When I booked my flights to Montreal, I started planning my Montreal food mission. My goal was to try the Montreal classics such as poutine, bagels, smoked meat, and steamies. Alas, I couldn’t get my hands on steamies but I did try lots of other tasty food! Friends, I present to you today the latest in my Things I Ate series - Things I Ate: Montreal Edition.
The Great Bagel Taste-Off
The debate between New York and Montreal bagels is well known, but even within Montreal there is a bagel rivalry! The two main competitors are Fairmount Bagel and St-Viateur Bagel, with many Montreal-ers claiming deep loyalty to either of these long-standing bagel shops. Both are known for their hand-rolled bagels that are baked fresh 24 hours a day. You can also buy cream cheese or lox to enjoy with your bagel! I tried both, and at the risk of getting hated on by the die-hard bagel fans, I couldn’t tell much difference between the two. I think the important thing is to get a hot one that is fresh from the oven though, because those are divine! Crispy on the outside, chewy and warm on the inside - you just can’t go wrong with a fresh bagel!
I scream, you scream, we all scream for poutine!
When you ask anyone about the first dish that comes to mind when they think about Canadian cuisine, I would venture to bet that most people would think about poutine. Well, this glorious combination of fries, gravy, and cheese curds originated from Quebec - the province that Montreal is located in. So I had to get my poutine fix while I while I was there!
The ‘Montreal’s best poutine’ debate is probably just as heated as the ‘Montreal’s best bagel’ debate. One name that kept coming up in my very scientific poutine research was La Banquise. Open 24 hours a day, this joint serves up over 30 types of poutine! So at any point during your day, if you feel like having poutine, you can pay La Banquise a visit. I’ll share a guilty secret - I went here first thing in the morning, before my flight out of Montreal, to squeeze in my last poutine meal!
La Banquise is located at 994 Rue Rachel E, Montreal.
Juicy Portuguese Chicken
I didn't know that Portuguese chicken was such a popular dish in Montreal until I went there and was recommended a couple of restaurants serving up this flavourful dish. I tried one of the recommendations - Ma Poule Mouillée. The restaurant is popular, so be prepared for a bit of a wait, but the chicken is so worth it. It's seasoned well, juicy, and roasted to perfection on charcoal. Portion sizes are massive - one dish will be enough for two people. If you're after poutine with a Portuguese chicken twist, you can find a poutine dish on their menu as well.
Ma Poule Mouillée is located at 969 Rachel St E, Montreal.
The Montreal classic - Smoked Meat
Another Montreal classic is Montreal smoked meat. Beef brisket is salted and cured with spices, before getting smoked. Place slices of the smoked meat between two pieces of rye bread with some mustard and you have one flavourful sandwich. I had my Montreal smoked meat experience at Schwartz’s Deli. This deli was founded in 1928 and it still is one of the more popular places for this dish today. Their meat is brined for 10 days and smoked daily. And they definitely don’t skimp out on the meat!
When I was researching places to eat in Montreal, I kept reading about a giant inflatable orange ball along a highway that serves up their signature orange julep drink. This orb is Gibeau Orange Julep, a fast food restaurant that originated in 1932, and has been at its current location since 1965. Their orange julep draws people from all over, and keeps them coming back for more. The recipe is a well kept secret, but it tastes like orange juice mixed with a light milkshake - sweet, refreshing, and creamy all at once! They also serve up poutine and hot dogs, and in the summer, classic car meets are held there. You can sit under the shadow of the giant orange orb, admiring some classic cars, while sipping on an orange julep!
Gibeau Orange Julep is located at 7700 Décarie Boulevard, Montreal.
A sip of refreshing iced coffee
After all this eating, you might want to wash it all down with a refreshing cold coffee.
Bright cafés with the modern and chic aesthetic are a dime a dozen, but Café Olimpico feels a little different. It has a more classic, old-fashioned feel to it, and the baristas there seemed to know most of the customers by name.
I stumbled upon this café by chance, and ordered their latte freddo to help me quench my thirst as I tried to survive the summer heat. I loved the deep flavour of the coffee, but what left a strong impression (and this might sound crazy) was how small the pieces of ice were. I’m not a fan of when ice in iced coffee melts and waters down the flavour of the coffee. The small pieces of ice in Café Olimpico’s latte freddo prevents this from happening, and I thought it was genius!
Café Olimpico is located at 124 Rue Saint Viateur O, Montreal, not too far away from St-Viateur Bagel!
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