Hunker down with hearty burgers and tricked-out variations of the French-Canadian classic poutine at Le Chic Shack. Opened in 2012, the diner highlights the growing local trend of restaurants incorporating unfussy, French-inspired fare. Try the bison-meat Le Robuste ($11), topped with Roquefort cheese and mushrooms, with a side of homemade chips sprinkled with maple pepper ($3), or the coq au vin poutine ($10), heaped with Bordelaise chicken, shallots, and red wine sauce. Save room for a decadent milkshake in flavors like salted maple-caramel ($4.50)—with a boozy float of Yukon Jack Whiskey for an extra $5.
Get to know your tablemates at Le Bouchon du Pied Bleu. Married team Louis Bouchard Trudeau and Thania Goyette expanded their popular charcuterie counter into the restaurant in 2012, and the result feels like the dining room of a laid-back foodie friend thanks to its open kitchen, communal tables, and homey touches like lamps made from metal pails. The Lyonnais-inspired menu, written on a chalkboard, is a carnivore’s delight, with appetizers like pistachio-studded sausage in a brioche crust ($10) and foie gras-stuffed artichoke hearts ($14), followed by mains including slow-cooked tripe in tomato sauce ($15) and blood pudding served over apple crumble ($17). Several multi-course options are available, along with sommelier-suggested wine pairings, but for a budget-friendly way to sample the diverse menu, choose three appetizers for $25, then gorge on Goyette’s decadent, self-serve desserts—$9 for an all-you-can eat selection of homemade pies, tarts, and chocolate confections that stand up to those in any of the city’s French pastry shops.
Mingle with Québec City’s artsy crowd at Le Cercle, a restaurant/art gallery/music venue hybrid in the buzzing Saint-Roch neighborhood. The space’s soaring ceilings, exposed brick and beams, and multimedia projections make the perfect backdrop for casual tapas-style plates designed for sharing, like lobster risotto ($18) and salmon tartare with fennel ($17). Stay late for a glass or two from the 250-label wine menu (almost all privately imported) and a show in the adjacent concert space, where the eclectic calendar features D.J.s, dance parties, and live performances by artists like rapper Ghostface Killah (prices vary).