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25 of Montreal’s Most Iconic Dishes

Smoked, roasted, baked, or fried, this city has got it covered

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Montreal’s culinary scene has several well-known icons: smoked meat sandwiches, bagels, and poutine — dishes tourists won’t leave the city without trying. Alongside them are the imports, foods from different cultures (Haitian and Portuguese, for example), which have all carved out space in the city’s world-renowned food scene — not to mention less internationally known home-grown creations, like Dic Ann’s burgers or the Orange Julep, and some younger icons like Arthurs and Le Pick Up.

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Orange Julep at Gibeau Orange Julep

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This three-storey-high orange sphere acts as something of a beacon alongside the Décarie autoroute; while some stop by to pick up a poutine or burger, the Julep’s signature offering is its eponymous drink, best described as part-way between an orange juice and a milkshake. 

Burger at Dic Ann's (multiple locations)

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Founded in Montreal North over 60 years ago and now with several locations around the city, Dic Ann’s is Montreal’s home-grown burger chain. They’re known for obscenely thin patties and almost as slim buns, but the spicy meat sauce on the burger is what makes the magic happen.

Griot at Marche Meli Melo

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The Haitian diaspora makes up a significant part of Montreal’s population, and this part-grocery store, part-casse-croûte is a long-standing staple in the community. The griot is a favourite — cubes of marinated, spiced, and fried pork shoulder.

Hot Chicken at Chalet Bar-B-Q

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This NDG rotisserie has been spinning chicken since 1944, so you know they have the skills to pull off this Quebec staple of juicy sliced chicken on plain white bread, smothered in gravy and topped with peas. Elegant, it is not, but that’s why so many love it.

Babka at Cheskie

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From black and white cookies to cheese crowns, Cheskie serves all manner of Jewish sweets. But its decadent chocolatey coils of sweet dough — i.e., the babka — are the hallmark at this beloved kosher bakery, open since 2002 in Montreal’s Mile End.

Bagels at St-Viateur Bagel (multiple locations)

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Some New Yorkers may snub our thinner, sweeter, and less-bready version of the bagel, but along with smoked meat and poutine, it’s one of the city’s most celebrated foods. With several locations, St-Viateur is Montreal’s big bagel success story, although roughly half the population swears by its main competitor, Fairmount, a few blocks away.

Latte at Café Olimpico

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Fine, a latte is not exactly a “dish,” but Italian coffee shop Olimpico is a true Montreal icon — it’s cheap, it’s hot, and the atmosphere can’t be beaten. For an alternative that’s similarly notable but less touristy, consider Little Italy’s Caffe Italia.

Gnocchi at Drogheria Fine

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This tiny pocket of a place on Fairmount Avenue makes one thing only — and it does so very well: piping hot, sauce-drenched, pillowy gnocchi served from a takeout window for 5$. There’s the option of adding red pepper flakes and a generous dusting of Pecorino Romano and taking home a jar of Nonna-approved sauce, too.

The Special at Wilensky's

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Open since 1932 and still in the family, Wilensky’s toes the line between lunch counter and time capsule. The Special is the most iconic menu item: all-beef salami, all-beef bologna on a kaiser roll with optional cheese and mandatory mustard. Seriously, please don’t ask them to leave off the mustard.

Panini at Café Milano Montréal

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Over 50 years old, St-Leonard landmark Café Milano remains a hub for Montreal’s East End Italian community and one of the city’s primo sandwich shops. Diners can’t go wrong with a panino stuffed with steak, sausage, or capicollo — and a mandatory espresso and cannoli for dessert. Now with locations in Laval and the West Island.

McArthur at Arthurs Nosh Bar

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This modern Jewish diner has done an impressive job installing itself as an indispensable Montreal food destination in just a few years, without having to lean on natural wines, tasting menus, or any of that. The McArthur — a crisp-fried chicken schnitzel served with mayo, pickles, and lettuce on challah is a particular favourite, and that chicken comes with an endorsement from American chef Rachel Ray.

The Special at Beautys

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Recently revamped and reopened after a one-year hiatus, this Jewish diner is one of the city’s most enduring breakfast staples. And perhaps no item on the menu is more famous than the Beautys Special. Brave the inevitable line-up (or go on a weekday) to fill yourself with some delicious lox, cream cheese, tomato, and onion, pressed between a fresh St-Viateur bagel.

Kouign Amann at Au Kouign Amann

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Montreal is an exceptional pastry city, and there are countless places to get great croissants, mille-feuilles, and more. But in one category, this Plateau bakery reigns supreme — the buttery and slightly sticky Breton pastry in its name, the kouign-amann.

Romados

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Though not the first to serve delicious, piri piri-slathered, charcoal-grilled bird in the city, Romados was instrumental in popularizing it. Under new ownership since October 2021, it remains a favourite for Portuguese chicken served in quarters, halves, wholes, or sandwich form.

Shawarma Pita at Boustan Crescent

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Many will remember the days when Boustan was a lone basement haunt where clubbers went to end their nights downtown. Today, it’s a full-blown chain — no longer owned by “Mr. Boustan” himself — with 24 locations across the city (though many still claim the original does it best). The chicken shawarma is the standard play, but Boustan’s “Creation,” jam-packed with extras like fried eggplants and garlicky potatoes, has garnered a devoted following.

Smoked Meat Sandwich at Schwartz's Deli

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Layers of succulent and tender meat on rye with mustard draw lines out the door at this hallowed institution even in Montreal’s frigid winter. Schwartz’s might be more of a tourist spot nowadays, but this over-90-year-old Jewish deli still gets it right.

Lobster Spaghetti at Joe Beef

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Though the recipe for Joe Beef’s fabled lobster spaghetti can be easily found online, many still head to the Montreal landmark for a taste of the real thing. Established in 2005, when Little Burgundy was far from the restaurant hotbed it is today, Joe Beef’s nest of creamy pasta topped with tender chunks of lobster has been a staple since its early days.

Poutine at Ma Poule Mouillée

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This Portuguese rotisserie may not be the city’s oldest, but it draws its longest lines. Many diners go specifically for its spin on the poutine. It’s an obscenely large plate of grub done with fries, chicken, chouriço, and spicy, piri piri gravy — rounded out with São Jorge cheese.

Poutine at La Banquise

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Plates of gravy, fries, and cheese curds are available all across town — and a true Montrealer will have pledged their allegiance to their favourite long ago. La Banquise is the most touristy of the bunch, but it is irrefutably a Montreal icon. A local fireman opened it as an ice cream shop in 1968, then transformed it into a 24-hour snack bar, and only in the 1980s did poutine — classic or Italian — appear on the menu. Today, it’s still open 24/7, but there are now 30 varieties of the dish on offer.

Foie Gras Poutine at Au Pied de Cochon

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From true-to-form classics to new-fangled spins, poutine reigns supreme as arguably the city’s most iconic dish. Nowhere can you get a version as luxe as that offered at Montreal fine dining institution Au Pied de Cochon, where chef Martin Picard tops it with — what else but — slabs of foie gras.

Chicken Liver Pâté at L'Express

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Pâté might not seem like quintessential Montreal cuisine, but this is an excellent city for French fare, and L’Express is perhaps its most iconic purveyor. Its pâté is a classic — smooth yet fluffy and dotted with pistachios.

Pulled Pork Sandwich at Dépanneur Le Pick Up

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An icon among the septum-pierced inner-north crowd, dépanneur-meets-restaurant Le Pick-Up specializes in hearty, affordable sandwiches. A perennial favourite is the pulled pork — tangy, saucy, sloppy. It’s brightened with pickles and served on bread that soaks up all the juice. (A vegan version is also available.)

Steamé at Montreal Pool Room

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Steamed hot dogs, or steamés, are the iconic low-price menu item at Montreal’s greasy spoons, and the Pool Room is perhaps the most beloved institution peddling the simple classic. Get it all-dressed: with onion, cabbage, and mustard. 

Dragon Beard Candy

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A trip to Montreal’s Chinatown isn’t complete without a stop-and-stare at this iconic De La Gauchetière counter. Since 1991, it’s been spinning threads of sugar into compact bite-sized morsels encasing a mixture of peanuts and sesame — a confection that, legend has it, dates back to the Chinese Han Dynasty.

Lanzhou Noodles at Nouilles de Lan Zhou

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This unassuming Chinatown staple grabs the attention of passersby with cooks hand-pulling noodles in the front window, and the restaurant’s substance backs it up. Expect huge bowls of beefy broth with those springy noodles at low prices, or opt for their Dandan noodles topped with spicy beef and crunchy peanuts.

Orange Julep at Gibeau Orange Julep

This three-storey-high orange sphere acts as something of a beacon alongside the Décarie autoroute; while some stop by to pick up a poutine or burger, the Julep’s signature offering is its eponymous drink, best described as part-way between an orange juice and a milkshake. 

Burger at Dic Ann's (multiple locations)

Founded in Montreal North over 60 years ago and now with several locations around the city, Dic Ann’s is Montreal’s home-grown burger chain. They’re known for obscenely thin patties and almost as slim buns, but the spicy meat sauce on the burger is what makes the magic happen.

Griot at Marche Meli Melo

The Haitian diaspora makes up a significant part of Montreal’s population, and this part-grocery store, part-casse-croûte is a long-standing staple in the community. The griot is a favourite — cubes of marinated, spiced, and fried pork shoulder.

Hot Chicken at Chalet Bar-B-Q

This NDG rotisserie has been spinning chicken since 1944, so you know they have the skills to pull off this Quebec staple of juicy sliced chicken on plain white bread, smothered in gravy and topped with peas. Elegant, it is not, but that’s why so many love it.

Babka at Cheskie

From black and white cookies to cheese crowns, Cheskie serves all manner of Jewish sweets. But its decadent chocolatey coils of sweet dough — i.e., the babka — are the hallmark at this beloved kosher bakery, open since 2002 in Montreal’s Mile End.

Bagels at St-Viateur Bagel (multiple locations)

Some New Yorkers may snub our thinner, sweeter, and less-bready version of the bagel, but along with smoked meat and poutine, it’s one of the city’s most celebrated foods. With several locations, St-Viateur is Montreal’s big bagel success story, although roughly half the population swears by its main competitor, Fairmount, a few blocks away.

Latte at Café Olimpico

Fine, a latte is not exactly a “dish,” but Italian coffee shop Olimpico is a true Montreal icon — it’s cheap, it’s hot, and the atmosphere can’t be beaten. For an alternative that’s similarly notable but less touristy, consider Little Italy’s Caffe Italia.

Gnocchi at Drogheria Fine

This tiny pocket of a place on Fairmount Avenue makes one thing only — and it does so very well: piping hot, sauce-drenched, pillowy gnocchi served from a takeout window for 5$. There’s the option of adding red pepper flakes and a generous dusting of Pecorino Romano and taking home a jar of Nonna-approved sauce, too.

The Special at Wilensky's

Open since 1932 and still in the family, Wilensky’s toes the line between lunch counter and time capsule. The Special is the most iconic menu item: all-beef salami, all-beef bologna on a kaiser roll with optional cheese and mandatory mustard. Seriously, please don’t ask them to leave off the mustard.

Panini at Café Milano Montréal

Over 50 years old, St-Leonard landmark Café Milano remains a hub for Montreal’s East End Italian community and one of the city’s primo sandwich shops. Diners can’t go wrong with a panino stuffed with steak, sausage, or capicollo — and a mandatory espresso and cannoli for dessert. Now with locations in Laval and the West Island.

McArthur at Arthurs Nosh Bar

This modern Jewish diner has done an impressive job installing itself as an indispensable Montreal food destination in just a few years, without having to lean on natural wines, tasting menus, or any of that. The McArthur — a crisp-fried chicken schnitzel served with mayo, pickles, and lettuce on challah is a particular favourite, and that chicken comes with an endorsement from American chef Rachel Ray.

The Special at Beautys

Recently revamped and reopened after a one-year hiatus, this Jewish diner is one of the city’s most enduring breakfast staples. And perhaps no item on the menu is more famous than the Beautys Special. Brave the inevitable line-up (or go on a weekday) to fill yourself with some delicious lox, cream cheese, tomato, and onion, pressed between a fresh St-Viateur bagel.

Kouign Amann at Au Kouign Amann

Montreal is an exceptional pastry city, and there are countless places to get great croissants, mille-feuilles, and more. But in one category, this Plateau bakery reigns supreme — the buttery and slightly sticky Breton pastry in its name, the kouign-amann.

Romados

Though not the first to serve delicious, piri piri-slathered, charcoal-grilled bird in the city, Romados was instrumental in popularizing it. Under new ownership since October 2021, it remains a favourite for Portuguese chicken served in quarters, halves, wholes, or sandwich form.

Shawarma Pita at Boustan Crescent

Many will remember the days when Boustan was a lone basement haunt where clubbers went to end their nights downtown. Today, it’s a full-blown chain — no longer owned by “Mr. Boustan” himself — with 24 locations across the city (though many still claim the original does it best). The chicken shawarma is the standard play, but Boustan’s “Creation,” jam-packed with extras like fried eggplants and garlicky potatoes, has garnered a devoted following.

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Smoked Meat Sandwich at Schwartz's Deli

Layers of succulent and tender meat on rye with mustard draw lines out the door at this hallowed institution even in Montreal’s frigid winter. Schwartz’s might be more of a tourist spot nowadays, but this over-90-year-old Jewish deli still gets it right.

Lobster Spaghetti at Joe Beef

Though the recipe for Joe Beef’s fabled lobster spaghetti can be easily found online, many still head to the Montreal landmark for a taste of the real thing. Established in 2005, when Little Burgundy was far from the restaurant hotbed it is today, Joe Beef’s nest of creamy pasta topped with tender chunks of lobster has been a staple since its early days.

Poutine at Ma Poule Mouillée

This Portuguese rotisserie may not be the city’s oldest, but it draws its longest lines. Many diners go specifically for its spin on the poutine. It’s an obscenely large plate of grub done with fries, chicken, chouriço, and spicy, piri piri gravy — rounded out with São Jorge cheese.

Poutine at La Banquise

Plates of gravy, fries, and cheese curds are available all across town — and a true Montrealer will have pledged their allegiance to their favourite long ago. La Banquise is the most touristy of the bunch, but it is irrefutably a Montreal icon. A local fireman opened it as an ice cream shop in 1968, then transformed it into a 24-hour snack bar, and only in the 1980s did poutine — classic or Italian — appear on the menu. Today, it’s still open 24/7, but there are now 30 varieties of the dish on offer.

Foie Gras Poutine at Au Pied de Cochon

From true-to-form classics to new-fangled spins, poutine reigns supreme as arguably the city’s most iconic dish. Nowhere can you get a version as luxe as that offered at Montreal fine dining institution Au Pied de Cochon, where chef Martin Picard tops it with — what else but — slabs of foie gras.

Chicken Liver Pâté at L'Express

Pâté might not seem like quintessential Montreal cuisine, but this is an excellent city for French fare, and L’Express is perhaps its most iconic purveyor. Its pâté is a classic — smooth yet fluffy and dotted with pistachios.

Pulled Pork Sandwich at Dépanneur Le Pick Up

An icon among the septum-pierced inner-north crowd, dépanneur-meets-restaurant Le Pick-Up specializes in hearty, affordable sandwiches. A perennial favourite is the pulled pork — tangy, saucy, sloppy. It’s brightened with pickles and served on bread that soaks up all the juice. (A vegan version is also available.)

Steamé at Montreal Pool Room

Steamed hot dogs, or steamés, are the iconic low-price menu item at Montreal’s greasy spoons, and the Pool Room is perhaps the most beloved institution peddling the simple classic. Get it all-dressed: with onion, cabbage, and mustard. 

Dragon Beard Candy

A trip to Montreal’s Chinatown isn’t complete without a stop-and-stare at this iconic De La Gauchetière counter. Since 1991, it’s been spinning threads of sugar into compact bite-sized morsels encasing a mixture of peanuts and sesame — a confection that, legend has it, dates back to the Chinese Han Dynasty.

Lanzhou Noodles at Nouilles de Lan Zhou

This unassuming Chinatown staple grabs the attention of passersby with cooks hand-pulling noodles in the front window, and the restaurant’s substance backs it up. Expect huge bowls of beefy broth with those springy noodles at low prices, or opt for their Dandan noodles topped with spicy beef and crunchy peanuts.

Related Maps