As a Maritimer I wanted to share my top picks for seafood at PEI restaurants, including the best restaurants in Charlottetown and where to find the best lobster in PEI. Don’t forget the oysters for the legendary PEI beef.
Fun fact: Did you know that Nova Scotia and PEI once shared an area code because we were both so small?
While we’ve gotten bigger we still share 902 but also have our own. But the two Canadian provinces are still quite connected.
In fact, many Nova Scotians make at least one trip to PEI over the summer.
We love the red sand beaches, golf courses and culture that is different enough from our own that it feels like a holiday.
I have so many great memories growing up, then later judging the chowder competition for the PEI International Shellfish Festival.
I loved returning this summer so much that I’ve already convinced my sister that we need to take her kids to PEI for the first time next summer.
As a Maritimer I grew up with very simple Nova Scotian food, but seafood was always a constant.
My grandmother made Nova Scotia chowder most Fridays. I remember when we needed to watch out for bones when eating fish, and lobster was and still is my favourite food.
But just like not all food in Italy is amazing, not all seafood in the Maritimes is delicious.
So this post is for my friends, who want the Atlantic Canada experience.
Because I’m afraid they’ll get stuck going to a tourist joint that sells the captain’s frozen fish sticks – although that was also one of my favourite suppers growing up so I guess it’s sort of authentic.
There are some good spots to eat seafood in Charlottetown. But the best spots are outside the city and around the island.
Don’t be intimidated by driving, Prince Edward Island is small but beautiful.
Driving out to these spots gives you a great understanding of just how diverse the island is.
Best PEI Restaurants
Food is subjective and so I can only share what I think are the best restaurants in PEI
If I ate at a restaurant and would not go back, or could not recommend it to a friend, I did not include it on this list.
There are a couple spots that often make all the lists but cooks have changed and are now just living off their reputation.
I found some of the Charlottetown restaurants really had mediocre lobster rolls and there is one famous joint that I visited and left off the list.
I’m pretty sure they used previously frozen lobster.
But why bother spending the time to tell you where not to go, instead let’s focus on celebrating all the delicious PEI restaurants to visit.
Best Lobster Rolls on PEI
The Lobster Barn Pub and Eatery
Located in picturesque Victoria by the Sea, you can’t miss this restaurant on the wharf.
Although it may appear to scream tourist trap, this is where many locals go and so the prices are quite reasonable as it’s open year round and so it must survive with local support.
It was started by two sisters in 2009 and on the menu it says:
Eat whatever you want. And if someone tries to lecture you, eat them too!
The lobster roll ($17) is a very generous portion of fresh lobster on a buttered bun, served with a choice of fries, potato salad, onion rings, house salad or caesar salad.
Interestingly they also put a bit of sugar in their mayo so it’s a bit sweet. I’ve never had it like that but I really enjoyed it.
The menu is vast with veggie options and notably appetizer mussels and a beer ($10), chilled lobster dinner ($26), scallops ($19), bar clam burger ($16) and Wharf Platter with scallops, haddock and lobster ($26).
But get there early, I stopped in at 11:15am and was able to sit at a table overlooking the water but in a span of ten minutes the joint was packed.
The Lobster Barn
19 Main St, Victoria, PE C0A 2G0
Lin’s Take Out
Okay technically not a lobster roll per se, but Lin’s is known for the lobster burger.
So it’s a round bun vs a roll, and it comes with tomato – which some people think is very controversial but I enjoyed it.
Located just outside Greenwich National Park it’s a small spot with picnic tables serving ice cream, burgers and various fried seafood.
Lin’s Take Out
959 Greenwich Rd
Saint Peters Bay, PE C0A 2A0
The Lobster Shack on Souris Beach
Owned by legendary fisherman Johnny Flynn, this is THE place for a lobster roll as well as his Coleville Oysters and fresh or cooked lobster.
Not surprisingly they won the 2017 PEI Lobster Roll Challenge.
Chef Jason Mullin, the Sous Chef at Inn at Bay Fortune, told me The Lobster Shack had one of the best no frills lobster rolls in PEI.
And he was right!
I’m a purist, I want to taste lobster on my rolls, don’t mess up the flavour by throwing a bunch of things on top of it!
This was a light base of mayo with a buttered hot dog bun, served with potato chips and a few pickles for $12.95.
Simple is usually the best, and this is one of the cheaper rolls on the island, but don’t let that fool you.
With a view you can’t beat, they overlook the beach. If you can only drive to one location in PEI to eat this would be the one.
Open seasonally June 15 – September 15.
The Lobster Shack
8 Main Street, Souris
Best Fish and Chips on PEI
Richard’s Fresh Seafood
PEI restaurants always have fish and chips on the menu but Richard’s is known as the best.
Although the claim to dame is the best fish and chips, everything here is so beloved by locals it’s simply called Richards for almost 40 years.
It’s also a fish mart if you’d like to buy seafood to go and prices are very reasonably based on market prices.
It opens in June and sadly they closed for the season on September 8th, five days before I arrived.
It’s best to keep an eye on their Facebook page for updates.
Where to Eat Oysters in PEI
Prince Edward Island has some of the best oysters in the world.
At the International Shellfish Festival I tried 21 different kinds and it’s impossible to say which one is the best as they are all so different.
James Strong from Raspberry Point suggests looking for oysters with a deep shell instead of a shallow one.
And while many PEI restaurants offer a happy hour buck a shuck he isn’t a fan.
While it helps local bars and restaurants get people in early, it encourages the production of cheap oysters that will grow quickly instead of quality.
You get what you pay for with oysters.
My best advice is to try many and choose what you like.
Blue Mussel Cafe
This PEI cafe is a worth a drive just to see North Rustico, which is so pretty – but also very cold off season so bring a sweater.
I did not order the chowder here after judging 21 different kinds at the International Shellfish Festival.
Instead, I opted for the seafood bubbly bake ($21), which was like a thickened chowder with cheese.
So much for going light!
Blue Mussel Cafe did enter the competition and after discovering their entry and while they didn’t win they were a strong contender.
This is one of the most popular PEI restaurants for tourists, but don’t let the come from aways deter you from eating here.
Open from May to October with the first seating at 11:30 and final at 9pm, with a quick closure from 4-5pm.
Go early at 4:30pm and put your name on the dinner list (no reservations) as they’ll give you a buzzer to let you know when your table will be ready.
There’s plenty of instagram friendly spots to walk around while waiting for dinner.
Blue Mussel Cafe
312 Harbourview Dr, North Rustico Harbour
I absolutely loved staying in in Georgetown and the Points East Coastal Drive was a highlight.
I stayed at this incredible cottage from Airbnb just across the Wheelhouse and it was fantastic.
In previous years I’ve spent much of my time in Charlottetown but now I’d recommend just staying at day or two max.
I highly recommend grabbing a drink and oysters to catch the sunset here. The golden hues hitting the water are everything you want in a holiday.
Gallants Seafood Market
Gallant’s is a seafood supplier on the island. You can find them at the Charlottetown Farmer’s market or at the seafood market in New London.
It’s a small shop where you can pick up seafood to go or order from a very small menu and eat at one of two tables out front.
EASY RECIPE: Snow Crab Cakes
I used this photo of the Belle River rock crab cakes to emphasize that you should go for PEI oysters AND get the best crab cakes I’ve ever had.
I tried to get the recipe from them…but sadly it’s a secret.
And if you haven’t had lobster they will cook and crack it for you for only $2 extra per pound, which is really a steal.
They’ll even give you melted butter although personally I skip the butter as it interferes with the delicious taste of lobster.
Gallant’s Seafood Market
10056 Rout 6, Stanley Bridge
(902) 886 2716
Carr’s Oyster House
Just around the corner from Gallants in New London, Carr’s has a great view of New London Bay.
Stick with the raw oysters on the half shell range from $2.50 – $6 per oyster.
The $6 oyster is known as the George Carr special and they’ll warn you before ordering as it’s quite large.
Carr’s Oyster Barr
32 Campbellton Road, Stanley Bridge
Old Dublin Pub
If you want to try buck a shuck oysters, the Old Dublin Pub in Charlottetown is one of the most popular places to go.
It’s upstairs from the Claddaugh Oyster house, and serve buck a shuck from 4-6pm daily.
They offer small choice oysters for $1 each with the purchase of an alcoholic beverage.
Old Dublin Pub
131 Sydney St, Charlottetown
Best Fine Dining Restaurant in PEI
Inn at Bay Fortune has always been considered one of the best PEI restaurants.
The Fireworks experience (pre-2020) began with a reception wandering the grounds, eating Coleville Bay Oysters and other island delicacies and move to a family style dinner of local food cooked over a fire.
And in 2020 as space and outdoor dining was necessary there was a large picnic on the grounds that was a once in a lifetime experience.
So who knows what 2021 will bring?
Chef Michael Smith knows how to entertain guests so I have no doubt it will be anything less than incredible.
Inn at Bay Fortune
758 Route 310, Souris
Best Charlottetown Restaurants
This PEI coffee shop has several locations around Charlottetown. Yes the small town of Charlottetown has four locations.
I didn’t expect much for breakfast from the Brass Shop location but they have a nice outdoor dining space.
And the breakfast sandwich was fantastic with a homemade bun, mustard pickles and bacon.
The French toast was also a great option for those that prefer a sweet breakfast in Charlottetown.
Although I don’t consider myself someone who likes breakfast I would absolutely go back again.
Stir it Up Vegan Kitchen
Located in Founders Hall food hall and market, this may be one of the best restaurants in Charlottetown. Certainly it was the most surprising.
Chef Ilona Daniel always has fantastic recommendations for restaurants in Prince Edward Island. So when she told me to try the Mooless Mac at Stir it Up I knew I had to go.
This vegan restaurant is ironically located next to a burger join in the food hall and seemed to be busier when I was there.
Perhaps everyone had heard that their vegan take on a Big Mac was incredible and the best knock off of the iconic burger.
Founders Hall is a great spot to grab a bite, it is also licensed so you can eat inside or take a local craft beer to the outside patio.
One of the more established Charlottetown restaurants, there’s a new location in Peake’s Wharf, which is a great spot to wander.
I was curious about this roll as there is an option to buy a cold roll (most common), hot roll (with butter, lemon, garlic) or a half and half.
It’s on the small side, although lobster rolls ($21) are made with 4 oz. of PEI lobster, which they proclaim “more than you’d get from a full 1 lb. lobster dinner!”
I don’t know any Maritimer who would eat a 1lb lobster, it’s so small.
If you only have time to eat in Charlottetown this is a great option, tastier than others that get more press in the city.
It comes on a split roll along with local kettle chips. I’d stick with the traditional cold roll.
Peake’s Wharf, 5 Great George St, Charlottetown, PE C1A 4J6
Sugar Skull Cantina
One of the more modern restaurants in Charlottetown, after all not everything has to have a nautical theme.
This is not a lobster roll, but appropriately a lobster taco from a Mexican cantina inspired restaurant. Sugar Skull Cantina is the sister restaurant to Hopyards and both bring a younger, hip feel to Charlottetown which I like.
I wasn’t sure what I would think about this innovation. I’m an old school lobster purist – I like it cold without butter. On a boat from Panama to Colombia I had lobster in a tomato sauce and hated it.
But at Sugar Skull it works, they serve lobster with charred corn salsa, red pepper mayo, iceburg lettuce and hickory sticks.
The portion is so generous I think it works better as a salad as most will fall out of the taco. It’s definitely worth popping in for one.
Sugar Skull Cantina
83 Water Street, Charlottetown
Best Lobster in PEI That I Missed
Seasonal food truck Terry’s Berries has become very popular for its warm Salt Daddy Lobster Melt ($16.31).
It’s served on a hearty baguette with garlic and chives so it’s not traditional and definitely a “melt”.
I made the mistake of coming to the truck the Sunday after the Shellfish Festival. I think Terry may have had too much fun so he wasn’t open but he did stay open until September 20th.
Make sure you check the Facebook page for hours.
20 Great George St, Charlottetown
Lobster Supper in PEI: Where Do Locals Eat?
If you’re wondering where to find the best lobster in PEI it’s always at someone’s home.
Maritimers absolutely eat seafood chowder at restaurants and lobster rolls for a treat, but we don’t eat lobster in restaurants.
It’s too expensive. Sure, we *might* take our upper Canadian friends out somewhere that we visit once a year with tourists.
But it’s much more likely that we’ll cook it at home and serve it to them in our backyard.
That said, there’s nothing wrong with eating a lobster dinner with fellow travelers.
If you’re on the island for the International Shellfish Festival there’s likely to be a lobster supper in PEI and locals are there.
You could also look for a community fundraiser lobster supper for locals.
Or if you’d like lobster without the fuss buy it cooked from Gallants, Richards or the Lobster Shack mentioned above.
Best Time to Visit Prince Edward Island
While the summer has the warmest weather it also has the most crowds. I think the best time to visit Prince Edward Island is the beginning of September.
The weather is still warm and the crowds are gone so you can get really affordable accommodation.
Restaurants in Saint John
Plus there’s Shellfish Fest! The only downside is that the later you go in September, the more you risk some of the best seafood spots being closed.
If you’re worried about swimming in the ocean let me assure you it is ALWAYS freezing. So whether you go in July or September you’ll find it cold.
Best Places to Stay in PEI
The Great George is a boutique hotel in Prince Edward Island but it’s not one location.
You check in at the main house and there’s complimentary breakfast along with coffee and tea throughout the day.
However, it’s a series of historic buildings close to each other. So you can stay in a hotel room, suite, cottage or efficiency units.
They were generous enough to host me but took it a step further.
When I mentioned my mother was coming with me to check out PEI restaurants they booked us in a two bedroom condo.
I love non-traditional accommodation. It was fantastic as there was so much room AND a back patio with a barbecue.
If you’re traveling with a group for a few days this is a great way to do it.
There’s a full kitchen and two bathrooms with lots of space. I would highly recommend for a family or friends visiting.
The Great George
58 Great George St, Charlottetown, PE C1A 4K3
Other Accommodation on PEI
Inspired by traditional fishing shanties at working harbours, these 12×12 rustic cabins are a bargain at $89/night.
If you’re with a group and need a whole house or cottage:
- Little Barn Cottage fits 4 people is cottage chic and a 15 minute walk from a beach
- Noella’s by the Sea fits 6 people and has a fantastic terrace
- Beach Therapy is a luxe 2 bedroom suite with its own boardwalk to the ocean.
Tell me what PEI restaurants did I miss? Do you have any other favourite restaurants in Charlottetown that should be on this list?
Want to Know More About Prince Edward Island?
Making Gouda Cheese