Canada’s east coast is chock full of history, natural wonders, great music, and amazing food — Halifax, the capital city of Nova Scotia, is no exception! This vibrant city has a huge natural harbor, is home to several universities, has fantastic museums, lots of shops, and an incredible food scene that boasts unique, locally owned restaurants and cafes.
While most visitors to the city stick to those on the waterfront or downtown, there are many spots in Halifax’s hip North End that are local favorites. This area of the city is where you will find vibrantly painted townhomes, beautiful boutiques, great coffee, cute bakeries, and cocktail bars serving small seasonal menus based around what can be bought locally.
I recently visited a friend who lives in this part of Halifax (Hi Michelle!), who also happens to be a part of the food scene in the city. These five spots are some of her favorites (and, now, mine) based on three very important things — great ambiance, great food, and great drinks (cocktails or coffees)!
LF French Bakery
2063 Gottingen Street
The last time I was in Paris, I was staying a block away from an incredible bakery and started every day with a cappuccino and a fresh croissant. As you can imagine, that set the bar pretty high for bakeries, but the LF (Laurent French — the owner who was raised by two French bakers in France) Bakery did not disappoint!
They bake all of their pastries like croissants, chocolatines, baguettes, brioche, and various tartelettes fresh EVERY DAY, and also have a full coffee bar and soups and sandwiches. There are spots to sit inside where it is warm, fragrant, and welcoming, as well as a small patio to the side to enjoy on sunny days. Or, grab a chocolatine (highly recommended) and an espresso to-go and wander around the colourful neighbourhood!
5775 Charles Street
If you are looking for vegan food, or just REALLY GOOD FOOD, then this is your spot!
We had an incredible brunch at enVie, which also offers food and smoothies to-go if you are looking for something healthy and quick. The food was delicious, the space was bright and cozy, and the location — on a corner overlooking a bustling street — was perfect for people watching.
I had The Skillet, which was a tofu scramble with roasted vegetables, garlic aioli, green onion, and seitan bacon served on a bed of crispy home fries, and a Grapefruit Mimosa. The food was SO good I forgot that I wasn’t eating real bacon and eggs!
2733 Agricola Street
This was my favourite cocktail bar that Michelle took me to. There was just something about the way that it was decorated that just really made me feel like I was on the East Coast. We sat at the bar which was perfect, as the place was packed (reservations suggested) so it was easier to chat that way.
The menu changes throughout the year based on the season, but oysters are a constant, as are small plates with some sort of fresh seafood. All of the dishes on the menu are perfect for sharing. I tried (aka devoured) the Ahi Tartar and Allumettes Fries, which was indescribably delicious, and indulged in a glass of bubbly.
This spot is also well known for its creative cocktails with names like Less Than Ideal Situation, No-Spresso Martini, The Gangster Of Love, and Famous Last Words.
The Nook Espresso Bar
2118 Gottingen St.
This cafe is the perfect place to do a little work, read, or catch up with a friend over a locally-roasted cup of coffee. Nook uses North Mountain Coffee, which is roasted in Nova Scotia — they also sell it in bags if you like it enough to take some home with you!
The cafe also gives back to their community through the Nook Token Program. When you are ordering your coffee and/or snack, consider purchasing a token for $2 or $5 as well. The tokens can be used by those in need to get something to eat. A great program that cafes all over Canada are starting to adopt.
The Ostrich Club
5529 Young Street
This modern and minimalist space is a bit of a surprise considering the building it is located in looks old and historic from the outside. The Ostrich Club serves lunch, dinner, and brunch and is another great spot to share small plates and cocktails with friends.
I sat at the bar, which gives you a full view of the kitchen and the chefs putting the finishing touches on simple dishes packed with flavour. They have a great cocktail menu (if you are craving an Aperol Spritz, this is your spot!) and wine list that includes some local offerings. The menu also changes frequently, but make sure you don’t pass by the vegetable dishes — the brussels sprouts I had were amazing.
Oh, and if you are searching for the floral floor (pictured above), you’ll find it in the bathrooms in the basement!