Discover Canada’s Best New Restaurants
Quebec City, QC
Nénuphar Quebec City, QC
801, 4e rue  |
By Kaitlin FontanaPhotos by Andrew Querner

A “secret bar” is usually not all that secret. Not so with Nénuphar, which is truly, genuinely hidden. Once I track it down, behind a door marked SALLE DES MACHINES, inside a family-friendly bowling alley, underneath a community centre where an amateur wrestling match is happening, its pleasures are a reward for all the hard work. Inside, it’s like a delightful basement playroom in the Golden Girls’ Miami house. There are elementary-classroom globes lining an indoor staircase, and the bathroom is hand-painted to look like you’re freshening up inside a piece of Delft pottery. The sommelier sits next to me on one of several mismatched yard-sale-ready chairs and tells me about the natural-wine list; I go with the recommended bright, semi-sour Paraschos orange wine (which, she says, was opened yesterday and is all the better for it) and a local cheese plate with honey. Just like Quebec City, Nénuphar is weird, welcoming and disarmingly charming – as I’m paying my tab, the mustachioed bartender smiles at me and says, “Now, you should go check out the wrestling.” So I do.