The rumours are true: we Canadians love our poutine. But while Canada as a whole is known for the freshness of our fries, the squeakiness of our curds, and the thickness of our gravy, the reality is that not all poutines are created equally. Some fry slingers are better than others at creating our unofficial national dish.
Fortunately, dedicated poutine aficionados have spent years searching out the best places to find the ultimate fries-cheese-and-gravy combo all across the country, and the rest of us can benefit from their expertise. While some people have spent this summer hunting down Pokemon, we all know that hunting down the perfect poutine is a far more substantial goal. If you’re going to be travelling around the country in the near future, let this list be your poutine bible. Try them all, and you can officially call yourself a poutine master.
La Banquise — Montreal
La Banquise has all the hallmarks of the ultimate poutinerie: it’s open 24 hours, it serves beer, and it devotes itself entirely to poutine. The late-night establishment was founded in 1968, though it didn’t dedicate itself to poutine until the 1980s, when it introduced two varieties. These days, La Banquise offers over 30 varieties of poutine, including some that include everything from hot peppers to hot dogs to classic Montreal smoked meat. Don’t get us wrong, La Banquise isn’t fancy. It’s charmingly chaotic and completely satisfying—just like a good poutine.
Le Gras Dur — Montreal
Want to try a more high-end version of poutine? Le Gras Dur has created their own fancy poutine that still stays true to the spirit of the original. The gravy in this restaurant’s All-In Poutine is made with a tantalizing combination of veal, beer, and bacon, and the poutine itself includes smoked stuffed sausages, chicken schnitzel, swiss cheese, and braised cabbage. We recommend approaching this one with an empty stomach.
Fresco’s Fish and Chips — Toronto
Fries, gravy, and curds is a classic combination, but so is fish and chips. Instead of choosing between the combinations, Fresco’s Fish and Chips in Toronto has decided to throw them all together. Fish and chips and fries and gravy and cheese curds—it doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but it will definitely please the taste buds.
Linh Cafe — Vancouver
Linh Cafe is a Vietnamese/French restaurant in Vancouver that also manages to find room on its menu for a breakfast poutine with succulent butter-poached lobster. This poutine also features a poached egg and swiss cheese, making it a beyond-complete breakfast.
Belgian Fries — Vancouver
Belgian Fries takes its fries seriously, and its poutine too. Vegetarians will be happy to find that Belgian fries has veggie gravy, and they even offer a veggie chili poutine. They also have the elusive and sought-after butter chicken poutine.
Coney Island Cafe — Regina
Coney Island Cafe takes pride in its poutine. They’re constantly reinventing the poutine, offering pulled pork poutine, buffalo chicken poutine, spicy Mexican poutine, and even a poutine burger. They even made a green-sauced poutine in honour of the Regina Roughriders. And on top of all that, they also serve classic milkshakes. If you feel like having a delicious, artery-clogging day, Coney Island Cafe is the place to spend it.
The White Star Diner — Winnipeg
The White Star in Winnipeg is a classic diner with a few variations on the classic poutine, including an onion ring poutine and, for those who want to take their cheese experience further, a blue cheese version. There’s also one with corned beef and sauerkraut, for Reuben sandwich lovers.
Roy’s Lounge — Halifax
Roy’s is the pub at the Nova Scotia Westin Hotel, but it’s not too hoity-toity to serve up some poutine. In fact, they have several varieties, including maple bacon, buffalo chicken, and veggie chili. It’s the perfect place to spend a business trip.
The Big Cheese Poutinerie — Calgary
The Big Cheese doesn’t mess around, offering poutines piled high with toppings of all varieties. They have it all: classic poutine, butter chicken poutine, vegetarian options, peas, meats, maple bacon, and more. If you have a hunger for poutine, The Big Cheese is a good bet.
Ches’s Famous Fish and Chips — St. John’s
Ches’s is just classic poutine done well. Fish and chips shops know their chips, and good chips are the backbone of poutine. Ches’s tends to include some peppers with their poutine, an increasingly popular style, and they also offer toppings of Mexi-chicken and Montreal steak for meat-lovers.
Chez Claudette — Montreal
A list of poutineries will always return to Montreal, the motherland of poutine. Chez Claudette is nothing fancy, which is why it’s the ultimate authentic poutine spot. It’s a late-night greasy spoon offering plenty of toppings drowned in gravy and curds. Wash it down with some local beer, and you’ll be an honorary Montrealer.
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