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MTL SnackDown: Schwartz’s vs. Snowdon Deli!

Posted by Emily / January 27, 2008

It began on a day like any other. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping, and my stomach was grumbling. I tried to pinpoint exactly what my craving was: I wanted something salty and meaty. Immediately, Schwartz’s popped into my mind. I could almost taste the savory, textured smoked meat already. But then, I remembered something an acquaintance had said the other day that I’d found surprising, but also a bit obvious: that Schwartz’s was not the only place to get great smoked meat. Moreover, he said, the true champion of smoked meat is not Schwartz’s, but the Snowdon Deli.

And thus, without even realizing it, my friend had instigated… a Montreal SnackDown.

For those who are as yet unfamiliar with the SnackDown protocol (and that probably includes everyone, since I just invented the term five minutes ago), allow me to explain. A SnackDown is much like a SmackDown (think professional wrestling, no holds bar battle, etc.) in that two competing parties duke it out for honor, glory, and publicity. The only difference is that a SmackDown promotes pointless violence while a SnackDown promotes deliciousness.

And so, I set out to commence the Battle of the Jewish Delis. My first stop was Schwartz’s. Although I’d sampled Schwartz’s delicious smoked meat many times before, I felt it was important to get a fresh taste. The crumbly, smoky, bright red meat was as wonderful as ever. It was very difficult not to finish the whole thing, but I knew I’d have to save room for the Snowdon Deli.

I should mention that in this particular SnackDown, I was judging on the food alone. Factoring atmosphere and service into the competition would have been nearly impossible. The quiet, laid back, early-bird-special ambiance at the Snowdon Deli (which is both a deli and a diner) couldn’t have been a starker contrast to the hubbub back at Schwartz’s, where I had to wait in a line before I could squeeze onto a seat at the counter. At the Snowdon Deli, there were plenty of available seats and I seemed to be the only customer who hadn’t brought grandchildren.

As it turned out, this SnackDown was much harder to call than I had anticipated. Snowdon’s smoked meat sandwich was much moister and less crumbly than Schwartz’s, and that appealed to me because the dryness of Schwartz’s sandwiches is always what I enjoy least. But Snowdon’s sandwich tasted much more peppery than Schwartz’s. Perhaps this is an acquired taste, and it was by no means off-putting, but I prefer the subtle flavors of Schwartz’s smoked meat.

Snowdon fought like a champ, but I’m going to have to declare Schwartz’s the winner of this SnackDown. You just can’t beat that pure smoky flavor. At least, the Snowdon Deli couldn’t beat it. But if anyone has the skinny on another contender who can take on Schwartz’s in a SnackDown, I’d like to hear about it.

3895 St. Laurent

Snowdon Deli
5265 Decarie Blvd.



Kate M. / January 27, 2008 at 09:24 pm
There's <a href="";>Abie's</a> in the West Island. I disbelieved too, until a friend brought me a pound of their smoked meat. It was surprisingly good, just a tiny bit healthier perhaps (a smidge less fat and salt). Haven't been to the resto so can't comment on the ambiance.

Reports say Smoked Meat Pete, even further afield on Ile Perrot, is good, but for me that might as well be Narnia.
Fagstein / January 28, 2008 at 03:10 am
<a href="";>Google seems to disagree</a> with your claim of term-coinage, clever as it is.

(For that matter, who has smoked meat sandwiches as snacks?)
kim / January 28, 2008 at 11:20 am
I've eaten smoked meat sandwiches for a snack!
But, admittedly, I felt pretty ashamed at my gluttony afterwards. For about five minutes.

Smoked Meat Pete, all the way over in Narnia, does offer up some competition for Schwartz’s. Reubens can also be a fair runner-up. But that’s the only ones I’ve found so far that are comparable.
Stephane / January 29, 2008 at 12:48 pm
Why go to Schwartz and wait till death to eat?

Right in front of it, there's this joint called MAIN and it's just marvelous.

Great food, no crowd at all and you get Smoked Meat too if you like.

Really, I live nearby and this MAIN place is always my first pick.

Nice article nevertheless.
Shawn / January 29, 2008 at 09:36 pm
Buddy, all I have to say is: DUNN'S SMOKED MEAT POUTINE.
deli / January 30, 2008 at 05:45 pm
i believe you are forgetting about something important. Snowdon deli has two types of smoked meat, one is spicier than the other, so you really should have sampled the other as well. That, and that there is no beating snowdon deli.
BOB / February 18, 2008 at 01:04 pm
Georges Deli Restaurant, LAVAL.

Pure shit.
Francis / April 30, 2008 at 02:33 pm
Try Lesters on Bernard
Not bad at all!
Bendude / May 21, 2008 at 10:41 pm
The joint in front of Schwartz just smell bad and there's something in the taste that just make people wait on the other side of the street. Dunn's for me is the only thing I can eat if I'm near Schwartz. Concerning Lester, too close of what you can taste at la belle province... Juicy rubber...

I might going to try that one on snowdon. Also, I've tried the one in NYC. Not bad, but the size!!! It's like 5 Schwartz’s sandwich in one. I remember when I went there, there was Clinton picture on the wall saying that it was is favorite restaurant and meanwhile, on television, he was at the hospital for heart attack!!!

Joey / January 27, 2010 at 08:16 pm
I've never been to Schwartz, the lineups turn me off. I live in the West Island and Abies is very good. I prefer it over Snowdon deli. You should try it.
3408936 / June 19, 2011 at 09:06 am
What a lovely day for a 3408936! SCK was here
299032 / June 19, 2011 at 09:06 am
What a lovely day for a 299032! SCK was here
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