Once upon a time in rural Quebec, some homespun (and I’m guessing not entirely svelte) cook added cheese curds to fries and gravy. A Canadian institution was born, and it was good.
The word “poutine” started as a French bastardization of the English “pudding” meaning “[sloppy/mushy] mess” in Quebecois slang. Now however, it just means sweet, sweet delight.
Of course many native Quebecois (or especially those insufferable Western Canadians who have been to Montreal once, so know everything about franco-Canadian culture) would sneer at the idea of poutine from west of Gatineau, but I can attest, it’s here! And speaking as an Edmontonian who has been to Montreal once, it’s pretty darn good.
Toppings can range from the sublime (duck confit) to the slightly bizarre (smoked meat, mustard and sauerkraut?) but in every incarnation, Canadians can agree, poutine, we stand on guard for thee!
I wouldn’t dream of declaring these poutines better than the original, but we have gathered some of the top places to find the gooey mess in the Western provinces, and well… you be the judge!
White Star Diner 58 Albert St, Winnipeg, MB (204) 947-6930 A tiny diner with a big heart, “to die for” sandwiches, and poutine that made one yelper declare “Poutine has arrived in Manitoba!” Try the onion ring poutine, the pulled pork poutine the “reuben-esque” or complete with bleu cheese.
The Cheese Factory 8943 82 Ave NW, Edmonton AB (780) 450-2143 Well a place that is a cheese FACTORY is pretty much going to have excellent cheese, right? And they do! The curds on the poutine have the highly desired “squeak” and the rest of the dish is amazing too, from the russet potatoes on up!
The Big Cheese Poutinerie 738 – 17 Avenue SW Calgary AB (403) 457-2873 and 207 – 10 street NW Calgary, AB (587)350-2873 With monthly specials like Ginger Beef Poutine or Santa Fe Chicken Poutine, you won’t have to eat the same old poutine every time. Unless that’s what you want. They have that too.
Alberta King of Subs #22 7196 Temple Drive N.E Calgary, AB (403)293-5809 Known for their Montreal smoked meat (are you sensing a theme here?) as well as the amazing poutine, Alberta King of Subs might be better named King of Poutine!
Belle Patate 102 Boulder Crescent, Canmore, AB (403)678-0077; 1215 Davie St. Vancouver, BC (604) 569-1215; 1215 Esquimalt Road, Esquimalt, BC (250)220-8427 The holy grail of poutine is the correct curd to gravy ratio, (although I would argue there could never be too much cheese. The maternity stretchy pants I still secretly wear would tell me I am wrong.) The people who debate this ratio seem to be in agreement though—or as close to internet agreement if such a thing exists –that La Belle Patate has achieved curd/gravy harmony, and that alone makes it worth a visit!
Fritz European Fry House 718 Davie St. Vancouver, BC (604) 684-0811 If you want to mix it up, the pulled pork poutine comes highly recommended. The chicken and bacon and different dipping sauces make the poutine here about all you could ever want. Unless you want, say, love and career satisfaction or stuff like that. But curds and gravy? They have that, and really, that’s a kind of happiness too, isn’t it?
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