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9 Top Dining Destinations in the Îles-de-la-Madeleine

Featuring a no-frills cantine dishing lobster poutine, an old general store now serving seafood pot pie, and a pizzeria fit for a fisher

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Few in the rest of Canada may have heard of them, but here in Quebec, the Îles-de-la-Madeleine (or Magdalen Islands) — an archipelago of eight islands in the Gulf of St. Lawrence — are practically a rite of passage. And while many make the 12-hour drive from Montreal to Souris, Prince Edward Island, plus five hours on the ferry, to lounge on 300 km of sandy beaches, eating on the islands is another main draw, with many hopping from one gourmet producer to the next to create the most epic picnic.

Some of these producers include Fromagerie les Biquettes à l’Air for goat cheese, Cultures du Large for oysters, Grandma’s Bakery for bread and pastries baked by the archipelago’s small anglophone community, and Boucherie Côte à Côte for local veal, boar and seal. But the eating doesn’t stop there.

Yes, there are some stuffy fine dining establishments your parents loved when they went a couple of decades ago, but there’s also a new wave of inspired restaurateurs, taking adored flavours and local ingredients and transforming them into something you won’t get anywhere else — at least certainly not as fresh.

This list is a small smattering of restaurants across the archipelago, from low-key fish shacks to top-quality spots worthy of their praise. For anything that isn’t takeout, reservations are strongly encouraged during high season.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; the latest data about the delta variant indicates that it may pose a low-to-moderate risk for the vaccinated. For updated information and regulations, please visit the official sites of the Quebec government and Montreal’s public health authority (Santé Montréal).

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Gourmande De Nature

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1912 Chem. de l'Étang du N, L'Étang-du-Nord
QC G4T 3C7, Canada
(418) 986-6767
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After starting as a dishwasher at Îles-de-la-Madeleline classic La Table de Roy, Johanne Vigneau has since become an acclaimed chef and her second restaurant, Gourmande de Nature, which opened in 2012, has become one of the most talked-about restaurants on the islands. The food is inspired by French, Portuguese, and Californian cuisine and includes dishes like cod ricotta and a deconstructed cheesecake served in a scallop shell. Popular for lunch and dinner, the restaurant is also featured on the Circuit des Saveurs food trail as a purveyor of gourmet products and does culinary classes.

2. Au p'tit Capitaine

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1244 Chem. de la Vernière, L'Étang-du-Nord
QC G4T 3E7, Canada

Adored by Madelinot for staying open year-round, this casse-croûte does hot dog steamés, lobster pitas, subs, smoked meat sandwiches, golden-brown fish & chips, and some seriously loaded poutines. The vibe inside is cool, too, with throwback 50s and 60s diner music.

3. Chez Renard

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315 Chem. du Quai, Cap-aux-Meules
QC G4T 1J4, Canada
(418) 868-7593
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Fresh-faced Chez Renard opened near the ferry port in June 2021 and has likely been full ever since. With just a few tables, it’s a café with homemade bagels sweetened with Miel en Mer’s honey and Pied-de-Vent cream cheese by day, and a gourmet restaurant by night, with non-stuffy natural and organic wines. Open Thursday to Sunday only.

4. Quai 360

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360 Chem. du Quai, Cap-aux-Meules
QC G4T 1J4, Canada
(418) 986-7680
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Strict about its commitment to market-fresh local ingredients, this popular Cap-aux-Meules spot does artistically displayed haute cuisine — think steak frites and lobster risotto — as well as cocktails, beer and wine, meaning it stays lively into the night. This is definitely one you’ll need to book well in advance.

5. Resto Bistro Accents

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323 QC-199, Fatima
QC G4T 2H6, Canada
(418) 986-2321
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Madelinot chef Hugo LeFrançois moved to Montreal 7 years ago and became a chef, working in restaurants and hotels across mainland Quebec for over a quarter-century. Now he’s back home and running the kitchen at Bistro Accents where the ingredients on its seasonal menus are 80 percent local. In heavy rotation are halibut in cream sauce and loup-marin seal filet mignon or tatatki.

6. Café de la Grave

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969 Chem. de la Grave, Havre-Aubert
QC G4T 9C8, Canada
(418) 937-5765
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Inside an old general store built in 1865, Café de la Grave does island-influenced pub grub like smoked seal poutine, veal burger, and seafood pot pie. Nightly piano and folk music during high season means it isn’t short on ambiance, and true to its name, the café also does takeout coffee and desserts.

7. Pizza D'La Pointe

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86 QC-199, Havre-aux-Maisons
QC G4T 5A2, Canada
(418) 969-2625
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First opened in 1992, this deserving Îles-de-la-Madeleine classic does thick-crust pies with inventive flavours such as the “pêcheur” with lobster, shrimp, scallops, veggies and mozzarella over a lobster bechamel sauce and the “canon” with ham, red pepper, basil, goat cheese, mozzarella and pesto. Plenty of veggie options are also available, as well as irresistible desserts and affordable wines.

8. Bistro Plongée Alpha

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898 QC-199, Grande-Entrée
QC G4T 7B1, Canada
(418) 985-2421
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Mario Cyr might be world-renowned for his Arctic underwater photography seen in National Geographic and BBC, but on the Îles-de-la-Madeleine he’s known just as much for his restaurant by the jetty on Grande-Entrée. The ambiance has a serious fisherman’s vibe and the menu provides little surprises with fresh lobster, oysters, and mussels with their usual accompaniments. Keep an eye out for dinner conferences where Cyr presents his photography while you eat.

9. Cap dauphin Fish Shack

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49 Chem. Shore, Grosse-Île
QC G4T 6A4, Canada
(418) 985-2301

You’ll have to drive up to Grosse-Île to get here, but this no-frills fish shack does arguably the best lobster roll on the islands, which also happens to be one of the cheapest at $11. The cantine can also dish out a mean lobster poutine, seafood chowder, and fish and chips. Graciously, no reservations are required for this one.

1. Gourmande De Nature

1912 Chem. de l'Étang du N, L'Étang-du-Nord, QC G4T 3C7, Canada

After starting as a dishwasher at Îles-de-la-Madeleline classic La Table de Roy, Johanne Vigneau has since become an acclaimed chef and her second restaurant, Gourmande de Nature, which opened in 2012, has become one of the most talked-about restaurants on the islands. The food is inspired by French, Portuguese, and Californian cuisine and includes dishes like cod ricotta and a deconstructed cheesecake served in a scallop shell. Popular for lunch and dinner, the restaurant is also featured on the Circuit des Saveurs food trail as a purveyor of gourmet products and does culinary classes.

1912 Chem. de l'Étang du N, L'Étang-du-Nord
QC G4T 3C7, Canada

2. Au p'tit Capitaine

1244 Chem. de la Vernière, L'Étang-du-Nord, QC G4T 3E7, Canada

Adored by Madelinot for staying open year-round, this casse-croûte does hot dog steamés, lobster pitas, subs, smoked meat sandwiches, golden-brown fish & chips, and some seriously loaded poutines. The vibe inside is cool, too, with throwback 50s and 60s diner music.

1244 Chem. de la Vernière, L'Étang-du-Nord
QC G4T 3E7, Canada

3. Chez Renard

315 Chem. du Quai, Cap-aux-Meules, QC G4T 1J4, Canada

Fresh-faced Chez Renard opened near the ferry port in June 2021 and has likely been full ever since. With just a few tables, it’s a café with homemade bagels sweetened with Miel en Mer’s honey and Pied-de-Vent cream cheese by day, and a gourmet restaurant by night, with non-stuffy natural and organic wines. Open Thursday to Sunday only.

315 Chem. du Quai, Cap-aux-Meules
QC G4T 1J4, Canada

4. Quai 360

360 Chem. du Quai, Cap-aux-Meules, QC G4T 1J4, Canada

Strict about its commitment to market-fresh local ingredients, this popular Cap-aux-Meules spot does artistically displayed haute cuisine — think steak frites and lobster risotto — as well as cocktails, beer and wine, meaning it stays lively into the night. This is definitely one you’ll need to book well in advance.

360 Chem. du Quai, Cap-aux-Meules
QC G4T 1J4, Canada

5. Resto Bistro Accents

323 QC-199, Fatima, QC G4T 2H6, Canada

Madelinot chef Hugo LeFrançois moved to Montreal 7 years ago and became a chef, working in restaurants and hotels across mainland Quebec for over a quarter-century. Now he’s back home and running the kitchen at Bistro Accents where the ingredients on its seasonal menus are 80 percent local. In heavy rotation are halibut in cream sauce and loup-marin seal filet mignon or tatatki.

323 QC-199, Fatima
QC G4T 2H6, Canada

6. Café de la Grave

969 Chem. de la Grave, Havre-Aubert, QC G4T 9C8, Canada

Inside an old general store built in 1865, Café de la Grave does island-influenced pub grub like smoked seal poutine, veal burger, and seafood pot pie. Nightly piano and folk music during high season means it isn’t short on ambiance, and true to its name, the café also does takeout coffee and desserts.

969 Chem. de la Grave, Havre-Aubert
QC G4T 9C8, Canada

7. Pizza D'La Pointe

86 QC-199, Havre-aux-Maisons, QC G4T 5A2, Canada

First opened in 1992, this deserving Îles-de-la-Madeleine classic does thick-crust pies with inventive flavours such as the “pêcheur” with lobster, shrimp, scallops, veggies and mozzarella over a lobster bechamel sauce and the “canon” with ham, red pepper, basil, goat cheese, mozzarella and pesto. Plenty of veggie options are also available, as well as irresistible desserts and affordable wines.

86 QC-199, Havre-aux-Maisons
QC G4T 5A2, Canada

8. Bistro Plongée Alpha

898 QC-199, Grande-Entrée, QC G4T 7B1, Canada

Mario Cyr might be world-renowned for his Arctic underwater photography seen in National Geographic and BBC, but on the Îles-de-la-Madeleine he’s known just as much for his restaurant by the jetty on Grande-Entrée. The ambiance has a serious fisherman’s vibe and the menu provides little surprises with fresh lobster, oysters, and mussels with their usual accompaniments. Keep an eye out for dinner conferences where Cyr presents his photography while you eat.

898 QC-199, Grande-Entrée
QC G4T 7B1, Canada

9. Cap dauphin Fish Shack

49 Chem. Shore, Grosse-Île, QC G4T 6A4, Canada

You’ll have to drive up to Grosse-Île to get here, but this no-frills fish shack does arguably the best lobster roll on the islands, which also happens to be one of the cheapest at $11. The cantine can also dish out a mean lobster poutine, seafood chowder, and fish and chips. Graciously, no reservations are required for this one.

49 Chem. Shore, Grosse-Île
QC G4T 6A4, Canada

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