For those outside of Québec, the iconic poutine might spark curiosity. Rest assured, it has nothing to do with Russian politicians. Poutine is a mix of french fries, cheese curds, and savoury brown gravy. In Québec slang, “poutine” also signifies a messy jumble of things. For instance, the expression “la poutine interne” (the internal poutine) refers to the inner workings of a company or institution, which can sometimes be a bit messy.

Poutine in a cardboard container on a picnic table

Poutine from Frite Alors! The sauce is usually on top of the cheese, but in this case, Caroline asked for the cheese on the side because she doesn’t like it to be melted!

The origins of poutine are shrouded in controversy, with restaurants from two cities—Warwick (near Victoriaville) and Drummondville—claiming its invention in the late 1950s. This dish also holds weight in Québec’s relationship with Canada, as it’s seen in Québec as a marker of our distinctiveness, while Canada has claimed the poutine as its own on the global stage.

For the rest of us, who only want to eat comfort food without all the drama, poutine is a fast food dish enjoyed (or not) by people of all ages, with everyone having their own preferences.

We conducted a mini-survey among the organizing team:

Perfect poutine is made of fries that are crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, not soggy from the sauce, and the cheese curds must not be melted!


For me, a comforting poutine is the one eaten at 3 a.m. after a night out with friends!


For me, the most comforting poutine is just like Caroline’s, topped with pan-fried mushrooms, bell pepper and fresh cheese curds that squeak in every delicious bite.


My favourite poutine must have crispy fries, red wine gravy, lots of vegetables and the cheese must be melted!


Since its inception, poutine has evolved into a culinary phenomenon. You’ll find it in fast-food joints like McDonald’s, specialty eateries, and even upscale restaurants like Au Pied de Cochon. Variations abound, from classic fries/cheese/gravy to deluxe versions with bacon, smoked meat, or veggies like pan-fried onions, bell peppers, and mushrooms. Creative substitutions include using spaghetti sauce instead of gravy (the “Italian” poutine), sweet potato fries, or deep-fried cheese curds. There are even breakfast poutines (hash-brown potatoes, hollandaise sauce, cheese curds, and a poached egg) and dessert poutines (churros-like fried dough, marshmallows, and chocolate or strawberry sauce).

Dessert poutine in a cardboard container on a wooden table. Visible is a lot of chocolate sauce covering mini marshmallows and small churros-like fries

Dessert poutine from Chocolats Favoris

Montréal boasts some renowned poutine joints. Here are a few suggestions:

La Banquise
A legendary spot with over 30 poutine varieties.

Frite Alors!
Inspired by Belgian fries and comics, this chain offers diverse poutine options.

This chain lets you customize your poutine, from potatoes to toppings, for a personalized experience.

We hope you will try poutine when you come to Montréal for KohaCon!