Montreal is a culinary city. We boast the most amount of restaurants per capita in Canada and the foodie culture here is truly contagious. A city as iconic as Montreal obviously comes with its fair share of staples done better than anywhere else in the world, but thanks to its vibrant ethnic diversity, it also offers a few foods that we simply can't live without.
These are the foods that have solidified their place in our hearts (and bellies!) when we need a midday pick-me-up, convenience after a long day, sustenance at closing time, and comfort on those really cold winter days. Basically, the foods that taste like home.
1. Smoked Meat
There's a reason it's called Montreal-style smoked meat and that's because nowhere does it like we do. Served stacked high in between two pieces of rye bread, slathered with yellow mustard, with a kosher pickle on the side, smoked meat from delicatessens such as Lester's is a regular attraction in this city. The smell, the taste, the tradition; nothing beats Montreal smoked meat.
Want to know what makes our bagels so uniquely delicious? It's the expert technique of our renowned bakeries, and, our water. True story. Montrealers, and even most New Yorkers, know that the best bagels are Montreal bagels, and nothing quite compares to biting into a piping hot one, fresh out of a wood-burning oven. Whether you eat it straight-up, or with cream-cheese and lox, a Montreal bagel is something special.
Ah, the classic poutine. The ultimate comfort food. There is something just so right about the simple combination of greasy fries, smothered in brown gravy, topped with a mountain of cheese curds. Lord knows we love our poutine, and if you've never had one before, you cannot call yourself a true Montrealer. The poutine craze has spread far beyond our borders nowadays, but Montreal will always be the motherland.
Hot dogs are typically an American thing, sold at ball parks with some yellow mustard, but Montreal Steamies are something else. The fastest and cheapest munchie in the city is also one of its favourites, and has saved many a Montrealer in their time of need. While there are a few variations available, the classic all-dressed steamie from places like La Belle Province is topped with mustard, chopped onion, and a heaping mound of fresh coleslaw.
5. Portugese Chicken
If you've spent any amount of time in Montreal's Plateau or Mile End neighbourhoods, you've probably smelled some Piri Piri chicken slow-roasting in any number of Portuguese rotisseries at least once or twice. Just the thought of smoky, slightly-charred Portuguese chicken from places like Romados is enough to make anyone who's had it before salivate uncontrollably.
6. Eggs Benedict
Whether it's to cure a wicked harsh hangover, impress that special someone, or just because it's literally the best meal of the day, Montrealers are literally obsessed with brunch. A big reason for that is our passion for and undying devotion to the gloriousness that is eggs Benedict. Good eggs Benedict can be hard to find, but thankfully not in this city.
7. Grillades (BBQ)
Whether it's deluxe burgers, marinated pulled-pork, fat steaks, or fall-off-the-bone ribs, Montreal loves its bbq more than most. There's no denying the prominence of phenomenal vegan restaurants in recent years, but we will always embrace our more carnivorous activities with the best of them. Montreal Steak Spice is a thing for a reason.
8. Shish Taouk/Shawarma
While we can't really claim it as our own, we definitely have made it our own, and the city would not be the same without it. Shish Taouk, or what is that deliciously marinated skewered meat, garnished with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickled turnip and garlic sauce, is a regular staple of any Montrealer's diet.
The popular Vietnamese street food has found a home here in Montreal and we definitely do it justice. A warm Pho soup, consisting of lightly-fragranced broth, linguine-shaped rice noodles, a few herbs and a range of meats (don't forget a hit of Sriracha!), is the best way to give winter the finger and leaves us craving it on a regular basis.
Another import, but nonetheless integral part of our culinary culture, dumplings from places like Qing Hua help make the world go round, or Montreal go round at least. Whether you prefer them boiled, steamed or lightly fried, these little pockets of sunshine, filled with a variety of meats and/or veg, are seriously hard to resist and often entice you to eat them until proper food coma is reached.