Pamela MacNaughtan wrote this guest post about Best Cafes in Quebec City. If you’re heading to Quebec City don’t miss her latest ebook An Insider’s Guide to the Local Food and Culture of Canada’s Oldest City.
One of the best ways to immerse yourself into the culture of where you’d travelling is to visit a café, and Québec City is no different. Begin your café exploration in the old city.
Sipping a café au lait or slowly eating a warm croissant on a patio, in a square where the city (originally a small French colony of men) started in 1608, is a surreal and delightful way to start your day of exploration.
Best Cafes in Quebec City: Old Quebec
Start with a couple cafés in Old Québec, then when it’s time to say goodbye to the hoards for tourists, venture into one of my favourite local neighbourhoods, Saint-Roch.
Sure, there are cafés in neighbourhoods like Saint-Jean-Baptiste and Limoilou, and they are worth visiting, but I love the vibe in Saint-Roch – hip, creative and local.
1097, rue Saint-Jean
A café-boulangerie (bakery), Paillard is an institution in the old city with its buttery croissants that melt in your mouth, vaulted white ceilings and communal tables. It is also the busiest café in the city!
The best time to visit is first thing in the morning. They open at 7:00 am. The crowds of tourists start showing up around 8:30 am.
Chez Boulay – Comptoir Boréal
42, Côte du Palais
A fairly new addition to Old Québec’s Uppertown, Comptoir Boréal is part of the restaurant Chez Boulay, Comptoir Boréal is a delightfully small comptoir (French for counter) and café.
Stop in for coffee or a pot of Labrador tea, a croissant or tart. They also serve sandwiches and quiche at lunch. The Tarte au Sucre is highly recommended.
La Maison Smith
23, rue Notre-Dame
One of three locations in Old Québec, this is the original location of La Maison Smith. Located in the cobblestoned square of Place Royale, the café has views of 18th-century buildings and Église Notre-Dame-des-Victories (which stands on the spot where Samuel de Champlain built the first trading post in 1608). A fantastic spot to relax and enjoy a coffee and croissant.
Tip: La Maison Smith locations sell croissants and pastries made at Paillard, so feel free to skip the crowds and get your pastry fix here.
Best Cafes in Quebec City: Saint-Roch Neighbourhood
849, rue Saint-Joseph Est
A favourite among locals, Saint-Henri features floor to ceiling windows which allows the café to be bathed in natural light. Enjoy the communal tables and free wifi, sip coffee and always order at least one artisanal donut – although, to be fair, they are so delicious you will want at least two or three or six.
461, rue Saint-Joseph Est
Krwn is not your typical café, in fact, it is actually a barbershop that just happens to sell men’s clothing and toiletries, and has a small café set-up along the front window. If you are looking for quirky, you have found it! Don’t worry, everyone is welcome to come and enjoy a coffee.
433, rue Saint-Joseph Est
While they do serve coffee, Café Pékoe specialises in tea. The colourful ceramic teapots hanging from the ceiling is a pretty big clue. The tea menu is extensive and includes bubble tea (Yay!).
Have lunch at one of the communal picnic tables or sit along the window for some people watching. Skip the pastries and opt for a Banh Mì sandwich; the hummus banh mì is pretty good!
235, rue Saint-Joseph Est
One of two locations in Québec City (the other is in Limoilou), Nektar Caféologue is another local favourite, especially with students and those who work remotely. Their coffee selection is good, and they sell popular Canadian roasts like 47th Parallel from Vancouver.
The café is quite large, with plenty of tables as well as a seating along the front window.
181, rue Saint-Vallier Est
Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of rue Saint-Joseph, Mælstrøm is a café during the day and a cocktail bar at night. A perfect location for a quiet escape on a busy day, the café has a rustic industrial vibe that all the French hipsters love. Don’t worry, you’ll find a mix a locals from all walks of life here.
In summer, enjoy their cold brew, and on weekends make a point of coming for brunch (so good!). They also have a small lunch menu.
Find more great picks for Quebec City and beyond at Urban Guides.
Now it’s your turn, do you have an opinion on the best cafes in Quebec City? Share your picks in the comments below.