There’s no way to get to know a new country like sampling the local cuisine. And while Canada’s restaurants incorporate choices from cultures all around the world, there are some dishes that are uniquely Canadian.
While listing everything would take more space than we have in one short post, here is a taste of some of our favourite traditional Canadian foods. Read on to get to know your host country a little better—in the most delicious way possible!
Maple syrup is one of the things Canadians are most known for. While you can get it with your pancakes or waffles across the country, one of the best ways to enjoy it is to visit a cabane à sucre—also known as a sugar shack—where you can get a tour of the syrup-making facilities and sample the goods.
And there are more ways than that to enjoy maple syrup! See this list of syrup farms and festivals across Canada and find out where else you can celebrate our sweet national treasure.
Bannock is a fast-fried bread that is a staple of Canada’s First Nations. The basic recipe for bannock is very simple, but lately, bannock has also been entering the realm of gourmet chefs across the country.
If you travel in the Canadian territories, you’ll no doubt encounter bannock along the way. Here’s one story of finding delicious bannock in the Yukon, complete with a recipe!
Check out this article to find out where to taste bannock across Canada.
For more info—or to make your own!—this bannock guide (requires Adobe Reader) has you covered.
Seafood—coast to coast (to coast)
Canada has extensive coastlines on the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic Oceans—and we definitely reap the rewards! The Canadian west coast is particularly known for its salmon: smoked salmon, salmon jerky, cedar plank salmon, you name it. And on Canada’s east coast, lobster is the star attraction.
Farther north, in the Canadian territories, hunting and fishing is still a way of life for many residents. Meals might include fresh whitefish, Arctic char, or whale—among many others!
On the east coast? Get out your bib and read this guide to eating lobster in Halifax. Or find out where you can have a lobster supper on Prince Edward Island. Or check out this guide to great seafood in Newfoundland.
Up north? Here’s a guide to restaurants in the Northwest Territories and restaurants in the Yukon that should have local catches on the menu! And here’s a list of restaurants in Iqaluit, Nunavut, that serve regional cuisine.
|Fun fact: McDonald’s restaurants are far from unique to any one country, but did you know they have regional variations? On Canada’s east coast, McDonald’s restaurants actually offer a special sandwich called the McLobster. It’s true!|
The Montreal bagel is a point of pride—and a contentious one: the debate over Montreal bagels vs. New York bagels is never-ending. Montreal’s bagel sets itself apart from the fluffy New York bagel that you might be familiar with: it’s smaller, crispier, and salty-sweet.
If you’re in Montreal, trying a fresh bagel is a must! Check out this list of the top 7 bagel places in Montreal.
In Ontario? Though not all of them conform to Montreal style, there are also plenty of great bagel options in Toronto.
In the Prairies? There’s a Montreal bagel shop in Calgary!
On the west coast? One writer went on a mission to find a Montreal bagel in Vancouver.
While there are similar snacks around the world—like the gyro or the döner kebab—the Halifax donair is a taste all its own. A late-night snack found almost exclusively on Canada’s east coast, the donair involves shaved, spiced meat in a pita with a distinctive sweet sauce. Best enjoyed late at night, with sauce dribbling down your chin!
Donairs can be found all across Halifax, but you can find the best donairs on this list.
Are you in Toronto? You’re still in luck! A handful of restaurants are attempting to bring the Halifax donair to Ontario.
Of course, no list of Canadian food is complete without poutine. French fries, delicious gravy, and squeaky cheese curds combine to make a delicious mess. This is one dish that’s not hard to find here, but to help you pick the best poutine from the crowd, check out this list of the 10 best places to get poutine across Canada.
Or, for a more local approach, consult the best-of list of your choice:
Is your stomach rumbling yet? Grab your fork and knife and hit the road!
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