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Estrella’s Montreal Deli: A Taste Of Montreal In Langley

Estrella’s Montreal Deli

On a beautiful Wednesday afternoon, I took a trip to Montreal simply by stepping foot into a small deli on the corner of 200th Street in Langley.

The smell of meat danced around my nose as I walked up to the counter, admiring the handwritten menu on a chalkboard hanging above the register. A lovely woman greeted me, and immediately I felt comfortable introducing myself as a hungry journalist on a mission to find a divine smoked meat sandwich. Sharon Estrella presented herself as part owner, made a few recommendations, and rang in my order – a petite Montreal Smoked Meat sandwich on Rye bread.

Estrella’s Montreal Deli

Looking around the little café, I realized that people truly admired the food here: A small buzz of voices hummed while people of all sorts nibbled on their harmoniously stacked sandwiches. An old couple sat and smiled at each other while silently indulging in the meat on their plate. Two men were chatting intently while munching on some fries and sipping sodas. The atmosphere felt homey, warm and original.

I had never tried a Montreal Smoked Meat sandwich for two reasons. Firstly, mustard has always scared me on sandwiches, and apparently, it’s a must with this sort of thing. Secondly, Sauerkraut…what even is that? I always shy away from foods I can barely even pronounce, which is a sad truth considering most of said foods are absolutely delicious. Mouth-watering, to be exact.  Yet, when I asked fellow Langley folks where to dine on a weekday afternoon, the sole verdict was Estrella’s Montreal Deli & Café. The name even reflects the perfection of a family-owned business focused on bringing a classic Canadian specialty to the lower mainland.

Wherever you live, you need to plan a trip out to this gem.

When my sandwich arrived, Sharon handed me what was about to be a little piece of heaven between two crisp slices of Rye bread. The meat sizzled with an aroma of spices. I asked for Dijon mustard since I’m not a typical mustard-on-my-sandwich kind of girl. My first bite was something out of a movie. I’m sure everyone in the restaurant could see that I was a smoked meat virgin. Each flavour touched my tongue in a way I never knew possible.

Estrella’s Montreal Deli

The sandwich was love at first bite; however, the real experience came from talking to Sharon’s husband and business partner, Michael Estrella.

Michael sat at a windowsill table amongst every regular customer in the deli. His infectious smile invited even the shyest people to spark up a conversation – which is exactly what I did.

He told me about the first years of operation, how the deli had started as a coffee shop, but turned into a little piece of Montreal after a few weeks. Estrella’s Montreal Deli officially opened its doors on September 1st, 2001 just days before the 9-11 attacks, which only added to the hardships that come along with a new business.

“We had two little ones in diapers and we thought we were going to lose the place because nobody knew about us, and we weren’t even making enough to pay the bills. Somehow we managed through it, and we persevered, did a lot of praying, and then one thing lead to another and we just slowly kept growing little by little. And here we are today, a well-known lunch place in the lower mainland.”

Michael, a former New Yorker/New Jersey boy, made the trek out to Montreal to learn all about smoked meat, which in turn became the starting point for his now famous sandwich shop.

“After about 11 years of using product being shipped from Montreal, we decided to switch gears and make our own locally. We went more towards quality…we use a grass-fed beef. We do not use a commercial beef, so there’s no chemicals, no hormones, no antibiotics and no sulfites.”

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The humble deli owner describes himself as a purest only wanting to use the best quality ingredients, which truly reflects in his product. Everything – aside from the bread – is homemade, and Michael handpicks the produce every day at local farmer’s markets. The result speaks for itself, but the Estrella’s say it’s much more than just food.

“It’s really not just about making a sandwich: It’s about taking someone back in their memories, like how it used to be. We get a lot of grandparents in with their grandkids and hear them say, “I remember when…” and they start talking about the sandwich. That sandwich is so iconic here in this country that it really triggers many memories for people.”

What I admired the most about Michael and Sharon, is the sheer love for their customers. Three regulars could not leave without saying goodbye; they even bragged to me about how good the homemade Sauerkraut was – which Michael took the initiative and warmed up a tiny portion for me to taste. The verdict: Surprisingly delectable!

“In the food business, you have a love/hate relationship; but really, it’s about the people. You love being with the people. You build relationships. You get to know people. They come in year after year, some of them day after day. That’s really what motivates you to keep going on,” Michael says with a proud gleam in eyes. “It’s about serving people, seeing smiles on their faces and seeing them enjoy the product that you put out.”

Trust me, that product is very enjoyable.

I whole-heartedly recommend Estrella’s Montreal Deli & Café to the sandwich lover, Montreal Smoked Meat fans, and of course, the curious foodie, like myself. Bring your family by and say hello to Michael and Sharon; they will be happy to find the perfect sandwich for you.

Estrella’s Montreal Deli

Location: 5932 – 200th Street, Langley, B.C.

Hours of Operation: Monday – Saturday, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Telephone: 604-539-9988

Website: www.estrellasdeli.com

 

Written By: Crystal Scuor
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