It’s tempting to think of Quebec City as a closer France (80 percent of the population considers French their primary language). But the capital of this Canadian province has a culture all its own. If you don’t believe us, we have two words for you: duck poutine.
Set on the banks of the St. Lawrence River, Old Quebec feels like you’ve stepped back in time—a lot of time. The small cobblestoned alleyways and centuries-old stone churches are as charming as can be, but the city still manages to feel alive and buzzing (with modern sites, like the Rem Koolhaas–designed art museum) and utterly peaceful (with a national park full of moose and foxes).
BISTRO LE SAM
Within the historic hotel Château Frontenac, Le Sam is named for Samuel de Champlain, who founded Quebec City in 1608. At a place where the views over the St. Lawrence river are this good, the food might as well be an afterthought, but the hearty, simply-prepared seafood-focused dishes here are spot-on. Go for the classics, like the Atlantic halibut fish and chips or the lobster salad, served with crunchy veggies and a blackcurrant vinaigrette.
Cassis Monna & Filles
A twenty-minute drive north from the center of Quebec City, Île d’Orléans is a small, rural island in the middle of the St. Lawrence River. It’s a surprisingly easy getaway for an afternoon, and this is where you’ll find Cassis Monna & Filles, a currant farm that produces bottles of (you guessed it) cassis. But it also serves lunch, including delicious versions of duck poutine, vegetable quiches, as well as various flavors of gelato and sorbet.
An 1822 maritime warehouse along the St. Lawrence River is the setting of Chez Muffy, which takes classic French and Quebecois cuisine and gives it its own modern twist. Vegetables are a big part of the menu—most ingredients come from the restaurant’s own farm nearby and show up in dishes like baby turnips with fried bread crumbs, white fish roe, and purple basil, or eggplant cannelloni with goat cheese ricotta and smoked tomato foam.