A Foodie’s Guide to Quebec City
Quebecers love their food, and there are a few local specialties that you shouldn’t skip on any trip to Quebec City.
There are of course, the clichéd goodies. When people think of Quebec, they often think of poutine—a deliciously messy pile of chips, cheese curds, and gravy. In Quebec City, many people swear by Snack Bar Saint-Jean or Chez Aston for authentic poutine, but any small diner or restaurant serving local cuisine will have its own variation of this famous dish.
Then there are the childhood favourites most Quebecers would eat at home, but that you can find on the menu at restaurants serving traditional cuisine. There’s tourtière, a simple meat pie made with minced pork or beef and usually eaten with ketchup. There’s fèves au lard, a type of baked beans, often seasoned with maple syrup and served as a side with breakfast. And there’s poor man’s pudding (pouding chômeur), a cake made from very basic ingredients like stale bread, and an absurd amount of maple syrup. The spongy, sweet result is probably worth a visit to Quebec all on its own.
Beyond these favourites, in Quebec City you can find a number of traditional French restaurants, ethnic foods and modern cuisine. We’ll talk about some of the most renowned restaurants in more detail below.
At the heart of Quebec City’s food scene are ingredients made in and around the city. Cheese producers like the award-winning Alexis-de-Portneuf, apple orchards and berry farms on Île d’Orléans, a multitude of wineries and cider producers, and the maple products from Quebec’s famous sugar shacks, are all commonly found in the best meals and the best restaurants around Quebec City.
It’s impossible to make a concrete list of the best restaurants in Quebec City. There are just too many chefs making great food. Below you’ll find a few of the biggest names and a few award-winners, but you can just as easily close your eyes, walk through the streets, and bump into a truly fantastic restaurant.
For authentic Quebecois cuisine, head to aux Anciens Canadiens, where meat pie and poutine are always on the menu. At Laurie Raphael, one of the province’s greatest chefs, Daniel Vézina creates ‘locavore’ food deeply connected to Quebec’s roots. Or, step even further back in the history of the province and enjoy a meal inspired by Huron-Wendat First Nations cuisine at La Traite in Wendake, just a 20-minute drive north of the city.
For French cuisine, you’re going to want to visit the Restaurant Panache. Located in the Auberge Saint-Antoine hotel, Panache is the domain of chef Julien Ouellet, who uses local ingredients for a modern take on traditional dishes.
French master chef and one-time Quebec chef of the year Jean-Luc Boulay is at the helm of Le Saint-Amour, a real local leader in fine dining. The restaurant has one of the best wine lists in Canada, and celebrities including Sir Paul McCartney and Sting have enjoyed its French cuisine.
Then there’s Le Clocher Penché, a Quebec institution that uses artisan ingredients to create dishes like salmon tartare, homemade blood pudding, and crispy sweetbread.
If you love modern cuisine it doesn’t get much better than L’Initiale in the Old Port. Enjoy the tasting menu of respected Chef Yvan Lebrun, which includes dishes like cream of potato and marrow, warm foie gras, and breast of small game birds and Jerusalem artichoke. The restaurant earned a five diamond rating in the AAA restaurant guide.
Restaurant Légende, named one of the best new restaurants in Canada in 2014 by enRoute Magazine (Air Canada’s in-flight Magazine), is another local favourite. Here you’ll find torchon foie gras, lamb fries, monkfish and elk carpaccio on a menu that changes with the seasons, so that only fresh, local ingredients are served.
Finally, iX pour Bistro is a great place to grab some creative, modern food with friends. This low-key establishment is the top rated Quebec City restaurant on Trip Advisor, so you’re going to need a reservation.
If one restaurant just won’t cut it, sign up for a food tour of Quebec City. A guide who lives in the neighbourhood will lead you on a walking tour during which you’ll sip wine, sample cheese, and savour pastries. You’ll eat crêpes, maple snacks, poutine, and locally made chocolates, all while discovering the history of the city through the food of the different cultures that have called it home.
The foodie hubs
- The Old Port has a high concentration of fine dining restaurants, or you can stop in at the Marché du Vieux-Port, a nearly 400-year-old market. There you’ll find fresh fruits and vegetables, local breads, cheeses, meats, seafood, and maple products sold by the producers themselves.
- The Petit Champlain District, in Old Quebec, has a number of bistros, pastry shops, and sweet shops, all in a beautifully historic setting.
- Grande-Allée is home to some of the best nightlife in Quebec City, and this includes great dining. Fine cuisine, Italian restaurants, and casual options line this main street, which is often filled with people.
- The Saint-Roch district recently underwent a trendy transformation complete with new restaurants and bars. Walk along rue Saint Joseph and have your choice of fine dining or a burger and beer at a brasserie.
- Limoilou is an up-and-coming area popular with hipsters. Explore the neighbourhood and try out some of the low-key bistros and ethnic restaurants, often tucked away and barely noticeable, but full of great things to eat.
- The Island of Orleans (Île d’Orléans) is just a short drive across a bridge from Quebec City, and is home to dozens of farmers and food producers. Stop in to enjoy fresh produce, wine, and meals with that home-cooked feel.