Sunday, June 23, 2024

The Best Poutine in Montreal

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Where’s the absolute best hot dog in Chicago? The most delicious burrito in San Francisco? The best poutine in Montreal? Welcome to Taste of the Town, where we call on a local expert to share the absolute best versions of their city’s most iconic food.

The “true” origin story of poutine—perhaps Montreal’s most iconic dish—is a topic of heated debate. A cautiously accepted version traces its humble roots back to a restaurant in the Quebec dairy town of Warwick in 1957 when one customer ingeniously requested a mixed bag of cheese curds and fries. The owner obliged, but not without quipping it would be “une maudite poutine” (a damn mess). Seven years later, the restaurant Le Roy Jucep in Drummondville added gravy to the melange, thus completing the trifecta.

The combination rapidly gained momentum at diners and snack shacks known as casse-croûtes—particularly in areas close to Quebec dairy farms, where curds were fresh and in ample supply—until eventually making its way to countless restaurants in La Belle Province’s largest city. Today poutine offerings reflect an ever-evolving cultural identity. Traditional renditions abound, but so do interpretations contributed by Portuguese, Lebanese, Indian, Haitian, and other immigrant communities, each one undeniably “Montreal.”

Whether you’re planning a trip around events like the Montreal International Jazz Festival or Formula 1 Grand Prix, carving out a stop for this hot, unwieldy, delicious concoction is a necessary experience. These are the top spots for a curd-squeaking, gravy-drenched Quebecois specialty—pronounced “poo-tsin,” please.

Chez Claudette

351 Laurier Ave E

Often cited as the pinnacle of poutine in the city, this four-decade-old bright yellow beacon near Laurier Park certainly stands out as one of Montreal’s most adventurous purveyors. With over 40 alternatives to the typical ingredient trio, the poutine menu includes select gravies and meats (merguez sausage, tandoori-spiced chicken, beef bourguignon, or pulled pork) alongside veggies, sunny-side up eggs, and beans for good measure. Once a 24-hour haunt and popular post-drinking stop, it now closes at 10 p.m. daily—but it hasn’t lost its laid-back, come-as-you-are attitude.

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Chez Ma Tante

3180 Rue Fleury E

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