Shunning pork and poutine is considered downright sacrilegious in la belle province, but you’re trying to live this plant-based/vegan lifestyle and/or stay right with your healthy eating and fitness while vacationing in stunning Quebec City. C’est impossible, no?! Oh but it isn’t … I’m always up for a challenge and found a way to maintain my nutritional needs and avoid meat and dairy, for the most part. How? By tapping into my journalistic skills: Pounding the
pavement cobblestone and reading each menu at pretty much every restaurant, asking many questions, and researching. I was also packing snacks to ensure I didn’t cave out of desperation (because nobody wants to deal with this hangry brown woman) and hunger will break me. It does, in fact, sound like a terrible way to spend time in QC but I assure you, mad fun was had on assignment.
Here are 5 places to eat healthy while you’re in Quebec City, in no particular order (and don’t fret, they all offer service in English).
Line-ups and wait times are rather insane but service is swift and friendly. This burger joint is known for its prime location and incredible offerings using higher-end ingredients such as bison and lobster. There are also poutine options, salads, shakes, cider, wine, local beer, and sodas. Regular poutine is comprised of crispy, hand-smashed potatoes, house-made sauces and local cheeses. I’m advised to order Le Jardin Burger, featuring a house-made veggie patty which contains pumpkin seeds, pickled beets, onions, tomato, Chic Sauce, and mesclun. It was quite satisfying and went down rather quickly, as I had to make room for the main event. And boy, was it something. There’s a special place in my heart for La Vegan Poutine — it’s got house-made gravy, sweet potato fries, tofu curds, herb pesto and pickled onions. I’d drive all the way to Quebec City just for another taste. They offer up lunch and dinner in a casual, family-friendly atmosphere which boasts an outstanding view of the legendary Chateau Laurier.
Order this: Le Jardin Burger & La Vegan poutine
Price: $12 each
Fun fact: The resto is located in Old Quebec’s Place d’Armes and was opened in 2012 by Lucy and Evan Price, who are co-owners of the luxury boutique hotel L’Auberge Saint-Antoine.
OK, in all fairness I had no idea this is a chain and I was early for hotel check-in and needed to eat before I snapped at some lovely person skipping down the street. It was very surprising to see vegan pizza on the menu, and I ordered it not knowing what to expect. A delightfully colourful pie arrived with an array of toppings including artichokes, olives, mushrooms, and green peppers. It tasted really healthy and clean, almost homemade. I was lucky enough to score a table on the patio (prime people-watching did indeed take place) and my eye-popping pizza warranted plenty of attention from passersby. Wash it all down with a gorgeous mojito kombucha or mocktail — no one can tell the difference.
Order this: Vegane Luxe pizza
Extra tidbit: Service was great, considering how jammed the restaurant was, and the servers speak excellent English.
Le Bureau de Poste
Another day, another dining experience without realizing it was a chain *sighs.* But listen, I had to get away from tourists and decided to explore the edgier Saint-Roch neighbourhood, determined to eat where locals hang. And they were all about the post office. It wasn’t until I saw the menu, with $5.95 meals, did I realize I was at this place where the drinks cost more than the bites. At any rate, it was too late as I’d already committed and asked for dishes which could be made vegan (by eliminating marinated chicken or goat cheese).
And so began a feast with: the Salade de Nouilles Asiatique (chow mein noodles, suey choi, green onions, pea shoots, avocado, toasted almonds, cucumber, and sweet soy-sesame-ginger dressing); Salade de Betterave (roasted beets, candied pecans, organic greens, goat cheese, fresh basil with balsamic vinaigrette), and Salade de Quinoa et Pommes Fraiches du Quebec (crisp apple, sweet corn, avocado, organic greens, cucumber, toasted almonds, mint + cilantro with soy-honey-lime dressing. You can request another dressing or hot sauce).
Order this: Salade de Quinoa et Pommes Fraiches du Quebec
Extra tidbit: My dining experience was heightened by conversation with the server about her interesting upper thigh tattoos — this was a trend, as virtually every young woman I’d spotted in the city has them — and her insistence that she needed to work on her English (she totally didn’t).
Another cool Saint-Roch spot, only this one is a restobar-clothing store hybrid. A local named Simon told me to head here for a quick bite, and on this night Tofu Tacos were calling my name. The entire menu is Mexican-inspired and features THE QUEEN, Frida Kahlo, on its website. Sometimes I’m tempted to let the unibrow return just to pay homage to her. Oh, back to the tacos: They arrived on a wooden cutting board, featuring corn salsa, beets (noticing a pattern here?!) coleslaw, and roasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Yum! As far as atmosphere, the bartenders were hot, the beats were tight, the company was just right, and I’ve gotta return to order off of their extensive tequila menu.
Order this: Tofu Tacos
Fun fact: Deux22 is part of the Boutique Séraphin and Boutique Schü’z family, two must-have addresses of fashion in Quebec since 1996 and 2006.
I’ve got Eric to thank for putting me onto this phenomenal hotspot, L’Orygine Bistro Organique. Gourmet AND healthy is no longer an oxymoron. The menu, service, decor, atmosphere — it’s all unbelievably on point. L’Orygine’s menu changes seasonally, but I can promise you an exquisite dining experience with fresh ingredients such as cavatelli, pink lentil, smoked tofu, roasted vegetables, Beluga lentil garantine, hemp seed & millet, wild ginger hummus, roasted squash puree, marinated vegetables, and fried rutabaga. Brunch lovers, you’re in luck: Vegan Pancakes are on the menu featuring sweet potato and caraway, homemade tofu scramble, sundried tomato, arugula & shallot confit, shiitake hummus & sunflower seeds, ratte potato confit in shallot oil. The bistro belongs to a trio of Groupe La Taniere’s dining options along Saint-Pierre St. Taniere3 offers 15-to-20-course meals with fixed, surprise menus at either a chef’s counter cellar or a dining room cellar (the building is steeped in history), and then there’s the upscale dessert shop, Kerrmesse. A fourth fine dining spot, Legende, is along Rue Saint-Paul, also in Quebec City.
Price: Vegan dishes average $18
Extra tidbit: While the interior is sooooo up my alley, request a seat on the terrasse during summer to enjoy the breeze and buzz.
(Photo courtesy of Bistro L’Orygine)
PERMANENTLY CLOSED as of Dec. 22, 2018, according to Le Journal de Quebec.
There are bars and then there are health bars. La Serre’s stunning, Insta-worthy aesthetic had me initially reaching for my camera instead of my wallet in the Old Port. It opened in 2016 and is a place to find cold-cooked dishes, freshly-squeezed juices, coffees and quality teas. And take in some greenery inside or out on the “terrasse,” as they say, while you’re dining. If you opt to stay in, you can feel good about your dining choices by osmosis — there’s a health counter, where they grow herbs and vegetables to use at both La Serre and high-end sister restaurant Laurie Raphael. I indulged in a salad called Le Proteine des Pres, featuring tempeh, roquette, quinoa, almond feta, and an addictive black garlic vinaigrette. Needless to say, I could and would eat here on the reg.
Order this: Le Proteine des Pres
Extra tidbit: This is the only place I’d spotted vegan desserts such as lemon tarts, chocolate cake, raw apple and cranberry cakes.
This hipster-friendly coffee shop is always full, especially the Notre Dame/Royal Square location. It’s across from one of the oldest stone churches in North America and offers the one thing I was absolutely dying for all week: Smoothies with vegetables. The menu is in French and I wound up quizzing myself, trying to figure out the ingredients and memorize translations (betteraves = beets) without asking for assistance. They’re known for sandwiches, coffee, hot chocolate and pastries. And now you know where to get a delicious green juice.
Order this: Any smoothie
Extra tidbit: Four locations (with two new ones along 3rd Ave. and Belvedere on deck) can be found in the heart of Old Quebec City and charming Île d’Orléans.
Le Glacier Aberdeen
Lychee sorbet was ingested in a heartbeat, thanks to Luc and his tip about exploring Montcalm and the tres chic Avenue Cartier. This adorable hidden gem (literally and figuratively — it’s not visible from the street but the lineups may give it away) was busy enough on a #treatyoself Tuesday afternoon. I was pleased to find an “exotic” flavour, and those who appreciate tiny houses will like this little dessert place and its charming courtyard.
Order this: Lychee sorbet
Extra tidbit: While you’re there, play games in the courtyard then check out the cool street lighting along Cartier.