Yes, that’s luchador baby Jesus and Dia de los Muertos Mary. And this just might be my favorite work of religious art out there.
But we’ll get to that.
I’d like to begin this article on my favorite places to eat and drink in Québec City by stating, I AM NOT A FOOD BLOGGER. I’m probably the worst food blogger out there actually. There are many things I do pretty well: planing trips, embarrassing my husband, crocheting scarves, I have a spotless driving record and I’m pretty good at rehabilitating injured birds. But I am simply awful at taking pictures of and describing food.
Then why am I writing this? That’s actually a very good question. But nope, too late.
I feel the food and drink sitch in Québec City is too good to keep to myself so I’m throwing all caution to the wind! I’m letting go of all food blogging inhibitions and I’m going to give it all I’ve got.
I’ve really sold you on this post, huh? Yes, you have to finish.
Sooo do y’all know about crêpes? I know, of course you do. For someone as obsessed as I am with being punctual, I’m actually frighteningly late to a lot of things: Snapchat, that whole being an adult thing (still waiting actually), filling in my eyebrows, crêpes… I’m basically the pregnancy scare of breakfast foods.
But when in a Canadian province once ruled by France, do as the French do! Let them eat crêpes! (I was also perpetually late to history class.)
LE CASSE-CRÊPE BRETON
COME HERE FOR: uhhhh… what was it… I just… can’t… remember…
It’s crêpes, yo. Before this, I thought crêpes only came chocolate-filled with ice cream or something of which I am totally not into. Turns out, I was wrong. It was the 3rd grade spelling bee all over again. Only instead of walking off the stage ashamed of my hubris, I walked out of the restaurant slightly ashamed of how much ham and cheese I had consumed but with a drunk-on-maple-syrup smile on my face.
So yeah, for a good time get the jambon + mozzarella + sirop d’erable. And a cappuccino. ALWAYS get a cappuccino. #AshleysLifeRules
NEED TO KNOW: I think this place is closed in the winter? I say that because I went there in the winter and it was closed. I’m not as dumb as I look, people.
NEED TO KNOW: There will be a line. It will stretch down the sidewalk. WAIT. IN. IT. Nothing fantastic ever comes without a line. Rollercoasters. College graduation. The halal stand at 52nd St. and 6th Ave.
WHERE TO FIND IT: Le Casse-Crêpe Breton, 1136 Rue Saint-Jean, Old Québec
COME HERE FOR: Hot breakfast sandwiches on fresh-made croissants. And cappuccino.
And pastries if you’re into that sort of thing. (⇠For all my European readers, wassup!)
Everything here is fresh, high quality, and homemade. According to their website:
“Yves Simard achieved his life long dream of marrying the finesse of French cuisine with the speed and efficiency associated with American ‘fast food’ to create a restaurant concept that is refined while remaining accessible to all.“
It really is the bomb-diggity and way above anything American fast food could ever hope to be. We have taco shells made out of Doritos and something called “mac n’Cheetos.” We should be so embarrassed.
NEED TO KNOW: They’re open early when nothing else is… but McDonald’s. (⇠ Don’t do it!)
NEED TO KNOW: When you enter you’re going to think the only thing available for breakfast is glazed, chocolate-filled, sugar-covered, powder-dusted muffin danish pastries. Then you’re going to turn and head for the door thinking stupid American fast food is your only hope. Then a woman is going to appear from behind the glass display cases with a menu of real breakfast food for you silly Americans who like to start your days with hot, savory meals. Fools!
WHERE TO FIND IT: Paillard, 1097 Rue Saint-Jean, Old Québec
COME HERE FOR: Typical hot breakfast that’s consistently pretty damn good, fast service by friendly people who think you speak French, reliability. And, mais oui, a cappuccino.
NEED TO KNOW: Want to eat here? There’s a slight chance you may end up running from the cops.
The sign said they opened at 6:00. It was 6:15. The door was open. We walked in. It was dark. “Hello?” No answer. But the door is open! And the sign says they’re open!
WOOOOOOP WOOOOOP WOOOOOP REEE-URRRRR REEEE-URRRR REEEE-URRRRR!
Good God almighty the alarm is going off. Me, always reliable in a crisis, OMG WHAT DO WE DO! Do we stay and wait for the police so we can explain ourselves? Should we run? What if they see us? They’ll think we broke in! BUT THE DOOR WAS OPEN!
When in doubt, slide out the door calmly yet swiftly. Don’t let ’em see you sweat. When you make it to the sidewalk, nonchalantly ask your husband, “Do you hear that? Is that an alarm? Where is it coming from?” No one will know until you’ve let an acceptable amount of time pass and then write about it on your blog.
WHERE TO FIND IT: 66 Rue Saint Louis, Old Québec
In addition to not having door locks, they also don’t have a website. Here’s an acceptable alternative: Yelp. I particularly like the 3rd review down. The one where the girl refers to the employee’s disinterest in her and says, “No need for a bitch face.” Please also see: the bitch face in the girl’s Yelp profile picture.
Always consider the source, people!
I’m just going to let you know up front–when we lunch in Québec City, there’s usually beer involved. Nay, always beer involved.
Yes, we’re back at Paillard, but not on the same day. We don’t eat breakfast, lunch and dinner at the same place every day. This isn’t prison.
COME HERE FOR: Fresh made soup and sandwiches. And beer. And, as we saw earlier, American-style efficiency. But, as it turns out, prison-style seating. If what I’ve seen on Orange is the New Black is to be believed as accurate.
They offer many of the kickass Québecois beers and I recommend the Blanche de Chambly. It’s a Belgian-style witbier brewed by the Unibroue company out of Chambly, Québec. Fun Fact: My homebrewing husband recreates this beer on the reg and has dubbed it Blanche de Ashléy because he’s hilarious like that.
NEED TO KNOW: The pastry line is in the front, the real food line is in the back. I just feel like you might get in the first line you see, that’s all.
WHERE TO FIND IT: Paillard, 1097 Rue Saint-Jean, Old Québec
PUB SAINT ALEXANDRE
Looking for spots to add to our 2-person bar crawl that would be happening later, my husband and I found Saint Alexandre Pub and decided it would be our first stop after seeing all the German flags–we love German beer a great deal. A few hours into the bar crawl we realized those are Belgian flags. GOOD THING WE LOVE BELGIAN BEER!
Now, Pub Saint-Alexandre is one of my favorite bars/restaurants IN THE WORLD. I think it’s safe to say that when in Québec City, we spend more time here than at our hotel. Would I sleep here if they’d let me? Absolutely. Would I clean myself in the bathroom sink and use a fork to brush my hair in the morning? Undoubtedly. Would I use a bag of shredded cheese as a pillow? indubitably.
COME HERE FOR: the French onion soup. (And some other stuff I’ll get to later.) I mean, you’ve just never had anything like it. It’s served by FRENCH-SPEAKING PEOPLE so clearly it’s the real deal. Like playing catch in your backyard with Yogi Berra or walking on the moon with Michael Jackson.
NEED TO KNOW: The Belgian flag has vertical stripes; the German flag has horizontal stripes.
WHERE TO FIND IT: Pub St-Alexandre, 1087 Rue Saint Jean, Old Québec (Their website brags they are an “authentic English pub” yet the site is entirely in French. Is that how they do it in jolly old England?)
COME HERE FOR: I really don’t have much to say about this one other than it’s just really, really good Chinese food. I mean, just look how happy that Buddha is.
WHERE TO FIND IT: Restaurant Wong, 19 Rue de Buade, Old Québec
St. Hubert is a chain and was recommended to us after a long day of ice canyoning. Long story short, we went there because we were in a hurry and had few other options. As Americans, we assumed this was going to be a sub-par fast food joint with a walk-up counter and some kiddie toys. But sometimes when you’re expecting one crappy thing, you get something unexpectedly better. Like all those lucky weirdos in New York City that were just out hailing a cab one night, in a hurry and with few other options, when none other than Ben Bailey himself pulls over and picks them up in the Cash Cab. (THE DREAM!!!)
It’s a sit-down kinda place with beer on tap, servers, and no toddler temper tantrums. The food is great and also possesses the power to bring you back to life after six hours on a snow-covered mountain in the middle of winter. Magic chicken.
COME HERE FOR: Rotisserie chicken meals and combo deals
NEED TO KNOW INTERESTING FACTS FOR HISTORY NERDS: St. Hubert is the patron saint of, bear with me here, forest workers, hunters, mathematicians, opticians, metal workers, and dogs (among others). Where do they come up with this stuff? Opticians have a patron saint? Mathematicians? For what???
I digress. Hubertus, after his wife died giving birth to their son, retreated to the forest to escape life and concentrated on hunting. (Umm anyone else wondering what happened to his kid? He just leave it??) While in the forest he received a magical message from beyond telling him that if he didn’t snap out of it and go serve the Lord, he’d be sent swiftly into Hell. From then on, he began practicing only ethical hunting methods that are still taught in German and Austrian hunter education courses today.
It was Hubertus who was the first to hold animals in higher regard and valuable as “God’s creatures.” I’m guessing the purveyors of rotisserie chicken skipped that chapter? Perhaps they should have named the chain St. Brigit of Kildare, the patron saint of chicken farmers.
My internet search history would astound you.
The first time poutine and I met was at a baseball game in Québec City back in 2008. I went to purchase the usual peanuts and Cracker Jacks and ended up with a plate of french fries covered in gravy topped with cheese that squeaked when I chewed it. I DON’T KNOW WHAT’S GOING ON BUT I’M LOVING IT!
It was the first of many times we would meet. I would soon end up a devout poutine apostle, preaching the glory of gravy throughout the land.
COME HERE FOR: the opportunity to try something new. Standard poutine (and still my favorite) consists of three simple ingredients: french fries (hell yes), brown gravy (oh, good gracious), and fresh cheese curd (praise luchador baby Jesus!).
At La Poutinerie you can choose your own ingredients, creating hundreds of combinations. Choose your sauce and your toppings, go nuts. Pictured above is my husband’s General Tao poutine and my oldie-but-goodie classic poutine. I like to keep it simple. Like how my wardrobe is made up primarily of T-shirts and tank tops I bought ten years ago at Target.
NEED TO KNOW: Don’t let the name fool you; the “baby” size is like a legit full meal.
WHERE TO FIND IT: La Poutinerie, 292 Rue Marie de l’Incarnation, not in Old Québec (does that even help?)
COME HERE FOR: The fancy side of poutine. Actually, I think they’re famous for their burgers but whatever. The poutine is good. The beers are phenomenal. It’s a hip spot near Old Québec and was my introduction to Boreale beer, one of my all-time favorites. OK, maybe it’s not that hip if they let me in with a knockoff Converse sweatshirt that I bought from a street vendor in Florence. Or is it? This hipster nonsense is so confusing! What’s up is down. What’s old is new. What’s lame is the shizz. Am I so uncool that I’m cool now?
NEED TO KNOW: They will ticket you if your parking meter is one minute expired. Even if you run down the sidewalk to catch him. Be vigilant with the coinage, my friend.
WHERE TO FIND IT: Chez Victor, 300 Rue Saint-Paul
Chez Ashton… an actual, for real, American-style fast food restaurant. The Québecois McDonald’s, if you will. HOWEVER, their poutine is DA BEST. I was hesitant to try their poutine after my husband told me it was the fast-foodiest but he swore it was good. It comes in foil containers and on the quick but, I’ll admit, it’s my favorite.
COME HERE FOR: Just straight up delicious poutine to-go.
NEED TO KNOW: According to Wikipedia:
“Chez Ashton is also famous for its winter promotion scheme during the month of January. The price of poutine drops with the temperature. If the temperature is −30 °C (−22 °F), the customer receives a 30% discount on poutine.”
I’m not sure how true this is–despite the fact that I was there during the month of January. Chez Ashton, can y’all back me up?
WHERE TO FIND IT: Chez Ashton, There are many but I prefer the one at 54 Côte du Palais, Old Québec.
Fancy French food.
CAFE SAINT MALO
I chose this place based on the number of rave reviews I read even though I rarely take into consideration the opinions of strangers on the internet. But it. was. perfection. The only other time this has happened was when a friend of a friend suggested I check out a purrty funny site called “I Can Haz Cheezburger.”
Café Saint Malo is small and super French. The owners/servers are friendly and want this to be the best restaurant you’ve ever eaten at. (And it is! Très bien mes amis!)
COME HERE FOR: Escargots. Mussels and french fries. They’re known for their blood sausage (but you won’t find me eating it).
You also won’t find me turning down escargots like ever. Think what you want! I care not!
NEED TO KNOW: Blood sausage is weird. You’ll need a reservation. Maybe don’t wear a hoodie?
WHERE TO FIND IT: Café St-Malo, 75 Rue Saint Paul, Old Québec
Excuse me while I stop making sense for a moment…
COME HERE FOR: Well, I would say the General Gao’s Pizza but I don’t think they have that anymore? I’m sure the rest of the food is great. After I stop being angry about the GGP, I’ll try other things.
NEED TO KNOW: The menu changes, the bastards! Sapristi – what gives!
WHERE TO FIND IT: Sapristi, 1001 Rue Saint Jean, Old Québec
AUX ANCIENS CANADIENS
COME HERE FOR: Really hearty food like bison, venison, something called “wapiti sausage.” I didn’t have any of this but I can’t really remember what I ate because I’m a terrible food blogger. But I do remember this place blew my expectations of it way out of the water. We had the four-course fixed price menu and actually, now that I’m looking at the menu again, I remember I had the “Coulibiac style salmon and shrimp and vegetable fricassee” and no, I have no idea what coulibiac salmon is.
NEED TO KNOW: Super cozy. Great place for cold weather dining. You won’t know what half the stuff on the menu is but eat it anyway! (Just awful food blogger)
WHERE TO FIND IT: Aux Anciens Canadiens, 34 Rue Saint Louis, Old Québec
FOR DRINKS + ENTERTAINMENT
PUB SAINT ALEXANDRE
Hey, look where we are again!
So Pub St-Alexandre was the first stop on our 2-person pub crawl. Everything was going swimmingly until the live music started. It was blues night. A normal person could finish his/her beer and move on to the next. Not this girl. Not this homesick Memphian. You could play blues on your trash can in the alley with your guitar made from a shoebox and rubber bands and I’d sit on the curb and watch you for hours.
The blues suck me in the way people of lower intelligence get sucked in by the Kardashians. I just. can’t. stop. watching. And this is how the first stop on our bar crawl lasted no less than three hours.
COME HERE FOR: Huge selection of beers and great entertainment. And a very tolerant wait staff who let me purchase a small flag with a rooster on it from off of their shelves. And why did I do that? Only the beer knows, y’all.
NEED TO KNOW: The yellow flag with the red rooster on it is called the Bold Rooster and is the official Flag of Wallonia, the predominantly French-speaking region of Belgium. “The Bold Rooster” is my new drinking nickname.
NEED TO KNOW: I am now the proud owner of a French blues CD. Look out, hipsters!
I got the listening to trash can blues in the alley, can’t write a blog post under 3,000 words blues…
WHERE TO FIND IT: Pub St-Alexandre, 1087 Rue Saint Jean, Old Québec
LES VOÛTES DE NAPOLÉON
COME HERE FOR: Live music, pitchers of beer, underground drinking, merriment!
NEED TO KNOW: You’ll know only 1/4 of the songs they play but you will scream along with those few at the very top of your lungs.
NEED TO KNOW: Maybe avoid if you’re claustrophobic. It’s literally underground. There’s a rock slide in the bathroom.
WHERE TO FIND IT: Les Voûtes de Napoléon, 680 Grande Allée Est, underground
TAVERNE GRANDE ALLÉE
This is one sweet mother effing piece of work and, at the time, could be found in the entrance of the Taverne.
COME HERE FOR: Good snacks and cheap drinks before the underground places open. They play good music and show a crap-load of hockey. They showcase fantastic art and chicks with tattoos who will Shazaam songs for you because you’re THE BOLD ROOSTER.
NEED TO KNOW: The drink specials are phenomenal. Beer + Jager for $8. That’s like, more unheard of than Samantha Jones showing a little restraint…
WHERE TO FIND IT: Taverne Grande Allée, 585 Grand Allée Est, above ground
HÔTEL DE GLACE
If you’re in the area (in winter) and looking for a unique place to throw back some even more unique drinks, head to one of the four ice bars at Hôtel de Glace, North America’s only ice hotel. That’s the face I make when something is really delicious, so just go with it.
COME HERE FOR: An experience cooler (heh) than the ones your friends are having. And for the drink called “Ski-doo Accident” — explained here.
NEED TO KNOW: If you take the Behind-the-Scenes tour of the ice hotel, you get to MAKE YOUR OWN ICE GLASS. This is as much fun as it sounds.
WHERE TO FIND IT: Hôtel de Glace, 1860 Boulevard Valcartier, Saint-Gabriel-de-Valcartier, Québec (You’ll need to take a car. Or a dogsled…?)
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