Last Updated on December 22, 2023 by Pamela MacNaughtan
“Where can I eat the best French onion soup in Quebec City?” is a common question among visitors exploring Old Quebec City. While some locals are confused by the obsession with Onion soup (as it is called here), I totally get it. Bubbling crispy cheese with little pools of grease draped over a bowl, concealing bread, onions and a savoury broth that makes your heart sing.
It’s like watching Idris Elba or Dwayne Johnson take their shirt off. So. Damn. Good.
Thinking about finding the best bowl of French Onion soup near me was a fantasy, one that gave me warm virtual hugs on chilly Quebec City nights.
A French Onion Soup Obsession
As an anglophone who has chosen to make Quebec City my home, I understand the obsession with savouring a bowl of French Onion soup. While Onion soup may be a standard dish here in Quebec, it is often a treat in the rest of Canada.
I still remember my first bowl of French Onion soup. I was 14 years old and my dad had taken me to see Les Misérables at the Royal Alexander Theatre in Toronto (which I LOVED). When the show was done, he took me to Le Papillon on Front Street for French Onion soup. OMG, it was delicious. Sadly, when the waiter came around and asked what we would like for dessert, my dad decided to tell him I wanted a kiss. I was mortified!
That soup though? That was good French Onion soup.
Origins of Onion Soup
In Quebec (and France) the soup is simply known as Soupe à l’Oignon (Onion Soup). While a version of onion soup has been savoured since the days of the Roman Empire, the soup we know today as French Onion soup originated in 18th-century Paris.
The base of this delightful soup was made using beef broth and caramelized onions and topped with croutons and melted Comté cheese.
Today, Onion soup varies. In Quebec, some will make it with chicken broth, while others use beef or beef and veal stocks. Oftentimes red wine or red ale is added to the broth as well. Some soups will have croutons, while others use a day-old baguette or crostini. The choice of cheese changes quite a bit, from gruyere to emmental, migneron, mozarella or cantonnier.
The Best French Onion Soup in Quebec City
There are currently 32 restaurants in Old Quebec City serving Soupe à l’Oignon. While there are definitely some bad bowls of French Onion soup, I’m going to focus on the really good ones. The ones that I crave regularly.
So instead of searching for the best Onion soup in Quebec City, bookmark this article and use it as your foodie road map!
Disclaimer: The Old Quebec City restaurants I visited did not know I was coming, and I personally paid for every single bowl of soup!
Here are 8 places serving up some of the best French onion soup in Quebec City!
I was initially disappointed when this bowl of onion soup was placed in front of me (I thought it would be a traditional French Onion soup), but the moment I sipped the broth, I was in absolute heaven.
The soup is served with a side of bone marrow and roasted pearl onions. While it is definitely not a traditional French onion soup, the broth has an incredibly deep flavour, with slight hints of rosemary and roasted garlic. The croutons held up nicely and discovering grilled cheese curds resting at the bottom gave me more joy than I thought possible.
I was prepared for a pretentious overpriced soup, but I was happily proven wrong – and I have been raving about it to anyone who asks.
price: $16 CAD
lgbtqia2s+ safe space • address: 49, rue saint-louis • website: http://restolabuche.com/
When it comes to traditional-looking (or what we think as traditional) French onion soup, this bowl from Q-de-Sac Resto-Pub in Petit-Champlain is at the top of my list.
The bubbling cheese with little pools of grease is an exciting site, especially when you learn that the soup is cooked in a wood-fired pizza oven. Getting through delightfully gooey smoked cheddar cheese to the broth underneath can be a challenge, but it is worth it. The broth itself is comprised of veal stock and red ale and has a deep smokey flavour that warms the body inside out.
In summer, enjoy the large outdoor patio with views of Petit-Champlain and its famous hanging umbrella installation.
price: $11 CAD
lgbtqia2s+ safe space • address: 10, rue du cul-de-sac • website: http://restopubqdesac.com/
pub l’oncle antoine
A cave-like pub in one of the oldest buildings in Place-Royale, L’Oncle Antoine is a favourite hang-out for both locals and tourists. It is also women-owned – did you know it resides in what was once the storeroom of the first women-owned business in New France in the 18th century?
More pub than restaurant, one would not think a place such as L’Oncle would serve up a delicious bowl of onion soup. Made fresh using beef stock and red ale, the broth has a buttery and slightly salty flavour. The bread is good, ideal for sopping up the soup and holding up the mozzarella cheese which is cooked until it is bubbly.
price: $12.75 CAD
lgbtqia2s+ safe space, women-owned • address: 29, rue Saint-Pierre
One of two restaurants in Fairmont Château Frontenac, Le Sam offers views of Dufferin Terrace and the Saint-Lawrence River.
Draped with bubbly 1608 cheese (a firm cow’s milk cheese) from Laiterie Charlevoix, I loved the light not-too-salty broth of this French onion soup. The perfect compliment to the strong flavour of the 1608 cheese which remained gooey until the very end. The bread was perfect for sopping up the broth and the diced caramelized onions added a lovely flavour as well. A soup I would gladly have again!
price: $18 CAD
lgbtqia2s+ safe space • address: 1, rue des carrières • website: https://www.fairmont.com/frontenac-quebec/dining/bistro-le-sam/
les frères de la côte
A small bistro on rue Saint-Jean, in the heart of the action during the summer months, the French onion soup at Les Frères de la Côte was a scrumptious surprise.
Topped with Cantonnier cheese (a semi-soft pressed cow’s milk cheese with a washed rind), the braised beef adds a lovely depth of flavour to the broth of this French onion soup. Onions are soft and subtle and the cheese remains gooey and delicious until the very end. The chunks of braised beef on the bottom were a little tough, but overall a very good bowl of soup!
address: 1129, rue Saint-Jean • website: https://restaurantlesfreresdelacote.com/
au petit coin breton
Tucked down rue Saint-Jean, close to the St-Jean gate and Place D’Youville, Au Petit Coin Breton is a small French bistro. Sure, it’s a tad dated, but that is part of its charm – along with the costumed waitresses.
This yummy onion soup is topped with crispy gruyere cheese and little pools of grease that make my heart sing. While there is bread underneath, it’s minimal and that is absolutely fine! The broth is rich in flavour, a little buttery and salty and the long pieces of onion are perfectly cooked. It is everything we would want from a French bistro which has been in Quebec City since 1963!
price: $8.95 CAD
women-owned • address: 1029, rue saint-jean • website: http://aupetitcoinbreton.ca/en/
One of the most popular French restaurants in Petit-Champlain, Lapin Sauté is known for their dishes featuring rabbit (hence the name).
Lapin Sauté offers two options for their soupe à l’oignon, one with Perron cheddar cheese, the other with Le Cantonnier (according to their current menu). When I visited the higher-end cheese was Migneron, semi-soft cheese with a fairly strong flavour. It’s yummy, and quite gooey when melted. The broth is light and there are plenty of onions to enjoy. Quite yummy, and a good size compared to many of the bowls of onion soup in Old Quebec City.
address: 52, rue du petit-champlain • website: https://www.lapinsaute.com/#/english
you can also enjoy yummy french onion soup at the following old quebec city restaurants!
1640 Bistro – 20, rue sainte-snne • website: https://www.bistro1640.com/
Chez Jules – 24, rue sainte-anne • website: http://chezjules.ca/en
D’Orsay – 65, rue de buade • website: https://www.dorsayrestaurant.com/
Buffet de l’Antiquaire – 95, rue saint-paul • Website: https://lebuffetdelantiquaire.com/
Bistro St-Malo – 75, rue saint-paul • Website: https://www.bistrostmalo.com/