Poutine, bagels and smoked meat are probably some of the foods that come to your mind when you think of Québec, Canada. But this province has a lot more to offer, so allow me to introduce you to a whole new world of non-mainstream Canadian delicacies I discovered during my recent trip to the Canadian territory. I’m a lover of anything made locally so every time I travel, I try my best to eat in the spots locals usually go to, this means skipping all the fast food chains and really getting to know the culture and traditions through each one of my meals.
Québec is currently experiencing a new wave of culinary innovation that has many foodies across the world longing for a taste. In a place known for its traditions and deeply rooted French history, there are many Québécois spots on the scene rethinking traditional Canadian food and using it as a vehicle for change and progress. Here are my top 5 spots!
While in Montréal…
1310 Rue Sainte-Catherine E
Cacao 70 is a unique place for relaxing, studying and hanging out with your friends while eating a worth-getting-out-of-bed-for breakfast. Cacao 70 specializes in all kinds of chocolate. Milk, dark white chocolate, if you can imagine it, they have it! For a chocolate lover like myself, this place is a must visit while in Montréal. All I had in my mind upon my entrance was “Let’s get chocolate wasted!” so that’s why I ordered the “Sweet Chocolate Experience for 2” which included waffles, fresh fruits and my very own fondue! My mom chose savory over sweet and ordered the “Lazy Breakfast” from the brunch menu which was equally delicious. It included scrambled eggs with ham, sausage and bacon, potatoes and baked beans. You can’t leave Cacao 70 without trying their classic, American style hot chocolate served with marshmallows and my personal favorite, the dark chocolate milkshake. Cacao 70 has many locations across Montréal so it won’t be difficult to find the nearest one. I visited the one located in Le Village and I wandered around afterwards just to encounter many colorful murals and a vibrant neighborhood. Le Gourmet Burger
1433 Rue Bishop
Hands down the best burger! Proof of my claim is their “Best Burger in Montréal” award at the Le Burger Week. Not only the burger is delicious but the service and overall vibe of the place is pretty awesome. You’re greeted by a young crew and they personalize your order according to your taste buds! Le Gourmet Burger specializes in creating what you wish for a burger to be. I don’t eat red meat so I ordered the chicken burger with truffle sauce, caramelized fig walnuts and smoked gouda while my mom ordered the regular hamburger with brie cheese (clearly, she’s way simpler than me!) They serve their burgers with fresh brioche buns, fresh local veggies, organic herb and spices and their beef is grilled on wood charcoal which certainly gives it a fresher, juicier taste. Best of all? They have sweet potato fries (eat them with garlic mayo!) and homemade lemonade. I recommend going during dinnertime because portions are pretty generous so you’ll probably end up having a food comma, one you won’t regret!Fabergé 514
25 Avenue Fairmount O
How can I begin describing Fabergé 514? I can only say it’s a magical place! First of all, it is in one of the trendiest areas in Montréal, Mile End, which makes the whole experience even better because after finishing your meal, you can walk around and discover different thrift shops, cute colorful houses and even the famous cage-filled storefront! It was snowing during my visit so I chose to sit down at the window table and it was so cute to catch up with my mom while watching the snow (Remember we’re originally from Puerto Rico so snow is a big deal for us!) The whole staff was friendly and very attentive. It almost felt like home for us, which makes total sense after we were told it’s a family-owned business. We started with two coffees: a espresso for my mom and a cappuccino for me. She completely loved hers and even decided to take a whole bag of the same coffee beans back home with her. After this, our brunch consisted in “Huevos dorados” a plate that has crispy tortilla, refried beans, veggies, salsa, guacamole and two poached eggs served with queso fresco, rice & beans and the “Vaquero” that has two eggs, macreuse steak and jalapeño-pineapple relish served with home fries. Fabergé stands out for its delicious brunch menu and their bar that will make you discover smoothies, freshly squeezed juices and mimosas. We had the Rouge and the Vert smoothies and I must say the Vert smoothie was my personal favorite. The Pomegranate and Pêche mimosas are a must-try as well! This spot is great to go for brunch with your best friends or with your family.
While in Québec City…
Côtes à Côtes
21 Rue Sous le Fort, Ville de Québec
Côtes à Côtes wins the “best location” award on my list. Needless to say, this restaurant is situated right at the heart of Quartier Petit Champlain, a charming town on the shore of the river with a view to the Château Frontenac. The restaurant exudes romantic vibes so I recommend you go for a sit-down dinner with a loved one. There’s nothing that can beat drinking a glass of wine with a magnificent view, in one of Canada’s most famous streets while eating traditional Canadian food. Their specialty is the baby back ribs that they braise in the oven for 7 to 8 hours and then flavor with a homemade sauce. But if you’re not a meat lover, they have many other great options for you, there’s certainly something for everyone. What I actually liked the most about Côtes à Côtes is their variety of local Canadian meats and the resemblance each plate has of where you are which is something I look for while dining in a different country. For appetizers, we had the bison carpaccio, with parmesan chips with garlic aioli and the salt n’ pepper calamari. As our main course, we chose the Coquille St-Jacques, a cheesy dish filled with mashed potatoes and seashell and the Ice Cider Glazed Deer Ribs which where tender and as my mom described them “the perfect choice” for her. In my opinion, visiting Côtes-à-Côtes is an attraction by itself. Not only the food is remarkable but the building where they are located has a lot of history and it’s a must visit while walking around Quartier Petit Champlain. La Salsa
1063 3e Ave
This spot is certainly a hidden gem in Québec City. In the middle of a French-speaking area, you can distinguish La Salsa from the distance by its bright entrance and Latino music coming out which means it’s perfect for dancing with your friends after eating authentic Latino food. The restaurant is owned by a sweet and humble family that pours their heart and soul into the food that is served on your table. I even met the abuela who cooks, she’s the sweetest. This closeness to their clients has led them to form a close-knit community with their neighborhood. As you can see in the pictures, there’s avocados all over the place and mariachi hats so apart from offering exquisite Latino food, La Salsa also offers a good time! The chicken soup was my favorite part of the meal because even though it was simple, it was very flavorful and when combined with the crispy tortillas, it’s a remarkable pairing! But the sangría and the homemade guacamole stole the show for me, so make sure to indulge in those two when visiting and of course, don’t forget to dance it all off on the dance floor, I’m sure other Québécois will join you because they certainly know how to have a good time.
Skip the poutine overload and try something different, visit one of these five spots for the best service, mouth-watering food and a great time. They’re all SWS-recommended!