Best Things to Do
Quebecois cuisine could best be described as French with local ingredients, and it goes far beyond the maple syrup for which the province is so justifiably renowned. There's a laudable focus on local cheeses, game and produce. Traditional fare includes tourtière with its flaky, buttery crust and seasoned meat filling, crêpes, croissants or rich cretons pork spread (try it on toast for a hearty breakfast). Snacks include fresh, salty cheese curds sold in plastic bags at neighborhood corner stores or dépanneurs. And if you visit during the "sugaring off" season from late February to May, don't leave without heading out of town to a sugar shack to see how maple sap is harvested and to eat a breakfast of pancakes, eggs, bacon, baked beans and other maple-drenched treats.
Almost all boutique hotels in the Old City offer an inclusive complimentary breakfast of bagels, cold cuts and pastries. If your accommodations lack this amenity, break the fast at Café de Paris' attached l'Omelette restaurant, with a full range of eggs and pastries served all day.
Whether or not you're a guest at Hôtel Le Concorde — a luxury establishment near the Québec Citadelle — you can still dine at Ciel!, the revolving restaurant. A full rotation takes 90 minutes, so enjoy the ever-changing view while digging in to homemade goat cheese raviolis and broccoli risotto. The apple and caramel crispy puff pastry is the perfect excuse to stay for a second revolution.
Or, splurge on dinner at one of the bastions of regional cuisine, L'Échaudé, Restaurant Légende or Restaurant Initiale, which offer an intimate setting for sophisticated fine dining with commensurately savvy wine lists. Be sure to try the local foie gras and farmstead cheese at either restaurant.
At Le Renard et la Chouette, enjoy rich duck cassoulet and a bottle of red wine. Or try portside Le Café du Monde for classic French brasserie fare in a sprawling black-and-white checkerboard dining room with river views. The menu features hearty French dishes: steak frites and duck confit in numerous guises.
For those with a sweet tooth, nab a chocolatine — a warm chocolate-filled pastry — and a coffee at the adorable two-level Le Cochon Dingue café. It's a real locals hangout with to-die-for house-made cakes and pastries and is just two blocks from the Château Frontenac. You can also stop by La Fudgerie, which makes a wide array of fudge-based goodies that include long sausage-like fudge bars that — from a distance — might make you think you were entering a butcher shop.
Get a taste of Québec City's lively night scene on the dance floor of the huge disco Chez Dagobert at 600 Grand Allee Est. All ages are welcome and it attracts an exuberant crowd. You can also head down to le Nouvo St-Roch area's Le Cercle, which is both a neighborhood bar and a music venue that has a restaurant of its own and is a vibrant cultural hub of the city.