About Schwartz's...

Montreal's Schwartz's
Let me tell you the dirty little secret about that venerated Montreal smoked meat institution, now owned in part by Céline Dion and Rene Angélil, that you might not like to hear: It's NOT the only iconic smoked meat game in town.

In fact, it may not even be the best smoked meat in town. Wha'!? "Blasphemy" you say? Listen, I grew up dans la belle ville. Spent 33 years there and had many a Schwartz's sandwich (medium, double mustard, fries and the mandatory cherry cola). And yes, it's delicious. No argument there. And yes, it's a part of the history of the city, Montreal Jewish history and now every Montrealer's history. It's a landmark. A foodie and tourist mecca. One of those places that puts Montreal on the gastronomic map. Yeah, yeah. I know. I agree. But hear me out.

People, there is an alternative to the now insanely popular and line-up encumbered Schwartz's; A more accessible, authentic Montreal smoked meat source exists mere metres away across the street! It's called The Main. And here's the dirty little secret that Schwartz's and their reputation-makers don't want you to know: The Main is every bit as good as Schwartz's. Yes. There. I said it. Damn straight.
The Main, Montreal's other smoked meat
My father taught me and my sister this (my mom hates smoked meat, so she abstained from the delicious viande fumée excursions my dad planned) while we were but wee kiddies. It was an invaluable lesson. Now, whenever I'm back in Montreal, I'll make a point of getting out to St. Laurent Street and popping by the Main. Sure, I'll sneak a quick peek at Schwartz's on the off chance there's no line, and if there isn't, I'll flip a coin and head to one or the other.

But let me tell you, for my money (and time) The Main is the shit. It delivers on quality, service and the decor is every bit as old, musty and atmospheric as Schwartz's. The only difference is, at The Main, you actually have breathing room and booths to eat at.

Again, I'm not disparaging the Schwartz's experience. Everyone should have it. But from my veteran Montrealer's perspective, The Main's sandwich is delectable and its relaxed atmosphere and perpetual non-trendiness makes it my choice for smoked meat in Quebec. Everyone should also experience The Main.

That being said, I fucking hope Céline and her entourage don't get it into their heads to franchise Schwartz's into some Nickels-type monstrosity. Leave Schwartz's alone! You hear me Angélil?! You purchased a living piece of Montreal history. Don't fuck it up. Just enjoy your lifetime of free smoked meat sandwiches and your V.I.P. stools and let the place continue to bring joy to taste buds around town. And for God's sake, don't try and muscle out your competition across the street. You can exist in harmony with The Main like Schwartz's has for decades.

God, I'm hungry now.


  1. Meleah,

    You're telling me. And I live in Toronto now, where's there's nary a smoked meat sandwich to be had.

    Oh sure, there are many pretenders who claim an authentic Montreal-style smoked meat offering, but they all suck. There's nothing like a Schwartz's, The Main, Lester's or even Dunn's for that matter. (And yes, to all you readers who may just point out that Dunn's DID franchise into Toronto some years ago, that place had nothing on the Montreal establishment.)

    Anyway, Maleah, all this to say... guess we're both hungry.

  2. Ah The Main. It's come through for us on many late nights and the quality hasn't budged. The only thing that's changed is the sign. And I noticed that they redid the ceiling too when I was last there for a midnight club roll. God did I pay for that. Never again!

  3. There hasn't been so much complaining about a new owner of a Montreal institution since George Gillette bought the Canadiens.
    I heard claims there will be no franchising.

  4. I heard that too Shawn. But that was only from the Angélil side. The other part-owner said he'd never say never. So that leaves a door WIIIIIIIDE open for Schwartz's Toronto, Vancouver, Trois-Rivieres, L.A. or wherever.

    Me no like this. No like at all.

    1. And then, Celine Dion posters on the walls of every location.
      They will also feature a Celine sandwich which is a little cheesy and very stale.

  5. So now, Schwartz's is selling their meat at the IGA grocery store chain!
    What's next? Moishe's available at Shoppers Drug Mart?