Whenever I travel, my favorite places to visit are grocery stores: I can wander for hours in the aisles looking at unfamiliar products. They reveal so much about the eating habits of the locals, and the products I buy there are often the best (and most inexpensive) souvenirs I bring back from my trips. It’s no surprise that when I’m asked for Quebec City recommendations, I immediately think of our best gourmet shops. Staffed with passionate people who are happy to answer your questions, they are great places to grab an inexpensive and delicious meal. Plus, they’re brimming with local products you’ll either want to sample on-site—artisanal cheeses, charcuteries, pâtés, and terrines—or fill your suitcase with—jams, maple products, candies, and much more. Go on and get lost in these delicious stores; just don’t blame me if your suitcase is ten pounds heavier on your way home.
Opened in 1871, J.A. Moisan is North America’s oldest grocery store. Its meticulously restored storefront and the antiques that decorate the aisles will fascinate history buffs, while food lovers could spend a whole afternoon discovering the thousands of gourmet products presented in the store’s nooks and crannies. The candy section is a must-see for the sweet tooth, and the ready-to-eat counter features delicious sandwiches and pastries that can be enjoyed on-site or as a picnic.
With its impressive selection of imported European products and the countless teas and spices presented in a wall of wooden cubes that look like an early century pharmacy display, Épicerie Européenne is an enticing store. What’s more, it also features one of the city’s largest selections of local and imported cheeses and charcuteries. Feeling indecisive? Ask for advice: the friendly clerks will allow you to taste the products to help you make your choices.
La Route des Indes
The name of this place means “the road to India,” which was the route the Spanish and Portuguese were looking for when they discovered America. Their goal was to find their way to spices, and that’s exactly what you’ll find at La Route des Indes, along with countless local and imported specialty products, teas, and other temptations. The small shop, nestled at the back of the Old Port’s Public Market, is filled to the brim with treasures that you’ll want to take home.
Sitting on commercial Cartier Street, Morena is a modern Italian grocery store that sells a wide variety of prepared dishes such as soups, arancini, pasta dishes, and other classics. It’s also the city’s best place to shop for Italian candies, cheeses, cured meats, and olive oils. Part of the space is fitted with tables where customers can stop for an Italian-inspired breakfast, lunch, or early dinner.
A newcomer, La Réserve is a great addition to Limoilou’s 3rd Avenue, an emerging food destination. Leaning towards Italy, its offerings include cheeses, olive oils, cured meats, dried pasta, and other Italian specialty products. Aiming to complement the local gourmet landscape, La Réserve carries products that can’t be found in nearby stores. Ready-to-eat dishes and breads are prepared and cooked or baked on-site.