Poutine was invented in Quebec and if the noble chefs of its biggest city have anything to say about it, it will be reinvented here, too. Using the holy trinity of French fries, gravy, and cheese curds as a canvas, here are some of the more extreme masterpieces they've created...
Seal merguez poutine
Au Cinquième Péché (address and info)
At Au Cinquième Péché, Chef Benoît Lenglet is certainly not one to shy away from dishes that might make some diners uncomfortable (like, for example, calf sweetbread, which is neither sweet nor bread, for those who are unfamiliar). The restaurant receives seal meat in April after the legal hunting season, when it then serves its hugely popular and just a bit controversial seal merguez (sausage) poutine made with sweet potato gnocchi, Brussels sprouts, cheese curds, and au jus.
Foie gras poutine
Au Pied de Cochon (address and info)
Au Pied de Cochon is known for its sublime meat dishes prepared in a wood-fired oven. It is also known for serving lots and lots of foie gras. (Sooooooooo much foie.) So naturally, foie gras poutine also made its way to the menu. For those looking for a quick fix without the lengthy wait for reservations, there is the Au Pied de Cochon food truck, which also serves the famed poutine.
Poutine de Homard
Garde Manger (address and info)
Canadian celebrity chef and Iron Chef America winner Chuck Hughes started serving his famous lobster poutine at Garde Manger, and carried it over to his newest Montreal spot Le Bremner. Loaded with large Canadian lobster chunks and smothered in a rich lobster bisque sauce, it's no wonder that this is the dish that led to Hughes beating out Bobby Flay in Iron Chef America.
Lucky’s Truck (address and info)
Make no mistake: if the animal is edible, it will end up on a poutine in Montreal. Behold, the duck confit poutine at Lucky's Truck. Made with duck confit, cheese curds, and caramelized onions with balsamic vinegar, all in a red wine and foie gras sauce, the La fameuse is indeed something worthy of fame.
A.A. Restaurant (address and info)
Fun fact: "poutine," loosely translated from its native Québécois French, means something along the lines of "big pile of sh*t.” Seriously. It's not meant to be pretty or gourmand, and while we certainly do enjoy those fancy poutines, there's something to be said for a big sloppy mess of French fries covered in stuff, as it was meant to be. Nowhere nails this better than A.A. Restaurant, a locals diner that is open 24 hours and serves massive portions for ridiculously cheap prices. Get the Italian poutine, which swaps out the gravy for bolognese sauce.
Smoked meat poutine
Mâche (address and info)
It seems almost inevitable that these two local dishes would combine to form a poutine Voltron. So it stands to reason that you can find smoked meat poutine on the menu at nearly every restaurant that serves either. Mâché specializes in Québec comfort food like poutine and les pâtés chinois (Chinese shepherd's pie) in a cozy café atmosphere, where eating a bowl of poutine piled high with smoked meat ends up feeling like a bowlful of warm hugs.
Poutineville (address and info)
A somewhat new entrant into the pantheon of Montreal poutines is the Pogo poutine -- made with cut up mini corn dogs. We have Québec-based snack bar chain Poutineville to thank for that. So, uh, thank you?
Boîte à Fromages (address and info)
It was a happy day when food trucks were once again made legal in Montreal, and an even happier day when Boîte à Fromages - Raclette Express took to the streets with its menu built around gooey, buttery, melty Raclette cheese poured over things, the ultimate in cold-weather comfort food thanks be to the Swiss. It makes its own version of poutine with Raclette cubes, pulled beef, and caramelized onions in a red wine demi-glace, which is every bit as rich and decadent as it sounds.
La Savoyarde poutine
La Banquise (address and info)
La Banquise is sort of the grand dame of Montreal poutineries, serving 22 different kinds of poutine in addition to burgers, hot dogs, and breakfast since 1968. With so many poutine options to choose from, it's tough to say which ones stand out as the most unique (and/or weirdest). There's the La Elvis, with ground beef, green peppers, and mushrooms, but our money is on La Savoyarde -- bacon, onions, Swiss cheese, and sour cream.
La Frite Alors!
Frite Alors! (address and info)
Frite Alors! has eight styles of poutine with 17 different sauces to choose from. While none of us here at Thrillist are mathematicians, we feel confident in saying that's a hell of a lot of possible flavor combinations. If you find that too overwhelming (math!), then stick with the classic -- La Frite Alors!. Its signature poutine is made with green peppers, mushrooms, onions, and bacon. So, pretty much someone at Friite Alors! ordered a green pepper, mushroom, onion, and bacon pizza one night and said to themselves, "You know what would be cool to try on a poutine?" The rest is history.
1. Au Cinquième Péché4475, rue Saint-Denis, Montreal
2. Au Pied de Cochon536 Ave Duluth Est, Montréal
3. Garde Manger408 rue Saint-Francois-Xavier, Montréal
4. A.A. Restaurant3702 Notre-Dame O., Montréal
5. Mâche1655 Rue Saint-Denis, Montreal
6. Poutineville1348, rue Beaubien Est, Montréal
7. La Banquise994, rue Rachel Est, Montréal
8. Frite Alors!5235A ave. du Parc, Montréal
This small bistro pours a variety of wines while serving up quality French fare made with fresh local and seasonal ingredients.
Dining at “the foot of the pig” ("Au pied de cochon") is a Montréal must, as Chef Martin Picard has created a temple for all things meaty, decadent, and over-the-top (read: poutine topped with foie gras!). While ultra-luxe ingredients like red wine chutney and pig's trotters are a common theme here, their application to low-brow foods is what sets this bustling restaurant apart. The price tag might not match the casual atmosphere, but exaggerated indulgences like pan seared foie gras with goat cheese and raspberries on a brioche will blind you to dollar signs.
This dimly-lit, Old Montreal resto's blackboard specials change on the regular and include staples like seafood platters, lobster poutine, and braised short ribs.
If you just NEED an old-fashioned greasy spoon diner experience, then A.A. is one of the best places in Montreal to start.
This comfort food spot and burger joint will satisfy you with their specialty burgers and filling poutine, not to mention their outstanding pâté chinois, which is a classic French Canadian dish similar to shepherd's pie.
They got the name right here, that's for sure. Poutineville serves up a myriad of different poutines from standard to 15lb heart attack poutine with bacon, chicken, wieners, ground beef, ham, onions, peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, and mozzarella cheese curds and gravy.
This Montreal Poutinery, to coin a phrase, is open day and night and serves up scrumptious curds 'n gravy fries in a variety of configurations. On top of that, there's a more general menu for traditional fare such as burgers and sandwiches, and they've got a number of microbrews to choose from as well. But really, lets cut the pretense, we know you're mainly here for the scrumptious and squeaky pouty-pouts.
This chain of Belgian-style restaurants uses french fries as a central theme, which is basically the greatest central theme for anything ever. The fries are served in a cone, and can be purchased in regular and sauce-drizzled varieties. The poutine here is available in numerous configurations, ranging from regular sauce to braised beef. Should you want something more than just french fries (inconceivable!!), there's also a bevy of traditional fare including burgers and sandwiches, with several imported and domestic beers for you to wet your whistle.