Iconic Food of Montreal

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Montreal, Canada

Canada itself doesn’t really have its own traditional food. Like America we are a country of immigrants, the only difference is that we never had a revolution so we’re still attached to the crown.

Sure here and there we have some regional oddities but it is not until you come to the French province of Quebec that you start to see some distinct cuisine in Montreal restaurants. The city has a long history as a food city so it’s not surprising to see that the restaurants serving its most iconic food have been around for decades.

Before the second day of our four days in Montreal, Cailin and I trekked out to try the three most popular.


montreal bagels

Montreal Bagels

Perhaps one of the biggest controversies is which Montreal bagel shop is the best, St. Viateur or Fairmount. While Fairmount is the original Montreal bagel shop,  Jodi from Legal Nomads recommends St. Viateur. Either way, the only time I’ll eat a bagel is if it’s from Montreal, others just don’t compare with sweetness and texture.


smoked meat

Smoked Meat

The most famous restaurant for smoked meat was Schwartz’s Deli on St.Laurent and it’s not much of a secret. If you want to eat in the restaurant instead of the nearby take out, you’ll have to wait in line – for a very long time.

When Cailin and I arrived there was a gigantic line and it started to rain so my first taste of smoked meat would need to be across the street at Main Deli. Fortunately we decided to split because there is A LOT of meat. It was heavy but pretty good although I lack in smoked meat expertise to fairly comment on it.




Nowadays the entire country is taking credit for poutine and many poutineries are opening up with variations on the traditional dish, like the pulled pork poutine I had in Toronto.

La Banquise is 24h, which is fantastic after late night drinking or early morning hangovers. It is also wildly popular so if you go for lunch be prepared to wait in line. And while everyone credits La Banquise for the best poutine in Montreal, I have to say it was good but I’m not so sure it was better than poutine in Toronto.

I’m sure that comment will put me on some poutine hit list for years to come. I’m sorry but it’s true.


Disclosure: I was a guest of the Tourisme Montrรฉal, but I paid for all of this food on my own. They did not request that I write a positive review and had no idea I’d want to eat three at three Montreal restaurants before noon.




Join the Conversation

  1. Chrystal McKay says:

    mmmm mmmmm Poutine! I’m sad I didn’t have time to venture our to St.Laurent for some better foods! Just another reason to return to such a wonderful city!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      You must go, it`s a fantastic street to walk around.

  2. Lorenzo Gonzalez says:

    Stop lying.. You didn’t eat all those meals before noon! ๐Ÿ˜›

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      You know me! We got up early and walked to all three places.

  3. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures says:

    Guess what I’m having for breakfast now? A bagel! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      But not one from Montreal, you must go to see why they are different!

  4. Lauren, Ephemerratic says:

    These 3 foods are pretty much my entire reason for wanting to visit Montreal. I’m not saying there aren’t other fine reasons, but with these 3 foods, I don’t need more motivation!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Three foods are reason enough to want to go to a city. I once went to a city in Peru because they were supposed to have the best ceviche – it was true.

  5. Bagels and poutine? Yes, please!!!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Don`t forget the smoked meat!

  6. A Cook Not Mad (Nat) says:

    St Viateur is the best bagel in the world! So glad you went. And also super happy you went to Main. Schwartz’s is good but a tourist trap, we always go across the street.
    If you’re still there try and go to Au Pied De Cochon.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I have had Au Pied de Cochon on my list for years and I never go. I may need to make a special trip for it.

  7. It all looks so great. Poutine has been on my to-eat list for so long, but haven’t had the chance yet!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      You need to stop in Canada sometime soon, all we`ll do is eat.

  8. Matthew Karsten says:

    Too funny. I visited all these places as well. Great food!

    At 10pm there was a line outside Fairmont, not so for St. Viateur. It was hard for me to compare though, because St. Viateur was out of the “All Dressed” bagels I chowed on at Fairmont.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      A line-up for bagels, wow.

  9. Oh no! You came to Montreal and I missed you? That’s a shame! And yes, yes you are on the poutine hit list. Although the bagel comment might allow for a lighter sentence ๐Ÿ˜‰

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I didn`t realize you were back in Montreal. I promise to come back soon!

  10. When I read your first sentence I immediately thought, “But what about poutine?!” ๐Ÿ™‚ It is my very favorite Canadian thing. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      It could possibly be my favourite as well.

  11. This post makes me so homesick for Montreal I can’t stand it. Omg, I miss good poutine.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Interesting that you are calling Montreal home…

  12. PS La Banquise is actually my least favourite of the poutines in Montreal. Next time try La Belle Province or Frites d’Alors! Although Montrealers will tell you to never go to Frites d’Alors.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I have had both and I kinda agree with people on Frites dร€lors as it`s one step away from McDonalds!

  13. Jennifer Avventura says:

    You did try the smoked sandwich! Great post and photos!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I couldn`t go there without having smoked meat!

  14. Brendon @ Nerd Travels says:

    I’ve been living in Montreal for 2 years and I love poutine its one of the things I’m going really miss when I leave. I do agree with Candice I didn’t like La Banquise poutine as much as Frite Alor!. Still never could really get into smoked meat though waaay to much meat for me ๐Ÿ˜›

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I like Frite Alor but it seems so generic to me, although frankly I`m not sure if any poutine I have had in Montreal ever really stood out. And I agree with you on the sandwich, Cailin and I had to split it.

  15. I’ll be honest, I couldn’t taste the difference between St. Viateur and Fairmount.

    But you MUST get the duck confit poutine at Le Canard Libere (it’s on St. Laurent near Schwartz’s) next time.

  16. I honestly can’t say I have ever even had poutine so I wouldn’t be able to tell what was good and/or bad.

    Looks interesting though.

  17. Genuinely can’t wait to try poutine. I remember your original post about poutine and I ended up finding out where to get vegan poutine in Toronto. Has to happen!

  18. Kent @ No Vacation Required says:

    I want to go post-TBEX!

  19. I’ve only been to Montreal once… New Year’s Eve when I was 20 and basically went solely based on Canada’s drinking age. Needless to say I don’t remember much of the trip. Clearly, I need to go back for all these delicious snacks!

  20. Raymond @ Man On The Lam says:

    I found a street vendor in Bangkok that serves poutine. It didn’t look quite as good as this stuff though. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  21. my mother in law bring me 4 full bags of those montreal bagels on her 2x year visits out to California (she gets them in her hometown of Ottawa and I can only get the big, doughy kind here). I just love the mention here and your photo. Speaking of your home country, I can’t decide whether to do a weekend getaway (sans kids) in montreal or quebec city next summer during a visit to ottawa ) – or both if possible . thoughts?

  22. I think I will be leaving Montreal with a bag of bagels. I haven’t found great ones in Calgary yet. And since I have yet to try poutine, I will have to break down in Montreal and finally give it a go – cholesterol be damned.

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