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I'll never understand why people stand in line at restaurants, especially this one. I think it's only because they spend more money advertising for tourists. My friends and I much prefer the Main across the street, or Snowdon Deli or Deli Boys.

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  1. probably because it's the best of the smoked meat restaurants. it's also fun to go to. its not a depressing diner where old ladies treat you like crap. its in the middle of a popular street. now honestly, who the heck still goes to deli boys - the food is garbage and the staff are even worse.

    5 Replies
    1. re: celfie

      Deli whaaa? Never even heard of it.

      Schwartz's is the best smoked meat, no contest.
      Yes, the experience is fun too (the staff is energetic and hilarious), even when rushed. Not that it's always rushed or with lineups. If you're a local, there's no reason to visit 11-7 on weekends along with the dorks in the Leafs sweaters (personally, I don't think they should get service wearing enemy colours, but I digress...)

      The Main is fine if I want to take up space with a large group, esp post-drinking, or if I feel like eating something different like liver or latkes. There's only one go-to for smoked meat.

      1. re: Shattered

        As a New Yorker (and a nominal Jew, FWIW), I'll pipe in and say that the smoked meat at Schwartz's is better than any Jewish deli pastrami or corned beef currently in New York, and much cheaper. It's also far superior to any other smoked meat I've tried in Montreal. My strategy is to go at 11:30 for an early lunch and beat the crowds. I was scared off of the place for years by the lines, then one day I discovered that most of the line was waiting for takeout and I was able to get a counter spot for an early dinner (around 5:30) without waiting, and this was during high tourist season.



        1. re: Peter Cherches

          Got there Friday around 11:30 AM. A long line out the door. Then I realized you could go into the newish take-out annex and find a spot in the back to eat a sandwich without waiting. Exquisite again.

          1. re: Peter Cherches

            Dude! I wanted that to stay on the down-low!

      2. re: celfie

        If the old ladies treat me like crap I remind them that tip is bigger when they smile ;)

        If the waiters at schwartzs have attitude I tell them off and no tip!

        I like the main's smoke meat over scwartzs because it's less salty in my book.

      3. What's the point of your post? So your personal choice is to not like Schwartz's. Oh okay, I don't like them anymore either. Just because you said so.

        Schwartz's is a Montreal institution, loved by many (not all, and really who cares??) serving first rate smoked meat in an atmosphere that is well, unique. Nobody claims it's Haute Cuisine and nobody says you have to go there.

        1. The Main good if you want speck in your sandwich ( the last I know that keeps it available) But what about Lesters on Bernard I think they offer up the best old fashion in Montreal.Schwartz is riding on a reputation that is no longer reality.

          2 Replies
          1. re: finefoodie55

            «Schwartz is riding on a reputation that is no longer reality»

            Have trouble reconciling the above statement with the fact that I've been eating smoked meat at Schwartz's since the early '70s and have detected no change in quality -- certainly no decline nor any improvement for that matter. I also find the enthusiasm for Lesters hard to understand, though I admit I've not been in years (because I always found it unworthy of the enthusiasm I find hard to understand).

            1. re: carswell

              i lived right next to lesters for 3 years and i can assure you, it is the most over priced deli in town. the smoked meat doesnt even come close to schwartz's. it is bland and tastes of the plastic vacuum seal it comes out of. the staff are also incredibly rude. oh did i mention the prices are outrageous?

          2. You like what you like, and I'll like what I like, thank you very much!

            On the topic of Lester's...I like their Turkey Romanoff sandwich (with swiss cheese extra) and they deliver! It's a meal in itself for me, with a pickle on the side.

            3 Replies
            1. re: devilishlyj

              Schwartz's, even thought they have expanded and things are not the same that they used to be, make some really good smoked meat.
              As far as I know, all the others do not make their own - they simply buy it and put it in the steamer.

              Schwartz's smoked meat has a distinct flavour that no other meat has, except of course Abie's, which is a copycat.

              1. re: devilishlyj

                Carswell here's the deal since Morris the Violinist died and Johnny Hiam the cutter retired it hasn't been the same.The meat has become shreddy and the briskits are now half covered in spice. When I qualified Lesters as the best that was for an Old Fashioned Medium ( if I am going to kill myself it better be worth it).The cutter a Lester's cuts directly through the briskit and leaves the fat in the middle at Schwartz the not so good cutter lumps it all together and does not leave the fat in the middle of the sandwich.That for me makes a big difference in the overall taste.My suggestion is to try Lester's instead of panning them after you " have not been there in years"

                1. re: finefoodie55

                  Well thomasein the tongue is curious just how far back in Schwatrz's history you are going?

              2. I'll never understand why people stand in line at restaurants, especially this one.
                I always get my smoked meat to go, and sit on the ledge in front of Berson like I have done for decades :)

                1 Reply
                1. re: bomobob

                  people typically wait in line when they wish to purchase a product and there is a line

                2. Went today to buy 3 briskets of smoked meat to ship to some friends in Afghanistan. When they heard where I was sending it to, they threw in a few jars of mustard.
                  I picked up a few liters of maple syrup to complete the package and shipped it off.

                  1. Essentially there are 2 types of smoked meat in Montreal, The wet stuff such as Lester's a.k.a. 'gentile' (goy) smoked meat, and the 'ry a.k.a. 'traditional smoked meat'. The lovers of the wet will never like the dry and vice versa.

                    No, the quality of the Schwartz's product has remained pretty even keel since forever, and yes, there have been the good cutters and then the not-so-good cutters. The cutter can make a huge difference. In fact, just a few weeks ago a cutter actually made an attempt on my life by serving me a lean sandwich... Thank god I caught this one before what would have surely been an instant death.

                    What is sad about Schwartz's is the Steak, Yep, the steak used to be excellent, and a good deal. Once upon a time it was just under an inch thick. Now, I believe they have gone metric, and you could measure that sucker at just about a cm. Too bad, it was pretty darn good back it the day.. Fortunately Jano's next door still serves one of the better rib steaks on the main... (for the price).

                    As for the main.... Well, sorry but this place got a black mark in my book years ago when they tried to serve me latkes that they put on the grill because they did not want to wait for the fryer to warm up (it was past 1:00 a.m. on a saturday night in the early 80's). I gave them a few fair chances to prove themselves since, but the smoked meat is passable, the fries awful, and the atmosphere bleak at best...

                    If I am going to enjoy a heart attack on rye, the environment better be damned well entertaining....

                    My second choice for a good Smoked meat sandwich... I am surprised no one mentioned this yet... is Quebec Smoked meat on Center Street. Now this is a good sandwich, and the antics of the guys behind the counter, is almost as entertaining as the old Schwartz's... This place could be a gold mine if it were not for the fact that the keystone cops making the sandwich are so process challenged that it is amusing. I am not trying to be rude, but these guys are making some of the better smoked meat in the city, of which most all of it is sold to the trade.

                    Their little retail operation is not geared to making sandwiches, and from the attitude of the guys making them are not too interested in making sandwiches either... and although they use a Berkel slicer the sandwich is still pretty decent... Their potato salad is excellent, but often missing from the fridge.. They will always bs you about it being in production, and offer to sell you the recipe for $20...

                    The fact that they used to have a sign behind the counter that said:

                    No disrespecting the customers
                    No profanity

                    gives you an idea of what you are dealing with...

                    Just my thoughts on the matter...

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: IPECAC Montreal

                      Thanks for your input and welcome to ChowHound!

                      Perhaps no one has mentioned Quebec Smoked Meat because this thread is mainly (pardon the pun) focused on Schwartz's. You'll find much of the past eight years' worth of smoked-meat debating, including QSM, in this thread:

                      The best place for smoked meat

                      1. re: kpzoo

                        I caught that, and thank you for the thoughtful reminder. The topic got breadth when mention of other smoked meat joints were added earlier in the thread. Otherwise, I would have stuck to Schwartz's only. N'est pas?

                        And thanks for the welcome...

                      2. re: IPECAC Montreal

                        You'll have to try MAIN again. Will you be shocked to know that apparently Main's smoked meat is from Quebec Smoke meat? They stopped doing their own smoke meat 4 ot 5 years ago.

                      3. I agree. I lived next to both the Main and Schwartz's for years. In the end I preferred the smoked meat at The Main. As for the service it's pretty bad at both places so I don't see it as an issue. At the very least it's not worth the long line-ups.

                        1. What does it mean "medium-fat"? Why do the staff call it medium-fat when I ordered fatty? What do I have to say to get really fatty?

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: nooyawka

                            Maybe you should say 'fatty-fatty' when you want it really fatty. Medium-fat is suppose to be more fat than medium, but less fat than fatty.

                            1. re: nooyawka

                              I was sitting at the counter one day a few years ago. Old man wearing a trench coat and a fidora is sitting next to me and orders a plate of speck. He is served a plate of speck: sliced smoked meat FAT. No meat, just sliced fat.
                              It looked delicious.
                              Maybe order a speck sammich? Or a 1/2 and 1/2 speck and medium meat?
                              Let us know!.
                              Oh yeah, the old man finished his plate, smacked his lips, paid, and walked out - no immediate cardiac arrest was evident.

                              1. re: porker

                                I saw this done at the Main, maybe 10 years ago. With a jumbo sandwich. I've heard of people getting a contact high from standing in a cloud of pot smoke; in this case, I came as close to a contact heart attack as was physically possible.

                                Must have been great, though.

                                1. re: davekry

                                  I did experience palpitation. Not sure if it was a physical or emotional response....

                                2. re: porker

                                  Ha! Nice story...okay, maybe I'll stick with medium-fat.

                                  1. re: porker

                                    Paid? I always heard speck is on the house. Although since I once got a slice that was almost nothing but fat in the middle of a medium-fat plate order, I've come close enough to not go that route.

                                3. I would like to know if I am the only one to notice a small change in Schwartz's smoke meat?
                                  The meat is drier and slices crumbles more easily.
                                  This is not my recollection of a smoke meat ordered "fat" about 6 months ago.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: Ruy Blas

                                    Consistently? I know it can vary a fair amount within a brisket even if one asks for a medium.

                                    1. re: Ruy Blas

                                      I had the same "crumbly" meat a few weeks ago, I ordered a medium-fat and the slices did not hold.