Iconic Montreal eats

We’re making our first trip to Montreal next week. I am completely ignorant to what the iconic and representative eats are there (ignorant American here that’s just moved to this wonderful country) and very willing to try them all.

Seeking a list of places and what to try so we can gain better appreciation for what food in Montreal actually means.

Not looking for tasting courses, or anything in the upper high end price point.

Thank you very much!!


Schwartz’s isn’t as good as it once was, but it’s as Montreal as you can get, same with APDC. Wilensky’s Light Lunch is a Montreal classic, fried bologna sandwich and a cherry coke with a side of nostalgia. I had a horrible meal at Joe Beef, their other restaurant , Vin Papillon was much better. L’Express is another Montreal classic, but it’s a “French bistro”. I’m not a fan of Montreal style bagels, but when in Rome…


My experience echoed yours 100%!!
I too had a terrible meal at Joe Beef a while back…over-priced and ho-hum food! My $75 Sweet bread in lobster cream sauce dish contained 3 stingy loonie size morsels with 3 pieces of quarter size lobster nuggets!..value-wise, a total rip-off! The server was trying to push a Norwegian King Crab appetizer dish containing 2 cocktail sausage size crab legs pieces that were priced at over $50!!
As for Schwartz’s, please make sure to order the ’ fatty brisket ', otherwise one would receive a pile of ’ dry ’ meat instead!


And to avoid the lines at Schwartz’s, go early, before lunch! On my last visit I got there around 10:30 am and the joint was only half full, shame they don’t include a kosher pickle with the sandwich anymore :frowning:

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Who in montreal has the best bagel? We lived in NY and we kept hearing it’s better in Montreal (I’m still skeptical). Looking forward to Schwartz (I’m assuming it’s the Katz deli equivalent).

We’ve also heard poutine is somehow better in Montreal compared to Toronto? Not sure how that would be or where?

Which place is a really good French Canadian bistro?

We used to have Maison Kayser in NY but seems they’ve since closed.

I had a wonderful and enjoyable meal at ’ Monarque, Montreal
'.Quebec Food Crawl: PART 1

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St-Viateur or Fairmount Bagels are probably the top 2 , go to whichever is more convenient.
IMHO poutine is overrated so I’ve never had it in Montreal in all the times I’ve been, but La Banquise always gets mentioned.


Beauty’s Luncheonette

Ferreira Caffe on Peel https://ferreiracafe.com/

Milos (the first Milos) on Parc



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I don’t think I’ve ordered poutine in Montreal since 1996.

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Montreal bagels are a completely different style and are not comparable to New York bagels. They are drier, heavier, sweeter, and smokier. Unique and wonderful.

Similarly, Montreal smoked meat is different from pastrami and in its own league.


Another fan of Vin Papillon. Was there in October. I always liked Liverpool House better than Joe Beef but have not been to either in a while. Also love L’Express but as noted it’s French not Canadian. Not really a fan of APDC. Jean Talon market is great. Nothing comparable in NYC. I prefer Montreal bagels to the puffy bread bombs that we have in most places in NYC. My favorite NY bagel these days is Blackseed which is Montreal style. Smoked meat is fantastic and half the price of a sandwich at Katz.


I’m from the NYC area (amongst many areas I’ve lived in). Would be interesting to try what Montreal offers cause i kept hearing from folks from Canada that the Montreal versions are better. Looking forward to it!

At first glance, Jean Talon Market seems similar to Essex Market and others like it? Will definitely check it out to get a better feel!

What would you say is different from Katz besides the price (it’s a bit of a tourist trap at Katz)?

Thank you!!

Just different, not better or worse.

No, Jean Talon is a real market where regular people shop for multiculturally diverse groceries, local product in summer, and gourmet specialties in an Italian neighborhood that borders a diverse blue collar neighbourhood (Parc Extension- Sri Lankan , Latino, Elderly Greeks, and so on), whereas Essex is a bougie food court in a gentrified neighbourhood.

I was so disappointed by Essex Market.

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We have markets like that in brooklyn/queens. Manhattan isn’t a city of “regular people.” Most folks move out of Manhattan in their 30s or once they have kids.

Have you tried Shopsins when at Essex Market prior to Kenny passing? It’s a very uniquely NYC experience if you engage him in conversation.

That’s why i said “at first glance” and “others like it”. The immediate “no” in your response is a bit uncalled for, don’t you think? If i’m imagining things or taking it the wrong way, my apologies. I am looking to explore a place i’ve never been to before and can only pull from experiences i’ve had. Images of Jean Talon Market on google maps looked similar to Essex Market/Boston Public Market/others like it. Looking forward to checking it out

I know. I used to live in Manhattan.

I wouldn’t say most folks move out of Manhattan once they are in their 30s. Most people on this Board who are based in Manhattan are over 50. Everyone I know in Manhattan right now is over 50.

I never ate at Shopsin’s.

Sorry if my directness hurt your feelings.

Once you visit Jean Talon Market, you will see it doesn’t have the gimmicky aspects of the Essex Market, or the tourist trappy aspects of the Boston Public Market.

Atwater Market Montreal is smaller, with less purveyors and more take-out food, and it reminds me more of the Boston Public Market than Jean Talon does.


I live very close to the Boston Public Market, and we’ve been going since it opened.

At the beginning, it seemed great. Over time, some outlets we really like closed, and the fresh produce diminished to the point that it’s not appealing at all. It’s turned out to be set up for tourists and take out, and no tourists are looking to purchase fresh produce.

Got worse with and after covid. A promising concept that devolved for us.


I was impressed my first couple visits to Boston, but it seemed like a tourist trap on my last visit in 2018. I find the Ferry Building in San Francisco and the Granville Island Market similar to the Boston Market. Nice to visit as a visitor, somewhere I wouldn’t visit often as a local.

I find Jean Talon in Montreal more along the lines of the Union Square Greenmarket in Manhattan. If I lived nearby, or within a 20 minute walk, I’d shop there weekly.