Where should you have lunch in Montreal? Finally, I have some answers!
And other times, I felt I knew a city well only to draw a blank when asked for restaurant recommendations. I found myself confronted with this very situation when a friend asked for advice on where to eat lunch in Montreal. I know Montreal! Or, at least I thought I did. Haven't I written more about Montreal than any other city on the blog? Then why was I struggling with my answer?
I eventually cobbled together a response for my friend but I wasn't entirely satisfied. I've been determined ever since to come up with a killer list of my favourite lunch spots in Montreal and they're all around $12 - or much less. So go ahead, ask me for a recommendation. I've got this!
Librairie Espagnole (The Spanish Library)
They carrry cheesy treats like "Murcia al Vino", a red wine soaked goat cheese traditionally served with quince paste, as well as a large selection of fine Iberian ham. They may just make the most luxurious ham and cheese sandwiches in the city! Before you leave, check the counter for a container of freshly made churros and, if you're in the city on New Year's Eve, be sure to stop by. This is where the Spanish community concludes their holiday revelry and meets up for hot cider at midnight!
The battle of the delis
The deli is so famous that a quick visit is rarely possible. It boasts some serious lineups and the quieter Schwartz's takeout shop next door might be a better choice for those on a deadline. Alternatively you might want to seek out another deli and Charcuterie Hongroise is an ideal destination.
A wave of paprika hits your nose when you walk through the front door. The deli smokes its own meat in the back and you can taste the difference this attention to detail makes. You can order a Montreal smoked meat sandwich here but what you're really after is some of the house made sausage with a side of fries. And maybe some pastries and paprika to take home!
Chicken versus custard
My friend Emma was once one of those students. Now a food writer, she lived around the corner from the famous Romados restaurant while she was in university. Emma reports that the roast chicken would be placed on top of the French fries in the take out containers, allowing for the delicious rotisserie drippings and juices to soak into the fries. Amazing!
I've never had Romados chicken myself (though I'm getting hungry just thinking about it) and I'm happy to take Emma's recommendation as a solid one. But I have experienced Romados' other specialty, their homemade Pasteis de Nata, and they are divine. These spectacular, egg custard filled tarts with flaky pastry are absolutely incredible, one of my favourite treats, and they're the perfect ending to a hearty chicken luncheon.
Speaking of recommendations.....
We popped into the branch near Jean Talon Market and enjoyed a caramel brownie with a warm salted caramel sauce, an incredibly thick hot chocolate (served in adorable white hot chocolate bowls), some of their lovely chocolate truffles, and a finishing touch of an icy cold chocolate milk-slushy concoction. They DO have chocolate fruit fondue and fruit filled crepes, for those looking for a marginally healthier option. But go for the brownies - you won't regret it.
A new kid on the bagel block
O'Bagel, on an alley by Jean Talon Market (just steps away from Juliette & Chocolat), is off to a promising start. Okay, I can't tell the difference between O'Bagels products and those from St Viateur and Fairmont - really, they all deliciously taste the same! But that doesn't mean that there's not some importance differences here. I liked the cute shop and its proximity to the market, as well as the cream cheese selection. Their lime and cilantro spread was one of the best I've ever tried and it made for the perfect light lunch on the go.
Shame? What shame?
Everyone has a favourite poutine place in Montreal and mine is the Montreal Pool Room. Better known for steamed hot dogs than anything else, it does a solid, respectable job with poutine, delivering a perfectly balanced plate with no frills or deviation. There's no butter chicken poutine or nacho poutine here, just great fries, curds, and gravy.
If you want more than lunch...
You can also sample many of the aforementioned dishes year round through Fitz and Follwell's tours. To say that they offer food tours would be an understatement - and a mislabeling of what they truly do. The guides tell the story of Montreal's many communities and of the city's development through immigration and diversity - and food is their primary storytelling tool. The Montreal Pool Room, Schwartz's, The Hungarian Deli, The Spanish Library, and Romados were all included in the tour I experienced (plus several other stops as well) and I left with a full stomach and a new appreciation for one of my favourite cities. And I think you'll love it too!
- Fitz and Follwell guides love Dragon Beard Candy (which is included on many of their itineraries), a tiny Chinatown candy shop that makes a rarely seen style of Chinese confectionery. If you can, please visit and report back - I can't wait to go myself!
- The team at This Is Why We're Fat, a Montreal food blog, are fans of Dragon Beard Candy too. Their blog is a great resource for all things Montreal. I would love to meet them for dinner one day!
- For this non-stop eating quest, I stayed at Le Germain Hotel, which was the perfect location for sleeping off some big meals! See reviews of this property on Trip Advisor, Hotels Combined, and Expedia.
If you enjoyed this article, you'll also like:
Tales From The Anti-Adventurist: Vanessa's Montreal Bike Ride
An Afternoon at Montreal's Atwater Market
The Canadian of Auschwitz and Other Tales From The Montreal Holocaust Memorial
My visit and food tour were sponsored by Montreal Tourism and I thank them for their support. All research, writing, and opinions remain my own.