INTRODUCTION

Intro by Alexander Henden, write-ups by Laura Oakley

For our second 25 Best list, we shine a light on destinations with an average entrée price of $20 or less — a straightforward group, sharing a casual nature and lower price point. From Japanese take-out to pizzerias and beer bars, this list covers the places where most can dine regularly. Did we already mention we have it good? Anyways, let’s get to the list…

First up is pizza. Let’s face it, smalltown Halifax has pizza game! This year’s winners list includes Salvatore’s, Morris East (on Vernon Street), and Yeah Yeah’s Pizza. And while they’re not traditional pizza joints, Lightfoot & Wolfville, Salt Shaker Deli, and Unchained Kitchen also rock winning pies.

Take-out has a pretty strong showing this year. Little C, CHKN CHOP, Kitsune Food Co., and Taco Lina’s are on this year’s list. While these are primarily considered take-out joints, each has eat-in seating. And the new Morris East location has a special take-out area, where you can enjoy soft-serve gelato or a craft beer while you wait.

Craft beer destinations invaded this year’s list in a big way too, with Battery Park Beer Bar & Eatery, Stillwell, and Stillwell Beergarden each making the cut. All great places to experience craft beer, but you sell yourself short not considering them as dining destinations too. If you haven’t yet, you ought to check them out.

Brunch is still a pretty big deal in Halifax. Obviously, EDNA and The Ostrich Club appear on our previous list ($$$-$$$$), but let’s not forget two other brunch icons – The Coastal and Robie St. Station (who offer lunch too). Where would brunch be without them?

We have welcomed a few unique establishments to this year’s list too. Café Good Luck by the folks from Dairy Bar (ice cream spot at Stillwell Beergarden) offers a fabulous breakfast and lunch service. El Chino Snack Bar is a tiny hideaway featuring Chinese and Mexican food (but not fusion), while Wild Leek’s vegan cuisine made it to this year’s 25 Best.

Lunenburg has three winners this year, and it’s really no surprise to find Half Shell, South Shore Fish Shack, and Salt Shaker Deli each made the cut. Hats off to Sylvie, Martin, and their teams for another year of fabulously fresh seafood. 

Looking for places to eat in the valley? There are four in this year’s top five! The Noodle Guy, Avondale Sky Winery and Restaurant (formerly D’Vine Morsels), Lightfoot & Wolfville, and Flying Apron Cookery are all worth the drive. Why not make it a day or weekend trip?

If you have a sweet tooth, you have another reason to head to Flying Apron, as their cake program is off the rack cray. In Halifax, Dee Dee’s Ice Cream (they do soups and burritos too) or Sweet Hereafter Cheesecakery satisfy locals’ sugar cravings. Both are magnificent (and as you can see, that’s not just my opinion).

Wow. That’s a lot, right? So many great, affordable places to eat, and – if trends continue – there will be more to follow.

A big shout out to all the winners. Your vision, risk-taking, and hard work have shaped this province, making it a special place for many – we are better because of you! We extend our sincere gratitude on behalf of everyone who loves to eat. Thank you for all you do.

Now, onto the list!

INDEX

$ ENTRÉES UNDER $10
$$ ENTRÉES $10 – $20 
$$$ ENTRÉES $20 – $30
$$$$  ENTRÉES $30 AND UP

B  BREAKFAST  ·  BR  BRUNCH  ·  L  LUNCH  ·  D  DINNER

1. The Noodle Guy

964 MAIN STREET, PORT WILLIAMS 
$$ L/D ∙ LOCAL EATERY

Photo by Phototype

Specializing in fresh, handmade artisanal pasta and noodles, The Noodle Guy isn’t exactly what you’d expect to see in sleepy Port Williams, the small neighbour community to Wolfville. Owner Ross Patterson (the noodle guy) has earned a following both in the Annapolis Valley and across the province as a sought-out destination for pasta and good times. A chalkboard menu outlines a handful of pasta and Asian noodle dishes in the $12 range, plus a daily soup, wrap, and a few small plates. An unpretentious stop for a quick, affordable bite, The Noodle Guy always delivers fresh, delicious food. Whether it be the namesake noodles, Thursday burger night, or regular jam sessions, The Noodle Guy has created a cozy, welcoming experience full of rural Nova Scotia charm and surprisingly tasty food. Beer, wine, and cider are also available — although you wouldn’t know it by looking at the humble website. You can even get a taste of The Noodle Guy at the Wolfville Farmers’ Market every Saturday, where you’ll find Patterson sautéeing fresh noodles for hungry market-goers.


“Always worth the trip! Casual atmosphere and fantabulous pasta!! Their ravioli is a must, again and again”

JULES CHAMBERLAIN, RED DOOR REALTY


2. Avondale Sky Winery & Restaurant

80 AVONDALE CROSS ROAD, NEWPORT 
$$  L ∙ WINERY RESTAURANT

Photo by Jessica Emin

Literally pushing the boundaries of Nova Scotia’s destination vineyards and wineries, Avondale is a secluded, rural location on the Avon Peninsula — across the Minas Basin from the town of Windsor. Avondale Sky Winery and Restaurant expand the province’s wine region as a whole, and the remarkable story behind the historic church that houses both is almost worth the drive itself. (We’ll let them tell you about it.) While the actual vineyard is one of the oldest in Nova Scotia, the winery opened in 2011. The dream of having a full-service restaurant wasn’t realized until 2015 when D’vine Morsels opened with a chef-driven menu and picturesque vineyard patio (along with indoor seating). This seasonal operation uses hyper-local products from the region to offer inspired lunch selections that pair with Avondale Sky’s lovely portfolio of wines. Select, food-themed special events pop up at the winery (and its new private event venue, Mosher House) throughout the off-season, so keep an eye on social media.


“Justin Floyd takes a creative approach cooking with the valley’s best products. Fine food to pair with exquisite wines.”

SHANE BEEHAN, BARTENDER/WRITER/EATER


3. Kitsune Food Co.

5710 YOUNG STREET, HALIFAX 
$  L/D ∙ JAPANESE TAKE-OUT

Photo by Riley Smith

Boom. Kitsune Food Co. is back on the 25 Best Places to Eat list. With only four seats, this Japanese snack bar concept is unlike anything else the city offers – likely part of why it continues to be so popular. That, and the kara-age (Japanese fried chicken), gyoza, sushi, and other delicious, carefully prepared Japanese dishes. Chef and co-owner Ami Goto wanted to open an izakaya-style takeout joint, and after working on a few Japanese pop-up nights with the owners of Mother’s Pizza, she developed a relationship that evolved into an offer to use the small, garage-like space attached to the back of the restaurant. Goto, and partner, Eric McIntyre, jumped at the opportunity to offer a smaller, more thoughtful menu focused on Japanese takeout and catering – opening in 2016. And they have been successfully operating a “snack bar” since, drawing in customers to either grab takeout or sit and eat. Headed to a party? Pre-order a sushi tray from Goto, you will not be disappointed.


“I love the menu so much — the selective offering of sushi tells you right away that Kitsune is focused on what they do best.”

LAURA OAKLEY, FOOD WRITER


4. Lightfoot & Wolfville

11143 EVANGELINE TRAIL, WOLFVILLE 
$$  L ∙ WINERY RESTAURANT

Photo by Jessica Emin

Everything about Lightfoot and Wolfville Vineyards is beautifully and carefully thought out — the brand itself, the beauty of their wine labels, and the stunning tasting room at their vineyard just outside Wolfville. It’s no surprise that when they ventured into the food side of things, we’d see the same attention to detail. The seasonal outdoor patio launched with much anticipation at the start of the 2018 season, after toying around with a wood-fired pizza oven at the end of the previous year. Now, with a chef in the kitchen, the offering has grown from pizza to small and big plates, desserts,  craft beer and cocktails. During the off-season, with the pizza oven out of reach, small plates and dessert are offered with seating in The Gallery, an indoor section of the winery with a fireplace view. Sophisticated dishes like duck rappie croquettes, turnip-mascarpone agnolotti, and Digby scallops with charred broccolini are the perfect complement to their award-winning wines.


“A Sunday drive to the valley means a glass of Flora, a delicious rustic pork rillette and a refreshing arugula salad.”

MISSY SEARL, THE DREAM TEAM


5. Flying Apron Cookery

3 SUMMERVILLE WHARF ROAD, SUMMERVILLE
$$  B/BR/L/D

Photo by Phototype

The Flying Apron Inn & Cookery is a chef-driven, family business owned by Chris and Melissa Velden. A combination restaurant, inn, and cooking school, The Flying Apron is a foodie haven located in Summerville — a rural destination across the Minas Basin from Wolfville. Immersed in the beauty of this intensely picturesque area of Nova Scotia, on the Bay of Fundy, and in the company of many vineyards and farms, The Veldens have been repeatedly recognized for their deep commitment to sourcing ingredients locally and prioritizing organic farming and sustainability. The menu changes weekly, with most ingredients found within a 15-minute radius of the restaurant. It’s easy to keep on top of their revolving menu by following one of their social accounts. Just an hour outside Halifax, The Flying Apron has fantastic options to eat, stay, and learn. Or, head to Dinner on the Ocean Floor, a remarkable experience at Burntcoat Head Park — one of the Seven Natural Wonders of North America.


“Delightful cuisine with a strong focus on local. It’s unlikely that you’ll have room for dessert, but you should make a point of ordering one anyway. Seriously.”

ALEXANDER HENDEN, CURATED FOOD & DRINK MAGAZINE



6. Salvatore’s Pizzaiolo

5541 YOUNG STREET, HALIFAX 
$-$$  L/D ∙ PIZZERIA

Photo by Alexander Henden

Salvatore’s is a prize in the city’s North End, keeping countless loyal customers happy on the regular with their unbeatable thin-crust pizzas and hearty hero sandwiches. Housed in the historic Hydrostone neighbourhood, Sal’s is the kinda joint where everyone has a “go-to” order that makes it crazy hard to stray. Not so often is there somewhere that lives up to localized hype — probably because they know what they do best, and keep delivering on that promise.


“The pizzas and Coney Island Hero are the stuff of legend. Visit this beloved Hydrostone pinnacle hungry.”

KELLY NEIL, FOOD PHOTOGRAPHER


7. Café Good Luck

145 PORTLAND STREET, DARTMOUTH 
$-$$  BR/L/D ∙ CAFÉ/DINER

Photo by Phototype

Brought to you by Manual Food and Drink Co. (famous for opening the urban Dairy Bar at Stillwell Beergarden) Café Good Luck is a welcome addition to the buzzing food scene in downtown Dartmouth. Described as a modern and upscale diner concept, this cozy breakfast and lunch joint has been ‘grammed on the daily by local foodies and chefs since opening in August 2018. Café Good Luck has a genuine, broad appeal sure to thrive in their chosen neighbourhood.


“Cozy Café Good Luck stands tall in Dartmouth, with a short-order menu of delicious fresh-made Croques, breakfasts and baked goods.”

HELEN EARLEY, FOOD WRITER


8. South Shore Fish Shack

108 MONTAGUE STREET, LUNENBURG 
$-$$  L/D ∙ FISH N CHIPS

Photo by Michelle Doucette

It’s summer, and you’re in Lunenburg. The backdrop: a vibrant waterfront with the Bluenose II in port. Tourists stroll through streets lined with colourful historic houses. You’re eating the most amazing fresh fish and chips (or maybe the lobster roll) on a patio while enjoying the cool ocean breeze. You’ve even got a local craft beer in hand. Now stop dreaming and make this happen — because that’s South Shore Fish Shack. Grab a seat inside during the colder months, just make sure you go.


“If you’re looking for a proper fish and chips with a waterfront view, the South Shore Fish Shack in Lunenburg is definitely a must!”

KAYLA SHORT, SHORT PRESENTS


9. The Half Shell

108 MONTAGUE STREET, LUNENBURG
$-$$  L/D ∙ OYSTER BAR & EATERY

Photo by Doug TownsendUnlike anything else in downtown Lunenburg, The Half Shell is a seasonal, semi-open-air, raw bar and restaurant with ocean views and fantastic cocktails. Think hefty seafood towers, ceviche, giant crabs legs, and an excellent selection of local oysters. The Half Shell is the kind of restaurant that allows Nova Scotia seafood to deservedly shine, especially in the tourist-laden core of picturesque downtown Lunenburg.


“I love The Half Shell’s outdoor bar; fresh seafood and perfectly paired drinks with a stunning view of the ocean!”

MICHELLE DOUCETTE, EAST COAST FOOD STORIES


10. CHKN CHOP

6041 NORTH STREET, HALIFAX 
$-$$  L/D ∙ CHICKEN ROTISSERIE

Juicy rotisserie chicken, non-fussy and flavourful side dishes, incredible house-cut fries, plus a piña colada-filled slushy machine? CHKN CHOP is having way too much fun for a tiny, counter-service style chicken joint tucked away in a strip mall. The concept nails it: a neighbourhood spot great for takeout or quick service on-site, plus a small selection of wine, beer, and cocktails. The features sandwiches (i.e. the “McCHKN”) are why Instagram exists.  


“CHKN CHOP actually blew my mind! Not only is the chicken spectacular, but the side dishes are just as praiseworthy.”

LINDSAY NELSON, EAT THIS TOWN



11. El Chino Snack Bar

2398 ROBIE STREET, HALIFAX
$-$$  D ∙ CHINESE & MEXICAN SNACK BAR

Photo by Riley Smith

Catch your favourite street foods hanging out together on the menu at El Chino Snack Bar, where locals indulge in late night Mexican and Chinese fare like tacos, dumplings, nachos, or pork belly bao. Don’t blink or you’ll miss this micro-sized restaurant in the city’s West End (and opposite the Halifax Common). Open nights only — get in early for a seat near the front, where you can eyeball the bar’s extensive tequila collection, and watch the bartender shake up their amazing margaritas.


“Excellent selection of tequila, and every item on the menu is fantastic but those dumplings are my comfort food beacon.”

ARTHUR GAUDREAU, HALIFAX RETALES


12. Morris East

1984 VERNON STREET, HALIFAX 
$$  BR/L/D ∙ PIZZERIA & TAKE-OUT BAR

Photo by Phototype

The third instalment of Morris East hit the West End in 2018, with owner Jennie Dobbs recognizing her neighbourhood needed a little something more. Still focused on Wood Stone oven thin-crust pizzas with locally-inspired toppings, the Quinpool Road location also offers tasty appetizers, salads, and pasta. Dobbs tapped into the neighbourhood vibe by adding touches like live music, prosecco happy hour, and an adjacent slice shop for pizza on-the-go.


“Flawless wood-fired pizzas, perfectly crafted pastas and compelling cocktails in one of Halifax’s best designed eating spaces.”

JOHN FURNESS, SIMPLE SQUARE


13. Battery Park Beer Bar & Eatery

62 OCHTERLONEY STREET, DARTMOUTH
$-$$  L/D ∙ BEER BAR & EATERY

Battery Park continues to tap into what downtown Dartmouth so desperately needed — a casual place with killer craft beer and loads of comfort food. Riding the reputation that Ace Burger built up at previous locations, both food and drink draw people in. Aside from tasty burgers, Battery Park serves from-scratch dishes like curry, cod and chips, meatballs, wings, and nachos — an upscale take on classic pub fare and the perfect beer-drinking food.


“Elevated pub food like their confit chicken wings, make this my go to place for comfort food, all year round.”

MISSY SEARL, THE DREAM TEAM


14. Taco Lina’s

2605 AGRICOLA STREET, HALIFAX 
$-$$  L/D ∙ TACO BAR

Photo by Phototype

If there’s a better fit for the quick-service food counter that lives inside halifamous dive bar, Gus’ Pub, I can’t think of one. The North End rejoiced when the Rinaldo brothers announced they’d be opening Taco Lina’s. Now serving Mexican street food style tacos (think al pastor and beef tongue) with guilty pleasures like jalapeño poppers, nachos deluxe, and carne asada-topped fries on the side — Taco Lina’s is making dreams come true.


“The Rinaldos are taking over the Halifax food scene in all the best ways, and they’ve struck gold yet again with these deliciously flavourful tacos!”

JOSH RANKIN, LIFE OF BURGERS


15. Little C Take-out

20 PORTLAND STREET, DARTMOUTH
$$  L/D ∙ TAKE-OUT SANDWICH SHOP

Photo by Doug Townsend

As a take-out joint with only a handful of tables, Little C has got to be delivering big time on flavour and quality to make a 25 Best list. Attached to big sister restaurant The Canteen on Portland Street in Dartmouth, everyone within walking radius to Little C swears by its daily selection of “chef-driven” fresh sandwiches, soups, and salads for convenient and flavourful lunches. During the warmer months, Little C offers a charming patio, plus — it’s licensed.


“A little spot with a big heart. Grab a delicious crobster roll, a Lake City Cider and catch the views of Dartmouth from the patio.”

SHANE BEEHAN, BARTENDER/WRITER/EATER



16. The Coastal Café

2731 ROBIE STREET, HALIFAX
$$  BR ∙ BRUNCH DINER

Photo by Phototype

The Coastal continues as Halifax’s long-standing brunch gem. Chef-owner Mark Giffin is definitely not fixing what isn’t broken and is reaping the benefit from an early move into a now trendy area. Devoted customers can still be found lining up outside the tiny restaurant located on the north side of Robie Street. The Coastal delivers super tasty and creative brunch-slash-lunch fare. And, just to clear things up,  yes — it’s licensed.


“Hands down this gem in the North End is the best place for brunch… full stop!”

CHARLES HSUEN, BROADCASTER, SEASIDE FM 105.9 AND CKDU 88.1 FM


17. Dee Dee’s Ice Cream

5668 CORNWALLIS STREET, HALIFAX 
$  L/D ∙ ICE CREAM SHOP

Photo by Alexander Henden

Dee Dee’s Ice Cream has long enjoyed a cult following in Halifax, known for small-batch ice cream in unusual flavours like banana cardamom, Mexican chocolate, raspberry passionfruit sorbet, and curry cashew. Quietly housed on an unassuming corner in the North End, Dee Dee’s is a real neighbourhood spot — stop by for a quick, affordable lunch (try Dee Dee’s famous burritos), baked goods, coffee, a scoop or three of hand-made ice cream – always with vegan options.


“I always enjoy the collection of hand-made, small-batch ice cream that makes sure to include classic, interesting, and vegan flavours.”

LAURA OAKLEY, FOOD WRITER


18. Robie St. Station

2394 ROBIE STREET, HALIFAX 
$-$$  B/BR/L ∙ MODERN DINER

Worth the wait when nothing but eggs will do, Robie Street Station is busy little neighbourhood haunt that offers breakfast, brunch, and lunch dishes from open to close. The menu features a variety of from-scratch comfort foods that appeal any time of day, along with delicious house-baked treats.


19. Sweet Hereafter Cheesecakery

6148 QUINPOOL ROAD, HALIFAX 
$ L/D ∙ CHEESECAKERY

Photo by Alexander Henden

Sweet Hereafter is a family-owned cheesecake café on Quinpool Road. Drop in for a hefty slice of hand-made cheesecake with tea or coffee, or pre-order an entire cake to take home. The friendly faces and rich, indulgent slices are both excellent reasons to stop by.


20. Salt Shaker Deli

124 MONTAGUE STREET, LUNENBURG 
$  BR/L/D ∙ CASUAL RESTAURANT

Known for stellar thin crust pizzas, Salt Shaker Deli is a bustling restaurant operating year-round in downtown Lunenburg. If pizza isn’t your thing, don’t fret, it’s hard not to find something to love — whether the fishcake burger, mortadella sandwich, or pork tacos — they’re having fun with it.


21. Stillwell

1672 BARRINGTON STREET, HALIFAX
$-$$  L/D ∙ BEER BAR & EATERY

Photo by Josh Fee

Stillwell Beer Bar is still the place for beer geekery and fun bar food in downtown Halifax. From trendy to obscure, Stillwell does not compromise on sourcing a fantastic, exciting, and ever-changing selection of craft beers 6148 Quinpool Rd, both on tap and in bottles or cans. Check out their Instagram for the daily tap list.


22. Unchained Kitchen

2606 AGRICOLA STREET, HALIFAX 
$-$$  BR/L/D ∙ EATERY & CIDER BAR

Photo by Phototype

Unchained Kitchen is a surprisingly tiny set-up delivering big-time taste. Fried chicken with apple slaw or the big cheesy brisket burger are great examples of their rich, southern United States inspired dishes that scream to be washed down with the tasty cider made on-site (featuring guest taps, too).


23. Wild Leek

2156 WINDSOR STREET, HALIFAX 
$$  BR/L/D ∙ VEGAN RESTAURANT

A hole-in-the-wall vegan restaurant and bakery, Wild Leek is a beloved West End joint offering breakfast dishes, baked goods, and lunch options along with fresh pressed juices and smoothies. With items like a vegan donair wrap, BBQ jackfruit tacos, and portobello Reuben — you definitely won’t miss the meat.


24. Stillwell Beergarden

5688 SPRING GARDEN ROAD, HALIFAX
$  L/D ∙ BEER GARDEN & BBQ

A dog-friendly, urban beer garden with an ice cream kiosk on site. Yep. Stillwell Beergarden quickly won over the local crowd after opening on Spring Garden Road — easily checking all the boxes for cool neighbourhood hang-out. A casual self-serve atmosphere, try the beer-friendly food.


25. Yeah Yeahs Pizza

YEAH YEAHS PIZZA

66 OCHTERLONEY ST, DARTMOUTH
$  L/D ∙ PIZZERIA

Photo by Michelle Doucette

Stick to one thing and do it well. That’s Yeah Yeahs Pizza. Offering five kinds of pizza-by-the-slice or as an 18” pie, Yeah Yeahs doesn’t need to confuse things with too many options — the people want pizza. And you can taste the difference.


Honourable Mentions

HEARTWOOD RESTAURANT (HALIFAX)
KIWI CAFÉ (CHESTER)
KRAVE BURGER (HALIFAX)
THE OLD APOTHECARY (HALIFAX)
VANDAL DOUGHNUTS (HALIFAX)