Yearning for the charm, history and fantastic cuisine that a trip to Europe delivers, without having to sit through the long flight?
Look no further than Quebec City—the capital of La Belle Province where bistro-lined, cobblestone streets that ring with the sound of bonjour and merci could fool anyone that they’ve departed Canada for France.
Quebec City was an Iroquois village of the First Nations people before it was discovered by the French explorer Samuel de Champlain in 1608.
Through England conquered the province of Quebec in the late 1700s, the impression left by the first European settlers from France largely remained. Today, the city is an emblem for everything quintessentially French-Canadian—and nowhere is this more evident than in their culinary culture.
The Quebecois have a penchant for food; one that is distinct from the rest of Canada and likely the influence of the French and their innate love for gastronomy. Quebecois food staples are the result of the many cultures that played a part in its history.
The English contributed savoury pie, known in Quebec as tourtiere, which is minced pork in a flaky crust. The British are also said to have been the importers of potatoes and cheddar cheese, resulting in the much-loved combination of fries, curd and gravy known as poutine.
Salting was introduced to the Europeans by the First Nations people: a preservation tactic to keep meat from spoiling during Canadian winters. This is the basis of cretons, a salted pork spread that’s best enjoyed on toast for breakfast.
Quebec’s tarte au sucre (sugar tart) hails from Normandy, from where many of Quebec’s settlers arrived.
Another favourite, warming and rib-sticking pea soup, was born out of pure survival to get through the cold months, as peas were easy to dry and store.
Is your mouth watering yet? Experience Quebecois cuisine for yourself: here’s my list of Quebec City’s best places to sample everything from French-Canadian delicacies to elevated pub grub to dishes with an international twist. À table!
Original stone walls, wood beam ceilings and the St. Lawrence River frame Chez Muffy, a restaurant renowned for its French-Canadian, farm-to-table fare that uses produce from its farm on the nearby Ile d’Orleans.
Find Chez Muffy at our favourite boutique hotel in the city, the luxurious Auberge St. Antoine.
While I admit it’s a bit on the touristy side, the old-world vibe and their tourtiere make it worth checking out this traditional Quebecois restaurant.
Other favourite dishes you’ll find here include Grand-mère (Grandmother’s) pea soup and meats hailing from the province such as red deer, caribou and bison in the form of ragout and stews.
For a truly gourmet experience, visit Le Saint-Amour: a hot spot for upscale French food that boasts one of the top wine lists in the country and a menu to match.
World-class cuisine is served in a bright dining room accented with mirrors and hanging plants. You can order à la carte or try the tasting menu with the (highly recommended) option for wine pairings.
In a homey dining room, choose from savoury galettes made with buckwheat flour that range from the standard egg-ham-cheese variety to more extravagant specialty items like La Belle Illoise, dressed with scallops and shrimps.
Follow it up with one of their sweet crepe options for dessert—perhaps the one drenched in maple syrup for some true Canadiana.