Schwartz’s: Montreal’s signature flavour!

C’est un immigrant juif de Roumanie, Reuben Schwartz, qui ouvre le resto en 1927

A trip to Montreal just wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Schwartz’s Deli, also known as the Montreal Hebrew Delicatessen. The long, narrow room with its no-frills decor seats fewer than 10 diners at the lunch counter and about 50 more at the tables. Part of the fun is sharing a table with five other people you don’t know, who may be celebrities or just regular folk!

If the restaurant is modest, its reputation is definitely not. Their world-famous smoked meat sandwiches have earned Schwartz’s its reputation as a veritable Montreal institution.

It was opened in 1927 by Reuben Schwartz, a Jewish immigrant from Romania, who left his job as a delivery boy for another Montreal deli. He wanted to offer diners the most lip-smackingly delicious kosher-style smoked meat they ever tasted. Using no preservatives, he seasoned briskets of beef with his own secret spice mixture. The pieces were then smoked for eight to nine hours in the eatery’s brick smokehouse and steamed for another three.

An inveterate gambler, Reuben was forced to sell his restaurant in 1932 to pay off his debts. The establishment then went through a succession of three other owners. The most famous, René Angélil, Céline Dion’s agent and spouse, acquired the restaurant with a few other investors in 2012 for a cool $10 million, according to the Huffington Post.

That might seem like a hefty price for such a cramped little eatery. But what it lacks in size it makes up for in charm. Not to mention the unique flavour of its irresistibly tender smoked meat. The Rolling Stones even had Schwartz’s sandwiches delivered backstage during one of their Montreal shows! And when sax virtuoso John Zorn was in town for a gig at Place des Arts, he refused to go on stage until the producers got him a Schwartz’s smoked meat sandwich.

Schwartz’s Deli

Montreal Hebrew Delicatessen

3895 Saint-Laurent Boulevard

schwartzsdeli.com