With its strong historical ties to France, it’s no surprise Quebec City delights with delectable cuisine. From local cheese plates to local red deer tartare, there’s plenty of dishes that will have you saying, “Je me souviens,” — there’s plenty to remember about dining out at these eight classic Quebec City restaurants.
Chic interiors aren’t just for show — what’s on the plate is just as sexy, chic, and tantalizing as the décor. The restaurant/workshop/boutique designed by local architects and interior designers offers up the chance to buy Quebec-area products or take cooking lessons with chef Daniel Vézina, one of the pioneers of Québécois cuisine. The elaborate “5 theme” or “3 theme” menus feature intriguing plates like Icelandic cod with St. Lawrence River seaweed mousse and a maple and cider vinegar reduction or blue cheese ice cream with Quebec black walnut and Camerise berries (a hearty research crop just right for Canadian winters). Make a reservation at LaurieRaphael.
1608 Bar à Vin et Fromage
In the mood to just pick or goûter, as afternoon snacktime is called in French? Grab a glass of wine and a nibble of local cheese at the round bar here, where you’ll enjoy an amazing view looking inward or outward. Grab a spot for your elbows and a bowl of citrus olives, savory choux pastry filled with sheep’s cheese and Port jam or a creative cocktail, each of which has its own story. The Toronto features Lot 40 Canadian rye, amaro, bitters, and simple syrup, while the Georgia Hotel, named after a Vancouver landmark, is created with gin, orange blossom water, nutmeg, and egg white. Make a reservation at 1608 Bar à Vin et Fromage.
Brasserie Française Chez Jules
Right in the heart of the action, Chez Jules will have you feeling like you’re in Paris being serenaded by accordion music – although you just may hear some from outside where the buskers go to occupy a prime spot right near the Old Quebec Funicular. The lunch menu of the day may be one of the best deals in town, with soup du jour or an appetizer included along with mains such as steak frites, croque-madame or -monsieur, and Wellington-style deer medallion. Make a reservation at Brasserie Française Chez Jules.
Get a little turned around when sightseeing? Just look for 1640’s bright-red roof, like a Bat-signal for foodies on the prowl for all three meals. Open early for breakfast all the way through dinner service, there’s lots to like here beyond the central location: duck confit salad with tarragon dressing, smoked salmon salad with maple dressing, or Canadian lobster. Make a reservation at Restaurant 1640.
As perhaps the city’s most notable landmark (besides its historic walled fortification, of course), the Chateau Frontenac hotel looms large over the capital of the province – and a meal at Champlain, which is tucked inside it, is sure to make just as much of an impression. Chef Stéphane Modat’s menu is like a geography quiz of North America’s northernmost reaches, including sturgeon from New Brunswick with wild mushrooms, Prince Edward Island beef filet with elderberry glazed carrots, and ravioli stuffed with hare, ricotta, and truffle from St. Jules. Make a reservation at Champlain Restaurant.
Côtes-à-Côtes Resto Grill
Don’t fool yourself into thinking you’re in St. Louis at Côtes-à-Côtes, where the ribs win two thumbs up, as does the view of the St. Lawrence River. Wide wooden beams and stone walls dating back to the 1690s give the impression you’ve stepped back in time, but the dishes are decidedly modern: think risotto with confit duck leg, bison carpaccio, and Quebec red deer tartare. Feast your eyes on fun foot traffic watching passersby from an ample selection of outside seating in the summertime. Make a reservation at Côtes-à-Côtes Resto Grill.
Restaurant Le Continental
Classic tableside service delights at Le Continental, where flambéed dishes delight and the flickering flames are like candlelight for romantic dinners with French flair — especially the Châteaubriand bouquetière or flambé orange duckling, both cooked for two. Craving something that veers more toward Bel Paese? Give Gallic cuisine the boot at adjacent Conti Caffe next door, where veal is the specialty. Make a reservation at Restaurant Le Continental.
Bistro le SAM
Don’t let the snazzy interior fool you — Bistro le SAM is just as kid-friendly as it is business-lunch-forward, with menus for each. Small bites like smoked shareable poutine, sandwiches, and cheese and meat boards are just right for picking as a group. The kids’ menu, for ages 12 and under, serves up the reliable chicken fingers and pizza, and for those on the go mid-day, the two-course business lunch starts at $26. If you don’t care about dropping anything on your tie, the French onion soup topped with melted Charlevoix cheese is well worth the gamble on a chilly Canadian day. Make a reservation at Bistro le SAM.
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Carley Thornell is a travel writer whose experiences eating street food in Japan, English peas in the UK, free-range steak in Argentina, and Brussels sprouts at Estragon tapas in her hometown of Boston have provided unforgettable culinary inspiration. Shout out at firstname.lastname@example.org.