Last Updated on May 7, 2021 by Pamela
COVID 🦠 UPDATE: As of May 28, 2021, the curfew in Quebec will be lifted. This is a preliminary step towards fewer restrictions for this summer. At this time, there is a plan to have restaurants and bars 🍻 open by mid-June. Keep up-to-date with regional restrictions here. You can read more about the recent changes in this article.
It’s true, a Quebec City food tour is one of the best ways to begin your culinary exploration of this charming historic city, and UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This month I tried the Evening Gourmet Tour, a gourmet progressive dinner through Old Quebec City, visiting top-rated restaurants and various historic sites.
I may be biased, but in my opinion, the food scene in Quebec City is as scrumptious and salivating as Montreal. Quebec food often reflects its city’s vibe, and in Quebec City, the vibe is comprised of a big village heart and an artistic soul.
Beginning at Saint-Jean’s Gate (Porte Saint-Jean), I met our guide, Guy Marcotte, along with nine fellow foodies eager to sample Quebec City’s food scene. As with most guided tours in Quebec City, our tour begins with a little history of the city and its fortifications.
Walking along rue Saint-Jean, we wind our way around tourists and patios full of hungry diners to our first stop, Tournebroche.
A charming restaurant with a contemporary design, Tournebroche is dedicated to using locally grown organic ingredients in their dishes. A supporter of Ocean Wise, an awareness program centred around ocean health, Tournebroche also sources ingredients from its rooftop garden and cultivates its own honey.
Our amuse- bouche, served on a small piece of slate, features crostini with wild boar rillette topped with a dot of cranberry ketchup, and salmon tataki.
Sipping a glass of Les Petits Cailloux, a Quebec white wine from Saint-Paul-d’Abbotsford, my eyes are constantly drawn to the dripping slab of honeycomb displayed on the table. As tempting as it is to dig in with a knife, I restraint the urge and use the small wooden sticks provided by the restaurant.
[Note: Tournebroche offers gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options.]
Walking up Côte de la Fabrique past Notre-Dame de Quebec Basilica-Cathedral and City Hall, then up the quiet street of rue des Jardins, our next stop is known for its classic old-school French cuisine.
A Flambé Experience
Recommended by the late Anthony Bourdain for its table-side caesar salad and classic French cuisine, Le Continental has been a part of Quebec City’s food scene since 1957.
Seated upstairs, my eyes dance with excitement as I glance upon the side table with frying pans resting atop gas burners and plates of plump fresh shrimp.
One of the more expensive dishes on the menu at Le Continental, Shrimp Flambé with Whisky (or any flambé dish) is something everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime.
As a group, we sit and chat about food and Quebec and one of the guys on the tour, Doug, offers up a charming story about the filles du roi (King’s daughters). Our attention, however, is pulled back to our waiter when he begins to pour Seagram’s Canadian Whisky over the shrimp and the pan begins to dance with orange and yellow flames.
Removing the shrimp from the pan, our waiter adds butter and a healthy dose of thick cream to the pan, along with some lobster bisque, to create a tasty Newburg sauce.
Paired with a glass of Château Nicot, Entre-Deux-Mers, the flambé was, as you may imagine, extraordinary.
[Note: The above dish is safe for those who are gluten-free. Le Continental also offers gluten-free buns, just ask your waiter.]
Place d’Armes & Charcuterie
A small park located across from Château Frontenac, close to the restaurants and artist alley on rue Saint-Anne, Place d’Armes is a lovely spot for some added Quebec City history.
Upon the completion of our little history lesson on the château and the early days of life in haute-ville, we walk to nearby Chez Jules (formerly Pain Béni) for charcuterie and cheese and a glass of Brouilly red wine.
A French restaurant with exposed brick walls and red accents, Chez Jules is small with a lovely outdoor patio in summer.
I’m always up for charcuterie and cheese, and the board at Chez Jules was pretty good.
Given the option of riding the funiculaire down to Petit-Champlain or walking down Côte de la Montagne and the breakneck stairs, we chose the funiculaire.
Pausing on rue du Petit-Champlain, Guy chats excitedly about the street’s humble beginnings when it was home to longshoremen, many of whom were Irish, working the lumber yards near Montmorency Falls.
Walking down rue Sous-le-fort and onto rue Notre-Dame we arrive in Place-Royale, the site of the very first colony. It is here (where Notre-Dame-des-victories now stands) that Samuel de Champlain built his first trading post and habitation in 1608.
This is, quite possibly, one of my favourite areas in Old Quebec City to relax when the weather is good.
As soon as I realized our next stop would be Matto 71, I was elated. My favourite Italian restaurant in Quebec City, Matto 71 is located beside Hôtel 71 on rue Saint-Pierre.
One of two Matto restaurants in Quebec City, the other is in Ste-Foy, Matto 71 is always full of a mixture of locals and tourists. The dining room is contemporary with black decor, black and white photos and gold-coloured drapes, the wine list is impressive and the bar, in my opinion, is the best seat in the house.
Sitting at a long table near the restaurant’s open kitchen, many of us mentally prepare for another meal as we are served veal cutlets and penne arrabbiata, along with a glass of Bosan Ripasso red wine.
The food, as always, was superb.
A Sweet-tooth Ending
A Quebec City food tour is not complete without a dessert stop, and Kerrmess in Place-Royale is a perfect spot.
Located next to L’Orygine, Kerrmess serves up incredible desserts made with fresh locally sourced ingredients. Sitting on the balcony overlooking the Saint-Lawrence River, we chat casually as we are served a delicious sorbet topped with crystalized lichen (which was surprisingly delicious) and sip on an iced labrador tea concoction.
Overall, the Evening Gourmet Tour is a tasty option for foodies looking for an introduction to Quebec City’s food scene. These restaurants are among the best restaurants in Old Quebec City because their service is superb and their menus are creative, flavourful, and swoon-worthy.
Food Tour Tips
- There is 4-5 food stops on the Evening Gourmet food tour, and the food portions are decent, so come hungry, and maybe wear some stretchy pants.
- This is a 3-hour walking tour, wear good shoes and be prepared to walk up big hills.
- Have food allergies or dietary restrictions? Remember to mention them when you book the tour as most restaurants can accommodate.
- Tips are always appreciated. In Quebec City, it is recommended that you tip your guide 15-20% of the tour cost.
[Disclaimer: I was invited by HQ Tourism Services try their Evening Gourmet tour. Historic stops, restaurants and food offerings are subject to change.]