Poutine is a gooey clusterfuck of french fries, coagulated gravy, and cheese curds, and it's Quebec's preeminent culinary triumph. It all started in 1957, when a greasy spoon called Lutin Qui Rit (Laughing Imp) filled a bag with french fries, cheese nuggets, ketchup, and vinegar and shook it up. When the bag exploded all over the counter, someone called the heaping eyesore a maudite poutine (Acadian for "cursed mess"). Soon after that, another nearby casse-croute added gravy to the mix and a brown star was born. Nowadays, poutines are full of everything from mushy green peas to bolognese sauce (called a "Michigan"). Whether it's haute-cuisine duck-gravy poutine or trashy pouette-pouettes with stray pubes, you can find our distinct culture's national dish everywhere in Montréal. Here are eight greats:
LA BANQUISE—24-7 poutine shrine with over 20 choices of toppings, including steamé hot dogs and smoked meat.
FRITES DORÉES—Although the décor isn't as quebecedlique as the Montréal Pool Room next door, the actual poute will blow your dome.
PATATI PATATA—Tiny hamburgers and patatines with peppers and onions. All da way ben raide, ôstie.
DECARIE HOT DOG—This tiny dump only serves hot dogs, french fries, and classic poutines. Dat's it, dat's all.
LAFLEURS OR LA BELLE PROVINCE—Greasy fries, squeaky curds, glutinous sauce: these are the chains where les québecois go to get their lard on.
AU PIED DU COCHON—The fois gras poutine may cost 20 bucks, but where else in the world can you get a bloated duck liver dumped onto your pooters? Malade mentale.
FAMEUSE OR RAPIDO—These are the places for late-night poutines when you've been hanging on the dark side: St. Denis Street.
CHEZ CLAUDETTE—All-night dive frequented by trannies looking for a peppery pooty fix. Inside tip: order freshly squeezed carrot-celery juice. Your doody bubbles will thank you in the morning.