Cruisin’ the Coast: Treasures Abound at Top Atlantic Canada Restaurants

The secret is out. And it’s something Canada’s Atlantic coast diners have known for years. The Maritime Provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island, along with Newfoundland and Labrador have caught up with the rest of Canada’s burgeoning culinary fame. Resourceful chefs have mastered making every ingredient count, and it’s all about dedication to quality. Whether you’re exploring the region on a family vacation or you’re a local teaming up with a fellow foodie to discover your new favorite spot, check out some of these top Atlantic Canada restaurants. Not in the area? OpenTable has you covered with more than 50,000 restaurants around the world, including eateries in your city.

Italian By Night, Saint John
Modern kitchen and old-world cooking techniques, a generous and relaxed atmosphere, food that’s pure and sensual – this is how the culinary team describes Italian By Night. This lovingly appointed eatery has old favorites that die-hard Italian cuisine aficionados crave plus a few surprises, like crostini with chicken liver pate, pickled fennel, and candied lemon zest, and agrodolce pizza with white sauce, mozzarella, caramelized apples, chevre, toasted walnuts, and cinnamon sugar. As expected in this region of Canada, there’s a bounty of seafood to garnish the pastas, like the scoglio with scallops, jumbo shrimp, baby clams in the shell, grape tomatoes, pancetta, garlic, white wine, and parsley, along with risotto di mare and scallop penne carbonara. The main course standout among many is the osso bucco di agnello with half-day braised lamb shank, sofrito, tomato-wine sauce, deep-fried polenta fries, garlic wilted greens, and a citrus garlic gremolata. Make a reservation at Italian by Night.

top Atlantic Canada restaurants

The Ostrich Club, Halifax
The moniker for The Ostrich Club is that it’s a restaurant designed for friends – that’s a good thing since you’ll want to bring a few along as it’s nearly impossible to choose just one dish at this Hydrostone Market locale. Items like miso-glazed oysters, fish cakes, and potato and quail egg stand out, along with squid ink strozzapreti with butter-poached lobster and house sausage, pangrattato, and mint. Moqueca, a Brazilian seafood stew, should be on the list of can’t-miss dishes. The co-owner is a Certified Sommelier, which makes this a favorite among local oenophiles. Make a reservation at The Ostrich Club.

top Atlantic Canada restaurants

Braxton’s Restaurant at The Algonquin Resort, St. Andrews-by-the-Sea
Braxton’s honors one of the first chefs at The Algonquin from the late 1800s, in the first seaside resort town of St. Andrews, New Brunswick. A previous fire roared through the main building, save the painter wing, kitchen wing, and tower. Today, the indelible spirit of the Algonquin Resort remains in this marvelously remodeled Tudor structure – including cuisine of which George F. Braxton himself would be proud. Starters include tuna tartare, duck carpaccio with sundried cherry compote, and a warm goat cheese tart with tomato chutney and arugula, while notable entrees include salmon, halibut with dill and peach butter, and beef tenderloin with Algonquin rooftop herb potato roesti. Make a reservation at Braxton’s Restaurant at The Algonquin Resort.

top Atlantic Canada restaurants

Cut Steakhouse, Halifax
For carnivores along the Atlantic coast, the Cut Steakhouse is an irresistible choice for dinner. The steaks are prepared with in-house seasoning and finished under a 1,500-degree broiler. To taste the Angus steak from Brant Lake, Alberta, is to comprehend why Canadians need not look anywhere else for outstanding proteins. And not much makes diners salivate more than bone marrow with kale, parsley, and burnt lemon spread across house sourdough bread or the addictive toasted vanilla tart with foie gras ganache, apple, and sour cherry. Be sure to add a side of bacon fat confit potato to your order. Make a reservation at Cut Steakhouse.

top Atlantic Canada restaurants

The Watch That Ends the Night, Dartmouth
In what could be the coolest name for any restaurant, The Watch That Ends the Night references the acclaimed Canadian author Hugh MacLennan’s 1959 novel. In the realm of King’s Wharf in Downtown Dartmouth, views of the Halifax skyline and harbor draw new diners, while the cuisine and nearly 200 choices in spirits keep them coming back time and again. The décor in this sizzling hot gathering spot harkens back to mid-century North American hotel lounges with a library feel, along with the soundtrack trained on that fabulous, funky time in history. The cooking staff likes to call The Watch That Ends the Night fare Canadian terroir. That’s apropos considering the varied menu includes borscht made from locally farmed beets, oven-roasted cod, confit chicken, falafel, and pork loin with garlic and herb bread pudding. Make a reservation at The Watch That Ends the Night.

top Atlantic Canada restaurants

Agricola Street Brasserie, Halifax 
Inventive versions of classic favorites take center stage at Agricola Street Brasserie. For example, if you thought you loved risotto before, wait until you try it the Agricola way – past creations have included nasturtium butter, peas, and horseradish risotto, and, most recently, smoked salmon, crispy leeks, fish roe, saffron, and lemon risotto. Confit duck leg with pear, bacon, shallot, currant, and lentils makes the cut as one of regulars’ top entrée choices, while dishes like buta kimchi, Agricola’s signature pork belly, and rotolo with béchamel sauce, zucchini basil cream, and soft yolk are perfect for sharing. Make a reservation at Agricola Street Brasserie.

top Atlantic Canada restaurants

The Five Fishermen, Halifax
In a tale full of lore and legend, The Five Fishermen Restaurant draws history buffs as much as culinarians. The building dates back to the early 1800s during which it has transformed from schoolhouse to mortuary and now into one of Nova Scotia’s beloved eateries. The Nova Scotia seafood chowder is a must-order along with lobster pot pie, whole grilled fish, spiced pork belly tostada, and the five fish special with green pea risotto. Make a reservation at The Five Fishermen.

top Atlantic Canada restaurants

Saint John Ale House, Saint John
Repurposed, reclaimed, and really fabulous is the norm in historic restaurants throughout Canada, and the Saint John Ale House is no exception. This old mill building is home to dishes crafted and inspired by the chef’s own hunting and foraging skills, as well as hyper-local ingredients. Order a few appetizers to share, starting with the salt and pepper wings, crispy pork bites, smoked salmon rillettes, mussels, and smoked mackerel with Bay of Fundy crostini. Move on to entrees including Arctic char with Shippagan farro, capers, parsley, mussel velouté, charred lemon, and Acadian caviar, and the smoked chicken ballotine with poivrade sauce. Don’t forget the chocolate stout cake for dessert with whiskey caramel sauce. Make a reservation at Saint John Ale House.

top Atlantic Canada restaurants

Lightfoot & Wolfville Vineyards, Wolfville
The culinary team at Lightfoot & Wolfville Vineyards is nothing if not serious about good food. Known for the best wine and pork in the region, they take full advantage of the vineyard’s own heritage pigs, including making housemade sausage that goes into pasta dishes and atop pizza, which has become a pastime unto itself at Lightfoot & Wolfville in the short time since the winery opened. Patrons clamor for the savory pies baked in the massive al fresco wood-burning pizza oven along with sourdough crust and butter service. Notable bites include fried olives, pork rillettes with fresh baguette, duck croquettes, and East Coast oysters with horseradish whipped cream. Don’t miss the cured Lightfoot & Wolfville Vineyards pork loin, turnip and mascarpone agnolotti, or chicken schnitzel when available. On the sweet side, try the sticky toffee pudding with Chantilly cream and Medjool dates or Pavlova with chocolate custard. Make a reservation Lightfoot and Wolfville.

top Atlantic Canada restaurants

Studio East, Halifax
This Halifax gem draws flavor fanatics hooked on dishes like calamari pakora with cauliflower, chickpeas, and garlic aioli. There’s lots to love about the Cambodian-Thai love curry, tandoori steak frites, and Japanese 24-hour marinated local chicken with Japanese pickles, sesame yuba fried rice, and yuzu ponzu. Studio East’s “dumpwing” is a pork and chicken dumpling revelation with a crispy potato wafer, sweet soy, sour cream, sesame, green onion, chili, and cilantro. Ramen also graces this menu in crispy fried line-caught haddock in a coconut curry pork broth with fresh lime, cabbage, beansprouts, green onion, cilantro, and fresh noodles, or a char siu barbecue pork belly ramen bowl in house broth with crispy pork cheeks, marinated egg, and a Chinese fried donut. Make a reservation at Studio East.

top Atlantic Canada restaurants

The Carleton, Halifax
This former home of Richard Bulkeley dating back to 1760 now houses OpenTable Diners’ Choice winner The Carleton. Regulars return night after night for their favorites, including the famous Carleton frites with roasted garlic aioli, Hoisin glazed duck confit with Chinese scallion pancakes, mussels in green Thai coconut curry broth and grilled Birdie’s sourdough, and soy marinated pork belly bites with Japanese mayo, nori, togarashi, and bonito. The Carleton burger, Nova Scotia lobster gnocchi, mushroom risotto, and battered haddock sandwich, among other entrees, keep the kitchen thumping to the beat in this thriving performing arts venue. Make a reservation at The Carleton.

top Atlantic Canada restaurants

Tell us your picks for top Atlantic Canada restaurants here or over on FacebookInstagramPinterest, or Twitter. And, remember to snap + share your #dishpics with us on Instagram for a chance to win in our weekly giveaway.

Kelly Merritt is an author and freelance journalist specializing in culinary travel. Follow her on Twitter @kellywrites + Instagram @kellymerrittwrites + Facebook at KellyMerrittWrites.