The lines are long as the deli is famous :) It is at least famous enough that someone created a musical about it called Schwartz: The Musical!
Schwart'z seems to be a must-go tourist spot for the famous Montreal smoked meat. We got there around lunch time on Canada Day, and the lines were quite long. We cheated and snucked into the take out area and waited around 5 minutes for our food instead. There are actually seats inside the take out restaurant.
The smoked meat sandwich was good - well seasoned but not too salty. However, comparing this sandwich to another one we had in Quebec City later on, the meat was a tad dry. The take out portions were good for 1 person. For the price, the food is pretty good, however, I have a feeling that you may be able to find similar quality smoked meat sandwiches with less wait time. Too bad we were just passing through, so we did not have a chance to do a comparison test.
Favorite Dish: I only had the smoked meat sandwich, which was quite good.
OK, I admit it, a deli is my idea of good food. I've been to delis from NYC to LA and each one has its own distinct and inimitable flavor and when planning the trip to Montreal, first on my list was a trip to Schwartz's, of which I had heard a lot. I wish I had had a conflict the night we went to try it, however; it would have spared me the disappointment. After eating, I wasn't sure I had been at the correct restaurant since everything I had heard had been positive; perhaps I'm just a little more picky than everyone else.
If you've never been, this is a small hole-in-the-wall restaurant opened early in the century by one of the forbearers of current ownership and they achieved their reputation with their smoked meat. In my opinion, they have been riding this reputation just a tad too long and it's now time to diversify the menu and improve the service. Drastically.
The meat was dry and no amount of mustard improved the texture or flavor. The service, or what passed for service, was centered on upselling, or delivering things without their having been ordered and then playing the guilt card when it was brought to their attention. All in all, a sub-standard meal from what I had hoped would be a first-class deli.
Favorite Dish: none
Schwartz's is a small place on the St. Laurent Boulevard, but it's super-famous for its smoked meat. Lots of celebrities have eaten there. There are usually crowds of people waiting outside, though if you're alone or only a party of 2, you won't have to wait long since they can seat you at the bar instead of waiting for a table to be available.
Don't even bother coming in if you're a vegetarian, this is a meat-lover's heaven! Aside from smoked meat, there are steaks, liver steaks, chicken, and sausages.
As I live close to Schwartz's, I've learned this lesson the hard way (though it wasn't an unpleasant lesson to learn) - never walk past Schwartz's on an empty stomach. The smell coming from the place is just too tempting...
Favorite Dish: I usually get a medium smoked meat sandwich (I find lean to be a little dry) and a pickle. I never order a sandwich there without a pickle! That's enough to fill me up. Occasionally (if I'm REALLY hungry) I'll also get a plate of fries and/or a cherry coke. I've tried the Schwartz's combo (steak, sandwich, frankfurter sausage, fries, pickle, bread) and though it was delicious, I can't believe I ate the whole thing (well, except the bread - I brought it home with me!).
I live in a suburb of Montreal and yes we have a great city. If you want to have the full Montreal experiance(if the weather permits)have a drink on one of the many terrasses in the old port, Cresent street or Saint Laurant/ St. Lawrence Blvd. Also try one of our deli's one of the best is Schartz's on the Main St. Lawrence Blvd. Good luck, I hope I was helpful.
Favorite Dish: SMOKED MEAT!!
Montreal smoked meat is synonymous with Montreal, so you really can't say you've been to Montreal without trying it! There's a line-up outside Schwartzs pretty much anytime you wanna eat here. But don't worry, there usually isn't that long of a wait. If you're lucky you'll get a seat even if you're not at the front of the line, simply because there's a space available for your group number. So be prepared to share a table with strangers. It's not really a bad thing, considering tourists are usually pretty friendly, and the locals are even friendlier. I can honestly say I've never had an unpleasant table buddy here.
Go with a friend and share a small platter, or a large platter if you're big eaters! It's basically a plate of meat, and you'll get rye bread on the side to make your own sandwiches. You can get 4-5 sandwhiches out of a large platter. You'll be asked if you want lean, medium or fatty meat. Lean's really too dry, and fatty is just cardiac arrest on a plate, so I'd go with medium. You can remove the obviously fatty bits if you're still feeling guilty. They also sell sides like dill pickles, coleslaw and chips for $2 - $3 CAD.
I was very excited about sampling the world famous smoked meat sandwich at Schwartz's. In the early 90s I heard Jim Rome raving about it and have wanted to visit Montreal ever since to give it a try. It didn't matter that I had no idea what smoked meat was, I yearned for it. When I read the Schwartz's reviews on VT and discovered smoked meat was a cousin to pastrami, I was even more enamored. After all, I've been a long-time believer that pastrami is the finest of the salted, cured meats. I was not disappointed. Big chunks of salty meat, smoked over charcoals on rye bread... delicious. This really is one of those places that has become a legend for a reason. I'm not sure if its the ever-present line out the door, the surly, yet friendly (is that possible) waiters, the furniture that hasn't changed in decades, or what... but this place delivered for me. Visiting Montreal without at least trying Schwartz's is like splitting tens... you just don't do it.
Favorite Dish: Smoked meat sandwich with a side of coleslaw. Ad coleslaw to the sandwich and you'll be in heaven!
Schwartz's is Montreal's world-famous Hebrew deli. What makes it so famous is its smoked meat, which has been voted many of times the best in town. Several other restaurants in Montreal also serve smoked meat, but Schwartz's has that special touch, perhaps because it has stayed in the same, seemingly unchanged building for 80 years. (This means there is always a lineup, whether it's 12 p.m. or 12 a.m.!)
Basically, if you are in Montreal, you simply must try a smoked meat; and if you must try a smoked meat, you might as well make it a Schwartz's smoked meat!
Just because Montreal is a French speaking town doesn't mean the food is all heavy cream and fondue. Montreal is famous for it's smoked meat. And from what I've found, Schwartz's is the best place to get it. You may have to wait on line a bit, but it goes pretty fast. Also, I've seen groups of people seated in different sections of the restaurant. Realize that this is a place to eat and not socialize. Don't be turned off by that; check it out and your taste buds will thank you later.
Favorite Dish: Smoked meat - small plate, request not a lot of fat - it's good for 2 people
Cole slaw (this is the only place I'll eat it)
and maybe some pickles
I was so disappointed by Ben's I thought we just have to try Schwartz's to see how it compares. So after eating that HUGE portion of poutine at La Banquiese, we headed over to Schwartz's for our last meal in Montreal. It was about 2:45 pm when we arrived and although they were busy, there wasn't a huge line like I expected. Perhaps the key to eating here is to go a little off normal lunch and dinner hours. We sat at the counter, good thing as our first sandwich arrived and it was slathered with yellow mustard, the most fiendish of condiments. Our server caught my sandwich before it was delivered and changed it to sans mustard, WHEW! I happily gazed upon my sandwich before inhaling it, now this was a SANDWICH!
One of the guidebooks suggested this was a bit of a tourist trap but I have to disagree as my definition of a true tourist trap is overpriced, underwhelming food. Although I wouldn't have wanted to wait in a long line with all the terrific options for food in Montreal, it's definitely a place worth a visit. Just be sure not to go at peak lunch and dinner time, Schwartz's is a much smaller restaurant than Ben's. On the up side though, the sandwiches are so good that you practically inhale them so the turnover of tables is pretty darn fast, this isn't a linger over your meal kind of place.
Favorite Dish: The sandwich here was SOOOOO much better than the ones we had at Ben's, the meat more like corned beef, spices coating the edges, juicy, plenty of fat, stacked high like a real sandwich should be, I had meat falling out all over the place. Our server asked us if we wanted dry or moist, I assume now that means with a lot of fat or not, I went for the moist. Order with a cherry coke for the authentic experience. YUM!
You can also opt for the low carb version (ha, ha) and get a HUGE plate of smoked meat without the bread. Also, you can get smoked meat to go, I'm pretty sure US Customs would snatch it away though if they knew we had it. And then they'd probably eat it ;-)
This small restaurant has been around since 1928. There is always a line up to get in on any nights. Very plain inside, the wall is decorated with newspaper and magazine clippings about the world famous restaurant. The place has an old diner atmosphere from the 70s. If you get to sit at the 'bar', you can see stacks of fresh whole smoked meat. The food is served quickly. The wait to get inside is quick as well, especially for small party. They open for long hours everyday. (Check their website for details).
Favorite Dish: I've tried other smoked meat sandwich elsewhere, no doubt this is the best! The taste is just perfect, and they use only natural ingrediants. Order a side dish of pickle or coleslaw. The locals usually order cherry coke for drink.
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