10 must-eat food in Montreal
Did you know that Montreal has the highest number of restaurants per Capita in Canada and the second in North America after New York? This foodie capital has many great choices from small local eateries to international chef celebrities. However, there are dishes that define the city’s identity, here are the most famous food in Montreal. These iconic dishes are a must add to your itinerary!
There is no food that says Montreal more than Bagels. Sorry NYC, we have better bagels than you! As most of the food in Montreal, most dishes were brought by immigrants and Bagels and Smoked Meat are no different, they were brought by Jewish Eastern Europeans who popularized their traditional food when they arrived in the new world.
There are two major bakeries that rival each other for the best bagel, the Fairmount Bagel and Bagel St-Viateur. Both bagels are hand-rolled and blanched and baked in a wood-burning oven. The only difference is that St-Viateur’s bagels are blanched in honey water. Both institutions are located in the Mile-End. St-Viateur bagels are my personal favourites, especially the sea salt and rosemary ones.
You can savour the bagels by either eating it alone or with the classic cream cheese and smoked salmon or anything that you will like!
2. Smoked Meat
The second must-eat plate in Montreal is Smoked Meat sandwich. The particularity of this meat is that it is a salting and curing beef brisket with spices. The brisket is let to rest for over a week to absorb the flavours, then it is hot-smoked and steamed to completion.
The city is full of eateries serving this juicy meat, however, the most renowned spot to get the meat is Schwartz's Deli. This iconic place has been playing a key role in the city’s history by being the subject of numerous documentaries, musicals and books. The downside of this place is that there is always a huge waiting line. Another good places to enjoy Smoked Meat is Ruben’s (located downtown), or right in front of Schwartz's Deli you will see The Main’s which is often overlooked by many visitors and locals alike. I personally like Ruben’s, it is a spacious restaurants with great choices.
The city is full of fast food eateries and steamies are their specialty. These parlours sell a Montreal style hot dog, the sausages aren’t grilled or boiled, they are steamed, hence the name. The “All dressed” steamie is covered with cabbage, mustard, relish and onions, no ketchup. Most of these eateries can be found near the nightlife spots along Saint-Laurent Boulevard or the famous Place des Arts and they will help you get through the night. Or try Green Spot, a diner in the heart of the Saint-Henri neighbourhood that hasn’t changed since the 60’s.
PSST: You get bonus points if you combine a lot of these dishes together. For example, you can have a bagel with with smoked meat or smoked meat poutine or a steamie with a side of Poutine. You get the point.
Ok, I admit, Poutine is not a dish that is originally from Montreal but it is a source of pride in the Quebec province. The national dish consists of French Fries, Gravy and Cheese Curds. Originally from the Quebec’s center area, it emerged in the 1950’s. A lot of restaurants serve poutine with sausages, smoked meat, and other ingredients, your imagination has no limits.
This deliciousness can be found in many restaurants. However, La Banquise is the most popular place and it stays open 24/7, perfect for those midnight snacks or to help you with those extra craft beers ;)
5. La Binerie
If you are curious about traditional Québécois food then you should do a stop at La Binerie. This restaurant has been opened since 1938 and their menu hasn’t changed much since then. Some of the hearty recipes include, Tourtière (a sort of meat pie usually served in Christmas), pâté chinois (a local version of shepherd’s pie) and ham with maple. The restaurant also offers a big selection of poutine. If you don’t have time to visit the rest of the Quebec province, this is a great place to try the rest of the local gastronomy.
6. Gibeau Orange Julep
Probably the weirdest structure in Montreal, the Orange Julep is a big orange ball by the Décarie Expressway. This fast-food restaurant became one of the symbols of the city mainly because of its odd shape. The must-have in this eatery is the Orange Julep drink. The ingredients and the recipe of the drink are a mystery and they are secretly guarded by the restaurant. Some speculate that egg whites and milk are part of the formula, however, nobody knows for sure. One thing is sure is that it has freshly squeezed Sunkist oranges and that it tastes like a melted Creamsicle. The place has some events like muscle cars nights during the summer. The drink is a good side to a steamie, burger or poutine that you can enjoy on site or in your car.
Montrealers love to have brunch on Sunday mornings. While there is no fix menu that defines a Montreal’s brunch style, eggs, roti (toast with butter), croutons, potatoes, fèves au lard (baked beans with maple syrup and bacon) and bacon are always present in some of the plates. The Beauty’s is a brunch place that has been opened since 1942 and their breakfast Mish-Mash omelette is a must! However, to try some of the best brunch that the city has to offer, I will suggest trying one of this list. My personal favourite is La Bête à Pain in Griffintown and their avocado toast with their freshly baked bread.
The legendary Wilensky’s has been open since 1932. The Jewish deli has the signature sandwich with is an egg bread with all-beef salami with all-beef baloney grilled with a hint of mustard. This great taste comes with some rules, the first is that cannot ask the sandwich without yellow mustard and you cannot ask it to be sliced in half. The sandwiches are quite small so I suggest ordering two with a side pickle. After that, you can wander around the Mile-End, by far one of the coolest and the hispter headquaters of Montreal. If you still have space in your stomac, do go for an ice cream at Kem-Coba, you will not regret it.
9. Multicultural Food
Montreal is one of the most multicultural cities in Canada and most of the immigrants have brought their traditional food to the Montreal foodie scene. You cannot visit to the city without tasting Portuguese roasted chicken near the plateau, having cannolis in the little Italy or trying Shish Taouk. For dessert, don’t forget to try Dragon Beard Candy at Chinatown.
10. Maple Syrup & Sugar Pie
Maple is ubiquitous in all Canada; in fact the maple leaf is proudly displayed in the Canadian flag. The tree is not only beautiful in the fall season with all the colours but it is also the source of the delicious maple syrup. The syrup was appropriated from the Indigenous peoples in Canada and the sugaring season became an essential part of Quebec’s culture. Basically, everything with maple syrup tastes even better but sugar pie are a must have! You can find it in several places but Rustique’s bakery is my favourite and their pies are always made the off. Rustique is in the same neighbourhood than Green Spot (check #3) , Saint Henri, another cool place to hang out in Montreal.
So which of these iconic dishes in Monteal are you going to try first?
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