There are certain institutions in Montreal that one must visit. They have been open for almost 100 years and have remained mostly unchanged throughout time. They have maintained consistency and have not compromised their identity or quality as their popularity has catapulted them into international recognition.
In the Mile End of the Plateau are Wilensky's Light Lunch (est 1932) and Fairmount Bagel (est 1919). When we stepped into Wilensky's, it was like being transported into a different era. The space had a vintage but well kept feel to it. The floor plan was wide open leading us up to the counter where there was a line of stools where patrons, most likely regulars, quietly ate their lunch. There's not much of a menu as most people just order the lunch special - the only choice you get is with or without Kraft or Swiss cheese. But Kraft sells a variety of cheeses you say, at Wilensky's, Kraft is cheddar cheese. The lunch special is a sandwich for less than $5, which is made with salami, bologna, mustard and cheese, if you so choose.
Fairmount Bagel is just down the street from Wilensky's. With racks and racks of prepackaged bagels, there is little room leftover for customers to queue. It was a little daunting to place our order since a few varieties that we wanted were not ready yet, so we had to pick something else. A lot of flavors listed on their website were no longer being sold fresh from the bakery. Bagels from Montreal are different that most bagels as they are denser, chewier, and have a slight malted flavor. Although, not really a bagel, our favorite was the NY style pretzel.
Another popular destination in the Plateau is Schwartz's (est 1928), a Jewish deli. The line is often out the door, but luckily we were able to get two seats at the counter right away. We ordered a black cherry pop and two smoked meat sandwiches - medium. Smoked meat is most similar to what we know as pastrami. It's served on rye bread with yellow mustard. By ordering it medium - my meat was not too lean and dry but not too fatty - just the right amount.