Quebec City is just the right size to be cosmopolitan, while small enough to maintain a friendly, small-town feel. The city’s close-knit culinary community is constantly coming up with new ways to give traditional dishes a fresh spin. With so many delicious options to choose from, it can be difficult to know where to start. Here’s a mix of some of our favourite spots to eat, drink and make new friends.
The harmonious and simple marriage of French fries, cheese curds and gravy known as poutine has been a symbol of Quebec since its invention in the 1950s. Originally a diner staple, found in fry shacks and hockey rinks, it is a must-try Quebec food.
In Saint-Roch, Chez Gaston yields simple, no-frills poutine pleasure, made with the freshest ingredients and rich beef gravy.
Fromagerie des Grondines et ses amis goes the artisan route, using Deschambault cheese and homemade chicken and veal gravy.
Breakfast: Buffet de l’Antiquaire
Famous for its Québécois dishes, Buffet de l’Antiquaire is an Old Port institution, offering grand comfort food. Choose from omelettes, crepes or the breakfast poutine—bacon, sausage, peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, hashbrowns and more.
Brunch: Le Clocher Penché
Located in a former bank, Le Clocher Penché does the best brunch in town. Homespun French dishes delight at every turn: maple lacquered pork, eggs Benedict with smoked salmon, a cod fish bake and homemade blood pudding.
Classically French: Restaurant L’échaudé
Find classic Parisian-inspired cuisine at this unpretentious bistro on Sault-au-Matelot Street within the walls of the Old City. Faithful regulars and in-the-know visitors flock to the pewter bar for Pernods and pastis (an aniseed-flavoured liquor), then tuck into Chef Jean-François Girard’s beef and salmon tartare, duck confit and bone marrow with grilled octopus. Now in its 35th year, the restaurant showcases fresh, seasonal and local fare coupled with near-perfect service. The wine list, naturally France-forward, sports 500 wines from 13 countries and offers something for all budgets. Sister bistro Buvette Écho, a small-plates spinoff, opened late last year just a few doors down.
Classically French: Chez Muffy
Quebec City’s Auberge Saint-Antoine, located in the heart of the Lower Town, is home to the award-winning Chez Muffy. Set in a rustic, reclaimed 19th-century warehouse overlooking the St. Lawrence River, the restaurant uses slow-cooking techniques to produce classic French and Canadian fare made with ingredients grown on its farm on nearby Île d’Orléans. Chef Julien Ouellet creates a farm-to-fork, family-style experience, turning out “simplified gastronomy” in the form of dishes such as Quebec walleye in a wild mushroom broth, venison strip loin and spiced roast duck—rich, comforting and designed to be shared. Its wine cellar holds more than 12,000 bottles from 14 countries.
Open late: Diner Saint-Sauveur
Local favourite Diner Saint-Sauveur, located in the middle of the St-So neighbourhood, attracts servers and chefs from nearby restaurants, who come to dine on fish burgers, fried chicken and waffles, tourtière and spaghetti with meat sauce.
Church-pew seating and stone walls set the tone at this Rue Saint-Jean staple, open until 3 a.m. Find more than a dozen beers on tap, café fare and a local crowd.
Vincent Thuaud shakes up inventive cocktails at his popular Saint-Sauveur Thai pub and eatery. Try the Smoked Dragon, a smoke-infused tequila and Amernoir bitter liqueur concoction.
Head over the bridge to Île d’Orléans for a homage to all things blackcurrant. Its cassis is possibly the finest you’ll find outside of France. Try it in a Kir Royale or Monnagroni.
With four locations, boulangerie Paillard serves up dozens of delectables, including millefeuilles, macarons, eclairs, flans and raspberry fangs.
Enjoy refined and delicate pastries and cakes, weekly specials and oh-so-delicious hot chocolate at Gaël Vidricaire Pâtisseries in Montcalm, where you can even take a pastry-making class.
Fudge from La Fudgerie in the Old City makes a great take-home treat—if you can resist not eating it on the spot—as does its selection of chocolates and nougats.