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Quebec City Trip Report

I just returned from a trip to Quebec City. What an amazing culinary city! We ate so much great food, and I have a feeling we didn’t even scratch the surface. We purposely did not go to any of the very high end places. Here’s my summary:

Le Hobbit: Dinner. Excellent bistro fare. Rabbit sausage special app was tiny (we shared) but delicious. Entrees were excellent and the prices were very fair. Sat on the terrace, but the inside dining area looked great. Service friendly but spotty on the terrace. Recommend for a casual dinner, or lunch.

L’Echaude: Dinner. Loved it! Very interesting app with spinach/smoked salmon/egg salad. Quail kebab entrée was excellent, as was the duck confit. Great terrace dining, very romantic cobblestone street. No reservation, wait was maybe 20 minutes, sat at the nice bar area inside. Good value.

Lapin Saute: Dinner. Amazing. Told there would be at least a 1.5 hour wait at 8:15 on Friday night with no reservation. Ended up being closer to 45 minutes. You can sit in the park next door or there’s a little bar across the way and they will call you there. Delicious, amazing food, great portions, super romantic terrace. Onion soup was excellent, not too salty as it can often be. The rabbit rillettes app was incredible! I couldn’t believe how much rabbit they gave you, and it was delicious. Rabbit pie was excellent, and the rabbit confit cassoulet was as well. Good value.

Teatro: Dinner. Huge menu, pretty typical Italian food. Music was a little loud and techno for my liking, but other than that, the terrace was great. Also, watch out for intermission at the theater: all of the smokers come out and stand right next to Teatro’s terrace and it’s like a gas chamber, but only briefly. Polpetti app was delicious. Lamb stew was not really a stew, but more like a ragu over tagliatelle. Great flavor. Veal dish was a little tough, but otherwise flavors were good.

Pain Beni: Dinner. It was hard to live up to all of the hype we ha d heard, but it was very good, especially if you are into foams and things like that. Quebec Fois Gras app was good. The sweet soy cake went very well with it, but the savory shitake sorbet was very salty and odd. Black cod with parsnip foam over gnocchi was excellent, but small. Lamb ravs were absolutely delicious! This was our most expensive dinner, but not the best dinner. Again, great terrace dining.

Pain Beni: Breakfast. Awesome. We stayed at this hotel, so the breakfast was included and was a great deal. You order off of the menu, and there are plenty of choices, all of them good! Of note, the service at dinner was great, while the service at breakfast was mostly awful. They seemed understaffed at breakfast. Also, you cannot eat on the terrace at breakfast. Favorites were the American breakfast, steel cut oatmeal, croque monsieur, “pain beni” French toast, and the Museli. They all came with a tiny fruit salad, and most of them came with great buttered wheat toast and delicious bread pudding.

Bistro Sous le Fort: Dinner. Yum! Teeny tiny terrace. I thought we were going to be very uncomfortable at first, but once we relaxed about it, it was less claustrophobic. App of duck rillettes was super…rillettes became one of our favorite food groups! Entrees of chicken with camembert/shallots and Walleye were very well prepared and delicious. Great value.

Le Billig: Lunch. As promised, this place rocks for authentic Breton crepes. I had the duck confit crepe…since I don’t do goat cheese, I subbed swiss and it worked perfectly. Crepe with scrambled egg, cheese, and “bacon” (more like Canadian bacon) was excellent. Crepes were super thin, almost lacy and somewhat crisp. Great value, excellent food.

Brynd Smoked Meat: Lunch. Outrageously good. We split the two sandwiches with fries plate, and it was more than enough food for two. The frites were excellent. We requested the “lean” meat—which I know some diehards would say was a rookie mistake—but I have to say it was the most moist, flavorful meat ever! There was practically no fat on it, it was appropriately seasoned, without being too salty. The meat-to-bread ratio was very high on the meat side. There was just a touch of mustard on the bread. I love pastrami in the US, and I felt that Brynd was way better than any I’ve had in NYC.

Buffet des Antiquaires: Lunch. Pretty good. Disclaimer: this is not my “kind” of food, but I wanted to have something pretty authentic. Sure enough, we were surrounded by mostly locals. We saw several locals eating a spaghetti/meat/mushroom/melted cheese dish that looked great. We would have never ordered it if we hadn’t seen them obviously enjoying it. We got it and it was delicious! I got the meat pie…it tasted like pot roast to me, which I hate. It was very heavy and salty. I asked for the special meat pie, but I have a feeling I got the regular meat pie by mistake. Both came with soup. The pork/veggie was very oily. The pea soup was excellent. It also came with coffee (terrible) and these funny wrapped white rolls. Overall, happy we went, I’d go with breakfast food next time.

Chez Ashton: Went specifically to have our poutine fix. It’s the first and only poutine I’ve ever had so I may not be the best judge, but I thought it was super. Their fries are crunch y enough to stand up to the gravy. I know the curds were fresh, because they were really squeaky on my teeth.

Palet d’Or: Snack. Almond and chocolate croissant was to die for. I actually asked Mr. CookingGirl to pinch me to make sure I was not in heaven. It was that good…and I’m not a sweet person.

Paillard: Snack: Chocolatine and macchiato. This was our first croissant of the trip, so it seemed to be awesome, until we went to other places. Still, I liked the vibe at Paillard very much.

Nektar: Coffee. Macchiato and cappuccino were literally perfect—smooth and delicious, great foam. They were so excited to be the only place in the area serving George Howell coffee.

Old Port Market: Amazing selection of produce and other items from local farms. Everything was gorgeously presented, and would have cost a fortune in the Farmer’s Markets where I live. Lots of tasting for berries and items like pates, spreads, wines, etc.

Rue Saint-Jean: We just called it “the food street.” This is where JA Moisan is located, as well as lots of other food shops and bakeries and Le Billig and Hobbit are located. The closest supermarket is here, too.

Ile d’Orleans: too many individual places to list, but it’s well worth the visit for a food/artisan/scenic adventure. You must stop at the information booth and get the map depicting the different restaurants, farms, and shops. Then just drive from place to place and taste, smell, buy, and talk with the locals. We returned with jellies, spreads, wines, chocolates, leather goods, berries, syrup, cornichons, etc. The fries at The Friterie here are great, too. They have poutine, too. Wonderful people, beautiful countryside, and great products.

My general advice is to get out of the walls and walk everywhere until you can’t walk anymore. When you need a break, sit at a terrace anywhere and have a cappuccino or a beer or a Bloody Caesar. Duck into a bakery and grab an olive fougasse and stuff it in your pocketbook and munch on it as you walk through the cobblestone streets.

Brynd Smoked Meat
550 Boul Pere-Lelievre, Quebec, QC G1M3R2, CA

Le Billig
526 Rue Saint-Jean, Quebec, QC G1R1P6, CA

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  1. What a great report! This should be required reading before starting a new "Where should I eat in Quebec City?" thread ;-)

    Thanks so much for the detailed info. I know I'll be referring back here if I visit Quebec City in the future.

    3 Replies
    1. re: kpzoo

      We recently visited Quebec City as well and loved Le Hobbit for dinner so much, we went back for breakfast. Great place for breakfast. My favorite place of all was the pastry shop, Paillard. Hit that a couple of times too for some really sick breakfast pastry!

      1. re: april164

        This is very nice to hear as I used to be the executive chef of Le Hobbit last year. The person who took over is one of my dear friends who was the sous-chef. I'm happy to see she is doing a good job and that people are enjoying this place. I had some great times here.

      2. re: kpzoo

        my thoughts exactly. I want to go now!

        1. Your last paragraph sums things up nicely. Le Billig and Hobbit are both outside the walls (though not by much). And there are more places to sit and relax on a nice day than one can count, especially along Rue St. Jean and Grand Allee. Thanks for a great report!

          Le Billig
          526 Rue Saint-Jean, Quebec, QC G1R1P6, CA

          1. I just want to thank you for such an informative post! I will print this and carry it with me. We are heading to QC in October with our 12 year old son (who also loves to eat good food). I've been researching here on Chowhound and elsewhere and this is very useful to me. Thanks so much! I am wondering, though, if you might identify any places you went that you think we should avoid with a child? I read reviews about some places that are pretty snotty about the presence of children (e.g., Cafe Bistro du Cap). Our child is not unruly in any way, but I don't want him or us to feel uncomfortable in a place that generally does not welcome children. Any thoughts?

            4 Replies
            1. re: liveforfood

              Most places in Quebec City and Montreal are fine with children, certainly well-behaved 12-year-olds. You shouldn't have any problems, especially at any of the above-mentioned places.

              1. re: liveforfood

                Hi Liveforfood. I agree this post is great. I am wondering too though how you fared with your 12 year old. We are going to Quebec in August with two kids (7 and 9), good eaters, love restaurants. Any suggestions?

                1. re: liveforfood

                  Liveforfood, we will be making our first trip to QC in July with our almost 12 year old. Like your son, he is an adventurous eater. We are choosing restaurants by the reviews of the food. For better or worse, I'm not worried too much about "child friendly." I don't want him to feel unwelcome, but I also know that he behaves beautifully in restaurants and (in fairness) he also looks older than he is. At any rate, I'll be happy to let you know how it all goes when we are back from our trip and whether we go anyplace to avoid with a child.

                  1. re: mountaincachers

                    this is a post started from last year-- but something we did one summer was drive short distance to ile d orleans for driving around island for food tour. You sample for small charges the products.. There are excellent restos for lunch and supper if you want larger meal. You can get info and food tour map at kiosk at entrance of island. At the far end of island there was a park area with a tower lookout and a poutine chip wagon, so we tried that too!

                    at bottom of page

                    The scenery is lovely with quebecstyle houses, farms and vineyards, nice views of Monmorency falls, and lots of tasty food products to enjoy.


                2. Will be travelling to QCity this month and found your excellent post. Have not been there in many years so this is terrific information. What a great report. Many, many thanks!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: balthazar

                    We just came back from Quebec City and I wanted to thank you for your post. It was great help for us as it was our first time visiting the city.

                    We tried a few restaurants that was suggested and they were ALL great:
                    Lapin saute: We had the dinner for two which is a combination of a lot on the menu so one can have a tasting of everything. Excellent price too for the meal.
                    Le Hobbit was excellent.

                    A note:
                    Palet D'Or is no longer there. Someone suggested St. Honore for Croissant and Pain au Chocolat. They were good. But I would recommend Praline et Chocolat for croissant as well. They are at the Old Port Market or they have their own shop going towards Chute Montmorency. They have terrific Paris Brest as well.
                    Le Bistro Sous le Fort was great.

                    We ate at Les Au Petit Coins Bretons for crepes on Rue St. Jean and they were delicious as well.
                    Rue St. Jean is everything you mentioned. Great place to shop for food. J.A. Moisan is terrific!
                    Thanks again for your suggestions.

                    Le Bistro
                    3 Rue Kent, Gatineau, QC J8X3J8, CA

                  2. That is a wonderful dining report. We were in Quebec City the week before you. The places that stood out to us were Toast - truly fantastic for a high end dinner - and Cafe Temporel, a hip little cafe in the Old Port. Our meal at Versa, in the St. Roch district, was very good as well. I agree that the Old Port Market is excellent; as is JA Moisan, a gourmet grocer just outside the Old Port walls - they have a little eatery if you want to try something out on the spot.

                    1. Just returned from a quick after-Thanksgiving trip and am bumping as this was by far the most helpful of the recent posts for Quebec City. We rented an apartment so we could cook-in a bit in the evenings, but here's our take on the restaurants and other food purveyors we sampled:

                      Le Hobbit: This is a restaurant anyone would be happy to have in their neighborhood. Reasonably priced, good service, interesting food. Modern but warm and inviting decor. Food to match.

                      Le Billig:Another good neighborhood find. More of a "joint", but still solid at what they do, which is crepes.

                      Brynd Smoked Meat: We are from NYC so we are spoiled as far as pastrami goes. There was nothing bad about this restaurant, but nothing to rave about either. If we were from a different part of the USA, we might have a different opinion. What you see depends on where you sit - enough said.

                      J.A. Moisan: We were cooking in a bit, so this place and the organic market across Rue Saint-Jean were our frequent haunts. We thought that when we went there four times in one day we were either going to achieve "local" status or have them call the cops on us for stalking. It's that good.

                      Old Port Market: The other place we went to for local stuff. Caveat emptor, as not everything is local or fresh, but if you can sift through the chaff there are some gems of locally produced charcuterie and produce. The standout is the outpost of Praline et Chocolat for the almond croissant and bread. Worth the walk.

                      Lapin Saute: We didn't have the chance to eat there, but we sniffed it out and it looked very promising. It's in a horridly tourist section of town, but we would go there on a return trip. Same to be said for Simple Snack Sympathique.

                      We also happened upon Halles du Petit Quartier on Avenue Cartier which is worth the walk out of old town. Great duck sandwiches at Fastoche. The boulangerie-pâtissierie of Eric Borderon was also worthwhile.

                      We sniffed both Aux Anciens Canadiens and Buffet des Antiquaires but tried neither. Given the choice and opportunity we would go to Buffet des Antiquaires but ran out of time, so that will have to be on another voyage. I echo the sentiments of the OP that we didn’t even scratch the surface. So much more to explore....

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Themistocles

                        I just finished a short trip to QC. I had read on this web site that L`Echaude was a great bistro and I was just after good simple bistro fare (steak frites etc). L`Echaude was not bad, the appetiser or red deer tartar was pretty good. Main course of boudin noir wrapped in filo pastry with pork belly was tasty but so oily and rich. There was no vegetables on the plate except for an insipid, lumpy, pale green pea puree. If the pork belly is brined into a ham, then they should have mentioned that on the menu description because this just made it to oily and salty. My partners main course of Onglet steak frites came with chips, confit onions and strangely, some mediterannean vegetables that had been grilled and skewered...? Why can`t they just use some local seasonal vegetables (in winter like parsnip, brussel sprouts etc?) We finished the meal off with a mediocre creme brulee. I think the thing that really saved this place from being considered "bad" in my books, is that because we ate after 9pm, we were given a 21% discount, which made the average food all the more tolerable.
                        To NYE, we had gotten a booking at Le Hobbit based on a recommendation from a friend. The restaurant has a nice little dining room but they seemed a bit run off their feet with the dozen or so tables. For an appetiser I had a poached egg with white, local asparagus and fresh truffles. The egg and the asparagus was cooked perfectly but the dish could have benefited from a touch more salt and some form of acidity, but pretty good nonetheless. My partner had a saffron risotto with local snow crab and bisque. This was very nice. To the mains, things got bad. I had avoided the lamb shank with chocolate, chilli and malt but had gone with the mackeral with herb salad, focaccia and citrus dressing. This was not good at all. The focaccia had soaked up a lot of oil at the bottom of the plate and then the chef had had the bright idea to throw another lump of butter (about 2T worth) on there for good measure, as if I was going to just eat a big lump of butter. The citrus dressing was strangely sweet and the fish although well overcooked, tasted fresh. My partner`s main course was so bad that she couldn`t eat it. And she is not that fussy. It was scallops with endive, celeriac puree and sea urchin. Sounded nice but the scallops had not been sauteed in a hot enough pan so they were pale and rubbery, the endive had been cooked with some kind of liquor like gin and the sea urchin was in the form of a puree that had dried instantly onto a hot plate and just crusted over. When we the told the server, he was very apologetic and asked if we would like a free dessert but we just wanted to leave so they have us a 15% discount but really for a meal this bad, they should have not charged us at all for the mains.

                        So just a warning that though these restaurants do fare pretty well on this website, they are not always at the top of their game and I will definitely not be recommending them to anyone.

                        1. re: NZJoe

                          Le Hobbit is a very old café-bistro; it opened in the 1970s (the name is a clue). Too bad about your evening there; when I last ate there (a few years ago, that is why I didn't give a rec for it) it was fine.

                          Chez Temporel is also a most venerable café.