Travel

Quebec Specialty

Establishment neighborhood
Maelstrøm
181 Rue Saint-Vallier E, Saint-Roch
By day, Maelstrøm is a gourmet coffee house serving some of the best cold brew in Quebec City. By night, though, it morphs into a cozy, low-key bar that feels like a locals’ hangout. Exposed-brick walls and mismatched vintage furnishings give it a bit of a Brooklyn vibe, and the cocktails (poured by the friendly bartenders) are strong. It’s a great place to meet up for a predinner drink before a meal at one of the cute neighboring restaurants in Saint-Roch.
Épicerie J.A. Moisan
699 Rue Saint-Jean, Saint-Jean-Baptiste
There’s something timeless about this old-fashioned grocery store, where shoppers go as much for an ambiance of nostalgia as for restocking their provisions. Worn wooden counters, wicker baskets, and glass cases hold an eclectic selection of artisanal products, including hand-milled soaps, exotic spices, coffee beans, wedges of regional cheeses, dried and cured charcuterie, and house-made sandwiches and cold salads, which you can consume at the café's marble-topped tables.
Confiturerie Tigidou
5508 Chemin Royal, Saint-Jean-de-l'ile-d'Orleans
Confiturerie Tigidou has one specialty: small-batch jams. And the husband-and-wife team Catherine Trudel and Vincent Paris have honed them to perfection. The duo’s not-so-secret recipe allows the pure, natural flavors of the harvests to shine, unspoiled by preservatives or too much sugar. The season’s offerings are scrawled on a chalkboard; pick up the jars to go or have the fruity spreads smothered over house-made scones in the centuries-old barn with antiques and stacks of firewood.
Jean-Talon Market
7070 Henri-Julien, Little Italy
There are several European-style markets across Montreal, but Jean-Talon is one of the best known, as well as the largest. Open since 1933, the market shines year-round: In summer, stalls overflow with fresh fruit and produce from local farms and fresh seafood from the Gaspésie region; in winter, you can buy every imaginable maple treat (fudge, taffy, syrup, you name it). A few of our favorites include Havre aux Glaces for unusual sorbets like masala chai, lattes at Café Saint-Henri, and Quebec cheese at La Fromagerie Hamel.
Lester’s Deli
1057 Ave. Bernard, Outremont
Montreal residents are about as fanatical about their smoked meats as they are about their bagels. Lester's owner Billy Berenholc has reigned supreme over this corner of Barnard for sixty years and is a total neighborhood fixture who knows everyone’s name. Lester’s version of the ubiquitous medium-fat, smoked-rye sammy is called the Cadillac, and that—washed down with a beer and several spoons of mustard—is the perfect introduction to the expansive menu of smoky briskets, pickles, and breads for a first-timer.
Fairmount Bagel
74 Ave. Fairmount O, Plateau-Mont-Royal
Bagels in Montreal are something of a point of pride—locals take them very seriously, and there's some debate about what spot is truly the best. A top contender? Fairmount (its "rival" is nearby St-Viateur), which was opened in 1919 by a Russian immigrant named Isadore Shlafman. Both spots sell fresh ones twenty-four hours a day. What makes these bagels different than the bagels you'll find elsewhere is both their size (they're smaller than the ones you'd find in, say, New York) and their sweetness—likely thanks to the addition of honey or malt syrup. There are several flavors on offer, from blueberry and chocolate to whole wheat and onion, but no matter whom you ask, sesame is the most popular. A tip: Bagels are sold in a pack of six and can last in the freezer for up to a few months should you want to take them home.
Schwartz’s Deli
3895 Blvd. St. Laurent, Plateau-Mont-Royal
Come for the signature sandwich—smoked meat piled atop chewy, house-made rye bread and finished with golden mustard—and stay for the old-school setting (Schwartz's has occupied the same spot since its founder Reuben—a Jewish immigrant from Romania—opened the doors in 1928). The brisket is marinated in spices and herbs for a full ten days prior to entering the smoker, no chemicals added. If in doubt when ordering, the fail-safe method is to point at another diner’s plate, but for the brisket aficionados out there, the sandwiches come lean, medium, or fatty—we recommend medium for that sweet spot of crispy edges and tender meat.
Hof Kelsten
4524 Blvd. St. Laurent, Plateau-Mont-Royal
Although this bakery has only been churning out their specialties—crusty French baguettes, lightly sweet challah, and fluffy panettone (to name a few)—for only a few years, it's become an institution in the city. Owner Jeffrey Finkelstein's talent for what he does is both evident in his incredible breads and pastries (he's said he adds a "Jewish twist" to everything he bakes) and resume, which includes positions as both The French Laundry and Per Se. A great spot to grab a coffee and pastry to enjoy at the communal table. (Note: the buttery, fluffy scrambled eggs are worth trying.)
Kem CoBa
60 Ave. Fairmount O, Plateau-Mont-Royal
Tucked into Mile End, this is the kind of hole-in-the-wall that might stop you in your tracks once you spot it (see: the limeade exterior, hot-pink steps, and a line that wraps around the block). Homemade soft-serve and sorbet are the things to order here, and what they're really known for are their inventive flavors, like coconut-mango and rose-raspberry, which change regularly. Note: The line moves swiftly, so don't be deterred—and it's cash only.
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