There are many reasons to visit Montreal; the stunning architecture, the vibrant night life, the fashion, or the rich history. However, my favourite reason will always be the same. I go to Montreal for the Smoked Meat sandwiches.
If you ask a group of locals where to get the best smoked meat, be prepared for a very heated discussion. Smoked meat is virtually an obsession with the residents of Montreal. Here you’ll find the best Canada has to offer.
For the authentic experience, head first to Schwartz’s Montreal Hebrew Delicatessen. How authentic is the experience? How does 80 years strike you? Schwartz’s is Canada’s oldest deli, and this veritable institution has played host to celebrities from Celine Dion to Angelina Jolie to the Rolling Stones. Schwartz’s has used the same recipe since 1928. No preservatives are added and the meat is marinated for 10 days before it is smoked daily. The result is smoked meat that is moist, flavourful, rich and satisfying. Most people who try it think this is the best in town. And this is a convenient stop if you’re staying at the Hyatt Regency Montreal, a good choice for shopaholics, as the hotel is adjacent to Place Desjardins, a large and vibrant shopping mall.
Reuben’s Deli is also a crowd pleaser. The smoked meat sandwich is big enough to feed two people. It comes with fries, but here’s a tip: upgrade to the poutine (fries covered with gravy and cheese curds). Other crowd pleasers include the chopped liver sandwich (moist, flavourful and dotted with caramelized onions) and the legendary carrot cake. Understated, trendy Hotel Chez Swann is nearby and a hidden gem in the Montreal hotel scene. Described as hip, funky, and charming, this boutique hotel located in the centre of Montreal has 23 rooms and is within walking distance of many attractions.
Abie’s Smoked Meat & Steak serves the West Island of Montreal. If your visit to Montreal is really nothing more than a layover, and you’re staying at one of the many airport hotels, then spring for the short cab ride to Abie’s to satisfy your hunger. Tradition meets technology here. The AAA brisket is imported from Alberta, hand-rubbed with spices and rested for 7 days before it is smoked in a high tech convection smoker. The resulting smoked meat is moist and flavourful. Locals enjoy the authentic deli atmosphere, excellent value and, a bonus for the busy traveller, is that Abie’s is open until 10 pm nightly.
No matter where you stay in Montreal, you are sure to find a smoked meat deli experience to suit your taste buds and your budget.