With its indelible French roots, Quebec City was always going to have an exceptional culinary palate. But while the city is no stranger to crêpes, bistros and boulangeries, its food is far from a one trick pony — taking as much influence from its native surroundings and multinational community as it has from its colonial French heritage.
Defining Quebec City’s food is challenging. The city offers a melting pot of tastes and flavours from seemingly every corner of the globe, making it impossible to pin down and sum up. And yet, this is what makes it so exciting — how one of the oldest cities on the North American continent can continue to surprise with its gastronomic output.
This makes the capital of Quebec a treasure trove for foodies. The city is awash with cafes, restaurants and street food vendors, and its culinary scene is ever expanding. The question is: how do you choose what and where to eat during your visit? We’re here to help, with our complete foodie’s guide to Quebec City.
Foodie Favourites and Where to Find Them
French colonialism, harsh winters and fertile landscapes have influenced Quebec City’s culinary palate. Here are some of the delicious French-Canadian dishes that shouldn’t be missed in Quebec City.
Poutine is to Canada what fish and chips is to the UK — a staple. Thought to have originated in rural Quebec in the late 1950s, poutine is a street food favourite comprising French fries, cheese curds and a light brown gravy. Though simple, the dish is considered a regional delicacy, and some of the finest poutine in Canada is served right here in Quebec City.
Indeed, poutine is so popular in QC, there’s a staunch rivalry between the city’s poutine vendors as to who serves the finest example of this beloved comfort food. One of the best places is Snack Bar Saint-Jean, whose poutine benefits from a rich, hot peppery sauce, skin on potato fries and soft, gooey cheese curds.
Ragoût de pattes de porc (Pig’s Trotter Stew)
As you’d expect from a city steeped in French colonial history, Quebec City holds meat high on the menu. One of its best-loved and meatiest delicacies is ragoût de pattes de porc, which roughly translates to pig’s trotter stew. This heart-warming favourite traces its was the perfect dish for helping early settlers through the cold nights of a Canadian winter.
If you enjoy the rich, decadent flavours of France, ragoût de pattes de porc is the perfect dish for you. A number of restaurants in Quebec City serve authentic versions of this timeless dish, but our favourite is Le Billig — an intimate, traditional eatery in the shadow of Old Québec’s fortified walls.
Another of Quebec City’s savoury staples, Tourtiére is a meat pie made from minced beef, pork or game, though the filling does vary from region to region. These traditional French-Canadian pies are sold in grocery stores and markets across Quebec, and are delicious eaten cold or hot with gravy and seasonal vegetables.
While Tourtiére has been phased out of many eateries in favour of more contemporary dishes, it’s still served in one of Quebec City’s finest restaurants, Aux Anciens Canadiens. This charming bistro specialises in old-fashioned Quebecois cuisine, and serves Tourtiére in its most authentic and delicious form.
Quebec City’s neighbouring countryside is some of the lushest, most fertile in all Quebec province, perhaps Canada. This lends perfectly to the rearing of top-quality meat, not least lamb. Most menus in Quebec City feature regional lamb heavily, and much of it is organically sourced mere miles from the city in the region of Charlevoix.
Charlevoix lamb is some of the finest on the planet, and its producers know it. In 2009, the region’s lamb became the first food product in North America to be legally protected, much like Italian Parma ham and the UK’s Cornish pasty. One of the best places in Quebec City to try Charlevoix Lamb is Panache, a sleek, contemporary eatery which continues to raise the bar in Quebec’s City’s gourmet food offering.
Tarte au sucre
If you’ve a sweet tooth and were beginning to despair at the savouriness of Quebec City’s foodie output, fear not; the city has inherited France’s love for all things sweet. From chocolate crêpes to flaky almond croissants, there are more than enough sweet treats in this charming city to satisfy those sugar cravings.
One of the city’s best-loved sweet delicacies is tarte au sucre (sugar pie), a simple, single-crust pie filled with a mixture of flour, egg, brown sugar, cream and maple syrup. While it may sound simple, the Quebecois have perfected the recipe for this beloved dessert, making it a must-try sweet treat.
For the best tarte au sucre in town, make for Paillard, a charming café whose interior charm and fragrant coffee would give even the best boulangeries of Paris a run for their money.
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