A Canadian classic, poutine is always at the top of our comfort food list. And although there are tons of casual chains offering up plates of cheesy, gravy-soaked fries, here are 8 eateries that add a bit more pizzazz to this iconic dish.
Below Deck Tavern (Calgary, AB) – Good Ol’ Fashioned Poutine
For East Coasters looking for a little taste of home in Western Canada, this is the spot to be. Revel in deliciousness with dishes such as deep-fried pepperoni and cottage pie. But for something a little extra special, opt for Below Deck’s spin on a poutine. They season skinny fries with old bay seasoning and top with the regular curds and gravy. Add on some donair meat while you’re at it.
Caplansky’s (Toronto, ON) – Smoked Meat Poutine
Food Network Canada personality, Zane Caplansky, has built a big brand for himself in Toronto creating a successful delicatessen-style business. Try his version of the poutine, chock full of quality, kosher smoked meat.
La Banquise 24th (Montreal, QC) – Hot Dog Poutine
Open 24 hours for all your post-bar, drunken food cravings, this popular spot for poutine in the heart of poutine land — Montreal — serves up more variations on this theme than you can imagine. Naturally, after a hard night out, you’re not always thinking, so skip the brain work and just go for the hot dog option. I mean, who’s counting calories at 3 am?
La Pataterie Hulloise (Gatineau, QC)
Most Ottawans will tell you that if you’re really interested in finding a great poutine, then you need to take a short drive over the river from Ottawa to Gatineau. This no frills spot keeps their offerings simple because sometimes, you just don’t need to mess with a good thing.
Peasant Cookery (Winnipeg, MB)
There’s something nice and homey about this restaurant in the exchange district of downtown Winnipeg. The menu is all about good ol’ home cooked food, but taken up a notch. Crispy fries are topped with curds from a local producer, Bothwell Cheese and a bacon gravy. We’ll order two please.
The Reef (Vancouver, BC) – Jerk Chicken Poutine
I guarantee that you’ve never had Caribbean jerk in this application before. Sure, the cheese curds and fries are pretty average, but the pulled chicken in this dish is great and the gravy is sweet and spicy with hints of cinnamon. Out of every dish on this list, this bastardization (if you will) of poutine is one of the most interesting.
Schryer’s Smoked BBQ Shack (Saskatoon, SK) – Smoked Mozza Poutine
I’m still a little shocked there’s not a poutine-inspired perogy dish in my hometown (maybe there is and I’m just out of the loop) and even more shocked that a good poutine is still hard to come by in Saskatoon, but thankfully this top notch barbecue joint is saving the day. If you’ve never had smoked mozzarella, you haven’t lived. Add this gooey delicacy into a poutine equation and you’ve got something really worth forking into.
Willy’s Fresh Cut (Halifax, NS)
Like I mentioned earlier with Below Deck Tavern, donair meat in a poutine is an East Coast favourite and Willy’s can definitely verify that fact. If donair meat isn’t your cup of tea, try Willy’s stuffing poutine, or one with a big helping of pulled pork on top.
Dan Clapson is a food writer and culinary instructor based out of Calgary. He is constantly creating new recipes and striving to expand his culinary horizons. He thinks yam fries are overrated.