Quebec City has to be one of the best foodie designations in North America combing French gastronomical traditions with the uniquely Canadian twist. I’ve been to Quebec City twice now, once in the winter and once in the summer, and I’ve eaten at some incredible restaurants. Try the best foodie experiences in Quebec City.
L’Affaire est ketchup
Basically, in French, it’s a saying that means everything’s cool, everything’s gravy, and it’s an unpretentious bistro that cooks everything over two four- burner stoves. It’s situated in a former house. The menu is written by hand on a chalkboard every day. So the menu is always changing. It’s not a big place, so it can be difficult to get in, but if you do get in, expect inventive cuisine, plenty of booze, and a soundtrack of heavy metal.
Chez Biceps B.B.Q
Biceps Barbecue, which is a collaboration between a notorious bartender who serves shots of bourbon with bacon and a chef who spent seven years traveling the United States in a van, perfecting his barbecue skills. The result is a beautiful baby of southern and Quebecois cuisine. Brisket with a slab of foie gras on top. Instead of chicken wings, frog legs and obviously meat, meat, and more meat.
Come hungry, leave stuffed, and come back for more. It’s located a little bit outside of town, and the building is kind of a dive. But when you walk in, you will be blown away, welcomed and so well fed that you won’t have to eat for another week.
Le Clocher Penche
Clocher Penche is one of the best brunch spots in Quebec. It’s named after this crooked tower that’s right across the street, it’s like a church, and all the dishes have this religious theme, but they’re completely unorthodox.
There’re waffles with a mushroom bechamel sauce, fried eggs over zucchini, salad with a hoisin sauce. Everything is amazing and decadent. You’re probably not going to be losing weight on the trip. That’s guaranteed, definitely good though. It’s a good sort unless you walk everywhere because Quebec City is built on a hill, and there’s plenty of staircases to burn these meals off. Just plan breakfast, lunch, and dinner in three different parts of the city and walk between them, and you have an exercise plan done.
During the day it’s an incredible place to grab a coffee. Obviously, their baristas are on point, and all of their coffee is really, really good, especially their cold brew. But the best part about it is that when the sun goes down, it turns into a cocktail bar, and they have some incredibly inventive cocktails using coffee.
Chez Boulay, which was probably one of my favorite spots I went to. It specializes in what they call boreal cuisine, which essentially is like a québécois interpretation of new Nordic cuisine. If that sounds complicated, basically Nordic cuisine is focused on local sustainable organic food with ingredients you can only find in the area so it’s the same thing but in a québécois interpretation. They reject a lot of traditional spices and other flavorings in favor of local products that they can find in the forest or on local farms. The lunchtime menu is extremely accessible. It’s like under 20 bucks for a big, big portion plus a starter. It’s hard to beat that in terms of value.
Cassis Monna et Filles
This family owned and operated business is run by two lovely sisters who have very inventive ways of using blackcurrant. Blackcurrant is a berry from France that grows great on the Ile d’Orleans. Their blackcurrant is used in all of the restaurants across the city. Not to mention the fact that they have a beautiful property, great terrace overlooking the St. Lawrence River. A creamery where they have incredible gelato, which honestly you’d never think you’d be eating gelato in Quebec, but it’s so good.
While if you’re on the island, and if you’re there during the summertime, you should definitely check out some of the wineries. A huge island the size of Manhattan, but it only has six thousand residents. It’s basically farm yard vineyards. I went to a Vignoble, which means vineyard and then Saint- Petronille. It is a great place to visit and get a sampling of the local wines. Try to sample their riesling if you can. It’s in high demand at the moment and was really good.
If you’re visiting the island in the wintertime, make sure you check out some of the sugar shacks. Sugar shacks are where people harvest maple syrup from the maple tree and fun fact: Quebec actually produces 80% of the world’s maple syrup. Sugar shacks are great little traditional restaurants where they serve traditional food, most of which infused with maple syrup.
If you want a more modern version of a sugar shack, go to La Buche in the center of the Old Town. It has to be one of our favorite dining experiences I’ve ever had, and it’s basically a crash course in everything Québécois: An over the top amount of red meat drowned in maple syrup and bacon. Smothered in maple syrup, you get shots of sortilege, a local liquor, also made from maple syrup, and a dessert of maple syrup on ice.
If you don’t feel like binging on maple syrup, head over to Battuto, an intimate Italian restaurant that serves up some of the best pasta in the city. It’s got a clean, minimalist, aesthetic with a long bar right up against the open kitchen. So you can watch the chefs cooking your meal, and you will be blown away when those pasta hit your taste buds.
If you’re planning on visiting Battuto, do know that there aren’t a lot of tables, and it’s booked weeks in advance. So one of the first things you do, after you get those plane tickets, is making a reservation.
For something more indigenous to Quebec, try La Traite at the Hotel Musee Premieres Nations. The First Nation’s hotel museum owned and operated by the Wendake-Huron Tribe, the restaurant uses the boreal cuisine with traditional ingredients only accessible to First Nations People. While you’re there make sure you check out the museum and the longhouse where you can even stay overnight.
Craft Beer Crawl
Quebec has always been Canada’s best beer province and that can be traced back to colonial times when French colonists couldn’t import or grow wine themselves. So they decided to start making beer at home. There are a few dozen microbreweries in Quebec City, and it’s easy to do a self-guided pub crawl using the ” Je Bois Local,” which is basically like a little passport, and you get a stamp at each brewery. if you make it to all ten, they give you a cool t-shirt.
Each August they have a beer festival called “Festibiere”, and if you’re not in town for that there is a pop-up bar on the waterfront every summer that serves 60 beers from 21 microbreweries. It’s a great way to sample the best Quebec beers if you’re not there during the festival. It’s a great place to cool off. You can literally take a chair, put it in the fountain, drink a couple of beers, hear good tunes, plenty of craft beers to choose from, and you’re right on the waterfront.
If you’re more into cocktails, make sure you head over to L’ Atelier, which is cool a cocktail bar on the Grand Allee, which is a pedestrian kind of walkway area full of great restaurants. Definitely, a good spot to pick up on the vibe of Quebec City. The specialties of the house are Tartares. They’ve got quite a few different kinds. Grab it, Sit down on the terazza, have a meal, and after dark, the restaurant turns into a nightclub. It’s really a cool spot.
La Poutine is the classic Québécois food. It is French fries with gravy, with curd, and a bunch of different other ingredients that make each one individual. It’s typically served between 1:00 and 4:00 in the morning. But you can get it any time of day in practically any place. There’s a ton of places that serve Poutine, but Snack Bar is pretty reliable. It’s open all the time and was highly recommend to me as a spot to serve in late-night.
Something that is guaranteed to always be good is Chez Muffy. Formerly known as “Panache”, this upscale restaurant has become a little bit more down to earth, but the food has remained impeccable. It’s located in the Auberge Saint Anton in the neighborhood of the Petite Champ. I should also mention that the two times I’ve been in Quebec City, Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister, was also there, and he was spotted in this restaurant when I there our first time. So you know it’s fit for the Prime Minister, it should be good enough for you too.
Legende par la Taniere
It’s a four-diamond restaurant, which is Canada’s equivalent of basically a one Michelin star restaurant thereabouts. Sounds confusing, but what isn’t confusing is that the menu and the food are incredible. So the menu is strictly local, no chocolate, no sugar, everything is from Quebec. Courses are served either a la carte or as a part eight-course tasting menu, which comes out to 75 Canadian dollars. You can also do a wine pairing for about the same amount. So, 150 for just the best slap-up meal you can imagine. It was our final meal in Quebec City and was the best way to end an incredible week of fine dining.