Having traveled extensively for our docu-series, inevitably people ask for food recommendations — most of the time we never get around to writing them down. Not this time! We spent a month in Nova Scotia and below are our favorite spots. Whether you are doing a weekend trip from the East Coast (direct flights from Boston and NYC) or something more substantial, it’s good to know that yes, there is Lobster; yes, there are scallops and fish and chips; but one cannot dine on rich seafood alone, so…
The Point General (Blue Rocks)
Take an extra 15 minutes to drive past Lunenburg and check out the idyllic splendor that is Blue Rocks. The quaintest little fishing village is also accompanied by a shack that serves coffee and amazing croissants. Get those goodies, sit on their deck in the sun, and look at the rock formations, lobster traps and rapidly changing tide.
Halfshell Oyster Bar (Lunenburg)
Lunenburg has a lot of food options and I’m sure many of them are tasty. Inevitably, you’ll be pointed toward the Fish Shack, which has the Nova Scotia staples: lobster, fish and chips, Digby Scallops. Do eat there. But adjoining it (and of the same owners) is the Halfshell Oyster Bar. Just a place to sit at a bar and eat your way across the Maritime region through it’s diverse oysters. You can do all this while looking across the harbor and having a glass of NS Riesling.
No. 9 (Lunenburg)
My addiction is one where I have to find the best coffee in every town. No 9 has the best coffee, and it’s hipster cute without trying too hard.
The Bite House (Baddeck, Cape Breton)
This is like getting a Michelin star meal in someone’s home — in this case, Bryan Picard’s. He and his girlfriend live upstairs and Bryan is the only cook in the (standard home) kitchen. The bread is made by his dad. So yeah, Michelin isn’t in Canada, but if it were…
Two Buoys (Baddeck, Cape Breton)
This brighty and airy spot has a super short menu, a dinner plate sized oatmeal cookie and when sitting in the backyard, the simple food and vibe feels like you are at a friends’ house. There are a lot of places to choose from in the Touristy-but-chill Baddeck…glad we stumbled on this one.
The Periwinkle Cafe (Ingonish, Cape Breton)
Whenever I order crab, I expect a dainty portion. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a restaurant give as much as is on the breakfast sandwich at The Periwinkle Cafe. Besides the sandwich, there is perfect espresso, a baby playing in the corner and artwork you want to take home. It’s as if Brooklyn has returned to its origins: having borrowed the canning and style from the country and small fishing villages, spots like The Periwinkle Cafe have taken it back, putting rustic hip with local ingredients exactly where it belongs.
Ploughman’s Lunch (West Dublin)
Like stepping back in time to a sparsely stocked general store/ ice cream parlor, but instead of leaf lard and canned coffee, this quaintness features water buffalo gelato (from their own water buffalo!), fresh mozzarella, homemade sourdough and flakey croissants. The young couple who run the place (and make the goods) also sell a small amount of local produce, and random favorites like fish sauce and arborio rice. Unexpected and completely charming.
There are a lot of places to eat Lobster in Nova Scotia, including just buying them from the dock or grocery store. But Lobster Halls make it better in that they boil their Lobsters in Sea Water –and 50 lobsters cooked in the same water makes for a killer poaching liquid. We visited several but our favorites were these two. First is Halls Harbour — because you can see the Bay of Fundy’s incredible tide change during a course of a meal. And second, the Shore Club. The restaurant has been around since the 1930s and still feels like it.
The Rolled Oat Cafe (Wolfville)
Looking at the menu I was skeptical: rice bowls and BLTs? But this place is delicious, with fresh ingredients, well seasoned and cooked. Plus a small kids play area! Ideal, unpretentious lunch stop.
Lightfoot & Wolfville Winery/Pizzeria (Wolfville)
Besides epic and very fancy new digs including a full restaurant, an outdoor wood oven (with amazing pizza) and tasting room — this place also happens to be the only biodynamic winery in NS, featuring wild yeasted and low sulfite wines that are apparently very delicious. Also, the owners have a cool story about losing the family land and working to buy it back.
The downstairs of this split level space serves perfect espresso drinks, upstairs makes killer NY style pizza. If they had a wine bar, you could just never leave this place.
When you’ve had enough Lobster and maritime cuisine, head over to this Spanish spot with a gin and tonic bar and perfect Spanish tapas.
Honorable mention: Everyone told us to go here, but we didn’t make it in. Maybe you can tell us how it is?
The Old Apothecary Bakery (Halifax)
Tall and Small (Antogonish)
This place is cute, the best Kombucha I’ve had in a long time, and good sandwiches. Great road trip stopping point.
There is a unique Donair Kebab in Nova Scotia where the sauce is quite sweet. I can’t say I’d eat it more than once, but you should probably try it, as an interesting mashup of cultures.
Farmers Markets (Everywhere!)
Our most common meals, of course, were eaten at the home we rented, and Nova Scotia’s abundant farmer’s markets and roadside vendors of fresh vegetables and fish made it so easy and enjoyable to quickly stop on the way back from a shoot.