When it comes to eating on a budget, fast-food restaurants are often the first options that come to mind. But in Quebec City, being frugal doesn’t necessarily mean sacrificing quality or flavor; there are countless options if you want to eat well but still keep costs under control. For example, most of the city’s excellent bakeries also serve quick meals, such as sandwiches and quiches, for under $10. Microbreweries are also surprisingly good options; because of their artisan mindset, most of them have created bar-food menus with a local sensibility. Pub fare like poutines, burgers, and nachos are often made with local or organic ingredients, and happily, are sold at prices that leave enough in your pocket to sample the beer, too. A third option is to visit any gourmet grocery shop and assemble a picnic tailored to your budget.
When only a restaurant will do, though, here are five of my favorite cheap places—where $15 or less will get you a delicious and filling meal.
Soupe & Cie
On Limoilou’s trendy 3rd avenue, Soupe & Cie serves instant comfort to its hungry patrons. The restaurant’s piping-hot soups are inspired by international classics, such as Italian wedding soup, New England-style clam chowder, and French bouillabaisse. These soups combine soul-satisfyingly rich broths, top-quality ingredients, and spot-on flavors. Half of the 14 choices on the menu cost less than $14 for a full-sized (read, huge) bowl, and there are also tartares and creative dessert soups to choose from.
Quebec City’s only authentic ramen joint is run by two Japanese brothers (who also own an excellent sushi restaurant in Limoilou). Passing through the restaurant’s door, diners are transported straight to Tokyo with a welcoming shout from the staff of “Irasshaimase!” and brisk, no-fuss service. Ramen bowls are generous and full of flavor, but the rest of the menu, featuring a range of small dishes under $10, should not be overlooked: the karaage fried chicken is deservedly popular.
La Korrigane is a brewery that produces its beers in very small quantities and serves them exclusively in its lively pub. In addition to traditional blends, the brewery also uses ingredients such as fresh blueberries and maple sap to produce intriguingly complex beers. The food is creative and uses locally grown and produced ingredients.
La Cuisine du Marché
This cafeteria-style lunch spot at the Old Port’s public market (Marché du Vieux-Port) serves dishes under $10 that are made with local ingredients provided by the market’s producers. The seasonal menu was created by Arnaud Marchand, chef at the popular Upper Town bistro Chez Boulay. Don’t miss the chance to try two of Québec’s classics: the hearty pea soup and the excellent pouding chômeur, a moist pudding topped with a rich sauce of brown sugar and maple syrup.
The Saint-Jean-Baptiste neighborhood is filled with interesting budget-friendly shops, bars, and restaurants, and Le Comptoir is among its best offerings. Just steps away from the Old City, the restaurant serves impeccably made classics such as smoked-meat sandwiches and fish and chips. Friendly service, along with cheap beer and wine, makes Le Comptoir particularly popular with locals.