Because Quebec City’s winter can sometimes feel like it will never end, it’s not surprising that the Québécois flock to outdoor terraces at the first sign of a warm and sunny day in the spring. Buzzing with energy, packed terraces are the best places to spend a summer night. Touristy Grande-Allée is probably the street providing the best overall ambiance, with every restaurant there boasting its own large terrace and fighting for the attention of the plentiful passers-by. But every neighborhood in the city has its lot of outdoor seating options, with a style that changes with the area. For example, in arts district Montcalm, front terraces abound along commercial Cartier Street, whereas dense Saint-Jean-Baptiste hides several inner courtyards where seats disappear quickly. The following terraces, located in five different neighborhoods, each offer something unique—along with excellent food of course.
Restaurant du Musée
Lesser-known than its counterparts, the terrace attached to Restaurant du Musée, the restaurant of Quebec City’s fine arts museum, offers breathtaking views over the Plaines d’Abraham and the St. Lawrence River. The setting is as elegant as the museum is, and dishes are inspired by French cuisine. An elegant brunch is served on weekends.
The most romantic of all, the terrace of Lapin Sauté occupies an enviable spot right on pedestrian-only Petit-Champlain Street. With its lush greenery and the cliff towering overhead, the outdoor dining area, accommodating over 50 customers, doesn’t need an open view to be impressive. As the restaurant’s name hints, rabbit is the specialty, but the rustic French-inspired menu also offers popular options such as steak, fish, and salads.
Inside the city’s fortifications is Sapristi, a laidback bistro with an Italian-inspired menu where Quebec’s terroir products play a starring role. The restaurant has separate dining room and bar areas, the latter of which remains open until 3 a.m., and the beautiful back terrace, set inside stone low walls and wrought iron fences, is spread out on different levels that run along hilly D’Auteuil Street.
Le Cochon Dingue Montcalm
With four locations in the city, Le Cochon Dingue has been a local darling for 35 years. The secret to its success is a reliable menu that blends French with Québécois cuisines, prix fixe menus offering great value, excellent classic cakes and pies, and generous breakfasts and brunches. The Montcalm location adds a bonus surprise: a charming heated inner courtyard.
L’Atelier is one of a handful of Grande-Allée restaurants that is not only popular with tourists, but locals as well. We go for the impressive cocktail menu created by mixologists: drinks feature cheeky names, presentations guaranteed to impress, high-end liquors, and intriguing flavor combinations. Live DJs liven things up on weekends, and the large terrace provides excellent people-watching opportunities.