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Smoking Meat Since 1951 – Lester’s Deli

by Jason

If you’re a Montrealer and a Montreal who likes to eat, then it’s obvious that you have cherished “go-to” places for certain meals or dishes; whether it be the juiciest gyro with awesome vampire repelling tzatziki sauce, the most decadent slice of chocolate cake, the richest espresso to keep you awake, or the ripest cup of fermented yak’s milk that any Inner-Mongolian would swear is authentic. Now think of your favourite spot for smoked meat… no, not that place, the other one.

I recently hit up this deli that’s been around satiating Montrealer’s appetites for smoked meat for years. Located in Outromont, Lester’s Deli has been around for over 60 years and is well known to the community. A family run business – whose owners bare the actual name “Lester” – boasts that they are the only joint in town to still make their smoked meat the old fashioned way using the same family recipe since the beginning.

Lester's deli
There’s a few ways you can have and enjoy smoked meat – in a sandwich is usually the way to go. My dad likes the smoked meat “plate” – which is essentially a plate (duh) of smoked meat sided with a stack (about half a loaf) of rye bread – leaving you to make your own sandwich… or five. I ordered the meat medium which means it’s sliced from the middle section of the brisket where you get the perfect slices of beef that are both lean and fat. The meat is moist and the fat is not intrusive. We have it programmed in our heads to stay from fat like… it was fat or something. But in this case you need it; the fat stays soft and doesn’t eat like hardened gelatinous snot. But even if it was, it’d be the most delicious kind. The fat is where the flavour is and that is where it’s at.

Lester's deli
The Lester’s “Super Deluxe” special comes with fries, a dill pickle and drank. The fries were fries; hand-cut and fried until golden.

Lester's deli
Lester’s first opened their doors in 1951, but the interior looks like it opened yesterday. Kitschy artifacts line the walls as well as an old school hand-painted menu board in the back that cover up the beige walls that may or may not have been white at one point. Hokey to some, I consider it a testament to the past; if it ain’t broke then don’t fix it. Like the recipe; tried and true and has been the same since the beginning.

Lester's deli
In a city where alliances are strong and demarcation lines are fortified with karnatzel, unless you’re not originally from here, your loyalty is born unto you. But that does not mean in any way you shouldn’t get out there and discover something new. We are fortunate to live in Montreal where diversity comes in all shapes and sizes, tastes and flavours. I have a friend who was so loyal to his favourite spot that he refused to eat smoked meat from anywhere else. Until I had my smoked meat throw down a few years back and his favourite smoked meat from blind tasting turned out to be the President’s Choice brand. The look on his face was priceless, it was like he just found out he was adopted.

Lester’s Deli
1057 Ave Bernard
(514) 276-6095
Deli Lesters on Urbanspoon

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Eric September 25, 2013 - 3:14 pm

Hey Jason, I always enjoy your blog. What exactly did they say concerning “boasts that they are the only joint in town to still make their smoked meat the old fashioned way using the same family recipe since the beginning”.

I’m not sure they it’s made in house anymore like say Schwartz, I believe it’s mass produced, correct me If I’m wrong. It’s got that slimy wet texture to it like it’s pumped with all the wrong stuff.

Jason September 26, 2013 - 11:45 am

Hi Eric,

You’re right, not many places still make their own and have family recipes entrusted to third party manufacturers. I know what you mean with that taste of nitrate having your mouth feel like it’s covered in wax – the time I went, the meat wasn’t slimy.

Antoine September 29, 2013 - 12:27 pm

Maybe you’re confusing Lester’s deli with the meat processing company named Lesters (

Eric September 30, 2013 - 12:19 am

Antoine, no. I’m aware that Lester’s deli is different than the Lesters company you listed.

I’m pretty sure that Lester’s Deli does not smoke their meats in house and that a big outfit does it for them. It’s nothing special IMO.

The best right now is Delibees in Pointe Claire on Valois Bay. They smoke it in house and it shows, awesome product.

sam September 27, 2013 - 12:46 am

Hey, is the rss feed for the site broken?
Mine has stopped working. Turns out I’ve missed a couple of reviews!

Eric September 27, 2013 - 2:49 pm

Thanks for the reply Jason. So it is a 3rd party making their product?

Jason September 27, 2013 - 10:05 pm

I am speculating, yes.

Dave December 19, 2013 - 7:15 am

I remember the time when I first visited Lester’s Deli and since then I’ve been hooked to their super delux!

candice March 7, 2014 - 7:41 pm

hi everyone,
i can definately clarify a few things:
1) it IS made in house (not mass produced)
2) the ingredients are all natural and low sodium content compared to the pther smoked meats our there

jason u are wrong, its the same family recipe since the beginning… inform yourself better before spreading the nonsense

Adam May 29, 2014 - 2:27 pm

Good smoked meat but avoid their poutine – they don’t use real curd cheese. Also the last time I had it, the gravy was very watered down. When I brought it up they said “that’s how we make it”. Meh. But good smoked meat like I said.


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