Category Archive for Food + Theme Restaurants

My food tour of Quebec City: young, hip Quebecois restaurants! La Planque Limoilou, Chez Muffy, Le Voisin.

travel blogger quebec city chateau frontenac

Ouais, ouais… I had a delicious time in Quebec City! Ready for a guide to the best restaurants and art in the French-Canadian capital?

I haven’t been to Canada’s Francophone province since a brief stop here as a teenager. Growing up, I went to a school with a bilingual program — so this trip gave me a chance to practice speaking “en français” again.

(Where to get what I am wearing: Black bucket hat by Lack of Color, platform shoes Rocket Dog, top Valfre from Forest Ink, skirt Charli Cohen.)

hotel frontenac quebec city fairmont architecture

Most travelers know about Quebec City’s historic sites, such as the Hotel Fairmont Château Frontenac. (Built by architect Bruce Price in 1892, these pointed castle spires are unmistakable.)

However, Anthony Bourdain’s food / travel TV shows showed Quebec City in a trendier light. He partied with young (and rather wild) Quebecois chefs, and feasted on dishes piled with hearty, experimental ingredients.

As I discovered, Bourdain was right. Quebec City is the ultimate destination for foodies. Read on for my restaurant recommendations, with lots of decadent photos.

quebec city Confucius statue sister city china

First, let’s take a stroll around Quebec City’s old town. The city is small and highly walkable, with plenty of old buildings and statues to admire.

I was surprised to see a statue of Confucius, the Chinese philosopher. The monument was a gift from Quebec City’s sister city, Shandong; they participate together in a university exchange.

ironic hipster windows 98 t-shirt

Quebec City is far more “French” than Montreal, in terms of the culture and feeling. You can get by speaking English, but locals predominantly communicate in French. I’m sure you will notice a different accent and use of slang too!

(I popped into Simons, the Quebec-based department store. This French Windows 98 “Fenêtre98” t-shirt made me laugh.)

belgian carnival parade old quebec

While walking around, I ran into a colorful parade that reminded me of my adventures in Binche, Belgium. Quebec City has quite a few carnivals, including the famed winter “carnaval” with its rather frightening Bonhomme snowman mascot.

belgian carnival costumes, quebec city parades

Dressed in tufted collars and pointed feather hats, these men danced through the streets. They were accompanied by a live marching band.

Stilt walkers of Namur fighting carnival belgium

I also came across Belgian stilt walkers that were demonstrating Namur stilt-fighting. Dressed in folky red costumes and caps, they try to knock each other off their pedestals to the beat of a drum. I didn’t stick around to see the winner, but he apparently receives “golden stilts.”

outside musee beaux arts quebec city miro

I lucked out with the weather — just as the rain began to pour, I arrived at Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec! Located near the Plains of Abraham, the MNBAQ currently has an enormous exhibition dedicated to artist Joan Miró.

quebec city museum rem koolhaas architect staircase

I was especially keen to visit… because the new Pierre Lassonde pavilion was designed by Rem Koolhaas and his team at OMA.

The architect’s signature is unmistakable in the stark glass exterior and curving white staircase. Doesn’t this look like a ramp from a spaceship?

quebecois art artists mnbaq

The Musee des Beaux Arts houses an impressive collection of Quebecois art, including 25,000 works by locals. The museum is large and has various pavilions; I highly recommend that you take time to visit the outstanding Quebec section.

I enjoyed seeing the eccentric visions of contemporary artists like Jean-Paul Riopelle and Jean Paul Lemieux. The latter JP is responsible for “Les Masques” (above), a 1973 expressionist painting that caught my attention.

joan miro art exhibition retrospective

The MNBAQ had an entire exhibition dedicated to Spanish painter and sculptor Joan Miró. Dubbed “Miro in Mallorca: A Free Spirit,” this special gallery includes almost 200 works from his 1956 to 1981 era in Mallorca.

gaudi miro paintings art

What a joy to see so many of Miro’s works including sculptures, sketches, and even a rug. The exhibit is well-designed, with each room focusing on one of his styles, and including information in French and English. Above shows his Gaudi-influenced period that expresses Catalan pride.

joan miro exhibit gallery quebec city

My outfit matched Miro’s giant abstract paintings from his minimalist series. These black and white works attempt to capture “the void,” or all-encompassing emptiness, as expressed by Tibetan mystics.

joan miro primitivism japanese paintings

Much like me, Miro found inspiration in his travels worldwide. He loved visiting destinations with strange cultures and art, like Easter Island and the Yucatan.

On the left, this series drew upon his travels in Japan, where he was fascinated by Japanese ink calligraphy. The beast on the right is merges his artistic style with tribal primitavism.

Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec exhibits

Stars, birds, women… Miro’s energetic paintings are a wonder to behold in person. I hope you get a chance to see his touring works while they’re in Quebec City.

chez muffy restaurant brunch

And now, let’s eat! I consulted long-time locals for recommendations, and they delivered: I could easily imagine these Quebec City restaurants on an Anthony Bourdain TV show (RIP).

I’m a big brunch fan, so I was especially keen to spend a morning at Chez Muffy. The cozy restaurant takes a farm to fork approach, building seasonal menus around ingredients grown on their farm at Île d’Orléans.

(As a fan of Miffy the bunny, I also liked the name… Looks like she’s slurping most of my orange bourbon cocktail!)

chez muffy menu, brunch buffet

I’ve been to decadent buffets around the world, but the quality level has been hit and miss especially at hotels. In contrast, at Chez Muffy, everything was executed beautifully — my mouth waters as I remember the fresh spread of French specialties.

At the ordering station, you could get eggs Benedict with duck confit, pork belly, or smoked salmon. Everything is made fresh to order, and the Hollondaise sauce was on point, which is difficult to achieve.

quebec cheeses, quebecois food

I channeled George Costanza, and bit into these hunks of Quebecois cheese. The fine “fromages” come from local farms, and include blue and goat (chevre).

When you have brunch at Chez Muffy, you can indulge in as much as you’d like from the buffet. It’s the perfect chance to try a bite of something different, like truffle devilled eggs or black sausage with gooey cheese inside.

best buffet quebec city

True to Quebec, everything is written in French and English, and includes healthy bistro-style selections. As you can see from the colors of this beet salad, the dishes are house-made with produce straight from the farm.

 Chez Muffy, hotel Auberge Saint Antoine

Chez Muffy is located in Auberge St Antoine, a luxury hotel by the St Lawrence river. The restaurant sits in what was once a 19th century maritime warehouse; the classic wood beams and iron stairs hint at its former incarnation. In the lobby, you see artifacts dating back to the 1600s, which were discovered during an archaeological dig at this location.

Quebec Restaurant brunch

Pile up your plate with quiches, roast beef, salads, and charchuterie. From the a-la-carte menu, you can order coffee drinks or cocktails.

best pastries quebec city bakery breakfast

Be sure to sample items from the baked goods section. I don’t usually have much of a sweet tooth, but I couldn’t get enough of Chez Muffy’s unique pastries. (Kudos to the pastry chef here.)

Among my favorites were the scones (the texture and balance were perfect — Muffy made probably the best scones I ever had). Quebec is known for its strawberries, and the unusual strawberry tart with hemp was outstanding.

la planque olivier godbout chef

One evening, I had dinner at La Planque, and it rocked hard! I could see Anthony Bourdain living it up in this restaurant with a punk spirit.

La Planque is located in Limoilou, a hip neighborhood of Quebec City known for its bars and eateries. Try to get a seat at the kitchen counter, so you can watch head chef Olivier Godbout (on the right) and his young, tattooed colleagues do their thing.

la planque limoilou restaurant review decor

In 2018, La Planque underwent a renovation. The new interior is dark and  stylish, with a giant spider-like wood lamp over the bar. If you aren’t able to get a dinner reservation, you can still hang out at the circular counter, and sip on creative or classic cocktails.

(My wrap top is Valfre from Forest Ink, and skirt Charli Cohen.)

quebec amuse bouche, la planque dinner

Chef Olivier started us off with an amuse bouche with a mustard-based sauce. From this first bite, we know La Planque would live up to its reputation.

la planque hipster chefs tattoos

It was a delight to perch over the kitchen, and see the cooks work in tandem at different stations. Olivier chatted with us between plates, and explained that everyone takes part in all the tasks (from shucking oysters to clean-up), including himself.

dinner menu la planque quebec city

We whet our appetites with this eye-catching dish — just look at the variety of colors and textures. Olivier combined scallops from Nova Scotia with radish slices, squid ink mayo, and grapefruit pieces.

anthony bourdain quebec city restaurants food

If you’ve seen Bourdain’s episodes about Quebec City, you’ll know that the local chefs shine when it comes to meat and rich flavors. One of La Planque’s specialities is their foie gras terrine, masterfully paired with fruit chutney, honey apricot puree, and toasted brioche.

la planque dining hip limoilou

The name “La Planque” means a stash, or a place where you can keep warm and find shelter. In the basement, up to 10 people can rent out the private dining room, which doubles as a soundproof hideout.

quebec city chef olivier godbout

It was fun to chat with Olivier and see him in action. He’s focused and thoughtful about every dish he makes.

best quebec city restaurants food blog

Olivier insisted that we try the thinly-sliced asparagus. The green vegetable is currently in season, and he hand-picked each piece from a local supplier.

The special cocktails were also very Quebecois. One was made with the famous small strawberries, and served in a vintage glass. The other had duck fat whiskey, orange, scotch, ginger. 

la planque menu quebec fine dining

It’s a good thing we were hungry after a long day of sightseeing. Onward to the catch of the day, a white fish with pasta and delicate vegetable foam. On the right: cornmeal encrusted sweetbreads with king mushrooms, turnip puree, and thyme sauce.

coolest hippest restaurants quebec city

Put your trust in the staff for a wine pairing, and they’ll suggest a global variety to match each dish.

dessert la planque

Breakfast for dessert — why not? The granola came with house-made yogurt, white chocolate crumble, ice cream and berries.

famous top canadian chefs quebec city

Rock on, Olivier and his team. I’d take shelter at La Planque restaurant any time.

le voisin quebec city restaurant

Somehow, I had room for one fabulous last meal. I ate lunch at Le Voisin a casual “resto-buvette” that spotlights seasonal, Quebecois cooking. Loved the exposed brick walls, industrial elements and panes that let in natural light. 

(Here’s where to find my exact wrap top, maxi skirt, and platform shoes.)

quebecois lunch cafe le voisin

Le Voisin, which means neighbor, is a perfect spot for dining with friends (they serve brunch/lunch and dinner). This artful arrangement features poached eggs with salmon gravlax, blinis, tzaziki sauce, and capers.

quebec city artisan coffee lattes

The drinks were outstanding, especially the creamy lattes and ginger mimosa. The freshly-baked bread comes with apple butter, and I was delighted to see pomegranate seeds in my berry and apple fruit bowl.

le voisin menu food quebec city

I dove into this pan of gnocchi with tomato sauce, grilled vegetables, and two poached eggs — topped with shaved Parmesan. Le Voisin is a wonderful bistro with a neighborhood feeling, where you can find familiar dishes with a twist.

quebec city fashion blogger goth gothic

A final look at the Chateau Frontenac and my outfit of the day. (Wearing this bucket hat by Lack of Color, platform sandals Rocket Dog, ballerina wrap shirt Valfre from Forest Ink, skirt Charli Cohen.)

À bientôt, Quebec City… Anthony Bourdain was right about your formidable food scene. I’m sure I will be back soon to discover more of your restaurants.

Bangkok’s weird, crazy theme restaurants! Kid Mai Death coffin, Unicorn Cafe & creative Thai cuisine.

go inside coffin death cafe bangkok

Death becomes her… so don’t you dare wake us from our slumber!

Why are Yukiro and I hanging out a coffin? Because Bangkok’s theme restaurants are strange and delightful. We’ll take you inside Kid Mai, a death-themed cafe…

unicorn theme cafe bangkok thailand

…and the fabulous Unicorn Cafe, which is rainbow cute overload!

For you foodies, we also explored the outstanding restaurant scene in Bangkok. Keep reading to see what we ate at Soul Food Mahanakorn and Pladib, located in the hipster districts Thonglor and Ari.

kidmai death awareness cafe

As Yukiro’s speech bubble says, “Death is a great leveler.”

If you’ve got a Gothic disposition, then you’ve got to visit the Kid Mai Death Awareness Cafe. Follow the signs to Hell, and plop down next to a skeleton on the beanbag chairs.

dr veeranut owner kid mai death awareness project

The “cafe” is run by Dr. Veeranut Rojanaprapa. However, he emphasized that Kid Mai is more of an educational space.

The professor started Kid Mai Death Cafe to celebrate all the stages of life. Located in Bangkok’s hip Aree district, this open-air attraction lets visitors participate in interactive exhibits and ponder death in a meaningful way.

bangkok weird strange death restaurant

Visitors begin by walking through a long dark tunnel with emo messages, like “Is anybody waiting for you?”

The hallway sets the mood of the fascinating project, which brings death to the forefront and encourages you to reflect on typically “taboo” themes.

death museum bangkok festivals rituals

We were intrigued by this display about end-of-life cultures around the world. The food offerings and photos highlighted a variety of rituals, from Swedish death cleaning to Indian cremation at the River Ganges.

buddhist death fans rites

In Thailand, these decorated fans are part of Buddhist funerals. Usually, the fan contains the deceased’s name, and Buddhist scriptures relating to impermanence.

kid mai death cafe menu drinks

Then, you can head to Kid Mai’s cafe area, and slurp on sweet drinks with names like Born, Elder, Painful (coated in red syrup that mimics blood), and Death. Which one would you choose?

elderly classes bangkok

Artist Becky Hawkins made this drawing about our visit to Kid Mai. She shows how the staff offers free educational classes for the elderly.

Cross-generational compassion is a major theme. Younger visitors can put on a weighted vest to understand how it feels to be in an older body.

goths going inside coffin

You can even slip into an ornate Thai coffin and have a friend slide the lid shut… to mimic the feeling of being interred underground! (I felt like Beatrix Kiddo when she was buried alive in Kill Bill.)

death cafe bangkok thailand coffin

Beware, the rise of the undead…

creepy haunted goth restaurant bangkok

How does it feel to be shut into this confined space? Hot and humid… but otherwise, we were quite at home in a coffin.

kid mai ari aree weird cafe

The “birth experience” lets you swing in a red pod, and make your way through Fallopian tubes. (Just watch out for mosquitoes here!)

buried alive coffin theme cafe

Kid Mai Death Cafe is a thought-provoking space, which encourages you to reflect on death from all angles. This Bangkok experience is one-of-a-kind, and gets our Goth stamp of approval.

comic drawing bangkok rainy season rain

During our Thailand trip, my friends and I sometimes split up to do separate activities. Becky shares this comic about how she and Naomi went looking for food, and barely missed getting caught in torrential Southeast Asian rains.

exterior unicorn cafe bangkok

Meanwhile, Yukiro and I pranced over to Bangkok’s Unicorn Cafe! You’ll know you have arrived when you see a winged unicorn statue at the entrance, with front legs raised.

unicorn cafe bangkok thailand restaurant

The interior is total unicorn overload. The magical horned creatures cover every inch of the pastel rainbow cafe.

rainbow macarons cupcakes desserts unicorn cafe

Even the sweets in the display case have horns. Our eyes popped over the cotton candy, cupcakes, and macarons that matched the fantastical theme.

unicorn themed cafe bangkok

At the Thailand Unicorn Cafe, you can also pick up themed merchandise: I got a sparkly unicorn t-shirt. Guests can also rent unicorn kigurumi (full body costumes) to become “one” with the creatures.

menu unicorn cafe, rainbow food

As you’d expect, the menu looks like a Lisa Frank 90s girl explosion. There are both savory and sweet food choices, and many of the dishes are rainbow-colored or decorated with a unicorn horn. You can also order non-themed sides such as French fries.

cute stuffed unicorn toys restaurant

At each table, you’ll find stuffed unicorn toys that you can hold while you snack. The ceiling is also strung with My Little Pony plushies.

rainbow waffles, unicorn mermaid cafe

The Unicorn Cafe brought back so many childhood feels. The over-the-top space is a favorite for Instagrammers.

unicorn cafe bangkok food sweets ice cream

While this looks like a cavity in the making, the Unicorn Cafe’s platters were actually not too sweet, and came with fresh fruit. The birthday cafe flavor of the rainbow waffles was pure nostalgia.

kawaii unicorn themed restaurant thailand

There are no genders for the bathrooms, as we are all unicorns on the inside!

The Unicorn Cafe may be well-known at this point, but it was surprisingly good and worth visiting if you’re in Bangkok.

drawing thailand bakery breads

Now, for some non-themed restaurant reviews!

Bangkok is now known as a world-class food destination, with everything from Michelin-starred eateries to street food. Naomi Rubin drew this scene from a delicious French bakery that we visited.

cute cafe black white line drawing

Becky Hawkins captures a charming Bangkok cafe interior. There’s an enormous variety of excellent food in this city, at all price points and from all regions of the world.

Soul Food Mahanakorn exterior

We wanted to focus on creative Thai cuisine, run by young chefs in the hippest districts of Bangkok.

Soul Food Mahanakorn was highly recommended to me, and lived up to its reputation for serving authentic, street food inspired dishes.

thai izakaya street Soul Food Mahanakorn

The cozy restaurant is inspired by the flavors of regional Thai cooking. There’s an impressive wine and cocktail selection, and the ingredients focus on organic and fair-trade sources (such as small farms in northeast Thailand).

food menu Soul Food Mahanakorn bangkok

Soul Food Mahanakorn is a wonderland of flavors, which makes you realize the depth and variety of Thai cooking (going far beyond what you’ll find on a typical takeout menu!)

We adored the grilled sea bass wrapped in banana leaf, and tender smoked duck larb. The egg dish is Yam Makrua Yao, a smoked eggplant salad with soft duck eggs and a flavorful sauce.

Jarrett Wrisley owner bangkok restaurant

Restaurant founder Jarrett Wrisley sat down with us to chat about his passion project. Becky Hawkins made this sketch of the American food writer, who opened up one of the most soulful Thai restaurants in recent years.

bangkok michelin star restaurants

Onto spicy mains, such a pork belly curry with a side of organic rice. The execution is not too heavy, using local herbs and spices with finesse to bring out the flavors.

thai food dishes drawing

Naomi Rubin drew the aftermath of our meal — you can tell that we enjoyed every bite, and somehow managed to finish all the plates!

No wonder Soul Food Mahanakorn is recommended by the Bangkok Michelin Guide. For a truly memorable Thai dinner, make a reservation here and raise a glass to Jarrett for us.

Pladib restaurant ari aree

In the hipster neighborhood Ari / Aree, we were warmly welcomed into Pladib, a restaurant set in a modern space.

Pla Dib does fusion in a fresh way — marrying Thai tradition with Japanese and European influences. The dishes are presented without fuss or over-seasoning, which lets the quality of the raw fish and organic produce do the talking.

baking oven sketch

Naomi Rubin sketched the pear-shaped wood oven in the back. Pladib is a popular spot for locals to hang out, and share wood-fired pizzas. The space also brings in art exhibits and DJs.

pla dib  ปลาดิบ bangkok

A fresh coconut paired nicely with grilled octopus with black mayo, and creamy mushroom ravioli.

bangkok hip creative hipster restaurants

The melt-in-your-mouth grilled duck salad turned out to be one of my favorite duck dishes of all time!

eating shrimp girl comic

Becky Hawkins illustrates the joys of eating fresh shrimp, and sampling Pladib’s farm-grown vegetables.

trendy restaurants ari bangkok pla dib

We couldn’t decide between the lemon or dark chocolate tart — so we got both, plus lots of berries and extra ice cream.

Pladib is an inventive, modern Bangkok restaurant that I think you’ll love.

mae yui bangkok restaurant food

Bangkok’s Ari / Aree area has become a food and art hotspot. My friends and I had multiple meals at Mae Yui. We ate the food so fast that there are no photos, but Naomi Rubin made this delectable watercolor.

ari aree hipster neighborhood bangkok

Aree’s hipsters love to hang for hours at Mae Yui restaurant, which features a home-style Thai menu. The dishes are nostalgic favorites prepared with a light touch. Our favorites included the tuna salad with Thai spices and herbs, creamy Thai ice tea, and fresh passion-fruit sorbet.

google touring bird bangkok travel tips

If this story makes you hungry to visit Bangkok, then you can find more of my tips about the city here on Touring Bird. I featured a Totoro theme cafe, and other fabulous eateries in Thailand.

You’ll find me all over — I wrote almost 700 articles about insider spots, in dozens of worldwide cities. I hope you’re enjoying this travel resource so far (it’s a project by Google Area 120).

undead goth emerging from coffin

And that’s the final nail in the coffin, for these “Bangkok bitches”… until I come back again!

For more alternative Bangkok travel tips (boutiques, hotels, restaurants etc), you can see all my Thailand stories (from my trips in 2013 and 2018).