For years I’ve seen this traditional deli featured on travel and food shows and I couldn’t believe I was there in person, ordering the classic lunch of smoked meat on rye with mustard and a side of fries. The Cherry Coke was thrown in for good measure. If you’re expecting a New York style sandwich though, you’ll be surprised by what is actually brought to the table. At their roots, the Montreal smoked meat and NYC pastrami are similar; both are kosher deli meats made by salting and curing beef brisket with a variety of spices. The Montreal version, though, isn’t as sweet as the New York version and uses more aromatic spices than they do in the Five Boroughs. The presentation is pretty similar, with the Montreal meat having a slightly thicker cut.
So what about the taste? The Montreal smoked-meat sandwich at Schwartz’s was delicious but shouldn’t be compared with cured meat in other parts of the world. What I enjoyed that day is not a derivative, it is its own tasty category, and visitors should keep that in mind when they enter the crowded deli.
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Montreal is synonymous with Jewish-style smoked meat, and that’s in large part thanks to this place. The queues around the block should indicate how tender and flavorful these beef briskets are, because it sure ain’t for the stylish dining conditions. The lunch-counter style shared tables haven’t been changed for years, and the neon lighting does no one a favor, but the atmosphere is one-of-a-kind. Schwartz’s was bought out a few years ago by none other than Celine Dion in a bid to maintain some of her hometown heritage, and she’s done a fantastic job: she hardly changed a thing, except create a takeout counter in the storefront next door, to help manage foot traffic. Order your sandwich medium juicy, with a side of fries, a half-sour pickle and a Cott’s black cherry cola.
We came upon this wall art on a building as we were walking home from Schwartz's Deli- where they have the absolute BEST smoked meat in the world! I think she was crying because we hadn't brought her anything to eat!