For high school graduation, my two best friends and I road-tripped from Connecticut to Québec City. We were excited to explore the monuments and try the best local food. While the 11-hour drive, complete with a speeding ticket (sorry Mom and Dad), was grueling, pulling into the scenic old city was well worth it.Québec City's many neighborhoods each have their own flair and culinary style to boot. After a long day of touring around the historic, lost-in-time city, my friends and I got to try some of the city's most reknown, and also more up-and-coming, establishments. Here is a guide to restaurants in five of Québec's most happening neighborhoods.
In the past decade or so, Saint Roch has risen from obscurity to indie popularity. Representing this young, hip vibe is Le Cercle, a music joint that also flaunts a varied, yet sophisticated menu. Guests dine at this avant-garde establishment while listening to rising artists. Le Barberie is a local brewery with a sleek, modern feel and a wide selection of beers (including wine-beer hybrids).
Haute-VilleThis hilly, more commercial area of the city is famous for its biggest landmark: Château Frontenac. This luxury hotel boasts a revered bistro, wine and cheese bar, and standard restaurant. While pricier, it is certainly worth the experience of dining in this lavish castle. My friends and I waited until the morning of our departure to have breakfast and mimosas.
Basse-Ville, or Lower Town, is a funicular ride away from Haute-Ville. This continuation of the old city is home to many quintessentially québeçois eateries. If you're in Québec, poutine is a must. Le Chic Shack's menu has creative variations on this classic Canadian dish, as well as burgers and other pub-style entrées.
Situated near the Grand Allée (think Champs Élysées of Québec) and La Citadelle, Parliament is central to many culinary establishments. Within Parliament Hall is the ornate Restaurant Le Parlementaire. Open for weekday breakfast and lunch, this Plaza-esque experience is another alternative (or addition?) to dining at Château Frontenac. Also nearby is a Tim Hortons, which is really a cultural phenomenon in itself.
Saint JeanRue de St Jean is a cozy, cobblestone-lined street where you find many notable pastry shops and ice cream parlors. Panetier Baluchon and Boulangerie-Pâtisserie St Jean 2000 craft artisan pastries daily. Tutto Gelato carries a wide range of flavors that are seasonal and totally unique. Sweet shops along this road also carry traditional maple creations.
Too frequently, Québec is written off as a "Paris-lite," or as "basically a European city." While it is is true that Québec maintains the romantic atmosphere of some of Europe's cities, it has its own unique culture and cuisine worth the adventure.