Culinary Quebec City

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Culinary Quebec City
You've come to the right place for a taste of the Old World in Canada. Quebec City's reputation for excellent dining is well deserved, with some of the finest restaurants in the country and a long-established café culture.
By Flash Parker, AFAR Ambassador
Photo courtesy of Tourisme Québec
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    The Pursuit of Poutine
    If you thought you knew a thing or two about poutine before you came to Quebec, it's time for a reality check. Perhaps the most French Canadian of all the province's guilty pleasures (of which there are many), poutine—a savory mix of thick-cut French fries, bulbous cheese curds, and hot, rich gravy—is found at dozens, perhaps hundreds of outposts throughout Quebec City. Your first stop should be at one of the Chez Ashton locations—they serve excellent classic poutine. Also make sure to check out Le Chic Shack, where La Fumée is made with smoked meat, pickled onions, and cheese sauce.
    Photo courtesy of Tourisme Québec
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    The Humble Meat Pie
    While other countries' local delicacies—such as Parisian pastries, Thai khao soi, and Mexican tostadas—have loyal global followings, very little attention is ever paid to the humble Québécois meat pie. The meat pie has been a Canadian staple for centuries, and today you'll find it filled with everything from wild boar, to duck, to veal. (In the past, you could even find beaver.) Tourtière, as it is known in Canada, is served at some of the city's finest Québécois restaurants, including Aux Anciens Canadiens and Restaurant La Nouvelle France. Also try it at Buffet de L'Antiquaire, which is dedicated to the history of Canadian cuisine.
    Photo by James Murphy/age fotostock
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    International Eats
    If you've managed to eat your fill of bacon, donuts, Timbits, poutine, and maple syrup (impossible!), you'll be relieved to know that Quebec City's international dining scene is world class. Japanese, Afghan, Indonesian, Ecuadorian—no matter your preference, you'll find a restaurant serving your favorite dish somewhere in the city. The sushi bar at the Sushi Box uses local seafood to craft creative Japanese morsels; Restaurant Pho Saïgon will set you up with a steaming bowl of beef-tendon pho; and Restaurant Shanghai may well shatter your long-held preconceptions about Chinese food with a menu that features light, subtle fare.
    Photo by Flash Parker
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    Adventures in Taste
    Fine dining in Quebec City is a wonderfully nuanced experience that will leave you hungry for more. Settle in to the intimate confines of Le Patriarche for chef Stéphane Roth's Trilogy Tasting Adventure (just wait until you get to the duck); share fine Quebec cheeses and a bottle of wine from one of Canada's best cellars at Le Saint-Amour; or experience venison for the first time at Restaurant La Taniere, famous for its 20-course epicurean tasting menu. If that's not enough, there's always Toast!, a chic gastro-tavern located in the boutique Hôtel Le Priori in Quebec City's Old Port; it's known for chef Christian Lemelin's whimsical takes on rabbit, oxtail, and sweetbreads.
    Photo by Flash Parker
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    Quebec's Café Culture
    When spring falls upon Quebec City, cafés, bistros, gastropubs, and restaurants toss white tablecloths onto their terrace tables and welcome locals and visitors to the finest café city outside of Europe. Recommendations are almost moot at this point—if you come across a café that looks good while wandering the Old Town, check it out. You can't go wrong with a visit to La Brûlerie (multiple locations) or Le Nektar, an institution on Saint-Joseph Est. Take your time sampling maple sugar pie with a pint of crisp apple cider, or work your way through a multi-course tasting menu, for which the city is justifiably famed.
    Photo courtesy of Linda Turgeon/Tourisme Québec
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    Sweet Quebec
    If the French are world leaders in the cakes, pastries, and baked goods arena, the French Canadians aren't far behind. Almost every meal you'll enjoy in Quebec City will be followed by a scrumptious dessert, but if you're keen on skipping the main course and going right for the goodies, your options are nearly endless. Fudgerie les Mignardises Doucinet is the province's premier fudge shop; Les Chocolats Favoris pairs each of its chocolates with a wine (try the classique noir with the 2009 Maury Mas Amiel); Tutto Gelato is a wonderful stop when you're after something slightly lighter; and Paillard's macarons, almond tuiles, and tarts will fortify your appreciation for La Belle Province.
    Photo by J.D. Dallet/age fotostock
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    Gourmet Getaways
    The Louis Jolliet hosts numerous dinner cruises, including the six-course Red Carpet Cruise, which sets off from Chouinard Pier and provides guests with sensational views of both sides of the city while they're treated to the best in local cuisine. The Train of Le Massif de Charlevoix spirits passengers along more than 85 miles of track that hug the river's edge between Quebec City and La Malbaie on a journey dedicated to the province's hidden treasures and culinary secrets. Guests can choose from packages such as the overnight Dinner and a Show, with a meal at Les Labours and a show at Hôtel La Ferme's Salle Multi, or the Dinner Cruise, which includes a terroir meal and sunset ride.
    Photo by Jessie Parker/age fotostock
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    The Art of the Québécois Brunch
    A reminder before you sit down to brunch in Quebec City: You'd better not be in a hurry. Brunch is a measured, leisurely affair here, often consisting of full table service and multiple courses (and don't forget the dessert wine). On the weekend, the city's most popular cafés and restaurants (like Le Lapin Sauté, featuring specialties such as a duck confit and aged cheddar cheese crepe) are packed to capacity. If your party is lucky enough to find a table at L'Échaudé, don't pass up the opportunity to try the caciocavallo fondue and the venison tartare with foie gras. The tables at Le Café du Clocher Penché are always brimming with unique dishes, though their vegetarian and pescatarian dishes are especially worth ordering.
    Photo courtesy of Geneviève Boivin/Le Clocher Penché Bistrot
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    Great Canadian Ale Trail
    The province of Quebec is hallowed ground for lagers and ales, while Quebec City is home to a number of truly excellent breweries and brew pubs. La Souche Brasserie Artisanale is happy to serve you fine local microbrews and a pound of poutine for lunch. Brasserie La Korrigane's rousse, or red ale, is a classic take on one of the region's favorite libations, and should always be paired with a savory selection of Welsh rarebit or old cheddar. La Ciboire India Pale Ale from Archibald Microbrasserie should satisfy even the most discerning hop-head. Enjoy the best bottle art in Canada at Microbrasserie de l'Île d’Orléans while sampling the farmhouse saison, stout, and double IPA.
    Photo by Ariel Ramchandani