Montreal, Quebec – St-Viateur Bagel & Café VS Fairmount Bagel

The Great Montreal Bagel Debate:

St-Viateur Bagel & Café VS Fairmount Bagel

It’s the great Montreal bagel debate: St-Viateur Bagel & Cafe or Fairmount Bagel? They’re both Montreal institutions specializing in freshly baked bagels and it’s as popular to locals as it is for tourists. These aren’t the only two places specializing in home made bagels, but they are two of the oldest, most well known, and arguably the best.

If you’re a bagel fan then you should put this on your foodie itinerary in Montreal, but be prepared to eat them hot on the spot because they’re both so much better that way. However, if you’re in Vancouver, have comfort in knowing that you can get a similar experience at Mount Royal Bagel Factory in North Vancouver.

St-Viateur Bagel & Cafe and Fairmount Bagel are both open 24/7 and offer hand rolled bagels that are boiled in honey water and cooked in a wood fired oven. These are characteristics of Montreal style bagels which are also thinner, smaller, sweeter and have larger holes than New York style bagels.

I tried St-Viateur Bagel first and I thought it was great, but then I tried Fairmount and I personally liked that one better. The Fairmount one wasn’t as crispy on the exterior, and more fluffy, pillowy, softer and slightly sweeter than the St-Viateur bagel. The Fairmount bagel also had a glossy finish which I liked and it was the first bagel factory to open in Montreal, although that doesn’t really mean anything.

When you get anything fresh out of a wood-fired oven it’s almost always going to be amazing, so that’s kind of what you get here. For what they are, they’re excellent, and if you take value in a fresh home made bagel you’ll love this. It’s not necessary to try them both, but you should try one just because they’re both iconic and typical foodie things to do in Montreal.

Restaurant: St-Viateur Bagel
Cuisine: Bakery/Bagels
Last visited: November 6, 2011
Location: Montreal, Quebec (Plateau Mont-Royal)
Address: 1127 Ave Du Mont-Royal E
Nearby subway stop: Mont-Royal
Where I stayed: Hotel Chez Swann
Price Range: $10 or less

1Poor 2OK 3Good 4Very good 5Excellent 6FMF Must Try!

Food: 5 (if you eat it on the spot)
Service: 1.5
Ambiance: n/a (to-go)
Overall: 4.5
Additional comments:

  • Since 1957
  • Family owned and operated
  • Famous for freshly baked bagels
  • Montreal style bagels
  • Local/tourist favourite
  • No seating
  • Open 24/7

**Recommendations: Sesame bagel

It’s a little family owned and operated shady hole in the wall that started in 1957.

Make sure you get a bagel that’s hot and fresh straight from the oven and don’t hesitate to eat it on the spot. You won’t appreciate it as much if you don’t, or if you buy them prepackaged.

On the table:

**Sesame Bagel – 5.5/6 (Excellent!)

  • Single $.65 1/2 Dozen: $3.60 Dozen: $7
  • You can get a small package of Philadelphia cream cheese from the fridge ($.50?) and again you should really eat them on the spot or it’s really not the same.
  • It was nice and warm with a toasted crispy exterior that was reminiscent of a wood-fired oven pizza crust.
  • The inside was chewy with the kind of chew that sticks to your teeth.
  • The crumb wasn’t dry and it was almost like a bread stick, but denser.
  • Although it had some egg, it wasn’t an egg bread or anything that rich either.
  • It wasn’t distinctly salty or sweet (even being dipped in honey) and I found it quite neutral in flavour.
  • The toasted sesame seeds gave it a nutty flavour and aroma and this is the most popular flavour.

St-Viateur Bagel & Café on Urbanspoon

Restaurant: Fairmount Bagel
Cuisine: Bakery/Bagels
Last visited: November 11, 2011
Location: Montreal, Quebec (Plateau Mont-Royal)
Address: 74 Ave Fairmount Ouest
Nearby subway stop: Laurier
Where I stayed: Hotel Chez Swann
Price Range: $10 or less

1Poor 2OK 3Good 4Very good 5Excellent 6Tres Excellent!!

Food: 6 (if you eat it on the spot)
Service: 2
Ambiance: n/a (to-go)
Overall: 5
Additional comments:

  • Since 1919
  • Family owned and operated
  • Famous for freshly baked bagels
  • Montreal style bagels
  • Local/tourist favourite
  • No seating
  • Open 24/7

**Recommendations: Sesame bagel, garlic bagel

Fairmount Bagel was the first bagel factory in Montreal. It started in 1919 and moved to this location in 1949 and from the outside it also looked like a shady hole in the wall.

The inside was more like a professional operation compared to St-Viateur Bagel and they offered 20 varieties of bagels compared to the 3 I saw being offered at St-Viateur. Both are to-go places and most popular for sesame bagels.

St-Viateur Bagel didn’t have a production process as grand as this, so I was already quite excited. It was almost like the Krispy Kreme of bagels but even better since each one was being hand rolled.

Just like with St-Viateur Bagel, be prepared to eat your bagel on the spot and make sure you ask for one fresh from the oven.

On the table:

**Sesame Bagel 6/6 FMF Must Try!

  • Single $.75 1/2 Dozen: $3.65 Dozen: $7
  • Again, eat it fresh from the oven on the spot. I stress that.
  • The sesame bagel is the most traditional and must try flavour.
  • The sesame, poppyseed and plain bagels are being constantly made on the spot so they’re guaranteed fresh unlike the less popular varieties.
  • The exterior wasn’t crispy which didn’t bother me even though I do like crispy.
  • Instead it had a shiny exterior and almost looked like a glazed donut.
  • It was slightly sweeter than the St-Viateur Bagel even though both are boiled in honey water.
  • This one just seemed more obvious in characteristic and even in flavour, but by no means was it sweet like a dessert or sweet bread.
  • The flavour wasn’t particularly sweet or salty, it was just sweeter than St-Viateur ones. It was also nutty from the sesame seeds which I loved.

  • The inside was fluffier, pillowy, and softer than the St-Viateur bagel.
  • As you can see the crumb wasn’t dry or tightly packed and it was almost bread stick like, similar to the St-Viateur ones.
  • These ones could be enjoyed without cream cheese and I didn’t feel that way about the St-Viateur ones.
  • If you allow either bagels to sit in a bag overnight they get really hard and stale and you just won’t appreciate it unless you toast them again.

Cinnamon & Raisin Bagel 5/6 (Excellent)

  • Single $.95 1/2 Dozen: $4.80 Dozen: $9.45
  • This was very good and the raisins were quite plump, juicy, sweet and not brittle, tiny, or sparse.
  • The cinnamon flavour was apparent, but also not strong if you’re not a fan of cinnamon.
  • It wasn’t dessert like, but I could taste both ingredients nicely.
  • This wasn’t fresh from the oven though (common for their flavoured bagels) and it was quite dense. The density isn’t as noticeable when they’re fresh.

Fairmount Bagel on Urbanspoon


  • Krystal says:

    I ALWAYS make sure to visit St. Viateur when I’m in Montreal. I have never tried the Fairmount Bagels though, guess that will be my new quest next time I visit the city. Thanks!

  • Jonathan says:

    My only question is: did you bring me some?!?!

  • Sara says:

    I remember when I was a child, I would go (for many years) get a warm bagel from St Viateur after my swimming practice at the YMCA. Back then, they a were about 30 cents each. And for Halloween, this would be my stop cause they gave kids a bag of bagels.

    I miss the old days. I went back about a month ago (after not visiting that area for the last 6 years or so) and somehow I feel I have moved on….

    Haha food and its memories…

  • WS says:

    Mijune, how does Mount Royal Bagel Factory in North Vancouver, fare compared to St-Viateur or Fairmount? It might shock you, & other people in Vancouver, that there’s a Mount Royal Bagel location in Montreal. It was open in Montreal around 4 years ago by the original founder of Mount Royal Bagel Factory of Vancouver, when he returned back to Montreal to be closer to his ailing parents.

    St-Viateur Bagel sometimes also has flavoured bagels, but it’s made from another St-Viateur Bagel location. At Montreal bagel shops, only sesame bagels are constantly made fresh.

  • Mijune says:

    @Krystal – yes!! An also try Bagel Beaubien… which I missed! It’s supposed to be up there with these two!

    @Jonathan – yes!! but they’re moldy by now lol 🙁

    @Sara – awww free bagels on Halloween?!!? That s SO CUTE!!! Childhood memories!!… okay I just read the rest of your comment… your last sentence is just what I wrote basically. Where do you prefer your bagels now?!?

    @WS – I have to retry to say, but it’s pretty much the same experience. I did NOT know Mount Royal Bagel was in Montreal too! So thank YOU!

  • Linda says:

    i once tried making pretzels because they’re very similar to making bagels but they weren’t that great.. haha you’ve inspired me to try again with this bagel post 🙂

    i love bagels and my favorite has always been the everything bagel… i like sesame bagels too 🙂 i was thinking about ordering some at st. viateur but seeing as how you said that fresh ones are better, i’m thinking twice.. i found too that both of these companies specialize in sesame and poppyseed bagels.. i wonder why that is?

  • Mijune says:

    @Linda – wow! You’re making bagels?!?! Let me know how it goes! I’m scared lol. Not sure if you missed my sentence, but have you been to Mount Royal Bagel Factory in North Vancouver? You can get pretty much same experience.

  • Linda says:

    oo i definitely need to check out mount royal! 🙂

    i’ve made pretzels a couple of times before and tried my hand at bagel making but all those steps!! you should definitely try once though, it’s kinda fun making them into weird shapes… alton brown actually has a really good recipe 🙂

  • WS says:

    Linda, it’s not that these two places specialize in sesame & poppyseed bagels, it’s just that Montreal bagels is these bagels(more so sesame bagels these days). The flavoured bagels have limited interest in Montreal.

  • WS says:

    BTW, Mijune you got the wrong St-Viateur Bagel location on this post. The flagship St-Viateur Bagel location is not a St-Viateur Bagel & Cafe. There’s two St-Viateur Bagel & Cafe locations(one in The Plateau Mont-Royal & the second location on Monkland Avenue). The original St-Viateur Bagel location that you went is on St-Viateur West street.

  • Mijune says:

    @Linda – I love Alton Brown! I want his brain.

    @WS – thanks WS!

  • Jason says:

    Ahhhh….so jealous. I have not been back home (Montreal) in so long.

    So much to say on this subject but will keep it brief.
    Fresh from the bakery IS the best, but you can only eat so many bagels in the car (and get so many sesame seeds on yourself while driving) on the way home or whatever your destination is.

    My grandmother, although Italian, worked in a bagel bakery for years so we always had bagels. One thing she used to do when they were a day old, or sometimes right away, was to slice them before they got too hard. Fresh is best but toasted is a different kind of “best” when they are a day or two old.

    That shiny exterior is HOT though, I have burnt my impatient mouth more than a few times.

    I have to mention Siegel’s bagels in kits make a great Montreal bagel using their wood fired oven and have been doing so for many years.

    Final note, if it’s not sesame, poppy or plain….it’s NOT a Montreal bagel. I think the trend of flavoured bagels came on the scene around the same time the Plateau Mont Royale yuppified.

    Thanks for the pics and article, awesome as always 🙂

  • Mijune says:

    @Jason – !!!!! now I’m so jealous!!! Your grandma makes them?! Lucky you!! I agree toasted is different… I just can’t eat them 1-2 days after untoasted. I tried with these ones and they were like bricks.. but they were still in the paper bag which won’t be as good as the plastic.

    thanks for giving me the Siegel’s rec! I take your word for it, but I’ll go try it too! It’s closer than Mont Royal in North Van for me too!

  • Andres says:

    Mijune, I’ll have to agree with you on the bagels. Fairmount’s bagels taste better than St-Viateur’s bagels as they are a bit sweeter. But I would prefer the texture on the bagels from St-Viauteur. It’s too bad you missed on Beaubien Bages as they are also very good

  • Mijune says:

    @Andres – awww Beaubien Bages I didn’t even know about!! Next time I won’t miss it! Thanks Andres!

  • bengy says:

    Montreal bagels, hands down – the best! Nothing compares. I’ve read several articles about St. Viateur vs. Fairmount, however there are so many other wonderful bagel shops in Montreal. My personal favorite is Mount Royal Bagel bakery and I really don’t like how how these small, neighborhood shops don’t get the credit they deserve.

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