Three basic food groups in Montreal : Schwarma, Croissants and Smoked Meat

In Montreal, there are only three basic food groups: Schwarma, Croissants and Smoked Meat. Each of these food groups creates significant foodie discussions and most people are quite passionate about their chase for the best of each.

Any full day in Montreal will include a combination of all three along with liquor and accoutrements.

  1. Schwarma – The Lebanese’ community has provided many things to Montreal, but nothing with more impact than a Coke, garlic potatoes and Schwarma – I have no cares about who invented the “trio”, but this was the best staple of university. I still maintain that Boustan’s is the standard downtown Montreal. Now having gone back to Abu Elias, I have to say that Boustan is the best in Montreal.
    Abu Elias, is a Lebanese grocery located in Ville St Laurent. There’s always a crowd over there, most of whom speak no English.

    Here is the good

    • Very fresh meat
    • Hot Grill to burn the shit out of that meat

    Here is the bad

    • Terrible ordering system for a newbie – no sense to things at all
    • The sandwich is terribly small – with no turnips, slaw etc unless you ask explicitly
    • Wait time is long
    • Sandwiches are made in batches, so there is little room for customizing your sandwich
    • Garlic potatoes are average at best

    Grocery setting isn’t the best, but isn’t the worst either

    In the end, is going out all the way to Ville St Laurent, worth the drive out there? Not in my opinion. The meat is good, but that is all and I wouldn’t recommend an outsider going out all the way there, when you have Boustan’s downtown. That being said – it is worth a pass, if you have the time.

  2. Croissants – With the Francophone influence on Quebec, one cannot discount the French/Quebecois food in Montreal. Some of the best croissants in the world, not just outside of France are found in MontrealThe really good news for those of you, who don’t want to venture to Paris is that delicious croissants abound in Montréal. In fact, some neighbourhoods in this city boast as many bakeries as their Parisian counterparts. But since you can’t possibly spend your entire weekend in Montréal testing croissants (nor can I really, with all the butter that permeates every crack of a great croissant) I thought I would look for a great croissant in Montreal. After tons of research i.e. two google searches – I found the place that supposedly has one of the finest crosissants.

    You may think that judging this contest would be easy – but let me tell you, it’s not! There are so many factors to consider, like shape, flakiness, buttery taste, and the overall yum factor. I wasn’t sure I wanted to weight of the decision-making to rest on my shoulders alone, especially since I cannot eat croissants.

    The entire bakery smells like a butter bomb exploded.

    Local Favourites are:
    • Pain Doré, 1357 Mont-Royal St. E.,
    • Olive & Gourmando, 351 St-Paul St. W.,
    • La Croissanterie Figaro, 5200 Hutchison St.,
    • Mr. Pinchot, 4354 De Brébeuf St.

  3. Smoked Meat :Montreal styled smoked meat is the stuff of legends. A trip to Montreal without stopping in the mandatory “joints” : Schwartz’s, Dunn’s, Ruben’s.If you only have one choice to make, then make it Schwartz.

    Always expect a crowd when you get in there for a sandwich … it has become a tourist attraction for a reason. Personally, I think that the meat has declined in quality over the years, but this is just my personal opinion.

    Firstly, understanding how to order smoked meat in Montreal, is key to the experience. The sandwiches are built with seedless rye bread and piled with hand-sliced smoked meat about 2 inches high with yellow prepared mustard. The customer can specify the amount of fat in the smoked meat:

    • “Lean”: The lean and less flavourful end. Healthful but dry.
    • “Medium” and “medium fat”: The most popular cuts from the middle of the brisket. Occasionally, a sliced mix of lean and fat meats
    • “Fat”: From the fat end of the brisket. Fires the fat taste receptors, but may be an acquired taste.
    • “Speck”: Consists solely of the spiced subcutaneous fat from the whole brisket without meat. An attributed cause of death for some of its connoisseurs

    We managed to order a lean sandwich … note the lack of fat, and it was definitely quite dry.

    Also there are many other items on the menu aside from the world famous smoked meat, but if you’re not there for the smoked meat, then why are you bothering to go to Montreal?

There you have it – 12 or 24 hours in Montreal – if you did nothing else but eat these three things and went to those places, it would be a ridiculously full day!

About Rishiray

Rishi Sankar is a Cloud HRMS Project Manager/ Solution Architect. Over the past 15+ years, he has managed to combine his overwhelming wanderlust with a desire to stay employed, resulting in continuing stints with 3 major consulting firms (IBM, Deloitte, Accenture). He documents his adventures around the world on "Ah Trini Travelogue" with pictures and stories from the road/tuk-tuk/camel/rickshaw. You can follow him on Twitter at @rishiray and on Facebook at "Ah Trini Travelogue . He doesn't like Chicken Curry but loves Curry Chicken and is always trying to find the perfect Trinidadian roti on the road. He also doesn't like cheese and kittens ... and definitely not together. E-mail from his blog is appreciated like a 35 yr old Balvenie at

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