A Food Lovers Guide to Halifax, Nova Scotia

Tips and Guides, Food, Canada,
02/Jan/2018

Nova Scotia’s capital, an Atlantic Ocean Port in eastern Canada, is a wonderful city, replete with fun things to see and do, but when in Halifax, where should one stop for a bite to eat? It turns out, visitors to the area are rather spoiled for choice and depending on your wants and desires, travellers will find no trouble locating some delicious food. But to help you figure things out, and narrow down the choices a little, we’ve put together this very guide, a food lover’s guide in fact, to Halifax, Nova Scotia.

The Canteen

The Canteen Nova Scotia

While enjoying the sights and sounds of downtown Dartmouth, a stop at The Canteen should certainly be high on the agenda. This friendly restaurant is a perfect location no matter the time of day, offering chef-inspired seasonal cuisine that is bound to impress.

The Canteen spoke to us about what makes them such a great spot to eat in Halifax:

“The Canteen is a neighbourhood restaurant in downtown Dartmouth, only steps away from the ferry terminal. Our 65-seat restaurant offers a bright, welcoming space for guests. The bustling space is not only a great option for a leisurely lunch but also the perfect choice for dinner and Saturday brunch. Our goal is to showcase menus that celebrate our amazing local products from both the land and sea. Our restaurant recently won four golds in The Coast's reader survey of the Best in Halifax (Best New Restaurant, Best Chef, Best Sandwich and Best Chowder).”

The Canteen also offered some details regarding their kitchen, menu, and some recommended dishes:

“The Canteen's kitchen is led by award-winning chef and owner, Renée Lavallée. With more than 20 years of experience, Renée, along with her team have created approachable menus, highlighting some of the region’s best ingredients.

“At The Canteen, our menus offer a range of dishes including our seafood chowder, a braised brisket on barley and wild mushroom risotto, our popular double-burger with special sauce and frizzled onions or our kale and delicata squash topped with an 18-month old asiago made in the Annapolis Valley. The menus are complemented with a carefully selected list of wines, local craft beers, and classic cocktails. Most importantly, The Canteen's experienced front-of-house team will make all guests feel welcomed and well cared for during their visit.”

Ratinaud

Ratinaud Nova Scotia

Image Credit: Joe MacLellan

The Kitchen Table at Ratinaud offers guests a fantastic menu comprised of an ever evolving selection of local and foraged ingredients. Open Wednesday to Saturday throughout the year, Ratinaud is a superb spot to be at during your Halifax stay. We spoke to Frederic Tandy of Ratinaud, who told us a little more about what’s on offer:

“Ratinaud is divided into two sections, we have the charcuterie and cheese store where we make all our own charcuterie in house, from cured meat to fresh sausage, to pate and rillettes. We also bring cheese from Europe and North America – we have a pretty big selection.

“The other section is our 20 seat restaurant that offers an eight course tasting menu. On both sides we use as many local ingredients as possible. My business model is very unique for eastern Canada and as far as I know we are the only one.

“We accommodate any allergy or food restriction, along with vegetarians and pescatarians – we are not able to accommodate vegans.

“The menu is made depending on which product we can find locally, we also preserve a lot of foraged ingredients during the summertime (plants, flowers, mushroom, seaweed...), and that way we have options available to create the menu throughout the winter months. Customers also have a great choice of wine, they can go with the wine pairing we offer with the menu, but they can also bring their own.

“The dining room is divided into two sections: one big communal table that can seat 14 people, and we have six other seats at the kitchen counter (open kitchen).

“The Kitchen Table (restaurant) is open four nights a week, from Wednesday to Saturday night on reservation only.”

Durty Nelly’s 

Durty Nelly's

A Nova Scotia cruise package certainly has its charms and with fantastic dining establishments like Durty Nelly’s awaiting you on arrival, there’s even more reason to rejoice.

Durty Nelly’s is an authentic Irish pub that was designed and built entirely in Ireland and shipped across the Atlantic to its location in Halifax. Priding themselves on providing legendary hospitality to all their guests, Durty Nelly’s offers internet access, children’s menus, a lounge, patio, live music, dancing, and of course a wonderful restaurant serving up superb food.

Durty Nelly’s further described to us what sets them apart from the crowd and what visitors can expect to find on their menu and inside their doors:

“Durty Nelly’s brings together the liveliness and craic of a busy Irish pub with a delicious menu of pub favourites. Legendary maritime hospitality for each and every guest creates lasting memories for both locals and visitors.

“The menu at Durty Nelly’s truly has something for everyone, ranging from pub style appetizers to Irish classics. The award-winning seafood chowder is always a fantastic choice, along with fish and chips, lamb shank, and Irish poutine. Durty Nelly’s serves weekend brunch with delicious Caesars and offers some of the best nightlife in Halifax. Guests can expect to feel welcome and at home as soon as they walk through the door.”

Stubborn Goat Gastropub

Stubborn Goat Gastropub Nova Scotia

Established in 2013, Stubborn Goat Gastropub on Grafton Street serves up a menu comprised of the best local produce and has created a warm, fun, and comfortable dining experience that can be shared among family and friends.

We asked Stubborn Goat to tell us a little more about the restaurant’s features, highlights and to pick out some items from their diverse menu.

“Stubborn Goat Gastropub is typically packed with locals who love eating delicious, upscale comfort food, served in a busy, social atmosphere. 

“The entire dinner menu, served daily from 3pm until closing, is designed to be shared — making for a memorable, social dining experience. Stubborn Goat offers a daytime brunch and lunch menu seven days per week, and all the food is complemented with local craft beers, cocktails, wines and fantastic service. Regulars come back again and again for the mac ’n’ cheese, Woodstone oven thin-crust pizzas, and a seasonally changing menu full of delicious sharing plates as well as larger dishes like steak and frites, whole roasted fish and chips, or Atlantic salmon.”

Your Father’s Moustache

Your Father's Moustache

Best Chicken Wings - Gold Winner - The Coast Magazine, Best of Halifax Reader’s Choice Awards 2017, Halifax’s favourite Brunch Destination, weekly specials featuring famous ribs, wings, surf & turf, nachos, and a huge selection of craft beer including some brewed In-house.

The above are just some of the main features and highlights of Your Father’s Moustache, an award winning establishment with a menu that demands respect. We asked the restaurant why they believe they have flourished at their location on Spring Garden Road, and what makes them a spot worth checking out:

“It could be because of our delicious handcrafted food, and our friendly, welcoming staff. Maybe it’s because we have the best patio in Halifax as voted by readers of the Coast magazine every year they have been doing the ‘Best of Halifax’ contest. Perhaps it’s because Your Father’s Moustache is home to the best and longest-running blues show in Halifax every Saturday afternoon.”

Agricola Street Brasserie

Agricola Street Brasserie Nova Scotia

For visitors to Halifax who enjoy dabbling in some superb French-inspired cuisine, Agricola Street Brasserie is one establishment worth seeking out. Located on the street of the same name, Agricola has a relaxed atmosphere comprised of an urban restaurant and bar that is perfect for enjoying their very own brand of seasonal French home-cooking.

Agricola Street Brasserie say: “What makes us a great place to come is that there are so many dining options. The Brasserie space is designed to accommodate a variety of eating and drinking experiences. There is a main dining area with long, cosy banquettes, there is a long butcher block bar where guests can enjoy a glass of wine after work with a bar snack or with a full menu during dinner hours.

“The lounge window seats offer a cosy nook for quiet conversation and, during the warm months, the windows fold open so that one can watch the world go by over a pint of locally crafted beer. Further inside the Brasserie is an open kitchen where one can sit at the kitchen counter and enjoy the inner workings of the Brasserie kitchen.”

Agricola Street Brasserie told us that many people come to them just for their selection of beer (12 local options on tap) but stay for their food:

“Even though we are a large restaurant for Halifax, we strive to consistently create an intimate experience for our guests and we work every day to create dishes that are essentially elevated comfort food - there is nothing precious or delicate about our food. We are French in our technique but our chefs are inspired by international flavours, pulling ideas from around the globe.

“Our menu touches on a lot of cuisines from local flavours such as our Rabbit Pot Pie, to international flavours from the Mediterranean and Asia. Some favourites are the two tiered seafood tower, our Buta Kimchi which is thinly sliced pork belly seared with house-made kimchi, as well as our weekly feature fish. We do fish really well at The Brasserie and it is always a best seller here.”

Little Oak

Little Oak Nova Scotia

Based in Bishops Landing on the Halifax waterfront, Little Oak may be fairly new but it’s already making waves, fans, and winning plenty of awards in the process. This is a super casual little spot, perfect for a glass of wine and delicious Nova Scotian meal.

We asked Little Oak to go into further detail about who they are and what’s on offer:

“Little Oak is only a year old and we just seemed to hit the mark for what Halifax was looking for - a small, intimate bar with exceptional food, a vast array of both new and old world wines with a really fun and inspired cocktail list. We hired a very strong team – our manager and sommelier, our head chef and our head bartender - who are all so incredibly skilled and talented they were able to create what is Little Oak today.

“In the year that we have been open, we were honoured to be announced in EnRoute’s top 30 best new restaurants in Canada for 2017. As well, Nicole Raufiesen, co-owner, manager, and sommelier, recently won the prestigious Taste of Nova Scotia Server of the Year award. We placed 3rd in the Halifax people’s choice awards for best wine list. Additionally, Little Oak received silver for millwork design at the AWMAC (Architectural Design) Awards in 2017.”

And regarding Little Oak’s menu, the restaurant told us:

“Our dishes change so frequently, there isn’t one favourite. The menu is really diverse and Chef just makes whatever inspires him that week. It ranges from sofrito meatballs, to Asian dumplings, Thai duck salad and charred broccoli with anchovy cream and roasted capers. We have a very popular ‘Eat the Menu’ option that people love which also has an option for a drink pairing. Our customers love it.

“What people have come to expect is the best in every aspect of their experience. We’re down on the water which makes people assume we’re more of a tourist destination only to be thought of in the summer - when really, our customers are primarily locals and business travellers that appreciate an exceptional food and drink experience on every level. Yet because we’re really just a bar that plays loud funk and rap music, we don’t take reservations, we don’t even have a phone and our servers wear whatever they want - it’s super approachable, super casual and just really fun.”

Nova Scotia, Canada

Recommendations from Travelling Foodie

“Nova Scotia is renowned for its seafood,” says Raymond Cua of the food blog Travelling Foodie, “where you can find fishing boats unloading fresh catches depending on the season. Being a major port city brings all this abundance of fresh and delicious seafood to Halifax. On top of that, Halifax has North America's oldest farmers' market bringing fresh seafood, fruits and vegetables, Nova Scotia wines and more. All these locally sourced ingredients available make Halifax such a great location for fantastic food!”

Raymond, from Toronto, has mixed his two passions of food and travel to form the blog Travelling Foodie, writing articles and posts on a number of locations. Raymond has in fact written his own article on this subject, but has offered to us his three top recommendations for restaurants in Halifax:

Edna

Edna placed the highest in Canada's Best 100 Restaurants out of all other Halifax restaurants at No. 49. I liked Edna because it offered a creative take on fresh seafood. Think typical seared scallops but with grilled corn and popcorn and arugula pesto. The restaurant feels trendy with a casual vibe, making it a great place for intimate or casual dining. They also make some great house cocktails so it's perfect for both food and drink goers.”

Little Fish Oyster Bar at Five Fishermen

“You can't go to Halifax without trying some Nova Scotia Lobster. Little Fish Oyster Bar at Five Fishermen is the place for that. I loved their traditional lobster with drawn butter. It was the best lobster I've had. And if you love oysters, you're in luck because they are an oyster bar as well serving a variety of fresh catch of the day Nova Scotia oysters. They even have Oyster Happy Hour (daily, 4-6:30pm), where $15 gives you half a dozen oysters and a choice of beer or wine.”

Studio East Food + Drink

Studio East Food + Drink is a must try for Asian cuisine, especially if you want something different from most Halifax restaurants. It brings a fusion of different Asian cuisines. I liked the uniqueness of the dishes here because they are bold and daring - a lot of which I haven't seen done in Asian fusion restaurants.”