For hundreds of years, Newfoundlanders survived on whatever they could catch or cultivate locally, with distinctive Atlantic dishes honed to perfection out of sheer necessity. Today, visitors to the thriving province of Newfoundland and Labrador can feast on this unique cuisine passed down from generation to generation, rich in wild game, berries, root vegetables, and seafood, especially cod. Read on for our pick of top eats in the capital city of St John’s and surrounding villages.
Regularly topping ‘best restaurants in Canada’ lists, Raymonds put St John’s on the culinary map. And for good reason. Take your seat in this historic bank building overlooking St John’s harbour for a formal dining experience rich in wild game such as moose and caribou, melt-in-your-mouth fresh cod and the freshest east coast fruits and vegetables. Head Chef Jeremy Charles designs sustainable menus that reflect what it means to be a true Newfoundlander, foraging and sourcing locally-grown ingredients.
Quidi Vidi Brewery
Quidi Vidi village is as charming as it sounds. This historic fishing village, just 15 minutes’ stroll from St John’s, is framed by dramatic cliffs, colourful clapboard houses, and is steeped in tradition. Make a beeline for the Quidi Vidi Brewery for award-winning ales, lagers and, of course, the famous Iceberg Beer. Sample some of the best craft beers in the province in the Tap Room and consider timing your trip to be there on a Friday night when the brewery comes to life with its popular Kitchen Party. We’re talking traditional Irish food, stories, food, and, of course, Quidi Vidi beer.
While you’re exploring Quidi Vidi, be sure to save your appetite for Mallard Cottage, a 300-year-old house known as one of the oldest wooden buildings in North America. This National Historic Site of Canada was restored in 2011 and converted into a unique eatery 2013, designed to show off the very best in wild game, seafood, and produce that Newfoundland and Labrador has to offer. The rustic dining room feels like grandma’s kitchen, with the menu scribbled on a chalkboard and the friendly, attentive staff making you feel at home. And did we mention dessert? On display for diners to drool over, a bountiful dessert table overflows with freshly made pies, scones, donuts, cookies, and cakes. Could this be the most Instagrammable dessert menu in the world?
Rocket Bakery and Fresh Food
Arguably the birthplace of St John’s coffee culture, Rocket serves fresh salads, outstanding savoury tarts, and pastry treats, all made from scratch on site, and served in a funky retro dining room. A menu favourite since day one, the Signature Cakes are a must. Insider’s tip: check out the third floor of this heritage building, a creative hub for musicians and artists.
Brigus Blueberry Festival
Newfoundland and Labrador is famous for its wild blueberries, ripe for the picking in September. Forage for the low-lying, sweet fruits on the rocky hillsides near St John’s, or further afield in Gros Morne Terra Nova, and Torngat Mountains National Parks. Alternatively, let someone else do the hard work for you! Head to the town of Brigus, a 50-minute drive from St John’s, for the Brigus Blueberry Festival, and immerse yourself in traditional Newfoundland music, traditional foods and, of course, blueberry pies. Enter the pie-eating contest to really get your fill, or simply stroll the town and take in the historic churches and cottages. When blueberry season is over, all is not lost. The province’s cold, coastal climate provides ideal growing conditions for partridge berries, snowberries, blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries.
Picturesque Petty Harbour, just 15 minutes from St John’s, is an idyllic spot for fish and chips. Chafe’s Landing, housed in a renovated 19th century home, serves up cod, lobster, and mussels like you’ve never tasted before, complete with an authentic Newfoundland atmosphere of live music and even livelier personalities.
Bacalao Restaurant in St John’s is named for the salt cod, a staple food source for Newfoundlanders for centuries. A heritage home divided into four small dining rooms adorned with local artwork and fire places sets the intimate, relaxed atmosphere, perfect for savouring the delicious dishes featuring the best of Newfoundland seafood and game. Bacalao is known for its outstanding cocktails – we recommend the gin growler, made with both gin and Newfoundland iceberg vodka.
As unpretentious as it sounds, Get Stuffed in St John’s is the place to be for heart-warming comfort food that can be ordered in two sizes: regular or ‘get stuffed’ for extra hungry folk. Think meatloaf, steaks, calamari, fresh salads, seafood chowder, and even mac ‘n’ cheese. The welcoming, friendly wait staff serve up home-style meals that will see you coming back for more.
Your culinary adventure in Newfoundland doesn’t have to be all about seafood and wild game. Vegetarians and vegans are well catered for at The Sprout in St John’s, a relaxed eatery where local artworks and upbeat music set the tone. Go straight for soups and salads, or check out the multicultural dishes, such as burritos, curries, and Teriyaki stir-fry. Known as ‘the sandwich to end all sandwiches’, the Bravocado is jam-packed with avocado, cucumber, tomato, basil, and greens, with brie, cheddar, hummus, or marinated tofu. In a healthy twist on a classic dish, Sprout Poutine is served with brown rice, fries, cheese, and mushroom miso gravy, with carrot, beet, and sunflower seeds.
The perfect start to a night out on George Street, St John’s, YellowBelly Brewery is a pub, restaurant, and brewery all in one. Set in one of the city’s oldest buildings, the menu is busting with steaks, burgers, wood-fired pizzas, steamed mussels, crispy chicken wings, and decadent poutine. Best of all, you get to wash it down with a pint of YellowBelly’s craft beers while you enjoy the foot-tapping live entertainment. Be sure to sample the Fighting Irish Red with its complex flavours of burnt toast, strawberry jam, coffee, chocolate, and leather.