The Jean-Talon market is the Mecca of all things delicious in Montreal. Chefs, foodies and amateur gourmets flock to this culinary Disneyland to satisfy all their food needs. In this “largest open air market in North America” you will find fishmongers, butchers, local cheese artisans, Quebec farmers and foragers, duck, turkey and quail eggs, flowers and fresh herbs as well as more exotic fare like Moroccan pastries, Eastern European-style sausages and even a taco “king”…
Eating your way through the market as you shop is like taking a delicious trip around the world without ever leaving the city (foodies will want to check out this deal on food tours of the surrounding area). Sure, you can go for the ordinary ham and cheese sandwich but you can also try one (or all!) of these delicious must-have morsels that will definitely make your visit even more memorable.
Fish from Les Délices de la mer: Whether you decide to get yourself a snack of the highly addictive Atkins et frères maple-glazed salmon bites or some delicious breaded and griddled cod ($5.50) (available in summer only), Les Délices de la mer is as fresh as it gets when it comes to fish. Located in the Gaspé peninsula (just like Atkins et Frères) Les Délices specializes in locally-caught fish and seafood and carries all Atkins et Frères house-smoked high quality products.
Tacos from El Rey del Taco ($8 for a portion of 3 tacos): This “king’s” tacos are some of the best in the city. Almost everything is made on site, from the slow-braised meats to the neon-coloured complimentary nachos to the horchata. The menu is extensive but if you have a craving for tacos, my personal favourite is the Pastor pork taco. The meat is seasoned and cooked perfectly and melts in your mouth. Work is underway to open a tortilla making facility next door, so that absolutely everything can be made on site.
Spicy sausage sandwich with sauerkraut from Balkani ($4): Balkani carries many Eastern European food items, from cheese and cold cuts to condiments. However, it is for their artisanal spicy sausage and sauerkraut sandwiches that I keep going back. The contrasting flavours of the warm and spicy sausage and the fresh sauerkraut are a classic and will make you want to ask for seconds.
Bhajis with tamarind chutney from La Dépense ($3): These little crunchy carrot and leek nuggets are an explosion of flavour! They are made and cooked on the premises (only on weekends) and are served piping hot in little paper bags. For an extra shot of zing, the spicy and sweet tamarind chutney is an absolutely mandatory addition! The best part is that you can buy both the bhajis (refrigerated) and the chutney to take home!
Ice cream from Le Havre aux Glaces ($3.75 for a medium bowl): End your visit on a sweet note with a scoop – or three – from one of the best artisanal ice cream makers in Montreal. Try one of the unique and seasonal fruit sorbets or opt for the classics. Will you succumb to a scoop of the deliciously dark 72% chocolate, the rich burnt maple caramel or the nutty pistachio, my personal favourite?
Jean-Talon Market, 7070 Henri-Julien Street, (514) 277-1588
Mayssam is the food and travel writer behind the blog Will Travel for Food. Born and raised in Lebanon, she’s lived in New York City before settling on Montreal as her home. She roams this fair city of hers – and the planet! – for delicious culinary discoveries.