Lunching in Montreal

Happy New Year, darlings! I ran away to Montreal for a bit (my first time) for a largely food based escape that I would love to share with you.  I followed Midtown Lunch founder Zach’s guide as much as possible. Who else would I trust more?

What is a Jew to do on Christmas in Canada? Same thing you would do anywhere- Chinese food and bagels.

In Montreal’s little Chinatown we stopped at Mai Xiang Yuan for some interesting dumpling combos-  pork and scallop boiled dumplings and crispy, stuck together, fried curry beef dumplings.

I did my best to keep an open mind as we sampled Montreal style bagels from both Fairmount and St. Viateur. Both had the characteristic sweetness and denseness, with St. Viateur seeming slightly more dense. At Fairmount they will make you a bagel and shmear, at St. Viateur you must grab your own cream cheese and/or smoked fish. I can’t say I was swayed to ever prefer this style over my beloved New York style bagel. But at least your stomach feels less stuffed of carbs, which was key on this mouth filling marathon.

Keeping with the Jewy tourist theme, smoked meats at Shwartz’s was also on the agenda. We actually went twice. Forgoing the crazy line, ordering meat by the pound for take out worked out well for us. The heavily seasoned meat lived up to its hype.

I have suggestions to improve upon your Shwartz’s experience. The first works if you’d like to eat your meat immediately and there is no room to set out your spread.

Head next door to Coco Rico for a super cheap platter of moist Portuguese rotisserie chicken and ribs. There is a better chance of finding counter space here, and now you have more meat forms to enjoy.

Or if you are mobile, Patisserie Kouign Amann is about a 10 minute drive away from Shwartz’s. There, get fresh croissants and a piece of kouign amann, hopefully still warm. Balance the sweetness of this buttery puff pastry with a sliced of smoked meat on top and be the coolest tourist in Canada.

You were waiting for the poutine, right? We had a few versions. Poutine Central by the Biodome (check it out! we met a capybara) served us a sloppy joe fry bowl and one piled with bacon, onion, and mushroom.  I know poutine as a menu item is already heating up but this is one trend I wouldn’t mind seeing more of. Poutine combines so many of my favorite things, while leaving room for creativity. 

I felt less like a tourist at Marche Jean Talon. We even got there by subway! This market had a Reading Terminal vibe- with produce and stands to purchase food. I loved the cassoulet and spicy sausage on sticks from one particular stand. Natas, a Portuguese egg tart popular in Montreal, hits the spot for dessert. I preferred the classic vanilla over chocolate or maple. This is also a good spot to pick up maple related gifts to take home.  Though… a lot of what I ended up bringing home was beer and strange flavors of chips. Poutine chips are amazing, in case you had any doubts.

And since I don’t only eat lunch, the rest of my trip was filled with foie gras, steak, snails, duck, tartare, and bourbon. Safe to say, I left with more junk in the drunk. Blame Canada.



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