Just about everyone who either lives in Montreal or has traveled there has an opinion about this true Montreal delicacy: The Smoked Meat Sandwich. Like another Quebec favorite, the poutine, the recipe for the smoked meat sandwich is simple. Roughly 5 inches of smoked meat crammed in 2 slices of rye bread smothered in yellow mustard. Serve hot with fries and a kosher pickle. Simple enough, but like the poutine, aficionados are passionate about their favorite sandwich joint. Discussions are often heated about where to find the ultimate in smoked meat. Everyone has an opinion. Food, of course, is a huge part of the travel experience. So here we humbly suggest a handful of delis where you should experience the smoked meat sandwich in Montreal.
The Mother of all smoked meat joints is Schwartz’s on Boulevard St-Laurent – ‘The Main’. The Main divides Montreal’s East and West. Over the last 80 years or so, Schwartz’s has become an institution known all over the world. The emails and notes pinned to the cork board in the deli attest to that. The popularity of this Hebrew deli knows no end. Walk by at 3 in the afternoon or 3 in the morning, and the odds are good there’s a line up on the sidewalk waiting to get in. But it’s well worth the wait.
Any trek to this deli demands you bring but one thing: your appetite. For just under 8 bucks, you’ll be served up the fattest, tastiest sandwich that has ever graced your lips. The local population may be offbeat, but the colorful neighborhood adds to the experience. Recently, it made the news that none other than Celine Dion – a landmark herself – bought Schwartz’s, a foodie landmark. I suppose Celine is now the Queen of Smoked Meat. I imagine she watches what she eats, so I doubt she indulges much. As it is with poutine, you don’t eat smoked meat for its health benefits. You eat this heavenly sandwich because it tastes damn good!
Hey! Keep your hands off my smoked meat sandwich!
Another smoked meat institution in Montreal is Dunn’s Famous. This one goes back to 1927. As of late, Dunn’s has been franchising. There are now several locations around Montreal and even in Vancouver. Dunn’s smoked meat is also now available at Costco’s in sealed packets that you bring home and boil. Pick up a loaf of rye on the way and a jar of kosher pickles, or maybe coleslaw, and you’re in business. Perhaps all this dilutes the experience of this sandwich somehow. But it’s certainly worth walking into Dunn’s Metcalfe Street location. It’s a noisy place where you’re likely to share a table with a stranger at lunchtime. Another thing about smoked meat joints: the aroma is mouthwatering. The original Dunn’s is located in Montreal’s downtown core, so it’s easy to access. It’s easy to get to Schwart’z also, but you’ll have to walk a dozen blocks from the downtown core or take the Metro to get there.
Small place. Big on taste. Dunn’s.
And finally, in my book, Smoked Meat Pete deserves a mention. (as I said off the top, everyone has their favorite haunt. Here’s mine). It’s nowhere near downtown, but well worth the trip. Smoked Meat Pete is located on Ile Perrot. Drive west along Highway 20 west, probably 30 km from the downtown core. As soon as you drive off the island of Montreal and onto Ile Perrot, there it is on your left. When we visit Montreal, we tend to be on the West Island, minutes from Pete’s. Like any other respectable smoked meat restaurant, Smoked Meat Pete serves it up hot, thick and juicy. And their fries are amazing. I’m not sure but perhaps they deep fry them twice, which makes them crispier than average. A bonus about Smoked Meat Pete’s – it’s a blues bar at night. There’s a postage stamp-sized stage in there that cooks up music every night of the week along with the fabulous smoked meat. Great food, cold beer, and music. The outside deck is also a great place to spend a nice summer night in Montreal.
Get the t-shirt: Can’t Beat Pete’s Meat.
If you’d like to enjoy your very own succulent smoked meat sandwich in Montreal, maybe even bump into Celine. Make your own travel plans at travelloafers.agentstudio.com we can certainly assist you as well.
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Dianne & Mike