While a jaunt to Europe this Christmas season may be out of the cards thanks to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Quebec City – in all of its historic, refined, and romantic glory – offers the next best thing.
A popular destination in the summer, when tourists from all over the globe fill its cobblestone streets (at least, in better times), Quebec City also shines in the winter months. With buildings dating back to 1608, historic homes-turned-shops, narrow streets, and centuries-old statues and fortifications, the city has many similar characteristics to European towns. But, its European feel is also reflected in Quebec City’s distinct vibe. It’s a place where meals are social affairs, coffee sippers take their time at cafes, and wine is usually part of the equation. While Quebec City’s restaurant scene is, naturally, heavy in its impressive French fare offerings, it’s also home to cuisines from around the globe.
Here’s Where to Wine and Dine as you would in Europe this Winter in Quebec City:
For a comforting downhome Italian meal, hit Portofino Italian Bistro in Old Quebec. Housed in a charming historic building that dates back to 1760, the cozy spot serves some of the city’s best wood-fired pizza, pasta, seafood, and other Italian favourites. The 400-bottle wine cellar makes Portofino as much of a draw as its soul-soothing food.
For an indulgence that’s well worth the calories, make a stop at French bakery Baguette et Chocolat. Here, you’ll be welcomed with a comforting aroma of fresh-made croissants, crepes, bread, and French breakfast classics like a variety of quiche and egg-topped croque dishes. Naturally, a meal or snack here is accompanied by a quality (see: Paris-worthy) caffeine fix.
To wine and dine as you would across the pond, hit the bustling and vibrant L’Échaudé – a staple in Quebec’s Old Port for over three decades. Here, you’ll find upscale (and completely photogenic) French cuisine that’s heavy in tartars, duck confit, steak and frites, and other classics, all accompanied by a well-curated, European-inspired wine list.
To switch up the French fare, visit Restaurant La Grolla for a taste of Switzerland. This spot features a menu packed with comforting (and cheese-filled) Swiss goodness in a homey environment that’s complete with a fireplace. Think, things like air-dried beef-stuffed mushrooms topped with Swiss cheese, Gaspésiesmoked salmon, and a selection of fondues, raclettes, and skillets.
For a low-key pub vibe with a distinctively European feel, hit D’Orsey Restaurant-Pub. A staple for over three decades, this welcoming spot serves up a comforting fare that includes burgers, French onion soup, Irish pub-inspired items, seafood, and tartare. It’s perhaps best known, however, for its mussels, which come in a choice of six sauces.
For a classic French bistro experience, make a reservation at Bistro St-Malo. Here, a menu relies heavily on fresh local products, and features common French favourites like tuna tartare, escargots, and duck confit, but also dishes with a Mediterranean flair. The spot offers a healthy assortment of vegetarian-friendly, vegan, and gluten-free menu items.
Quebec City’s longtime crown jewel is the sprawling castle-like Chateau Frontenac. The elegant hotel offers a historic European vibe, and houses multiple spots for refined wining and dining. Those with a soft spot for wine and fine cheese will appreciate the hotel’s 1608 Bar. Here, guests can enjoy pairings of wines from around the world and cheese from one of Canada’s most robust cheese menus, with a backdrop of a stunning statement chandelier.
Stop to grab a bottle of fine wine on the way there, and transport yourself to France at La Girolle. The charming and cozy spot – which allows you to bring your own bottle of wine – serves up French-inspired food with an innovative twist. The menu here is constantly evolving, but staples include French classics and seafood (including a delicious salmon filet).
At Chez Muffy, you can expect upscale European fare, housed in a historic warehouse at Auberge Saint-Antoine hotel that overlooks the famous St. Lawrence River. The fresher-than-fresh fare here involves meticulously slow-cooked meat, fish, and seasonal vegetables, which are best-enjoyed family-style. Most dishes feature ingredients from the hotel’s on-site garden.
If you’re missing London and are in the market for a British pub experience, you’ll find it at the Saint Alexandre Pub. The traditional British pub offers up classic favourites like English-style fish and chips, soups, and burgers, as well as things like nachos and poutine, all washed down with a choice of 250(!) ales and lagers. Notably, this spot has a strong music program, with nightly performances.
For a special occasion-worthy splurge, celeb go-to Le Saint-Armour (Sting, Alicia Keys, and Sir Paul McCartney have dined here) is a refined and romantic option. The multiple award-winning and iconic spot features beautifully plated offerings of upscale French food (the foie gras is a specialty) and a wine list that has been recognized as one of the best in Canada.
Reminder: Due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, restrictions on indoor dining may affect some establishments. Be sure to check online or call before visiting.