Last Updated on January 9, 2023 by MacNaughtan
The moment we walked into Lester’s Deli in Montréal’s Outremont neighbourhood, we knew it was going to be a good day.
Arriving a little after 11 am, an hour or two before the rush would begin, the patio was sprinkled with people sitting at green plastic tables with matching chairs, and big blue Boréale umbrellas providing shade on hot summer days.
lester’s deli experience
The inside of the deli, however, is where you’ll find the best seats. Still quiet, we slide onto a banquet seat facing the deli counter. The wall behind us is covered with over 60 years of memorabilia, a large mirror in the centre. To the right, along the back wall, is the deli’s menu, written in both French and English.
Across from us, the deli counter is buzzing with activity as Billy, the deli’s current owner and son of Eddy, who started the deli in 1951, juggles answering the phone and greeting customers. Within minutes of sitting down, Billy offers a warm greeting behind the counter, as his sister, Sybil, places menus in front of us.
A ball of energy with short curly salt and pepper hair and black-rimmed glasses, Sybil instantly makes us feel at home, and even my 13-year-old travelling companion begins to perk up. An impressive feat in itself.
Both Billy and Sybil are delightful, warm and friendly. After six hours of driving, we were happy to chill and watch the action, and amused by Sybil’s constant apologies for not entertaining us more.
An endearing gesture which cements our love for Lester’s Deli and has me dreaming of future visits.
Having previously dined at Schwartz’s Deli, I order a smoked meat sandwich, and with Sybil’s recommendation, choose medium-fat shaved smoked meat on seedless rye bread with mustard. As well as some crunchy deli-made dill pickles.
When my 7oz smoked meat sandwich arrives my mouths waters as my brain tries to figure out the best way to dig in.
Taking Sybil’s advice, I use my knife to slowly part the two halves, then pick up the right side with both hands, and give it a little smush.
The smoked meat is juicy with a superb hit of spice, and the rye bread is fresh with a light flavour, making it the perfect vehicle. One of the best tasting smoked meat sandwiches I have eaten, and my current favourite in Montréal.
Next time, I need to have a bagel and lox or perhaps some brisket, or maybe another smoked meat sandwich…
Dining Note: Lester’s Deli is licensed to serve beer and wine.
lester’s deli goodness, to-go
If you’re in a hurry, grab some fresh rye bread, deli meats, the house mustard and some pickles, and enjoy the deliciousness of Lester’s Deli at home or in a local park.
The smoked meat is available in vacuum-sealed packets or hot and shaved while you wait. Brisket, smoked turkey, salami and smoked salmon are also available. Pick up some Karnatzel, a container of crunchy dill pickles or their steak spice blend.
lgbtqia2s+ safe space • neighbourhood: outremont • 1057, ave bernard • open: wed-sat 8am-9pm, mon-tues 8am-8pm • price: $-$$
Disclaimer: The opinions in this review are entirely my own. The staff at Lester’s Deli did not know I would be reviewing the restaurant, and our meal was not comped.