Food & Drink

Where to Get the Best Bagels in Montreal (That Are Way Better Than New York's)

Published On 12/01/2016 Published On 12/01/2016
St-Viateur Bagel Shop

St-Viateur

Mile-End & Other Locations

When Holocaust survivor Meyer Lewkowitz left Europe for Montreal, he followed his ambition to open a bakery that would make authentic bagels like those in his native Poland. Half a century later, customers are still enjoying the circular bread the way Lewkowitz intended them to, and his shop has become synonymous with Montreal-style bagels. The best part for patrons -- aside from eating the honey-sweetened bagels -- is watching the bakers masterfully craft each one by hand while taming the mountain of freshly baked ones from the wood-burning oven.

Fairmount Bagel Bakery

Fairmount Bagel

Mile-End

Fairmount Bagel has been in a feud with St-Viateur for decades in a bready battle over whose bagels are best. The bakery, which prides itself as Montreal’s first bagel proprietor, opened its doors back in 1919 on St-Laurent Boulevard before moving to Fairmount Street 30 years later. While St-Viateur has expanded to many corners of Montreal and roams the city with its food truck, Fairmount remains a single, stalwart location rife with history. With a variety of bagels like onion, cinnamon raisin, flax seed, and pumpernickel that steal the show, Fairmount Bagel’s classic flavors like sesame and poppy seeds are not to be passed up.

Bagels on Greene

Bagels on Greene

Westmount

Putting 'bagels' in the name of this spot was a bit deceiving -- yes, it's known for its fresh bagels used in its sandwiches and your typical cream cheese schmear, but first and foremost, Bagels on Greene is a neighborhood cafe. Serving Indian and Thai dishes, salads and sandwiches, it caters to both a meat eating and vegan audience. And while the bagels come in several flavor iterations, including gluten-free, the must-haves are the cheese bagel and coconut bagel.

Hinnawi Bros

Plateau & Downtown

Hinnawi Bros have been taking the humble sesame seed bagel and experimenting with how to fill it for ultimate deliciousness during last three years with stunning results. Whether you opt for the Londoner with smoked meat, Swiss cheese, and honey mustard, the Canadian with grilled, maple ham, brie, and caramelized onions, or the Montrealer with cream cheese, egg, ham, Swiss cheese, and lettuce, you will not be disappointed with how it's transformed the bagel you might have overlooked.

Beaubien Bagel

Little Italy

Walking down Beaubien Street, it’s hard to resist the intoxicating aroma of the wood-burning oven that overflows from Beaubien Bagel. Blueberry, chocolate, onion, oatmeal raisin, and sesame seed are just some of the bagels that are made fresh on-site here every morning. This is no frills type of place -- just good neighborhood bagels that are lighter and fluffier than their New York counterpart.

REAL BAGEL DĂ©carie

REAL Bagel Decarie

CĂ´te-Des-Neiges

Freshness is mighty important to the folks over at REAL Bagel on Decarie Boulevard who hand make the bagels every morning. While REAL Bagel prides itself on the execution of classic flavors like sesame and poppy seed, everyone should give the spicy, all-dressed French toast and Oreo bagels a shot. If you don’t want to feel too much like a glutton for getting one of each flavor, you can specially order miniature versions of each bagel.

Montreal Kosher Bakery

CĂ´te-Des-Neiges

Shops like family-owned and operated business Montreal Kosher Bakery have been keeping the original 17th Century tradition of the Polish Jews alive and well. Opening its doors in 1976, the shop boasts three generations of bakers behind the counter, serving up tempting Jewish staples like challah bread and potato knish. Don’t forget to add some U-shaped cheese bagels and full-circle whole-wheat bagels to your order before you go.

Bagelmania

Chomedey, Laval

If for whatever reason you find yourself stranded in Laval and are in need a good bagel before making your way back to Montreal, head over to Bagelmania. Better stock up on a few daily-made bagels just in case there’s traffic on your way back home. Grab some cheese and cinnamon raisin bagels before you start on your journey.

Ville-Émard Bagels

Ville-Emard Bagels

Ville-Emard

While it may be too cold to enjoy the terrace at the moment, it’s never too cold to chow down on some warm bagels straight from the wood-burning oven at Ville-Emard Bagels. Moist and doughy on the inside, crispy on the outside, there's always fresh bagels on hand here with almost 40 kinds made in the morning and another batch made in the afternoon.

O'Bagel

O’Bagel

Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie

Baking its bagels in an oven that’s a gas and wood-burning hybrid, O’Bagel has been sliding its wares down a marble ramp and into brown bags for just a year -- but don't let its age versus the other shops on this list dissuade you. Its bakers might be young, but they're full of knowledge and an energy that's taking inspiration from its surroundings at Marche Jean-Talon. Serving gourmet and natural cream cheeses, bagelwiches, and bagels to take home, O'Bagel is injecting the artisanal side of things into a classic.

District Bagel

District Bagel

Town of Mont-Royal

After purchasing Mount Royal Bagel, District Bagel’s mark in the fabric of Montreal expanded exponentially. Making kosher bagels in various creative flavors like carrot, apple cinnamon, banana chocolate chip, and even vegan bagels, District Bagel is definitely a shop to visit if you want bagels handmade, without salt, boiled in honey-water, and cooked in a wood-burning oven.

Courtesy of Bagel St-Lo

Bagel St-Lo

Verdun

Looking to eat a fresh bagel in a hip location on a comfy terrasse that's dog-friendly? Bagel St-Lo is the place for you. Granted, this isn’t the time of year for eating on a terrasse, but dog-lovers are flocking to this neighborhood cafe that serves up the classic cream cheese and smoked salmon bagel, spicy jalapeno cream cheese, and sundried-tomatoes and bacon cream cheese on fresh, bready rings.

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1. St. Viateur Bagel 263 rue Saint-Viateur Ouest, Montréal, H2V 1Y1 (Mile End)

Open since 1957, St. Viateur has become famous for its Montreal-style bagels that are sweeter, smaller, and less doughy than their brash New York brethren. The secret? The hand-rolled bagels are boiled in honey water before baking in a wood-fired oven. The bakery is in lifelong competition with nearby Fairmount Bagel, and the two share a history worthy of Shakespearean drama: the man who opened St. Viateur partnered with Fairmount's owner's son to do so. Carb-fueled feud aside, St. Viateur's bagels have a distinct flavor that doesn't restrict them simply to breakfast -- the flagship Mile End location is open 24 hours, seven days a week.

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2. Fairmount Bagel 74 Ave. Fairmount Ouest, Montréal, H2T 2M2 (Mile End)

Welcome to the best (and first!) bagel bakery in Montreal (just don't say that in front of nearby St. Viateur Bagel): open since 1919, Mile End's Fairmount has seduced locals and tourists with its slightly sweet, wood-fired bagels. When you enter, you see bakers sliding the hot dough discs out of the oven with a wooden slat, adding a visual to the fresh-baked smell that fills the place. Sesame and poppy seed are the local favorites, but those craving a bit more umph should go for the "all dressed," a close approximation to an everything bagel, rolled in coarse salt, garlic, caraway, and onion.

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3. Bagels on Greene 4160 Saint Catherine Street West, Westmount, H3Z 1P4

Yes, the bagels at Bagels on Greene are true to the Montreal school and the wood-fired oven is the cafe's raison d'ĂŞtre, but it's more than just a breakfast stop. In addition to cheese-stuffed and coconut bagels, there are savory lunch options like roast beef panini, flatbread pizza, and vegan Indian- and Thai-inspired curries. That said, you can never go wrong with a jumbo bagel with lox and a side of house-made chips (which are made of bagels, of course).

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4. Hinnawi Bagel & Café 372 Sherbrooke East, Montréal, H2X 1E6 (Plateau)

Bagels aren't just better in Montreal (thank you wood-fired oven), they're better when eaten in a cute, comfortable space. Hinnawi Bros Bagel & Café gets the formula right, and its dense, sweet speciality can be loaded with cream cheese and smoked salmon or filled with slices of cheese and deli meat. The warm space is the kind of place that makes you want to linger over your cappuccino.

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5. Bagel Beaubien 828 Beaubien E., Montreal, H2S 1S9

You'll smell the wood-fired bagels before you see them at Bagel Beaubien, which churns out the Montreal speciality in a barebones space in Little Italy. Crispy on the outside but pillowy on the inside, the bagels here are visibly lighter and fluffier than their New York counterpart. Blueberry, chocolate, onion, oatmeal raisin, and sesame seed are just some of the flavors that are made on-site every morning.

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6. REAL BAGEL DĂ©carie 6647 Boulevard DĂ©carie, Montreal, H3W 3E3

A chalkboard sign beckoning customers to "venez voir notre four" is enough to suggest the authenticity of the Montreal-style bagels at REAL Bagel DĂ©carie. Branching out beyond the traditional, it makes speciality bagels like Oreo, French toast, and coconut. The deli counter serves non-bagel items like pre-made chicken schnitzel, brisket sandwiches, and kale salad.

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7. Montreal Kosher Bakery 7005 Victoria Ave, Montreal,

Shops like the family-owned and operated Montreal Kosher Bakery have been keeping the original 17th Century tradition of the Polish Jews alive and well. Opening its doors in 1976, the shop boasts three generations of bakers behind the counter, serving up tempting Jewish staples like challah bread and potato knish. Don’t forget to add some U-shaped cheese bagels and full-circle whole-wheat bagels to your order before you go.

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8. Bagelmania 3262 St.Martin O, Laval, H7T1A1

True to the Montreal-style, Laval's Bagelmania bakes its slightly sweet carb rings in a wood-burning oven every day. The shop is a solid stop for breakfast if you're on the road, but be sure to stop at an ATM -- it's cash-only.

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9. Bagel Ville Emard 6556 Blvd Monk, Montréal,

Ville-Émard’s wood-burning oven churns out almost 40 kinds of bagels twice daily. Expect usual flavors like sesame, poppy, and onion, along with more unconventional ones like chocolate-banana and coconut. If it's bagel sandwiches you're after, opt for lox, smoked meat, and egg salad, or the totally savory pizza bagel. The bagels here are known to last a few days without turning rock solid, so don't be afraid to stock up by the dozen.

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10. O'Bagel 253 Avenue Mozart E, Montréal, H2S 1B5 (Rosemont)

Using a gas- and wood-burning oven, O'Bagel flash-bakes its bagels by removing them from the flames at just the right time: when the exterior is roasted but the interior is still doughy. The bagels are first boiled in Greek honey water, so they have a hint of sweetness that can't be matched at other Montreal bagel shops. Varieties include the standard black seed (poppy) and white seed (sesame), and though there are plenty of simple sandwich spreads (house-made cream cheese, butter and jam), the "bagelwich" menu offers savory combinations that work for breakfast and lunch.

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11. District Bagel 709 Chemin Lucerne, Montréal, H3R 2G4

Montreal bagels are known to be smaller, thinner, sweeter, and denser than New York bagels; case in point: District Bagel in Mont-Royal. The hand-rolled bagels here come in a staggering 18 flavors and are all certified kosher. Cream cheese options like olive, garlic-dill, scallion, pesto, and lox are available for schmearing, but more filling spreads like egg salad and spicy tuna are also on hand.

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12. Bagel St-Lo 5411 rue de Verdun, Verdun, (Verdun)

In an open dining room masked with eclectic artwork, Bagel St-Lo dishes out bagels that are so fresh, they're often still warm when placed in your hand. Aside from the signature bagel rings, you'll find breakfast items like eggs Benedict and chocolate banana French toast, as well as lunch-ready sandwiches like a turkey club, BLT, and ham-and-Swiss.