Montreal is the land of smoked meat. And locals will tell you that the place to get it is Schwartz's, a classic Hebrew deli where the feisty staff have been serving up the good stuff for the last 80 years. Just be ready to answer one question: "How would you like it sliced?"
First things first. Be honest with yourself, when you go to Schwartz's, you're not going out for health food. You're there for some of that legendary greasy meat. But just how fatty you want your meat is up to you. Frank, a longtime manager on his 28th year at Schwartz's, recommends starting with the "medium" cut.
"The lean sliced is too dry and the fat one is for regular customers or real carnivores, because it's pretty fatty," says Frank.
All cuts are served on rye bread with yellow mustard. I like it with fries and a pickle. The coleslaw is also a good choice.
The next thing you may wonder is, how is Montreal smoked meat different from pastrami or corned beef? Well, corned beef is boiled beef brisket, while pastrami is a brisket where the fat is coated with different spices. Schwartz's smoked meat is marinated for 10 days the old-fashioned way, seasoned with the original recipe that dates back to 1928, and is smoked daily on the premises. The process is slow, and that's what makes it so good. But I don't expect you to just take my word for it. You'll have to get in line and try it for yourself!
As with many institutions, there's often a line-up to get in. Don't let it discourage you! get As long as you're not part of a group, it's really not that long of a wait. For those who really don't feel like waiting, my tip is to go to Schwartz's À Côté, the next-door take-out place. This newly opened extension also has a few seats in the back and they are usually empty. You can even buy sealed packages of meat, ready for travel without refrigeration for 48 hours.