Where to eat, drink and stay in Halifax, Nova Scotia
The Canadian border is finally opening again after more than a year of COVID-19 precautions, and we’re more than ready to hit the road and explore all those nooks and crannies that have been off-limits for so long.
Big cities like Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver are all opening their doors too, but a weekend on Canada’s east coast will be less crowded and much more friendly and laid back than typical northern hot spots.
Thinking of planning a trip to Nova Scotia’s capital? You have come to the right place. Below, we’ve rounded up some of the absolute best establishments Halifax has to offer – and trust us, it goes way beyond the seafood and lighthouses Nova Scotia is known for.
From a loud Irish pub with live music and cold Guinness to a luxury heritage hotel built to host international playboys over a century ago, here’s everything you need to relax in the Maritimes Canadian.
The bike thief
The Bicycle Thief is tucked away in sophisticated Bishops Landing, and this is where you’ll want to go for a good dose of Italian with East Coast flair. From fresh scallops, mussels and tuna tartare to mushroom gnocchi and homemade steaks, the menu is small and very neat, but packs a punch.
The lavish indoor dining area will transport you back in time with copper finishes and plush leather seating, but you’ll want to sit outside on the waterside patio if you’re lucky enough to see a sunny day in the center. -city. The European-inspired terrace is nestled just steps from the Halifax waterfront and is the best place in town to spot sailboats and yachts.
The Portland Canteen is located just across from Halifax Harbor, but it’s worth crossing the water. Board the Metro Transit ferry (it’s faster than an Uber and it’s a very scenic ride, especially at sunset) and head into downtown Dartmouth.
The light and airy restaurant is owned and operated by former Top Chef Canada nominee Renée Lavallée and serves some of the best local and caught dishes in the province. Expect fun interpretations of classic East Coast fare, like the scallop and avocado burger or the snow crab and lobster roll, plus an expertly curated wine list that consists of both Nova Scotia and international juices.
The Barrington Steakhouse
Are you looking for a private dining space to promote a more intimate meal? Reserve the Legacy Room at Barrington Steakhouse. The lavish private room is luxurious and discreet in itself, but it is also the result of a collaboration with the Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Fund; a portion of all proceeds goes towards Indigenous reconciliation and shedding light on the history of residential schools in Canada.
In terms of food, you’ll find extremely fresh and local oysters and other seafood, along with a variety of vegetarian options, but this is the steak you’ll want to go for. The Barrington Steakhouse uses local cuts of “Blue Dot Reserve Beef,” a premier AAA quality beef that is both raised and hand picked in Nova Scotia.
Halifax has one of the only legally defined wine appellations in Canada — Tidal Bay — and Obladee will be your best bet for sipping flights of local juice. The proven wine bar has been around for over a decade and continues to serve local and international wines with flair.
The unpretentious establishment is comfortable and welcoming, even if you’re not very wine-savvy, and there’s usually a live jazz band or Celtic musician jostling through the window.
Irish Pub Durty Nelly
Between its proximity to the sea and the number of Irish immigrants, Halifax can sometimes look like the Canadian answer to Dublin, and it becomes even more evident when you step into one of the city’s many Irish pubs.
Durty Nelly’s Irish Pub will be your best bet if you are looking for a place to stop for a good pint of Guinness. The authentic Irish pub was actually built entirely in Ireland before it was packed into a ship and sailed to Halifax for reassembly.
The lower deck
The lower deck first opened in 1974 and has since become a staple for locals and international visitors, and for good reason.
The visually stunning pub is tucked away within historic Halifax properties, right on the water’s edge, with stunning views of the harbor and surrounding historic district. The pub is open for lunch, dinner, drinks and usually turns into a late night dance venue when the sun begins to set.
The Westin Nova Scotian
Built in 1928 by Canadian National, the Westin Nova Scotian is one of the only Grand Railway hotels in Atlantic Canada. The historic property is still tucked away right next to the Via Rail station, making it a great option for anyone visiting the city by train.
Known as the ‘Grand Dame’ of Halifax, this historic property has continued to be renovated over the years to provide a more modern and luxurious experience for guests, but continues to retain the old world charm to which dignitaries and history buffs expect.
The Prince George Hotel
The Prince George Hotel offers world-class Four Diamond service at a very affordable price. The downtown property has 200 rooms and suites, but feels more like a boutique hotel than a full-scale operation thanks to the personalized service and understated decor.
After leaving your luggage in your suite, don’t forget to head straight for the heated indoor pool and sauna. The striking living room has a huge picture window that opens onto the downtown streets below.
Lord Nelson Hotel
Perched on the corner of Spring Garden Road and South Park Street, just across from Halifax Public Gardens, the Lord Nelson Hotel dates back to 1927 when it was built by the Canadian Pacific Railway to compete with the Westin Nova Scotian.
Although these days it looks more like a historic property than a cutting edge example of modernity, the striking property was considered Halifax’s first ‘modern hotel’ when it opened and continues to operate. ‘to be one of the best examples of hospitality in the city.