The Quebec City Guide
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). And while Quebec City really comes to life in summer, when people spill out of the cafés and bars into the streets for late-night revelry, there’s something magical about winter, too, when the ice-skating rinks open, everything is dusted with snow, and the identity of this city is entirely its own.
Maelstrøm181 Rue Saint-Vallier E, Saint-Roch | +1.418.523.0700
By day, Maelstrøm is a gourmet coffee house serving some of the best cold brew in Quebec City. By night, though, it morphs into a cozy, low-key bar that feels like a locals’ hangout. Exposed-brick walls and mismatched vintage furnishings give it a bit of a Brooklyn vibe, and the cocktails (poured by the friendly bartenders) are strong. It’s a great place to meet up for a predinner drink before a meal at one of the cute neighboring restaurants in Saint-Roch.
Petits Creux & Grands Crus1125 Avenue Cartier, Montcalm | +1.581.742.5050
It’s not every day you find a Corsican bar and restaurant, let alone a great one. Run by a husband-and-wife team originally from the French island, Petits Creux & Grands Crus offers a big selection of imported Corsican wines and small dishes—they’re similar to those found in Italy and include fish croquettes and lobster risotto. A huge blackboard with the day’s special dominates the elegantly simple dining room.
Le Moine Échanson585 Rue Saint-Jean, Saint-Jean-Baptiste | +1.418.524.7832
An expertly curated natural wine list, hearty comfort food, and vintage wooden tables and chairs make this cozy wine bar on Rue Saint-Jean an ideal year-round option. Don’t be shy in engaging the servers, as this is the most fun part of a night here. You tell them (sometimes in very broad terms) what it is you’d like in a wine, and they’ll generously bring out a few bottles from which to taste. There’s food, too—and the oysters, charcuterie, terrines, and ratatouille are all excellent.
Griendel Brasserie Artisanale195 Rue Saint-Vallier O, Saint-Sauveur | +1.581.742.2884
A vast, industrial-looking space on Saint-Vallier Street, this beer-hall-style restaurant is the place to come for, well, beer. And the menu is full of great options, especially for local brands like Jakob and Prospero that can be difficult to find outside of Quebec. If you’re hungry, there are burgers and fish and chips that pair well with what’s on tap.