Two hundred years ago, bistros were born in Paris as small restaurants serving reasonably priced meals in modest settings. Although a set of classic French dishes, such as steak frites or tartare, are often associated to bistros, the concept has been adapted around the world, becoming restaurants that are affordable enough to grow a crowd of regulars, who return to enjoy delicious but unfussy meals. In Québec, they are the perfect place to get acquainted with our “nouvelle cuisine.” With creative menus that focus on local ingredients and producers, carefully curated wine lists, and renowned chefs at the helm of their kitchens, the only thing that sets the following bistros apart from their fine dining counterparts is the casual atmosphere that animates their dining rooms. They’re the choice of food-loving locals for any kind of night, from dinner with a group of friends to a romantic tête-à-tête, so you’d better book a table to make sure you’ll get to experience some of the best food the city has to offer.
Le Clocher Penché
A Quebec City mainstay, Le Clocher Penché opened more than 10 years ago in the heart of the Saint-Roch neighborhood, greatly contributing to making Saint-Roch the city’s new food destination. Le Clocher Penché’s comforting menu changes through the seasons, and is served by professional and friendly servers, making the restaurant feel like a second home. Weekend brunches are exceptional and should not be missed.
With an atmosphere that is a notch more refined than that of other bistros, Légende is one of the city’s newest restaurants, but already one of the best. Led by a team who also owns a fine dining restaurant on the outskirts of Québec City, Légende excels at using lesser-known, foraged ingredients as accents to refined but accessible dishes that please all palates, from the novice to the most adventurous.
Home to a winner of Quebec’s Top Chef-style competition, La Planque is one of the stars of Limoilou, a neighborhood that is getting more and more attention from visiting food lovers. The chef uses classic sauces along with innovative flavor combinations to highlight top-quality local products. Creative cocktails and an excellent wine list seal the deal at this very popular spot.
This restaurant presents its own, casual version of Nordic cuisine, using “boreal” ingredients such as venison and game meats, foraged vegetables and seasonings, and locally made oils and syrups. The professional service staff is great at answering questions about lesser-known ingredients, but dishes always remain accessible. The hearty weekend brunch is worth a try.
Part restaurant, part wine bar, Le Moine Échanson is a small gem of a restaurant in a lesser-known area of the Upper Town, a few minutes out of the Old City walls. The menu is rustic and generous in its flavors and features impeccably prepared offal dishes. The restaurant’s pride is its French-focused wine list, which predominantly features organic and natural wines, most of which are private imports.