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Article in the Atmosphere magazine. Read the latest edition here.
A melting pot of cultures and cuisines, there’s a world of culinary treasures just waiting to be discovered when you visit Montreal. Introducing four of the most iconic Montreal delis!
53 Mont-Royal East, Mont-Royal Metro
Situated in the heart of the Plateau and founded in 1938, La Binerie is a landmark Montreal deli in the city’s trendiest neighbourhood. Philippe Brunet and his wife Jocelyne, who cooks all but her husband’s signature baked beans, welcome customers as if they were part of the family. The menu features typical Quebec cuisine such as shepherd’s pie, meatball stew and graisse de rôti, with blanc-manger and pouding chômeur for dessert. All dishes are prepared on-site according to original recipes handed down from generation to generation. If you’re wondering whether you’ll be unable to get off your seat after eating, the chef will jokingly reassure you that all dishes are calorie-free! This narrow lunchroom brings workers, regulars, youth and clients of all sorts to its counter and two tables. Immortalized in Yves Beauchemin’s novel Le Matou, La Binerie is definitely a one-of-a-kind experience!
3895 Saint-Laurent Blvd., St-Laurent or Sherbrooke Metro
Smoked meat is a Montreal deli specialty, and Schwartz’s has been serving the best cuts in town since 1928. Between lean, medium, medium-fat or fat, most clients opt for medium and line up from morning till night for their fix. Schwartz’s has even welcomed celebrities such as Céline Dion (now part-owner of the restaurant) and Halle Berry! The meat is marinated in barrels, smoked for eight hours and steamed for another three. The cutter then works his magic: “Since the meat is so soft, it needs to be sliced as quickly and precisely as possible. Even the best restaurant chefs ask us to do it for them.” Alone or in a sandwich, the smoked meat is served with pickles and basic condiments so that its flavour and secret blend of spices can be enjoyed to the fullest. If you’re looking for places to eat in Montreal, Schwartz’s is a definite must.
34 Fairmount Ave, Laurier Metro
Travel back in time at a Montreal deli that practically blends into the urban landscape. Experience a bygone era at Wilensky, where food is prepared the old-fashioned way: “All our sandwiches are served with mustard and never cut in half,” specifies Sharon, daughter of owner Ruth, who, at the age of 92, still greets customers each day from behind the counter. Imagine that clients were once charged 5¢ for refusing the “mandatory” mustard! After housing a barbershop, cigar shop, general store and bookstore, the Montreal deli opened in 1932 and began serving the Wilensky Special, a salami and bologna sandwich with mustard. At Wilensky, everyone is treated equally and all tips go to the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Quebec.
760 Charlevoix St., Charlevoix Metro
This Verdun diner has been a family favourite for southwest Montrealers since 1958, and is one of the best places to eat in Montreal. It was the setting for Taxi-22, a comedy show starring Patrick Huard that was filmed on location. Potatoes are hand-peeled for a poutine like no other, and hamburger patties are made with Angus Prime mince. Meals are accompanied by spruce beer, a non-alcoholic beverage prepared using yeast. Produced by the Native Americans for centuries, Paul Patates carries on the tradition, brewing the drink and bottling it on-site. Bertrand is the strongest and bubbliest, and Émile is the manager’s sweeter and less bubbly version. To think it was once fermented on the restaurant’s rooftop, in a vintage bathtub! When a bottle would explode, it meant that the batch was ready to be served. Try the float as a drink or for dessert: a Bertrand with a floating scoop of vanilla ice cream. Enjoy quality products in a friendly atmosphere, with an original jukebox from 1958 to give the restaurant an authentic look and feel.
Visit Montreal now when you catch a flight from several major Canadian cities with Air Transat!