My favourite Nova Scotia restaurants, new spots and those that have stood the test of time.
It’s interesting when I run into tourists and they share with me what they’ve done. I sometimes find that they appreciate things I overlook.
Or maybe notice things that are just the background to my childhood. But one thing is for sure, they need help finding the best Nova Scotia restaurants.
Nova Scotia doesn’t really have a fine dining culture. Some Halifax restaurants have world class food, but it is usually in a comfortable atmosphere.
In some ways it is very similar to Italy in that you can put your best jeans on and not feel out of place.
45+ Things to Do in Nova Scotia
But the truly special places in Nova Scotia rarely get much press. And that’s because we’re typically Canadian and cannot see just how good the long standing mom and pop shops are.
Or places that just cook the best fish and chips people will ever eat – because that’s our every day.
I really wanted to share my favourite Nova Scotia restaurants, starting with the Annapolis Valley.
But this post will continue to grow into other areas of Nova Scotia so leave your recommendations in the comments section below!
Best Restaurants in Annapolis Valley
The Annapolis Valley is home to some of the best produce, seafood and meat in Nova Scotia.
Driving around other regions in Nova Scotia you’ll often see farmer’s markets touting they have Valley corn, strawberries etc.
When visiting the winery restaurants in Nova Scotia be prepared for higher prices.
Food often ranges from $17-25 but it’s not unreasonable the quality.
Bent Ridge Winery and Cucina
I discovered this spot recently and it has one of the most scenic views. It looks across from the Martock ski hill, an area I haven’t been to for decades.
They make great pizza, and while they aren’t producing Tidal Bay, they do make good Nova Scotia wine.
If you’re driving from Halifax this is a great stop on the way for a quick bite and a gorgeous view.
One of the better known Nova Scotia restaurants, some visitors travel down to the Annapolis Valley just to eat here.
Le Caveau is the restaurant at Domaine de Grand Pré winery. If the weather is good, the outdoor seating at the pergola is one of my favourites.
But otherwise eating inside is also lovely.
Portions here are filling and hearty so come with an appetite. Some of the interesting items are the seafood chowder, which is a bit different than what you’ll see elsewhere as it’s a play on Spains ajo blanco which is a chilled almond soup.
It’s so popular Chef Jason Lynch hasn’t been able to remove it from the menu for years.
I can see why, paired with a glass of Ortega, it’s the perfect lunch.
The restaurant works with small local producers and you’ll find things here you can’t elsewhere like rabbit and local lamb.
They have a charcuterie program and make their own products for sale. Stop at the tasting room first and ask to try the white hot sauce.
His products are great but what I love about it is that they keep some of the kitchen staff employed all year long – not an easy feat as most work in wineries is seasonal.
The Church Brewing Company
One of the newest Nova Scotia restaurants, the Church Brewing Co was busy from the moment it opened.
Located in the quaint university town of Wolfville, it was embraced with open arms from students and locals alike.
Centrally located it uses the former St.Andrews United church built in 1914.
It has kept most of the original decor, including the psalm boards high on the walls, which now list the beer and cider available each day.
Food is typical pub-style but done really well. Don’t expect big portions to overcompensate for poor quality.
And the beer is as interesting as the interior. Church Brewing focuses on traditional Belgian and classic European style beer.
It has interesting options like a Belgian White IPA that is described as orange/mango/spicy and an Enkel that is lemongrass/effervescent/dandelion.
The Crow’s Nest – Shore Road Seafood
On our way to Annapolis Royal we followed advice of locals we trusted that we needed to go out of the way up a steep mountain to eat here.
The kitschy Maritime decor is cute, and the service is very friendly.
It’s worth the detour as everything here is so popular, from the East Coast chowder to the local seafood plates.
They get seafood direct from fishermen every morning. Portion sizes are large so it’s best to share.
Crush Pad Bistro – Luckett Vineyard
I stopped into Crush Pad Bistro twice this summer and both times I really enjoyed my meal…and my mother’s as I’m that annoying person that needs to try everyone’s meal.
Located in Luckett Vineyard it has an AMAZING view of Cape Blomidon. Even if you’re not hungry go grab a glass of wine and just enjoy the view.
Steak and Mushroom Pie
Sandwiches here are solid – and enough to split for an afternoon snack. The chowder here gets high reviews (mine included) as you’ll find lobster in it, which is not always the case everywhere you go.
But what really blew me away was the quality of the steak and mushroom pie – I loved it so much I asked for the recipe.
Service here is prompt and always with a smile. Feel free to ask your server to pair a glass of Luckett Vineyard wine with your meal without fear they will suggest the most expensive glass.
The first certified gluten-free restaurant in Nova Scotia, you probably wouldn’t notice your meal lacked gluten unless someone told you.
They have all of the Maritime favourites of fish and chips, killer chowder and great burgers.
You MUST sit out on the rooftop patio. It looks out onto a large stretch of farmland with birds chirping and is so tranquil.
With lots of local draught on tap, you could easily spend the afternoon here.
A family-owned restaurant, the name is the combination of Crystal and Britany, mother and daughter.
For some visitors it may seem a bit out of the way as it’s in Canning, a small hamlet. But it’s only 20 minutes from downtown Wolfville and a great spot to combine with a visit to Blomidon Estate Winery.
D’Vine Morsels Restaurant – Avondale Sky Winery
While this spot doesn’t have seafood chowder or lobster or fish and chips, it’s absolutely one of my favourite Nova Scotia restaurants.
So many restaurants feel they need to really transform ingredients into something completely different.
But here they seem to understand that our ingredients need to be highlighted rather than changed.
The house made sourdough bread is so good people come here just to buy it. And I loved the cherry tomato salad so much I asked for the recipe.
Cherry Tomato Salad
But I’m still working on getting the recipe for the tomato chili garlic gnocchi above (hint hint Chef Justin Floyd).
If you don’t want to eat a full meal but rather a bite with a glass of wine I also mozzarella and country ham from local producers is also delicious.
You can dine inside or out on the patio. The winery is located in a former church from the mid-1800s that was floated down a river to be resurrected as a winery.
I could go on and on about this place – just go and let me know what you ate! And tell them I’m still waiting for the gnocchi recipe.
Ed’s Take Out
Without a doubt, I would base my entire reputation by claiming that family-owned Ed’s Take Out in Digby has the best scallops I’ve ever eaten.
My mother loves scallops and so we’re often on the hunt for the best. But no one has beaten Ed’s. The Crow’s Nest is so close but Ed’s is still the king of scallops.
Most people choose pan fried scallops over deep-fried. But I think it’s a mistake.
Most cooks pan fry scallops for too long and they end up a bit rubbery. But the deep fried scallops at Ed’s melt in your mouth.
It’s not easy to deep fry seafood well. You need a very hot fryer, clean oil and fresh seafood.
Great places don’t batter to the point that you have to hunt for the seafood underneath all the breading.
Ed’s is usually so crowded with locals you have to grab any free seat at the outdoor picnic tables. It’s cash only and the portions are so large it’s best to share.
One of the reasons I wanted to write this post was because most visitors miss places like Evangeline Cafe.
Perhaps that’s because locals call it Stirlings. It’s been owned by the Stirling family since the 1940s so it makes sense – except that the few tourists that hear about it end up down the road at Stirling Farm Market
Razzle Mixed Berry Crisp Recipe
There’s a full menu of soups, sandwiches, burgers and chowder but locals come here for the pie.
It started as a pie shop and it continues to woo dessert haters like me.
It’s a seasonal spot (May-October) and many locals are “pie chasers” stopping in as each new season starts from rhubarb through the final berries of the season.
It’s close to Mercator Vineyards and Domain de Grand Pre so well worth a pie stop.
Flying Apron Inn and Cookery
Although I have not been to this restaurant I did eat Chef Chris Velden’s food at Burntcoat Head Park while dining on the ocean floor.
Dining on the Ocean Floor
His restaurant is often mentioned in the Annapolis Valley and also offers cooking classes at the Inn.
Sadly no photo as I didn’t eat here.
We drove down to Annapolis Royal to dine here as enough people told me it was the best food in Nova Scotia that I had to find out for myself.
We spent a sunny day exploring around the Fort Anne National Historic Site and Annapolis Royal but just as we were about to leave for dinner there was a massive power outage.
I’ve included it on the list as a reminder to dine there when I return. I trust my sources that the food here is fantastic
Another local favourite, it’s an ice cream bar and diner-style restaurant with so many burgers, poutines and hotdog toppings your head will spin.
But I went for the Sweet Maria burger with grilled pineapple, crispy bacon, sweet chili sauce and mayo.
If that’s not enough for you, order the Jerry Burger, which includes another beef patty on this burger.
Jonny’s uses fresh beef from Meadowbrook Meats that is ground in-house and served on buns that is made fresh daily.
Lightfood & Wolfville Vineyards
One of the most stunning wineries in Nova Scotia, the restaurant is outside under a tent in the vineyard, which is handy for Nova Scotia’s unpredictable weather.
Naked Crepe Bistro
If you’re heading to Wolfville, there’s no doubt a local will mention the Naked Crepe.
This is a beloved restaurant, known for its affordable options for sweet and savoury crepes.
On weekends there is often evening music from local talent.
Nippers British Fish and Chips
So this technically isn’t a restaurant, instead it’s a food truck.
We don’t have many food trucks in Nova Scotia other than the iconic Bud the Spud in Halifax on Spring Garden Road.
But the ones we have are great and this is a local Valley favourite.
Nippers moves around so it’s best to check out its Facebook page where it announces the location each week.
The Noodle Guy
I like to think I had a hand in this Annapolis Valley restaurant. It started out as a noodle store where you could stop in and buy pasta.
My mother and I stopped in thinking we could eat there. When we realized we couldn’t the owner told us to go ahead and sit down, he’d make it for us.
It was ravioli with caramelized onion and quark cheese from local Fox Hill. We were hooked.
You can also find him at the Saturday Wolfville Farmer’s Market. He also eventually moved to a bigger space and opened up the restaurant in Port Williams.
The menu usually includes five pastas daily but the ravioli and soba pasta, which is gluten-free, are always in high demand.
Rolled Oat Cafe
Vegans and vegetarians I feel for you. Outside Halifax restaurants there aren’t a lot of dedicated vegan or vegetarian restaurants in Nova Scotia.
It’s not that we don’t love vegetables, or eat tons at home. We are an agricultural region after all. But we also love our seafood and local meat.
Most restaurants have vegetarian options, vegan may be more difficult but most places try to adapt.
Wolfville is one of the best spots for vegans and vegetarians as it serves the university population. Rolled Oat Cafe isn’t exclusively meat-free but they have far more options than anywhere else around.
They have toys for kids, music at night. Overall an inviting experience and very popular restaurant in Wolfville.
Union Street Cafe
A great spot for local food in Berwick, everything here is home cooked and locally sourced.
Its menu also has dishes suitable for vegetarians and vegans like the Far East Popcorn Cauliflower and the Ginger Peanut Noodles, which you can have with tofu, chicken or shrimp.
Traditional Nova Scotia Food
I’ve also been here several times for local music and comedy shows. It’s a bit of a local hub and usually has something interesting going on.
Vineside Patio at Gaspereau Vineyards
Over the years we’ve popped in here many times for a bite to eat next to the vines.
They have interesting pizzas, lobster sliders and a smoked chicken sandwich that changed my mind about ordering chicken in restaurants (I never do it).
Nova Scotia Hodge Podge
Late afternoon it’s a relaxing spot in the county to have a glass of wine and the slices of cheesecake are big enough for 2 or 3 people. There’s often music in the evening.
Lobster Dinner in Nova Scotia
It’s always tricky when people ask me where to eat lobster in Nova Scotia because locals eat it at home.
It’s much less expensive for us to buy it from the fishermen, cook it at home and serve it on a table that has been covered with last week’s flyers.
But there are two spots that have been around for so long that they are a good bet.
The Shore Club
It’s not in Annapolis Valley but by the private Hubbard’s Beach at the end of Highway 3. But I wanted to mention The Shore Club because it’s close to Halifax.
It has been serving lobster dinner for over 80 years. You order lobster by the size and dinner includes all-you-can-eat steamed mussels, salad bar and a dessert.
While there is a surf and turf option and a vegan option, people come for the lobster.
Halls Harbour Lobster Pound
The only time I’ve ever eaten a lobster dinner in a restaurant has been at the Halls Harbour Lobster Pound.
Yes it’s more expensive than making it at home, but Halls Harbour is a working harbour that’s worth a visit.
There’s nothing but seafood here. But there lots of innovations like lobster poutine and lobster quesadilla.
Restaurants in Saint John
Yet I can’t help but suggesting you stick to the original steamed lobster dinner. You choose what sides you want and what size lobster.
Dessert is an easy choice with ice cream at Parker’s General Store across the street.
Get a moon mist ice cream and then head down to the ocean floor, if the tide is out.
Cape Breton Restaurants
I loved the restaurants here so much I wrote a post dedicated to the restaurants on Route 19 and the Cabot Trail.
Here are my favourite Cape Breton restaurants.
Without a doubt Yarmouth and Acadian Shores is the most underrated region in Nova Scotia.
There are so many incredible places to eat I wrote an entire piece on it.
Check out: Best Yarmouth NS Restaurants
You should really try to get around more. There are excellent restaurants outside Halifax other than those wonderful ones you list in the Valley. Keep driving to Western NS and around to the South Shore. Happy travels and great eating.
The Annapolis Valley is the first installment of this post but my hope is to add more regions and I’d love your suggestions for favourite restaurants in Nova Scotia.
Yes, I simply couldn’t believe that The Port Pub and Bistro in Port Williams was not on this list.
Personal preference I guess. I only included restaurants I would recommend to friends visiting.
When you do your segment on Cape Breton, you should definitely check out my sister and cousin’s cafe “Salty Rose’s and the Periwinkle cafe” in Ingonish, everything is made from scratch and their crab breakfast sandwich on homemade English muffins are amazing. It is also an inn and a craft shop so it’s a great spot to stay. The other restaurant well worth checking out is The Bitehouse in big Baddeck. If you want to go next summer you have to make a reservation in January but it’s well worth the wait. They were recently featured in Bon Appetit magazine with s gorgeous write up about their food, atmosphere and Cape breton in general.
Thank you so much for the tips, both of these places sound fantastic.
On the South Shore there are many, many options to choose from. In Mahone Bay there are three I would recommend, Rebecca’s Restaurant, Oh My Cod, and Circa 1860. In Lunenburg you should try Lincoln Street Food, Salt Shaker Deli, Half Shell Oyster Bar, South Shore Fish Shack, and Beach Pea Kitchen & Bar. Nearby is the Bayport Pub and Ol’ Miner Diner at The Ovens Natural Park with nightly musical entertainment. Some of these spots are seasonal so make sure you check in advance before heading out.
Thank you for all of your great recommendations. These are fantastic!
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