Photo cred - Smoke Meat Pete
Smoked meat sandwiches break all the classic rules for what a good sandwich should be. The meat to bread ratio is disproportionate, there are no additional fixin’s, and there would seemingly be a lack of condiment flare. But somehow, it works. Smoked meat sandwiches are the backbone of the Montreal food empire. More so than Portuguese chicken, bagels, even poutine, Montreal smoked meat sandwiches ooze everything that is this city. Biting into anyone of the following sandwiches will help you understand what it’s like to be a Montrealer, and hopefully illustrate to you just how well we do food.
1057, Rue Bernard Ouest
If you’re looking for the local’s choice, then Lester’s is the place to go. Their diner is located in Outremont, away from all the hustle and bustle of downtown and the Plateau. Lester’s has a cozy, family run location and amazing service. Their lineups are nowhere close to Schwartz’s and their set-up allows for good conversation while you eat. The servers are oh so nice as well. I really like Lester’s because their meat is so tender. As if you were chewing on a meat pillow. Like The Main, the actual flavor of the meat is shocking, but it works when coupled with their pickles and vinegar doused French fries.
Photo cred - Krystle J
3864 Saint-Laurent Boulevard
Some see the Main to be the rival to Schwartz’s. It makes sense, they are literally facing right across the street from each other, as if they were to engage in battle. There was some recent controversy over the meat production, once the management changed at the Main, which you can read all about here. However, I’m just going to comment on the taste. I find that they do fatty smoked meat excellently. It's juicy without being greasy and some how still manages to stay in-between the bread despite being stacked up. I find their meat itself to be quite mild compared to some other renditions, but I like it that way. You can really taste all of the components of the sandwich.
Smoked Meat Pete
Photo cred - Phillip Tellis
1116 Rue Sainte-Catherine Ouest
Reuben’s is the deli most people have their first Montreal smoked meat sandwich at. The restaurant and deli are right in the heart of downtown, on none other than Saint Catherine’s street. Reuben’s knows how to complete the Montreal experience. They are crazy about meat, as you will see from their packed store front window, and see carving smoked meat is something they take very seriously. While I do like their big swanky restaurant location, I’d rather go to their small diner/deli to eat a sandwich. Their meat is so colourful and just seeping with tasty goodness. I like their bread as well, because it can hold it’s own against the mass amounts of filling. It’s clear they've been curing their meat for a long time, since it’s so full of smoke and rub flavour. I’d recommend pairing your sandwich with a milkshake. C’est magnifique!
Oh how I love you Dunn’s. I’ll be honest, I’ve been to Dunn’s so much because it’s open 24H, and is the perfect cure to a bad night. Their meat is a good middle ground, it’s not as tough as Schwartz’s and not as soft as Lester’s. Dunn’s is just right. They also win for my favourite rye bread in the city. It’s so fluffy and has a flavor all it’s own, that stands out from the rest of the sandwich. Their portions aren’t over the top either so you don’t feel so bloated you may explode. But if you like the feeling of being stuffed silly, then indulge with a poutine on the side. It may be the best thing ever.
Le Roi Du Smoked Meat
Lastly, but certainly not least, I'd say that Le Roi Du Smoked Meat is one of the most underrated Smoked Meat joints, ever. I know it's good because every time I order in from them their meat tastes as though it's just been cut. I like the thickness of the meat and the tame cured taste. Le Roi has the perfect soggy french fries and fresh coleslaw. It's so delicious and is the perfect meal to order in on Sunday afternoon.
3616, Saint-Jean Boulevard
This place has a lil’ something special. I honestly can’t put my finger on it, all I can say is Chenoy’s smoked meat is so good you have to try it for yourself. When you go, you’ll never see anyone eating anything else, so you gotta know they’ve perfected their craft. I like that the meat is soft and chewy, with just the perfect amount of salty flavor to give it a kick. It’s generally pretty busy during the night, because of its late hours, and the comforting atmosphere.
Fameux Viande Fumee Et Charcuterie
4500 Saint-Denis Rue
The smoked meat at this joint is so good they put it on everything. Seriously. Fameux is revered for it’s smoked meat poutine. While the poutine is incredible, I'm much more partial to the sandwich. I like the salty, thick cut, smoky meat. It’s what I imagine a lumberjack would taste like. The bread so soft, almost tender in itself, and I appreciate that their mustard is used sparingly. All in all, I’d say this is a good option if you want to sit in a cozy leather booth and get down with a classic Montreal smoked meat sandwich.
3895 St-Laurent Boulevard
Okay, if you know anything about smoked meat, or Montreal for that matter, I’m going to assume you’ve heard of Schwartz. This is easily the most famous smoked meat joint in all of North America. It’s so loved; people have been traveling from around the world for over 70 years to get a bite. To this day, there is still a line up outside the door to get a seat inside. They have a restaurant and deli where they cure their own meat right in front of you. If you’re planning on going to Schwartz’s, then I suggest ordering the classic. Medium cut meat, cherry cola, french fries and a pickle. It’s their famous combination and I can see why. The reason Schwartz is so well loved is because they give you everything you would expect from a smoked meat sandwich, and then some. They have the flavor, the fat and the spice. What more could you want?