The Dish You Have to Try When Visiting Montreal

Photo of Hayley Simpson
Writer28 April 2017

So, what is the must-try food when visiting Montreal, and Canada as a whole? Why, it’s poutine, the country’s national dish. Here’s a look at what constitutes poutine, and why you need to sample the dish at La Banquise in Montreal.

What is poutine?

Poutine is an iconic dish in Canada and is made from three simple ingredients: French fries, fresh cheese curds, and gravy. Although the recipe is straightforward, its history is not. There are two different restaurants in Quebec that believe they invented poutine in the mid-20th century. Le Lutin Qui Rit in Warwick was serving poutine—minus the gravy—in 1957, but Le Roy Jucep in Drummondville holds the trademark for “l’inventeur de la poutine.”

La Banquise | © Shinya Suzuki / Flickr

Apparently, poutine was becoming such a frequent off-the-menu request that the owner of Le Roy Jucep put it on the menu between 1965 and 1967. The name became synonymous with the dish when restaurant chains became involved, but it could also be linked to that fact that other potato-rich dishes go by the name poutine as well. It’s also been suggested that the name comes from the term pudding (pouding in French). Although poutine hasn’t been around for hundreds of years, it quickly captured the appetites of Canadians, so don’t miss trying the national dish during a visit to Canada.

La Banquise: the best in Montreal

Now that you know what poutine is, the best place to sample it in Montreal is at La Banquise. The 24-hour restaurant is known not for inventing poutine but rather revolutionizing the dish. The “one and only” family-run and owned business opened in Montreal in 1968. It began as an ice cream shop before becoming a snack bar. It serves a variety of food, but more importantly, it has over 30 different varieties of poutine on the menu (including vegan-friendly options). They use the three-ingredient poutine base and top it with all kinds of delicious combinations.

Poutine at La Banquise | © Shinya Suzuki / Flickr

A specialty is L’Astérix, which includes poutine topped with mushrooms, sour cream, pepper sauce, and Montreal’s other delicacy, smoked meat. There are dishes topped with all kinds of protein, including ground beef, hot dog sausage, breaded chicken, pepperoni, bacon, and even slices of a corn dog. Why not go all out and try the T-Rex or La Fred Caillou? They both include four different types of meat on top of the poutine! Or go Canadian-Mexican and try La Taquise, which is poutine with guacamole, sour cream, and tomatoes.

La Banquise truly has a poutine combination to suit every diet and person. Plus, they’re open all day; therefore, you can get your poutine fix at 12 am or 12 pm. Don’t miss trying poutine at La Banquise for an authentic Canadian experience.

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