For those not yet in the know: There's more to the Montreal food scene than heart-clobbering poutines and drool-inducing smoked meat sandwiches.
To deconstruct what it means to eat well in Montreal is not just a Herculean task, but an impossible one. Montreal embraces the spicy, the sweet, and the savory, and nearly everything in between. Its flavors, a curious hodgepodge of Asian, Middle Eastern, and local influences, have solidified Montreal as not only one of best in food cities in North America, but in the world.
Don't believe me? Let your taste buds decide.
To track down the mythical, rib-sticking, greasy reputation of Canadian cuisine, no city is a more fertile hunting ground than Montreal, birthplace and adopted residence of some of Canada's most iconic food.
If you're a first-time visitor to Montreal, don't even dream of ducking out before snapping a taste of two of Canada's must-try dishes: poutine and Montreal smoked meat.
Choosing a clear-cut winner for best poutine in Montreal is bound to erupt into chaos, but future poutine aficionados should look no further than La Banquise on rue Rachel Est to begin your love affair. This 24/7-snack joint is an institution for Montrealers needing to clobber their midnight grease cravings.
Any serious conversation about smoked meat in Montreal inevitably turns to Schwartz's Deli. Since 1928 this famous Jewish delicatessen has been perfecting their smoked meat recipe. Montrealers, in turn, pay their favorite snack shack homage by staking out their spot in the perpetual queue winding up Saint Laurent. All self-respecting carnivores willing to stick out the long wait will be rewarded with a meat-mountain of a sandwich worthy of the name.
North African, Middle Eastern and Central Asian
With 75% of Canada's total Moroccan population and Middle Eastern contingent over a hundred thousand strong, Montreal hardly presents a challenge for wiping out all your tagine or taboulleh cravings.
When wandering about in Old Montreal with a formidable appetite, grab a bite at La Menara, a Moroccan restaurant offering traditional favorites like tagine, couscous, pastilla, and harira in a cozy North African-inspired atmosphere.
For slightly less common flavors, head up to Le Plateau-Mont-Royal, one of the city's hippest quarters, to sneak a peak of Montreal's culinary diversity at its finest.
If there's anywhere in Montreal where ethnic eating options will leave you confounded, it's here in Plateau-Mont-Royal. When Middle Eastern and Central Asian cuisine is what you're after, you'd do well to exercise your taste buds at Damas on avenue Parc, a Syrian-inspired restaurant, or Khyber Pass, serving up oft-forgotten Afghan cuisine, a mouth-watering fusion of Indian, Turk, and Persian flavors.
East and Southeast Asian
Of all the tastes plopped onto Montreal's gastronomic smorgasbord, Asian cuisine might just top them all. Walking around Montreal with a hearty appetite means there's a good chance you'll eventually succumb to the temptation of one of the city's ubiquitous Asian restaurants.
Although you'll find East and Southeast Asian flavors spread about the city, Montreal's Chinatown is as good a place as any to jet your taste buds off to Tokyo, Shanghai, Hanoi, or Seoul.
During winter (or, truthfully, any other season) few things are more delightful than warming yourself up with a steaming bowl of Vietnamese pho bo at Pho Bac 97 on Saint Laurent. One spoonful of the savory beef broth, drowning thinly-sliced rare beef and tousled with fresh bean sprouts, cilantro, and a swirl of hoisin and sriracha (the more, the better!), will forever alter your perception on what a great soup-eating experience should be.
Do you think Montreal is a world-class food city? Which cuisine would you be most curious to try in Montreal? Drop us a line in the comment section below!