Classic Canadian Food
BeaverTails - Queues de Castor/facebook.com

18 Beloved Canadian Foods Every American Should Try

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Classic Canadian Food
BeaverTails - Queues de Castor/facebook.com

Make a Run for the (Other) Border

Our neighbors to the south get all the love when it comes to food, but it's time to bypass the burritos and find out what Canada has to offer that will tempt our taste buds (hint: It's a lot more than poutine). Wondering what foods to seek out on your next Canadian vacation? From butter tarts to pea soup, here are some of the most traditional or iconic Canadian foods, and some of the best spots to find them.

Butter Tarts
Betty's Pies & Tarts/facebook.com

Butter Tarts

Colonial settlers brought traditional European pastry recipes to Canada in the late 1600s, but were forced to alter them to include the ingredients they had on hand. The result? The gooey butter tart, a mashup of a flaky, sugary crust and a dense filling made from ingredients including butter, brown sugar, syrup, and vanilla.

Where to get them: Betty's Pies and Tarts, Cobourg, Ontario
Humble Betty's has an award-winning recipe and an enviable spot on Food Network Canada's list of the best spots for butter tarts. Homemade pies and fresh fruit tarts are also on hand to tease your sweet tooth.

Tourtière
Dannie W./yelp.com

Tourtière

With roots snaking as far back as 17th-century Québec, Tourtière is among the most storied and traditional Canadian dishes. This savory meat pie, a holiday favorite, is often made with ground pork, but there are many variations — what doesn't typically change is the thick, buttery crust.

Where to get it: Aux Anciens Canadiens, Québec City
This traditional French-Canadian restaurant is worth a visit not just for its food, but its location in one of the city's oldest mansions. The tourtière — here called Québec Meat Pie — is a staple on the traditional menu, which also features caribou pot pie and bison bourguignon.

Bannock
Kekuli Café Coffee & Bannock/facebook.com

Bannock

This simple, biscuit-like fry bread may have been imported by Scottish fur traders and was soon adopted by indigenous Canadians in the 18th and 19th centuries. There are countless varieties across the country, with recipes passed down from generation to generation.

Where to get it: Kekuli Café, Merritt and Westbank, British Columbia
The slogan at this indigenous-owned coffee house is, "Don't panic … we have bannock!" Sink your teeth into traditional flatbreads, those with gourmet flavors like cinnamon sugar, or even bannock tacos.

Ice Wine
Pillitteri Estates Winery/facebook.com

Ice Wine

Canada is the world's largest producer of ice wines, made from grapes that are left to freeze, thaw, and freeze on the vine, often several times. Grapes are crushed while still frozen. The result is a wine that is very fruity and shockingly sweet to the uninitiated.

Where to get it: Pillitteri Estates Winery, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario
Pillitteri, one of Canada's major ice wine makers, is open for daily tastings and tours of its vineyards and barrel cellar. Its ice wines, with fruit profiles ranging from honeyed peach to mango, are consistent award winners.

Peameal Bacon
Dean C./yelp.com

Peameal Bacon

Interestingly, the most Canadian of bacons isn't Canadian bacon (actually an American term for a smoked back bacon) but peameal bacon, which originated in Toronto in the early 1900s. It's made from pork loin, trimmed of its fat, wet cured, then rolled in cornmeal. Originally, crushed peas were used instead of cornmeal, and the name stuck.

Where to get it: Carousel Bakery, Toronto
This bakery in Toronto's landmark St. Lawrence Market is so well-known for its peameal bacon sandwich that it has attracted attention from the likes of Bobby Flay, Emeril Lagasse, Food and Wine magazine, and many more.

Montréal Bagels
St-Viateur Bagel Shop/facebook.com

Montréal Bagels

New York City doesn't have a monopoly on bagel bliss. Montréal's bagels inspire equal devotion, and fans insist that the city's smaller, sweeter bagels are superior to the Big Apple's plumper, doughier version. Montréal's bagels get their distinctive flavor from being boiled in honey-sweetened water, and because they are cooked in wood-fired ovens, they also take on a crunchier crust.

Where to get them: St-Viateur Bagel, Montréal
Opened by Polish immigrants decades ago, St-Viateur is among the most well-known of Montréal's many bagel shops, and its flagship location is open 24 hours. If you're not in town, you can even have their bagels shipped anywhere in Canada or the U.S.

Donairs
King of Donair/facebook.com

Donairs

When you're hungover in Halifax, one food is sure to cure what ails you: the donair. Invented in the '70s in this Atlantic province city, a donair is closely related to a gyro, but beef stands in for lamb, and tzatziki is swapped out for a more garlicky donair sauce.

Where to get it: King of Donair, Halifax, Nova Scotia
One of Halifax's oldest donair joints, King of Donair serves up several varieties of the dish, plus donair poutine and even donair egg rolls.

Saskatoon Berry Pie
The Berry Barn/facebook.com

Saskatoon Berry Pie

Our northern neighbor's answer to iconic American apple pie, Saskatoon Berry Pie is a classic prairie recipe featuring the most Canadian of berries: Saskatoons. These blueberry look-alikes hail mostly from western Canada (the city of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, was even named after them) but much to the chagrin of some Canadians, Americans have taken to calling them Juneberries.

Where to get it: The Berry Barn, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Whether you order pie in the restaurant as dessert or take one home from the bakery, the family-owned Berry Barn is an obvious hotspot for Saskatoon-berry lovers. You can even pick the berries yourself here when they're in season.

Poutine
La Banquise/facebook.com

Poutine

One of Canada's most well-known national dishes is the ultimate in comfort food: fries covered in a thick layer of gravy and cheese curds. Though its origins are still hazy, it probably originated in Québec in the '50s, and took its present form in the '60s before spreading across the country.

Where to get it: La Banquise, Montréal
This 24-hour diner, open since 1968, serves up more than 30 varieties of poutine from the classic stuff (“La Classique”) to exotic varieties featuring pulled pork, hot peppers, guacamole, and more.

All-Dressed Chips
Courtesy of walmart.ca

All-Dressed Chips

Invented in Québec in the late '70s, All-Dressed Chips would be easy to mistake for an American phenomenon. After all, this unholy mashup of chip flavors — salt and vinegar, barbecue, ketchup, and sour cream and onion — is curiously absent traditional Canadian restraint. The chips finally hit U.S. stores a few years ago, courtesy of Frito-Lay's Ruffles brand.

Where to get them: Major grocery stores across Canada and the U.S.

Caesars
L'Gros Luxe/facebook.com

Caesars

If you order a Caesar in Canada, don't expect a salad. Here, it's a spicy cocktail that traces its roots to Calgary in the late '60s. Made with vodka, Clamato juice, hot sauce, and Worcestershire sauce, its closest American cousin is probably the Bloody Mary. The most crucial difference, other than the undercurrent of clam? The fact that you can guzzle a Caesar any time of day, not just at brunch.

Where to get them: L'Gros Luxe, Montréal
A basic Caesar is a given at any bar in Canada, but if you want something a little more extreme, head to L'Gros Luxe. The not-so-modest garnishes include onion rings, grilled cheese, chicken wings, and even veggie samosas.

Pemmican
Pemmican by Jen Arrr (CC BY)

Pemmican

This mix of pounded dry meat, melted fat, and often berries or nuts is prized by survivalists because it is filling, calorie-dense, and extremely shelf-stable. It was a staple of early fur traders in Canada, and the most traditional versions feature bison.

Where to get it: Indigenous restaurants are your best bet, but pemmican isn't typically found on a lot of menus. Make your own thoroughly Canadian version, complete with Saskatoon berries, following this recipe.

Fried Cod Tongues
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Fried Cod Tongues

Despite their name, fried cod tongues aren't actually tongues — they're muscles from a cod's neck. Popular in Newfoundland, the dish is often consumed as a pricey appetizer even though these "tongues" were often discarded decades ago, before cod almost went extinct in the region from overfishing.

Where to get them: St. John's Fish Exchange, St. John's, Newfoundland
Here, cod tongues are pan-fried with scrunchions, another regional specialty consisting of small pieces of salted, fried pork. Other fresh-from-the-sea menu options include halibut and Atlantic lobster.

Nanaimo Bars
Hearthstone Artisan Bakery/facebook.com

Nanaimo Bars

Named after the town in British Columbia where they originated in the '50s, Nanaimo bars will satisfy even the most hard-core sweet tooth. While variations abound, classic recipes call for a graham cracker and coconut crust topped with a layer of custard and chocolate ganache.

Where to get them: Hearthstone Artisan Bakery, Nanaimo, British Columbia
Anywhere on the Nanaimo Bar Trail is bound to satisfy, but these classic treats are a specialty at Hearthstone, where they come in several flavors and have been featured on Food Network Canada.

Pure Maple Syrup
Steve W./yelp.com

Pure Maple Syrup

No discussion of Canada's most iconic foods can skip maple syrup — after all, the maple leaf is on the flag, and the nation produces three-fourths of the world's supply. Just don't offend Canadians by insisting the common grocery-store brand you slather onto your pancakes is real, pure maple syrup. Chances are it's made mostly of corn syrup, which keeps the cost down.

Where to get it: Délices Érable & Cie, Montréal
This hybrid food boutique and bistro carries maple everything, including several varieties of pure maple syrup, spreads, candies, cookies, nuts, and even rubs for your favorite meats.

Blueberry Grunt
Kathy C/tripadvisor.com

Blueberry Grunt

Possibly an adaptation of English steamed pudding, cobbler-like Blueberry Grunt remains hugely popular in the Canadian Maritimes. So named because the berries “grunt” while being cooked, the dessert consists of homemade dumplings topped with wild berries and often whipped cream or ice cream.

Where to get it: Seaside Shanty, Chester Basin, Nova Scotia
This picturesque little restaurant earns raves for its classic blueberry grunt, menu packed with fresh seafood, and gorgeous bay views.

Split Pea Soup
Cabane a sucre Chez Dany/tripadvisor.com

Split Pea Soup

This popular soup likely evolved from soup served by early settlers from France, and because it's so warm and filling, it became a staple during Canadian winters. Often made with ham hocks, it remains a particular favorite in Québec, but different recipes abound around the country.

Where to get it: Cabane à Sucre Chez Dany, Trois-Rivières, Québec
Split pea soup is just one of the classic Canadian comfort foods on the menu at Chez Dany, a homey, all-you-can-eat outpost where you can also learn all about syrup production.

BeaverTails
BeaverTails - Queues de Castor/facebook.com

BeaverTails

These generously sized pieces of fried dough are pulled by hand to look like wide, flat beaver tails, then topped in a myriad of ways. First sold at an Ontario community fair in the '70s, this sweet treat is somewhat of a fusion of two Canadian favorites: doughnuts and bannock.

Where to get them: BeaverTails, ByWard Market, Ottawa, Ontario
BeaverTails shops abound around Canada, but you'll find the original in Ottawa's ByWard Market. Sink your teeth into classic flavors like cinnamon and sugar, chocolate hazelnut, or maple pecan.