
While there are countless bakeries in Montreal serving these bagels, be sure to pop by Fairmount Bagel at 74 av. Fairmont West, in the Mile End community. Fairmount Bagel has been pushing dough through ovens since 1919, and is oddly enough the only type of bagel to have ever made it into space!
Food plays a large part in Montrealers lives. Thankfully, Montreal is one of the most walk-able cities in Canada, giving you ample opportunity to walk off a few of the extra calories you’ll surely find yourself chowing on when you visit this unique Canadian city. Just remember, it’s okay to indulge in Montreal!
For more on my adventures with the Explore Canada Cross-Canada Travel Bloggers, check out out Canada Keep Exploring! Special thanks to the folks at the CTC for giving us the opportunity to show us around two of Canada’s most vibrant and cultural cities.