Foodie Bucket List: Must-Try Foods from Quebec while in Canada’s French Province

There’s nothing better in my book than the delicious discovery of new flavours when travelling to a new destination, sitting in a restaurant, trying a food truck or even visiting a food market or grocery shop. Here are 18 of the best foods from Quebec and local staples you must try on your trip to Canada’s French foodie province.

Sugar Shacks, Maple Syrup and Taffy for the Sweet Toothes Travelling to Quebec

It’s no secret that we produce mounds of maple syrup every year in the province, but have you ever tried it locally?

One way of doing so is by coming to Quebec in March or April to get your fix of maple in every way possible during our Sugaring off season. Families head to sugar shacks; some more familial, others more commercial; to feast out on all things maple. Ham, omelette, meat pie, potatoes, pancakes, etc. It’s just a rocking good time!

Some sugar shacks are open all year round, which can be nice if you’re coming to us the rest of the year, but they’ll be a bit more touristy albeit interesting. 

You can also sample maple syrup with breakfast in most restaurants or even try maple pie pretty much in every corner of Quebec. One thing you should have at least once to check off on your Quebec foodie bucket list is maple taffy, the boiled maple syrup that is of a denser consistency and hardens up when poured on snow. You then roll it around a wooden Popsicle stick and have at it for ages!

Bagels Galore: Enjoy this Jewish Delicacy in Montreal’s Mile End District

Sure, you can find bagels everywhere nowadays, but they’ll never be as good and as fresh as if you have them in the Mile End district of Montreal, fresh off the paddle that scoops them out of the wood-fire oven!

These little rolls of “bread” circles are heavenly with cream cheese or smoked salmon, but I bet they won’t even make it to your dinner table if you pick them up still hot and fresh, when they’re easily eaten bland walking around the street in a few delicious bites! St-Viateur Bagel and Fairmont Bagel are the two most popular.

Bagels of Montreal - Jewish Delicacy - Freepik
Photo: Freepik

Ice Cider and Ice Wine: Quebec’s Iconic Alcoholic Beverages

Take some grapes or apples, which grow quite a bit in many places of the province, and either leave them on the tree to freeze when winter comes, or put them in crates that you’ll leave outside for them to freeze naturally.

Whichever method, cryoconcentration and cryoextraction produce some of the world’s best ice wines (grapes) and ice cider (apples) that we call in French vin de glace and cidre de glace. 

The process gives the juices an amazing sweetness that is best enjoyed as dessert or as a refresher over ice on a hot summer day. 

Ice Cider - La Face Cachee de la Pomme -Monteregie

Looking for Cool Tours While in Quebec City?

Look no further! We’ve noted the best ones for you right here:

Looking to craft your own tour? Get this amazing ebook about île d’Orléans to create your own itinerary!

For a whole lot of other awesome tours in Quebec province, check out this article: 46 Ultimate Best Quebec Guided Tours You Should Book Now in the Province.

Pouding Chômeur: Quebec’s Most Iconic Dessert

If there was only one classic dessert to try when you travel to Quebec, it’s pouding chômeur. Created back in the days of the Great Depression when rations and finances were running low, it was a low-class dish. The name translates to welfare pudding, so it won’t come as a surprise.

Grab some dough, generously pour maple syrup over it (and/or brown sugar) and cook this to let the dough rise and absorb the sweetness. You’ll be licking your lips for hours!

Pouding Chomeur - Quebec Most Iconic Dessert

Bannique or Bannock, Our First Nations’ Bread You’ll Crave

If you’ve been to indigenous-owned businesses before, you’ve most likely had bannock or bannique as we call it in French. This bread recipe has been passed down through generations of First Nations families and remains a staple of indigenous cuisine today.

Cigares au chou, a Cabbage Delight

Definitely my favourite dish that my grandma prepares so well every time I visit! Balls of seasoned ground beef and rice are pressed together by hand then wrapped in cabbage leaves. 

Lay these at the bottom of a roasting pan, making them multiple rows high. Lather on some tomato juice and spices and cook in the oven for a bit. The smell will drive you bonkers salivating, I promise!

Cigare au Chou - Cabbage Delight -Freepik
Photo: Freepik

Gaspésie or Îles de la Madeleine Fresh-Caught Lobster

Fishermen and women of Quebec work hard for hours on out to bring back some freshly caught lobster to shore, where it’s sent to fisheries and fish shops all over the province.

If you’re heading out the maritime way, have it the same day it’s caught in local restaurants or even by buying it right off the dock from returning seamen and women.

If you’re not visiting Gaspésie and Îles de la Madeleine this time around (you should next time!) then have some in restaurants during the months of May to July. Outside of these months, it’s often frozen or comes from Nova Scotia.

Fresh Caught Lobster - Gaspesie - Magdalen Islands

Pâté Chinois or Sheppard’s Pie: the Food That Marked our Childhoods

Every Québécois has had pâté chinois dozens and dozens of times growing up. It was an easy meal our parents would make on school nights and we’d take the leftovers with us for lunch.

This dish consists of lining a pan with cooked ground beef, adding a layer of kernel corn (most people make it with cream corn, but some use regular kernels) and then topping it off with mashed potatoes. My mom used to add a layer of cheese that would become all crispy when baked, mmmm!

Mom and Pop restaurants still serve this today and some fancier restaurants even do so by putting a twist on this classic Quebecois dish. You might also see hachis parmentier on the menu, which is a France adaptation that highly resembles this meal.

Sherppard Pie - Québécois Meal - Freepik
Photo: Freepik

Pain sandwich: Yeah, a Sandwich Bread

What a weird name, although not an inaccurate description of what you’re gonna ingest. Basically, it’s like a bread loaf, or a cake, wherever your imagination ends up, and its layers and layers of sandwiches.

Instead of eating a single sandwich, you stack them and eat a slide of various sandwiches at once. This dish was very popular back in the day!

Pea Soup: A Winter Traditional Quebec Food

Pea soup has been around for ages, right down to our roots in the colony. It helped our people warm up in the winter and is thick and luscious. 

Personally, I’m not a huge fan of peas, but if you like legumes, you’ll indulge in multiple bowls of this soup.

Pea Soup - Traditional Quebec Food - Jesson Mata - from Unsplash
Photo: Jesson Mata from Unsplash

Wild Berries: Strawberries, Raspberries and All Kinds of Delicious Fruits

Watch where you walk, as you may be stepping on some fresh wild strawberries as we speak! Besides wild or grown strawberries that we happily indulge in every summer, multitudes of fresh berries line our public markets and grocery stores as soon as the heat comes along.

Indulge in fresh strawberries as early as June, juicy raspberries in July or hearty blueberries in August (depends on the region). Not only do they make great road trip snacks, but they are healthy and filled with flavour. 

Be sure to try our lesser-known berries like haskap, sea buckthorn, and other local berries too. 

Fresh Strawberries - and Wild Berries

Baked Beans: A Brunch Go-To Sidedish

Baked beans are a typical Quebec dish served as a side with eggs and bacon, at the sugar shack when the season comes or even as sides in traditional/historical restaurants. They have been around since the beginning of the colony. 

Beans have always been so popular because of our winters that make it hard to find fresh foods from Quebec, but also because they are cheap and easy to create with what you have around the house. 

This dish is made up of white or black beans. They are then mixed with bacon, molasses and our famous maple syrup as well as onions. You can try them in many places, like Aux Anciens Canadiens in old Quebec.

Baked Beans - Typical Quebec Dish -Freepik
Photo: Freepik

Cretons: a Toast Spread Families Rave About

Just like baked beans, cretons are a breakfast element. You’ll see some grey ground beef looking food in a small container or in a block on the side of your plate. That’s cretons, a pork concoction you’ll come back for again and again!

Creton - for Breakfast - in Quebec

Tourtière, a Dish Bound to Generate Heated Debates

Every mom, grandma and region has its tourtière and a way of preparing it. It’s kind of like spaghetti sauce, where you crave your family’s version and are never really satisfied with any other. You know the feeling, right?

Tourtière is our staple, a popular traditional food from Quebec. It’s in fact a meat pie made with beef or pork and seasoned to taste. Some people add potatoes and veggies to it, but others consider this somewhat of an insulting add-on.

Lather on some ketchup if that’s your thing!

A Person Holding a Quebec Meat Pie - in his Hands -Freepik
Photo: Freepik

Ketchup Chips, a Rare Sighting, Except here

Look at me, travelling the world and thinking ketchup-flavoured chips are totally normal. Guess not, as many people I’ve met over the years had no clue they existed. Run to the grocery store and stock up!

Smoked Meat Sandwiches, Montreal’s Best Food

Originally from the Jewish community based in Montreal, smoked meat is a specialty that you absolutely must try in Montreal. The most famous place is Schwartz’s Deli on Saint-Laurent Boulevard, but there are often queues. Head to Le Roi du Smoked Meat or Reuben’s Deli and Steakhouse as alternatives.

Smoked meat is served on a rye bread with mustard, a side of fries and coleslaw as well as a pickle. You can also have it straight up, without any bread.

Montreal Smoked Meat Sandwiches - Chris Curry - from Unsplash
Photo: Chris Curry from Unsplash

Ragoût de pattes de cochon, a Grandma’s Specialty

Pig’s feet stew. Yup, that’s what ragoût de pattes de cochon translates too. It’s totally typical and Grandma’s have the best recipes.

Pork trotters are cooked for hours with spices like cinnamon and cloves and the sauce is just nuts! My family also adds pork meatballs as well! Because of the type of spices as well as the cold, ragoût de pattes de cochon is eaten mostly in winter, around Christmas time.

Pig's Feet Stew - Grandma's Speciality - Freepik
Photo: Freepik

Uh, and Can I Mention Poutine? A Must-Have Main Dish Part of Iconic Foods from Quebec

You knew this was coming right, with the name of the blog and all? Well, it’s also the best-known bucket list foodie item around here. It’s Montreal and Quebec have some pretty intense rivalry going on regarding poutine. Montreal’s is more common, it’s the one you’ll find in rest stops all around the province, from Victoriaville and Drummondville, founding fathers of this staple. Ashton’s is part of the must try foods in Quebec City, which serves it up with a very different type of sauce.

Get in on the debate, which one do you like best? 

Whether you want to partake in this eternal discussion or not, you still need to taste our world famous poutine. If you haven’t had it here, you just haven’t had it, I promise!

A mound of fresh-cut and cooked French fries, smouldering hot brown gravy and lots and lots of squeaky cheddar cheese compose this crazy feast. Eat it before it goes soggy; it’s not a leftovers kind of meal. 

I’m curious to find out if you loved it or hated it. It has that kind of effect on people, but those who are addicted never come off the drug. By the title of this blog, I’ll let you guess which side I’m on!

Poutine - Typical and Main Dish - in Quebec

This food from Quebec is some of the best typical dishes you need to sample on your way around Quebec Province. Quebecois will happily guide you through this, but I sure hope this. 

For more food tours, dishes to taste, bucket list information of being a foodie, read these articles as well:

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Trip Planner / What and Where to Eat
About Author

Passionate about travel and food, Jennifer Doré Dallas is a freelance travel writer, author and creator since 2010. On top of this amazing Chasing Poutine blog, she also founded Moi, mes souliers in 2010 and she is the author/co-author of around two dozen Lonely Planet, Ulysse and Parfum d'encre travel guidebooks, in addition to having contributed to other books and hundreds of tourism and Web platforms, magazines, DMOs and Websites over the years. As a lecturer in Web writing and SEO for a Quebec college and consultant for various companies and DMOs, she loves combining technological advances with the classic beauty of words, and is a member of TMAC, SATW, NATJA and IFTWTA!

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