Founded along the banks of the St. Lawrence River by French fur traders more than 400 years ago and later run by the British, Quebec City was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985, and aptly. A stroll along the cobblestone streets is like a Charles Dickens novel come to life. But culinary travelers will find there’s more than sites to be savored here: “food, glorious food”—and wine—is found in every corner of this Canadian gem.
Lodging: If the revered landmark Le Château Frontenac on Rue Saint-Louis is booked, head around the corner within the walled city to the Art Deco Manoir Victoria. The smoke-free, four-star hotel offers 156 rooms and suites, an on-site spa, complimentary use of the indoor swimming pool and fitness center, fine dining in a restaurant that serves French continental cuisine, a lounge and indoor parking.
Around Town: Rue Saint-Jean in Old Quebec is a good starting point for a foodie tour, and costumed street entertainers strumming banjos, juggling balls or playing crystal glasses for tips add to the ambiance. Once a working-class neighborhood, the area is now filled with fun shops, stops and cafés. The street is home to J.A. Moisan, said to be the oldest continuously operated épicerie, or market, in North America. A Frenchman opened the import-and antique-filled shop 140 years ago. Purchase fresh bread, regional cheeses and pâtés here for a picnic. Old Port Market is another viable option. Just a few doors down, step inside the cottage with the green- and white-striped awning to visit the Chocolate Museum where spicy hot chocolate, artfully crafted handmade truffles and historic artifacts help document the treat everybody loves. On occasion, Chocolatier Eric Normand offers wine pairings.
Wine & Food: Be sure to sample a Canadian staple—poutine (French fries and cheese curd covered in gravy)—at restaurants that serve regional fare. One to try: the popular Aux Anciens Canadiens, located in one of upper town’s oldest homes, circa 1675. Follow the street called Grande Allée for upscale regional dishes (duck confit, venison and smoked salmon) at Le Parlimentaire, a fine-dining establishment located in the Beaux Arts Parliament Building.
For sunset views and an extensive wine list, take the elevator up to the 29th floor of Loews Hôtel Le Concorde to dine at L’Astral. The revolving restaurant’s menu changes seasonally, offers American classics for picky eaters and the wine list boasts more than 100 choices. Try the Minervois red called L’Opéra de Château Villerambert Julien.
While Le Café Saint Malo (75, rue Saint-Paul) in the Lower Town serves an authentic but affordable French lunch or dinner, a short walk lands you at the popular Panache in Auberge Saint -Antoine. Modern regional tastes such as caviar, rabbit and Ice Wine made from apples are on the menu, as are Quebecois cheeses and a signature seven-course dinner (with wine pairings) that may include foie gras, maple-glazed halibut and house-made sorbet.
Head back over to the Grande Allée for nightlife options. Always a busy place, this is where you’ll find a string of outdoor cafés and wine bars, including the trendy Savini Resto-Bar. For something more casual, but with an adventurous wine list (choices from Canada, France, Australia, South Africa, California and beyond), try Le Moine Échanson, just outside the gate to the Old City. Make reservations for a chance to wine and dine around oak barrels.
Before you leave, visit Le Château Frontenac, the most visible landmark in the historic district near Dufferin Terrace, for pan-fried scallops. Executive Chef Jean Soulard’s recipe, which he gladly shares, uses honey from the hotel’s rooftop garden. The result is a soft yet crisp morsel you’ll remember long after you return home.