Who makes Montreal’s best smoked meat? Who makes Montreal’s best bagel? Who makes Montreal’s best poutine? These debates have been raging in our city for ages. Here at The Main, however, we don’t believe in choosing favorites, but we do like to know the facts. Here’s our breakdown of one classic Montreal food debate—the smoked meat at Schwartz’s vs. Main Deli.

Why Schwartz’s is the Best


3895 Saint-Laurent Boulevard

  1. The Legacy: When you think Montreal smoked meat, you think of Schwartz’s. It’s as simple as that. Schwartz’s has been in operation since 1929 and is by far the most famous purveyor of smoked meat in the city. Even the spice blend they use to season their smoked meat is famous as Schwartz’s is credited with inventing what is now known as Montreal Steak Spice.
  2. The Tradition: Usually when restaurants get popular, they move on to bigger and better things by expanding and maybe adding new locations. Schwartz’s, on the other hand, has stayed true to its origins and remained in the same location over the course of its entire history. Sure the restaurant is a little cramped, but the knowledge that Montrealers have been eating at the same deli counter for more than 85 years more than makes up for the lack of space.
  3. The Smoked Meat: Not too much to say here. When it comes to straight-up quality. Schwartz makes the best smoked meat in town. End of story.

Why Main Deli is the Best

The Main- Mel R

3864 Boul St-Laurent

  1. The Space: Unlike Schwartz, which gets insanely crowded, The Main actually gives you a little room to breathe. There are many more tables at The Main and the dining room is bigger which means you can eat in peace without your neighbor breathing down your neck. The extra space also means no waiting in line so you can chow down on your food while watching the line-dwellers across the street at Schwartz’s suffer.
  2. The Variety: As awesome as it is, not everybody likes smoked meat. For those who believe variety is the spice of life, The Main is a much better option. The smoked meat is delicious but The Main is almost equally famous for it’s matzo ball soup, verenikas and homemade cakes.
  3. The Staff: Due to the massive crowds, the service at Schwartz’s can often be curt, bordering on rude. The Main’s staff, on the other hand, are always friendly and greet you with a smile. They also tend to have the same people working the same shifts throughout the week so if you find yourself at The Main at 3am on a few consecutive Saturday nights, you can rest assured you’ll have a familiar face waiting for you.

Which do you prefer? Tweet your answer @TheMain.