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Best Quebec City Restaurants

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It’s no surprise that haute cuisine is alive and well in Québec City restaurants, with an emphasis on classic French cuisine; contemporary bistro fare that adds whimsical twists and flavours to aforementioned classics; and regional dining featuring fresh seafood, game meats and the hearty home-cooked specialties that kept Québec’s ancestors fat and warm throughout long winters. In these traditional dishes, maple syrup, baked beans, pork, moose and potatoes abound. But some say you haven’t truly experienced la belle province until you’ve tasted poutine—a still-popular concoction of French fries, gravy and cheese curds that’s served at high-end establishments and greasy spoons alike. (Others recognize the nutritional catastrophe of said dish!) Gourmets seeking the best places to eat in Québec City can rest assured that countless little bistros, fine restaurants and even corner patisseries will not disappoint. Of course, cosmopolitan food trends like tapas and sushi can also be found here. As is the habit throughout the U.S. and Canada, tipping is expected to the tune of 15 percent or even more, at your discretion.

Panache

Neighborhood: Basse-Ville (Lower Town) Price: Expensive
If you like gourmet French Canadian cuisine with contemporary flair served in a room that's just as special as your meal, Panache won't disappoint. One of Québec City's best restaurants, a game- and seafood-based menu changes frequently and seasonally: Atlantic cod, piglet, foie gras, venison and other belly-warming Québecois staples of yore for those long winters, with lighter fare featuring local produce come summertime. Chef Francois Blais' tasting menus are extremely popular. Nestled within the luxurious Auberge Saint-Antoine in a restored 19th-century warehouse, the spacious decor is lovely, all iron, stone walls and wood beams, jazzed up with modern fabrics and darkened alcoves. A glass fireplace heats up romantic dinners for two.

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Restaurant Initiale

Neighborhood: Haute-Ville (Upper Town) Price: Expensive
For a party, look elsewhere. Housed in a former bank, this classic 40-seat French restaurant is quiet, world famous and all about the food. The epitome of sophistication, Chef Yvan Lebrun's acclaimed menus feature creative takes on French classics and flavour combinations. Choose between three menus:
seasonal, grand menu and a la carte, featuring such delights as princess scallops, lobster, veal escalopinette, warm escalope of duck liver, lamb from Bas du Fleuve, seared foie gras, or roast saddle of rabbit—flavored with grapefruit, garlic and sumac. Fish and seafood figure prominently—a popular dish is tuna with sweet garlic and lemon marmalade. There's also a selection of Quebec cheeses and an exquisite wine menu, with wine pairing available. Service is impeccable.

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Laurie Raphaël

Neighborhood: Basse-Ville (Lower Town) Price: Expensive
Colours, flavours and fun are the inspirations of Laurie Raphaël chef and co-owner Daniel Vézina, whose acclaimed, whimsically-elegant restaurant is among Quebec's best and well on its way to becoming a local institution, with a boutique and cooking school onsite. Indeed, the carefully-designed contemporary chic decor is part of the overall experience at the restaurant, which is open for lunch and dinner. Opt for the chef's tasting menu or go a la carte for a dreamy-sounding meal that moonlights as a work of art. Appetizers include Raspberry Point oysters with homemade smoked meat, wild rice soufflé, balsamic reductions and Meyer lemon cloud. Albacore tuna tataki is marinated in lemongrass oil, accompanied by tawny port pudding and compressed melons. The mains are heavy on meats like veal, or opt for cod with peppered squash purée, pearled barley with butter and sour cream. Desserts are a fantasy—they do creme brulée with kumquats and apricot confit, kaffir leaves, peanut mousse and lime sorbet. Best of all, Vézina offers cooking classes.

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Yuzu Sushi Bar

Neighborhood: Saint-Roch Price: Expensive
Yes, friends, sushi is alive and well in French Québec, thanks to Yuzu, a wonderful Japanese restaurant and sushi bar nestled in the hip and trendy St.-Roch district. A takeout counter nestled in the fancy Holt Renfrew shop does great business, while Yuzu's soothing dining room combines Eastern Zen design with an urban feel—true to the restaurant's aim of reinventing Japanese cuisine to suit culinary trends. In addition to classic sushi bar fare like maki rolls, sashimi and tartares, a chef's tasting menu is available in five or six courses, the latter including foie gras. House specialties include bluefin tuna tataki with green shiso pesto, Boston cut beef and truffled quail egg served with spicy Asian pear, balsamic fig and coriander, and lobster ceviche with clementine oil, fresh wasabi, lobster ravioli and Kafir cream.

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Anciens Canadiens (Aux)

Neighborhood: Haute-Ville (Upper Town) Price: Expensive
Travel back in time to 1677, when this red-roofed house was first built, without sacrificing modern culinary comforts. Its name literally means "Old-time Canadians" and that's exactly what you'll get. Friendly servers clad in outfits suited to those olden days serve you massive helpings of properly-prepared homestyle New France dishes, including appetizers like traditional baked beans with molasses and bean pork, "rilettes de bison" with cranberry chutney, poutine or garlic escargots Jean-Michel (on a mushroom cap with garlic butter, bread crumbs, cognac, mustard, shallot and ham.) Mains include grilled pheasant, caribou and all sorts of maple syrup-infused, cholesterol-heavy fish and game dishes that might knock you off your diet, but will keep your belly warm all winter. Try their delicious cider.

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Versa

Neighborhood: Saint-Roch Price: Moderate
With an oyster bar, mojito menu and wine list that twice merited Wine Spectator magazine's Award of Excellence, this jovial restaurant bar in Quebec's coolest neighbourhood exudes a 1960s-inspired party vibe. Calling its whimsical bistro-inspired cuisine "bistronomique," lava lamp decor features a communal table, coloured lights and lots of teak. As for the menu, its cocktail-friendly appetizers are fun, flavourful and great for sharing, showcasing Chef Benoit Poliquin's creative flair: duck poutine, foie gras accompanied by homemade doughnuts, a salmon tartar called Cric Crac Cru, or Chilean sea bass ceviche. Main courses include Jack Daniels-flavoured General Tao chicken, served with rice vermicelli and seasonal vegetables and more serious fare like Atlantic salmon with fresh cream and a variety of salads. And the desserts! Try Mars bar cheesecake with melted caramel, dark chocolate and graham cracker.

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Le Commensal

Neighborhood: Parliament Hill Price: Moderate
This chain of vegetarian buffets is so popular throughout the province that many grocery and health food stores now carry Le Commensal's line of prepared soups, desserts and meals. The serene Québec City location makes it easy to see why: You pay by weight and fill your tray from three buffets: one cold (with a wide variety of salads); one hot (with a vast selection of mains like vegetarian chili, couscous and a variety of tofu and tempeh-based curry and stir-fry dishes); and a sumptuous dessert buffet—the chocolate mousse cake, apple cobbler and date squares are to die for. And their soups are excellent, too, with two selections available daily. Despite the buffet concept, this ain't no hippie joint—the ambience is casual yet sophisticated and you're welcome to bring your own wine. Open for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch, it's a great choice for hungry vegetarians, solo diners who want to take their time, business lunches and families.

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Le Café du Clocher Penché

Neighborhood: Saint-Roch Price: Moderate
Part art gallery, part elegant bistro, Le Café du Clocher Penché is one of the first chic establishments to inhabit the now-trendy St.-Roch neighborhood about a decade ago. Its name literally translates into "the café of the crooked clock tower," and the large space features high ceilings and lots of light. Another draw is its organic wine selection; in fact, its entire extensive wine list is a special trait. Closed Mondays, the restaurant is open for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch. Expect French bistro fare that's simple, inventive and flavorful, with a menu that changes often. Appetizer highlights include organic beet salad with goat cheese from la Ferme Tourilli, endives and nuts, and salmon tartare with grapefruit. Main courses feature meats and fish: cappelletti with duck confit, creamed spinach and mushrooms, and they do a great boudin noir (dark blood sausage) with apple chutney and purée de panais.

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Chez Ashton

Neighborhood: Haute-Ville (Upper Town) Price: Budget
Welcome to le greasy spoon, Québec style. With 25 restaurants scattered throughout la belle province, Chez Ashton prides itself on quality. Every order is prepared fresh on command, and potatoes are hand-cut and fried in cholesterol-free canola oil. The franchise began in 1969 by Monsieur Ashton Leblond, who sold French fries (patates frites) from a street cart on Hamel boulevard. These days, the menu is simple and good: a variety of French fries, poutine (a Québec classic of French fries, gravy and cheese curd) with or without sausage, hot dogs, burgers, roast beef and club sandwiches, and yes, a variety of crunchy salads.

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Boulangerie Pâtisserie Le Croquembouche

Neighborhood: Saint-Roch Price: Budget
Québec City is liberally seasoned with many fine French cafés and patisseries (pastry shops), so naming the best is a mission as impossible as pinpointing a favourite dessert from a delicious sweet table. Boulangerie Pâtisserie Le Croquembouche, however, is among the cream of the crop. Affable owners Christa and Patrice are at your service from Tuesday to Sunday and pride themselves on being a "boulangerie artisanale" (artisanal bakery), baking with only fresh natural ingredients, creativity and love. Le Croquembouche specializes in authentic baguettes, sweet and savoury, and French pastries to die for. In summertime, their homemade gelato alone is worth the trip.

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