My step-sister-in-law is a super smart cookie, and she’s been accepted to McGill (woot!). Since that means she’s moving to my beloved hometown, I felt compelled to write her up my Big List of must-see/must-eat Montreal favourites. As I’ve got another friend traveling there in October, and it seems folks I know & love go there more often than I do, I’ve decided to make my Big List public, for your enjoyment.
We’ll start with the food… because everyone needs to eat. And if you’re in Montreal, and reading my list, you’re going to eat a LOT. Try to balance it out with some exercise, ok? I don’t want you all coming home & blaming me for those extra pounds.
Claire’s “Love To Eat” List
3990 Saint Urban
This is always at the top of my list. I have a bit of a sandwich fetish, and it super-sucks that I have a wheat sensitivity – but honestly, Santropol is worth it. Don’t let the unusual fillings scare you off – just order a Midnight Spread and a lemonade, sit in the garden, enjoy the atmosphere, and prepare your tastebuds to be blown away by awesomeness.
3895 St. Laurent
In tough competition for the number one slot, is Schwartz. There’s lots of argument over smoked meat joints in Montreal… some (like myself) will say Schwartz is the best, but some will say Ben’s, Dunn’s, or The Main… and yes, all are good. But my heart belongs to Schwartz. Order up a hot smoked meat sandwich, with a Kosher dill and a cherry soda.
74 Fairmont West
You really can’t get a bad bagel in Montreal. You just can’t. Fairmount is my favourite, but St. Viateur & Mount Royal are equally fantastic. I love to take a walk up to Fairmount, order a dozen sesame seed bagels and a tub of dill cream cheese. Eat one or two on the way home, still hot out of the brown paper bag. Get ’em home, toast one up & top with too much cheese, thinly sliced tomato, salt & pepper. Goddamn that’s home.
5843 Sherbrooke West
My friend Jack knows his food, and many years ago he showed me the best place for all-day breakfast, and still, when I want breakfast, it’s Cosmos I want. It’s a real greasy spoon, fulla charm, but very small – so plan to wait and make sure you get the hashbrowns. And not those pathetic little Denny’s shredded pseudo-potatoes – I mean real potatoes, randomly chopped & smashed right on the grill, with onions & bacon grease, cooked right next to your eggs, any way you like ’em. Years later, Jack is still showing me awesome places to eat and I thank him for starting me off right. On recent visits, Jack’s taken me to a Thai place & a Vietnamese place – both were great, but I can’t remember what/where they were.
2606 de Coleraine
I spent my childhood living in Pointe Saint-Charles, and for about eight years, I lived in the same block as these two restaurants. My elementary school was on Coleraine Street too. The school is a condominium now, but the restaurants are both still there, still run by the families that served greasy French fries in paper bags to us scruffy Pointe-kids. Poutine from either of these places will rock your socks.
Get a classic all dressed pizza from Connie for me… pepperoni, mushrooms, green pepper and lots of mozza. And they still put a little bun in the middle of the pizza to stop the box-lid from sticking to the cheese. Nom.
When my family would send me to Paul’s to pick up an order, I’d sit at the bar with my sketchbook & doodle while I waited. I went in last time I was there, and they still remember me. Get 2 steamies, with coleslaw, mustard & relish, definitely have the fries, and say hi for me.
The best part about all of these places isn’t just the bread, the cheese, and the grease… it’s the memories. For me, all of those places are tightly associated with friends, and when I think about Montreal food, I am reminded of them and feeling full – full of food and full of love.
Dammit, I’m super homesick now. 😉
My next Montreal Love post will be about the places I love to go.