Posted on October 11th, 2011 by .

Poutine is a mix of french fries, gravy and cheese that has become, along with Smoked Meat and Bagels, one of the dishes most closely associated with Montreal. As such, the notion of who invented it and where you’ll find the city’s best version is still up for debate…

An authentic Québécois poutine contains french fries, sauce (gravy is the most common, but everything from BBQ to veloutés are used) and cheddar cheese curds (which are the solid dairy product produced when milk is curdled). These are perhaps the only incontrovertible facts about this devilishly heavenly dish. Several small towns in Quebec claim to have invented the dish in the late 1950s, most notably Drummondville and Warwick, and its name is said to derive from the initial inventor who proclaimed that “ça va faire une maudite poutine” (“it will make a damn mess”).

Given that it’s made of just 3 main components, poutine is a dish that is easily replicable at home. The internet is filled with poutine recipes, from healthy to awesome/kind of time-consuming. Even if you haven’t been to Montreal, you may have tried something similar already. In the United States, especially in New York and New Jersey, it is often known as “Disco Fries” or “Elvis Fries”, where the curds are most often replaced with mozzarella. As you can see below, Boston alone has a whole handful of variations.

A friend of mine once said that the best poutine is the one found directly between the bar and your bed. And given how well suited to late-night libations this food is, he might not be wrong. But there are, of course, choices. For a classic, straight-up poutine, many still swear by chains like Lafleur and La Belle Province, which have franchises all over the city and are open late. A step up quality-wise (in my humble opinion anyway) are places that you’ll probably hear mentioned if you ask a local for the city’s best poutine: Mamm Bolduc, Rapido, the tiny Patati Patata (whose poutine is blessed with what may be the best gravy in the city) and La Banquise, which is not only open 24 hours a day, but serves a staggering amount of variations on the classic…

Being a city that loves its cuisine, both of the high and low variety, there is no end to the new variations that Montreal chefs have dreampt up. Perhaps the city’s most famous high-end poutine is the one built with duck fat fries and topped with foie gras from Chef Martin Picard’s much-beloved Au Pied du Cochon. Another superstar of the Montreal poutine world is the lobster poutine that helped Chuck Hughes of Garde Manger win his turn on Iron Chef.

In fact, finding a novel take on the poutine in this city is a bit like asking the question “Which place in Montreal has the hockey game on TV?”. Short answer: basically everyone, if they know what’s good for them. But I’ll leave you with two final ones that come topped with one my favorite foods in the world: pork. Try Méchant Bœuf’s “Charlevoix poutine” with braised pork and Migneron cheese or Cafe Local‘s pulled pork poutine, which can come with sweet potato fries if you feel like really mixing things up. Just make sure your post-poutine schedule involves some naptime.


  1. Mayssam

    / Oct 11th

    Ah the eternal question of where to find the best poutine in Montreal! Everyone has an opinion on it, I personally like the one at Patati Patata

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