Hometown Hungers: Best Poutine Outside of Montreal
Photo By: Leigh Loftus ©ThinkLeigh Photography
Nothing says next-level french fries like the addition of squeaky cheese curds and a cascade of piping-hot brown gravy. We have our neighbor to the north, Canada, to thank for this indulgent delicacy known as poutine. Though the exact restaurant of origin has never been definitively decided, the dish was indisputably invented in the Canadian province of Quebec. First served in the 1950s, the snack soon began popping up on menus across the province and became particularly popular in Montreal. The comfort-food staple can now be found in virtually every corner of Canada, with variations that include a hodgepodge of hearty toppings, and its reach has even extended across the border into the United States. Read on to find the best spots in America to score this salty, gravy-soaked snack.
Photography courtesy of The Blind Pig
The Madison Blind, Madison, Wis.
Given that the state of Wisconsin claims cheese curds as its signature snack, it’s common to find these salty, springy nibs on many a restaurant menu throughout the region. At The Madison Blind, fresh cheese curds are piled onto duck-fat fries, then doused in gravy and sprinkled with herbs to make an ultrarich version of poutine. The dish usually includes a meaty ingredient such as elk or short rib, with options rotating regularly on the menu. Photography courtesy of The Madison Blind
Go to: The Madison Blind
Holsteins Shakes and Buns, Las Vegas
Leave it to a Sin City spot to take nostalgic noshes to the next level. Along with the sky-high burgers and spiked shakes that cram its menu, Holsteins offers a wildly popular spin on poutine. This version brings together cheese curds, shredded short rib and a fried egg. The kicker, though, is the gravy. This ultradecadent sauce is made from one of the stouts served right on the premises (the restaurant offers more than 200 brews in total). Photography courtesy of Holsteins Shakes and Buns
Go to: Holsteins Shakes and Buns
West Town Bakery, Chicago
Comfort food favorites crowd the menu at this Chicago bakery and diner, including a version of Canada’s classic snack in which it’s reimagined as a breakfast staple. Opt for the Morning Poutine and your plate will come heaped with braised beef short ribs and cheddar cheese curds perched on a bed of hand-cut fries. The plate is finished with a cascade of traditional sausage-based gravy, a flurry of pickled red onions and a poached egg to add that essential breakfast element.
Photography courtesy of West Town Bakery
Go to: West Town Bakery
The Blind Pig, Philadelphia
In addition to an extensive array of beer, this Philadelphia bar features a bevy of bites to soak up the suds. The food selection stretches beyond the standard pub grub, with the owners’ dedication shining through in details such as the locally sourced cheese curds used in the poutine. The fresh white nibs from Wholesome Dairy Farms in nearby Reading, Pennsylvania, are combined with crisp fries and savory gravy to make this classic version of the dish. Photography courtesy of Ari Kleit Photography
Go to: The Blind Pig
Rx Boiler Room, Las Vegas
At his steampunk-themed Vegas restaurant, Chef Rick Moonen ignites diners’ culinary imaginations via a playful menu bursting with boundary-stretching riffs on iconic comfort foods. The poutine is a perfect example. Chef Moonen veers slightly away from the standard recipe to deliver a gut-busting dish that subs out traditional fries for Tater Tots and adds in duck confit to boot. He finishes the decadent heap with cheddar cheese curds and a generous pour of bordelaise sauce, which adds to the richness of the plate. The dish can be ordered with or without a fried egg on top.
Photography courtesy of Rx Boiler Room
Go to: Rx Boiler Room
The Beehive, Boston
The menu at this eclectic restaurant and jazz club seemingly traverses the globe, as the dishes have been inspired by the culinary canons of Eastern Europe, the Middle East and other regions of the world. This spot delivers a meaty take on traditional poutine in the form of braised short rib. The tender meat is layered along with white cheddar cheese curds on a thatch of the Beehive’s signature chunky frites and is then drenched in a downpour of rich veal sauce. For brunch, the dish gets a breakfast-inspired addition of a poached egg. Photography courtesy of The Beehive
Go to: Rx Boiler Room
Rustique, Blowing Rock, N.C.
Chef-Owner Shayne Lewis credits the Southern Mountain food of the Appalachians as being a major source of inspiration for the cuisine he serves at his seasonal restaurant. The chef takes seemingly straightforward classics and steeps them in a swirl of Southern flavors, as evidenced by his amped-up version of poutine. Chef Lewis starts with the traditional base of french fries, but then pushes beyond the basic recipe by adding in Ashe County cheese curds coated in tempura batter, crisp bits of bacon and a Southern-style bechamel made from veal stock.
Photography courtesy of Rustique
Go to: Rustique
Desi Galli, New York
Canadian street food meets Indian street food at Desi Galli, where owner PriaVanda Chouhan tapped into her combined heritages to create a distinctive riff on the traditional poutine that she grew up eating in her native Montreal. The fries are smothered in a tikka masala gravy, adorned with shredded paneer and dusted with Indian spices to make this signature dish. Known as Desi Poutine, this addictive snack is served at both of the restaurant’s New York locales. Photography courtesy of Desi Galli
Go to: Desi Galli
Brooklyn Street Local, Detroit
When Deveri Gifford and her husband Jason Yates opened Brooklyn Street Local in Detroit, they didn’t intend to be known for their poutine. But the Canadian natives continue to draw the crowds with their classic rendition made with real cheese curds and beef gravy. This option is the most popular, but there are also several other variations of the dish available at the diner, including a meatless version that comes smothered in mushroom gravy and (not-so-authentic) Daiya vegan cheese.
Photography courtesy of Brooklyn Street Local
Go to: Brooklyn Street Local