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Why Montreal bagels are superior to all others

Lilly Vogelesang By Lilly Vogelesang Published on November 3, 2015

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What makes Montreal bagels so special? I try to explain to people my absolute love for bagels, and why once addicted to Montreal bagels I can’t eat bagels anywhere else.

Let’s start by describing bagels you might find at a typical American store. Generally, these are what I like to call bread-in-the-shape-of-a-ring. In other words, the bagel has the same interior texture, density, and composition as bread. It just has a hole in it.

In contrast, a real Montreal-style bagel has a dense, ropy texture to it. It’s quite solid and very satisfying to bite into.

The key is in the way a real bagel is made. Check out a simple recipe here

The way they make the bagels at famous Montreal bagel shops like Fairmount and St-Viateur bagel are like this:

  • 1. Knead the dough
  • 2. Cut it into long strips, then roll these strips into circles (no, don’t make a hole with your thumb, this will give a fatter, less dense bagel)
  • 3. Boil the bagels 1 min each side
  • 4. Sprinkle sesame seeds or poppy seeds on the bagel (sesame being the most popular)
  • 5. Put them in a wood oven and bake for 10 minutes on each side

Done! The trick to making a bagel that doesn’t taste the same texture as bread is the way you roll the bagel and the boiling process. You can see a bit more about how the experts roll the bagels here:


This rolling process is fundamentally what differentiates a Montreal bagel from a New York bagel, which is also boiled then baked.

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So if you’re headed to Montreal, then check out Fairmount Bagel or St-Viateur bagel for a real bagel experience. My favourite place to go is Fairmount, which is partly because it’s within walking distance of Bookwitty offices. But I also like Fairmount because it’s open 24 hours a day so late night craving? No problem. Bagel time!

Fairmount was also the first bagel shop in Montreal, and has been open since 1919. Wow… they’ll be celebrating their 100 year anniversary soon! Go Fairmount!

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