Best Restaurants in St. John’s Newfoundland 2020

Looking to visit the best restaurants in St. John’s Newfoundland? Canada’s most easterly province is famous for its fresh Atlantic seafood, traditional Jiggs Dinner and quirky craft beer scene.

In the last decade, Newfoundland and Labrador’s capital has experienced a culinary renaissance. Visiting foodies are spoilt for choice when feasting through the restaurants in St. John’s.

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Explore Restaurants in St. John’s Newfoundland

We were joined on our St. John’s restaurant hopping adventure by local food and travel journalist Gabby Peyton.

Born and raised in Newfoundland, Peyton has always had a passion for food, “I’ve been cooking since I was a kid and one of my first gigs was when my mom would pay me to cook dinner for my family!  I worked in restaurants and bars as a server here in St. John’s, in Halifax and in Toronto for almost ten years while I was in university studying art history and then journalism. Even though I have always been interested in food and culinary history, my adventures in travelling to eat for my blog The Food Girl in Town are what really launched my food writing career and I’ve been freelancing since I started.”

Peyton moved back to St. John’s in 2017, “I was really excited to be back in Newfoundland because the province is having a food moment in the sun — from Anthony Bourdain’s visit to the high-end restaurants like Raymond’s putting us on the world culinary stage, there are so many amazing things going on here!”

We asked Peyton what first time visitors to St. John’s Newfoundland should know about the culinary scene, “When I worked in restaurants in St. John’s, people would always come in asking for lobster. While we do have lobster and it’s great, it’s a more prominent dish in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick — Nova Scotia even has a lobster roll culinary trail! 

According to Peyton, one of the most asked questions at restaurants in St. John’s Newfoundland is, “where can I find the best seafood?” Peyton explains, “this is a tricky question to answer because funny enough, most of the best food in Newfoundland doesn’t come from restaurants — you have to go to nan’s house. The collection of iconic Newfoundland dishes are mostly homemade from Jiggs Dinner on Sundays to bakeapple jams made by your grandma.”

Looking to enjoy a Jiggs Dinner in St. John’s but don’t have a grandma in town available to fire up the stove? O’Reilly’s Pub and The Big R Restaurant serve up Jiggs Dinner’s for tourists keen to tuck into the iconic Newfoundlander dish.

So how have the restaurants in St. John’s Newfoundland evolved over the last decade? Peyton chirps, “The St. John’s restaurant community has evolved like no other, particularly because there was barely a scene at all 50 years ago. The first pizza shop didn’t open until 1975 and the first Indian restaurant didn’t hit Water Street until the 1980s.”

Peyton continues, “Typically dining out meant either diner-style home cooking, Canadianized Chinese food or a very fancy steak at a hotel restaurant. Today, I would argue we have one of the best food scenes anywhere, especially considering our size. High-end restaurants like Raymond’s and Mallard Cottage put us on the world stage for fine dining and set a standard for using unique Newfoundland ingredients in a refined and sophisticated context. This is probably the most prevalent new trend here in St. John’s. Places like Seto, Chinched and Terre are using local ingredients in new, inventive ways all the while preserving the culinary heritage of Newfoundland.”

Peyton goes on to describe current trends at the restaurants in St. John’s Newfoundland, “the army of new food trucks ranging from Instagram-worthy burgers at Johnny and Mae’s to the accessible vegan food at Saucy Mouth and our bursting-at-the-seams brewery scene. There are almost twenty across the province now, I think at least a dozen of them have opened in the past year!”

St. John's food writer Gabby Peyton at Fogo Island Inn in Newfoundland.
St. John’s food writer Gabby Peyton at Fogo Island Inn.

What To Eat in St. John’s Newfoundland

Peyton describes Newfoundland’s signature feast, “One of the most popular and most-eaten dishes is Jiggs Dinner. It’s the Newfoundland equivalent to Sunday dinner, in which potatoes, carrots, turnip, cabbage and peas pudding are all boiled up together in a big pot of salt beef. There’s usually turkey and gravy too! And of course, Figgy Duff! A sweet boiled pudding.”

Peyton adds, “Seafood is obviously huge here. You’ll see crab, mussels and cod on any menu or dinner plate around the province, with the main focus on cod — up until the early 1990s, the cod fishery was the centre of our economy. Fish and chips are also popular. My favourite place to eat is at the Duke of Duckworth — and most people typically order their fries with D&G (with dressing, also known as stuffing, and gravy on top). Ches’s Fish and Chips is also a popular spot. Fish cakes, which are usually made with cod, but sometimes crab as well, are eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner here. The fish cakes at Rocket Bakery are a crowd-pleaser.”

Cod tongues are most certainly a must-try delicacy at the restaurants in St. John’s Newfoundland, “they are really delicious — you can get them at most take out spots where you get fish and chips, but Terre Restaurant in the ALT Hotel is doing an amazing high-end rendition right now,” says Peyton.

How does Newfoundland’s unique weather and terroir impact the menus at the best St. John’s restaurants? Peyton explains, “Because of the short growing season, preserves and jams are a staple in most kitchens. Jars filled with bakeapple, blueberry and partridgeberry dominate the pantry, as well as bottled beets and mustard pickles. Moose is bottled too and can be found on lots of restaurant menus. Newfoundland is actually the only province in Canada allowed to serve wild game in restaurants so caribou, moose and game birds are prominent.”

The biggest cultural influences in Newfoundland come from the British and Irish — Figgy Duff and the Jiggs Dinner for example. Peyton adds, “Tunnocks Caramel Logs somewhere along the line became an iconic Newfoundland treat available in all the trendy shops, but they are from Scotland and I feel like Purity really echoes our British heritage as well!”

Exile Restaurant at the Jag Hotel in St. John's, Newfoundland.
Exile Restaurant at the Jag Hotel in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

Best Hotels in St. John’s, Newfoundland

In the last decade tourism into Newfoundland has boomed. Most visitors start their adventure in St. John’s. Finding a hotel within your budget is the first thing you’ll want to do before planning a restaurant hopping adventure. St. John’s offers a wide array of accommodation options, from friendly B&Bs to luxurious boutique hotels.

  • JAG Hotel 4 STARS: located perched over the harbour on George Street West, the JAG hotel is a boutique property with a Rock & Roll vibe. The property is a member of Steele Hotels, a Newfoundland hotel brand and offers guests sweet suites, with a bar and dining room at Exile Restaurant. Check Reviews
  • Delta Hotel St. John’s Conference Centre 4 STARS: one of St. John’s largest hotels is popular with business travellers and those looking to rack up their Marriott rewards. Located on New Gower Street, the Delta Hotel offers a variety of recently renovated rooms and The Pinnacle Restaurant. Check Reviews
  • Alt Hotel St. John’s 3 STARS: Quebec’s Le Germain luxury hotel brand also operates a more scaled down offering dubbed Alt Hotels. The design-tastic boutique hotel features Puffin adorned room interiors and the celebrated Terre Restaurant. Check Reviews

St. John’s, Newfoundland Tours

We suggest exploring St. John’s by booking a tour with a local operator. You can sit back and relax while a local guide showcases the regions unique history and wildlife.

  • Historic Tour of St. John’s: this 90 minute walking tour is led by a local expert and offers stops at George Street, Cathedral of St. John the Baptist and plenty of local shops.
  • St. John’s Food and Wine Tour: this 3 hour guided tour offers visiting foodies an opportunity to taste their way through some of the city’s best restaurants.
  • Puffin and Whale Watching Cruise: this 90 minute Newfoundland cruise offers an opportunity to spot Iceberg Alley and wildlife such as seabirds and whales.

Best Restaurants in St. John’s Newfoundland

We spent 3 days sipping and nibbling our way through over 20 of the best restaurants in St. John’s, from fine dining feasts to the city’s favourite coffee shops, ice cream parlour and pub.

Raymonds is considered the best fine dining restaurant in St. John's Newfoundland.
Raymonds is considered the best fine dining restaurant in St. John’s Newfoundland.

Raymonds Restaurant

95 Water St, 709-579-5800

Of all the restaurants in St. John’s Newfoundland, Raymonds takes the prize at best fine dining. Chef Jeremy Charles’ chic culinary concept isn’t just ranked the best restaurant in St. John’s. It’s hands down the most celebrated dining experience in all of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Raymonds Restaurant first opened its doors in 2010, immediately transforming and elevating the St. John’s culinary scene. The award-winning restaurant is co-owned by Chef Jeremy Charles and Sommelier Jeremy Bonia. It’s name pays homage to Charles’ grandfather and Bonia’s father, who both happened to share the same name.

Raymonds Restaurant sits perched over Water Street in the heart of downtown St. John’s. The chic dining room lives inside a heritage building, constructed in 1915 for the Commercial Cable Telegraph Company. It was a unique building in that there was no lumber used, all brick steel and concrete.

Bonia describes the Raymonds restaurant interior, “We thought the building was pretty special and had a lot of regal character so it was the building that really determined that we would create a fine dining restaurant in the space as it seemed the best fit. Jeremy Charles’ wife Sarah happens to be an interior designer and worked with us on the space. The high ceilings and large windows in the main dining room really add to the atmosphere.”

Chef Charles is perhaps most famous for celebrating local Newfoundland ingredients in a refined and whimsical way. Each night the kitchen produces a seasonal tasting menu, which diners can pair with fine wine.

First time visitors to Newfoundland may be surprised and delighted to find wild animals on the menu such as the province’s much-adored moose. Take note, Newfoundland is the only province in Canada that allows restaurants to serve wild game on its menus.

The Merchant Tavern is Chef Jeremy Charles' second St. John's restaurant.
The Merchant Tavern is Chef Jeremy Charles’ second St. John’s restaurant.

The Merchant Tavern

291 Water St, 709-722-5050

After the overwhelming success of Raymonds Restaurant, Chef Jeremy Charles and Co launched their second St. John’s restaurant in Spring, 2015.

Located on Water Street, The Merchant Tavern serves lunch, dinner and weekend brunch. Think of it as the casual cousin to the white tablecloth, prim and proper dining, which is a hallmark at Raymonds Restaurant.

The St. John’s restaurant’s name pays homage to local merchants, who for hundreds of years, played an important role in developing St. John’s. Merchants came by boat from England and supplied resident fishing families with goods and equipment. Newfoundland’s friendly merchants would frequent local taverns or pubs, where they would discuss the business of the day over food and drink.

Skip inside The Merchant Tavern, formerly the old Bank of Nova Scotia building, and you’ll find a jaw-dropping open-concept dining room. Spin around the entrance and you’ll find sky-high ceilings, central horseshoe cocktail bar, open kitchen and the restaurant’s mascot, the bust of a great bull moose.

The Merchant Tavern’s lunch and dinner menu is split into appetizers, entrees, fresh pasta and desserts. Chef Charles continues his celebration of Newfoundland’s unique flavours by sourcing seasonal ingredients from the provinces best producers. Highlights include Pickled Mussels, Cod Tacos, a $35 Barbecue Burger and Shake and every bowl of pasta that parades out of the kitchen.

Restaurants in St. John's Newfoundland: Seto Kitchen serves creative Asian dishes.
Restaurants in St. John’s Newfoundland: Seto Kitchen serves creative Asian dishes.

Seto Kitchen +Bar

281 Duckworth St, 709-722-7386

Seto Kitchen + Bar first opened its doors in March, 2016 in a tiny dining room on Duckworth Street.

The St. John’s restaurant’s name and inspiration come from the legacy of Chef Pittman’s grandfather, William Seto Ping, who was among the first Chinese immigrants to Newfoundland when he arrived in 1931 from Canton, China. Chef Ken Pittman grew up in awe of his grandfather, and learned about traditional Chinese recipes and cooking techniques in his Rabbittown kitchen.

The award-winning restaurant’s dishes showcase a harmony of Chef Pittman’s heritage, from exotic Canton to The Rock’s scenic coastline. Wag your finger down the Seto Kitchen menu and you’ll find local ingredients served with an Asian twist.

Highlights include Pork Belly with pickled shiitake, Yellow Fin Tuna with nori and scallion, Crispy Wings with gochujang and Kalbi Duck Breast with spicy noodles and fermented vegetables.

Restaurants in St. John's Newfoundland: Rocket Bakery offers a weekly trad session popular with locals and tourists.
Restaurants in St. John’s Newfoundland: Rocket Bakery offers a weekly trad session popular with locals and tourists.

Rocket Bakery

272 Water St, 709-738-2011

Rocket Bakery is located in a historic building in St. John’s, built in 1892 after the great fire.  It previously housed a hardware store called Neyles Soper. The folks that own the building won a Southcott Award for restoration and it’s one of the few buildings in downtown St. John’s where you really get a sense of the city’s history.

Chef Darryl Hammond was born, raised and trained in Newfoundland. He’s keen to offer the best quality food made with a Newfoundland twist. Chef Hammond enjoys using everything from Screech Rum in Rocket Bakery’s BBQ & Screech Rum Pulled Pork Turnovers to local 5 Brothers Cheese at the cafes sandwiches and salt cod from Petty Harbour in the restaurant’s signature fish cakes.

Rocket Bakery is one of the best restaurants in St. John’s Newfoundland to enjoy an authentic trad session. The dinning room gets packed every Tuesday at lunchtime when Rocket Bakery hosts a lively kitchen party. A group of local musicians play traditional Newfoundland tunes around a large wooden table. We suggest arriving before noon to grab a seat while sipping on a frothy latte and devouring Rocket Bakery’s famous cinnamon bun.

Mallard Cottage is the best restaurant in Quidi Vidi.
Mallard Cottage is the best restaurant in Quidi Vidi.

Mallard Cottage

8 Barrows Rd, 709-237-7314

Mallard Cottage is the best restaurant in Quidi Vidi. The award-winning restaurant is housed in an 18th-century Irish-Newfoundland vernacular style cottage. It’s recognized as a National Historic Site for being one of the oldest wooden buildings in North America.

Located in St. John’s picturesque suburb of Quidi Vidi Village, the quaint fishing hamlet’s Mallard Cottage was once a private residence. In 2011, Mallard Cottage was purchased as an antique store by Chef Todd Perrin, Kim Doyle and Stephen Lee. The trio joined forces with the heritage restoration specialists of Sweet Lumber Enterprises who took on the meticulous task of restoring and rejuvenating the space, with the help of the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland & Labrador.

Mallard Cottage officially reopened its doors as a restaurant in November, 2013. Skip inside the historic building and you’ll find a 65-seat dining room, bustling open kitchen and daily menus, which are scrawled on a large chalk board.

Chef Perrin serves Newfoundland’s freshest seafood, wild game and produce to create pretty sharing plates, which are available à la carte or as part of the highly recommended family-style tasting menu.

Mallard Cottage is regularly ranked as the best brunch restaurant in St. John’s, Newfoundland. The weekend bacchanal books up weeks in advance so make reservations as soon as you can. When locals discover you’ve dined at Mallard Cottage, they’ll immediately whisper excitedly about the restaurant’s infamous dessert table.

Restaurants in St. John's Newfoundland: Adelaide Oyster House serves Asian fusion dishes.
Restaurants in St. John’s Newfoundland: Adelaide Oyster House serves Asian fusion dishes.

Adelaide Oyster House

334 Water St, 709-722-7222

Ranked as one of the top ten best new restaurants in Canada by enRoute Magazine in 2015, Adelaide Oyster House’s tiny sliver of a dining room continues to overflow each night with friendly foodies.

Chef Chris Mercer has worked at Adelaide Oyster House since shortly after its inception, starting out as an oyster shucker and line cook to taking on the role of Executive Chef.

The popular restaurant in St. John’s also has a unique cocktail program, featuring some of the most talented mixologists on The Rock. The El Camino is the bars signature sipper, probably the best selling cocktail in the city.

The best seat can be found at the dead centre of the bar. Hop up on a stool and watch as resident mixologists whip up craft cocktails alongside the city’s most celebrated oyster shuckers.

Seafood not your thing? Don’t fret! While “The Adelaide,” certainly offers all the fresh oysters you could ever need, the restaurant’s menu is more a celebration of Asian flavours. Highlights from Chef Chris Mercer’s menu include Kobe beef lettuce wraps, fish tacos with spicy kimchi and crispy pork belly teetering over a bowl of sesame noodles.

Terre Restaurant serves craft cocktails and succulent seafood at Alt Hotel St. John's.
Terre Restaurant serves craft cocktails and succulent seafood at Alt Hotel St. John’s.

Terre Restaurant

125 Water St, 709-383-2136

Terre Restaurant opened inside the Alt Hotel St. John’s in July 2019. The restaurant is a partnership between Chef Matthew Swift and the celebrated Quebec-based luxury boutique brand.

So what inspired a celebrated Montreal-based chef to launch a restaurant in St. John’s Newfoundland? Chef Swift explains, “My partner and I were out to visit St. John’s two years ago and fell in love with the city and the natural environment here. There was a vague discussion about our next step, but there was no timeline or firm plan in mind. I had just taken over the kitchen at Joe Beef at the end of the summer and we were planning to be in Montreal a bit longer. When the opportunity to open a restaurant in St. John’s Newfoundland came up I jumped at!”

So how did Chef Swift decide on the name? He explains, “Naming restaurants is always a bit of a struggle, and maybe that’s just me over thinking things. Naming this restaurant presented it’s own challenges because Newfoundland has a strong identity, and many distinguishing characteristics to play off of, However, I am not from here and it didn’t feel right to try to claim any of that as a brand.”

Chef Swift continues, “The goal is to work with what is here, and try to help build what is already a remarkable food scene, without trying to claim that I am from Newfoundland or can speak to anything traditional here. The name is sort of meant to reflect that – the food is based around the seasons and what is locally available, and is meant to be pretty simple. The French name for Newfoundland is Terre Neuve, and so the name is meant to give some connotation of eating in tune with the natural environment, as well as giving a nod to coming from away.”

Terre Restaurant in St. John’s Newfoundland sits perched over the scenic harbour. The interior design is best described as modern meets chic. Carvel and Helm, a local architecture and design firm were hired to create a space that was bright and open, rather than cavernous and cold. A good deal of thought also went into the sound of the space. They finished the open ceiling and added softer furniture finishes and hanging light fixtures to ensure diners can hear each other across the table.

The Terre Restaurant menu changes daily but focuses largely on succulent seafood. Highlights from the Fall menu include String Beans & Smoked Mackerel, Scallions & Fried Whelks and Lettuce with Fried Cod Cheeks.

Restaurants in St. John's Newfoundland: Visit Chinched Bistro to enjoy charcuterie and local cider.
Restaurants in St. John’s Newfoundland: Visit Chinched Bistro to enjoy charcuterie and local cider.

Chinched Bistro

5 Bates Hill, 709-722-3100

Shaun Hussey and Michelle LeBlanc first opened the doors of Chinched Bistro in 2010. Skip into Chinched Bistro and you’ll find a chic bar, deli counter, petite patio and seating for 65 in a dining room split between two floors.

The popular St. John’s restaurant’s interior was designed by Sam Follett of Plank Design. The owners were inspired to create a modern space that was warm and casual, with hints of the classic deli vibe.

Chinched is the past tense for the verb “chinch,” to stow, stuff or pack tightly; to be full. LeBlanc explains, “We learned the word while at a boil up with our friends on Fogo Island and decided immediately it would be a great name for a restaurant.”

Chinched Bistro was the winner of Gold Medal Plates in 2013. The award-winning culinary team focus on celebrating a nose to tail philosophy. It’s perhaps best known in St. John’s foodie circles for its marvellous meat, considered to produce the best charcuterie and sausages in town. The restaurant’s two most popular dishes are its mouth-watering charcuterie board and Pig Ear Fries.

Keen to sip through the best craft beer and cider produced in Newfoundland? The bar team at Chinched Bistro pride themselves on serving fresh suds from every craft brewery in the province: Quidi Vidi, Landwash, Dildo, Baccaliu, Bootleg, Crooked Feeder and Mill Street. They also have refreshing Newfoundland Cider Company on tap as well.

The Duck of Duckworth serves the best fish & chips in St. John's.
The Duck of Duckworth serves the best fish & chips in St. John’s.

The Duke of Duckworth

325 Duckworth St, 709-739-6344

Of all the restaurants in St. John’s Newfoundland, The Duck of Duckworth is the best spot to feast on Fish & Chips.

Owners Colin Dalton and Terry O’Rourke purchased the pre-existing bar in 1990 and over the years the menu offering has evolved to offer a larger menu.

Skip up the steps of the slender alley that leads to the entrance of the The Duck of Duckworth and you’ll find a cozy interior featuring a petite bar, dining room and pool table. Stroll through the dining room and you’ll find walls covered in trinkets that prove The Duck of Duckworth is a beloved St. John’s institution. You’ll find plaques, photos, rugby scarves, old tin signs, vintage beer advertisements and an old harlequin lamp.

St. John’s best pub is also haunted and finds itself on the city’s haunted house walk. The resident ghost is named Fred, believed to be one of the previous owners of the building who hanged himself when faced with financial difficulties. The owners note, “Several of our staff are sure they have seen him, while others are sure they feel someone watching them when they are in the building either late at night or early in the morning.”

Wag your finger down The Duck of Duckworth menu and you’ll find classic pub staples such as Steak and Kidney Pie and Turkey Pot Pie. We suggest ordering the unique dishes unique to Newfoundland such as Pan-Fried Cod, Fish Cakes, Cod au Gratin and Poutine topped with savoury stuffing. If you’re feasting during brunch be sure to sample the toutons!

Grab a quality coffee at Georgestown Cafe and Bookshelf.
Grab a quality coffee at Georgestown Cafe and Bookshelf.

Georgestown Cafe and Bookshelf

73 Hayward Ave, 709-579-7134

Georgestown Cafe and Bookshelf is the best restaurant in St. John’s Newfoundland for coffee and cafe lovers. First opened in 2015 by owners Stephanie Stoker and Gilberto Manuyama, the Georgestown Cafe was inspired by the couples travels to Peru.

The cozy cafe is located in a building that dates back over 100 years. Local archives say it was a grocer or shop. Some locals say it was a place that once had a horse and buggy that made deliveries.

Stoker describes the inspiration behind Georgestown Cafe’s interior, “I am a design instructor and wanted a place to call back to heritage Newfoundland style, while still being light and airy, calming and inviting. I also wanted their to be interaction between customers and staff, hence the sideways design.”

Manuyama is a native of Peru and cooks through his cultural flavours while Stoker likes to bake in a way that represents Newfoundland favourites with an aim to produce healthy products that are sometimes vegan and gluten-free.

During the weak head to Georgestown Cafe in the early morning to sip fair trade coffee and nibble on espresso cake or savoury empanadas.

Restaurants in St. John's Newfoundland: The Grounds Cafe is located in a garden centre.
Restaurants in St. John’s Newfoundland: The Grounds Cafe is located in a garden centre.

The Grounds Cafe at Murray’s Garden Centre

1525 Portugal Cove Rd, 709-895-2800

One of the quirkiest restaurants in St. John’s Newfoundland is The Grounds Cafe, located inside the city’s favourite garden centre. Skip through Murray’s Garden Centre’s horticulture haven and you’ll find the cozy Grounds Cafe.

The Murray’s Garden Centre restaurant is a family run affair, which first opened in May 2017. Co-owner Cameron Murray explains, “Our inspiration to open the restaurant came from our love of food. Since I can remember food and food culture has always been apart of my life. Our father Michael Murray who is the founder of Murray’s Horticultural Services began his career growing and selling vegetables roadside. I could always remember fields of vegetables growing around our property when I was younger.”

Murray continues, “Over the years the business focus became more involved with the ornamental side of horticulture with the garden centre and landscape business growing into what it is today. As my brothers and I began our succession into the business we noticed a resurgence on the emphasizes of local food production. With that in mind we decided to go back to our roots and begin vegetable production on our family farm again. Based on our increased vegetable farm production implementing a farm to fork cafe in our garden centre seemed like the right idea.”

The Grounds Cafe offers seating for 50 diners and offers a bright interior designed by SAM design. Murray explains, “They helped us with the idea of using light wood colours to allow the natural lighting to really liven up the space. Other aspects of the interior I think are unique are our high lofted ceilings that allow ample room for our large trees and hanging pots. It gives you an outdoorsy feeling while staying inside, which is a benefit on a winters day in St. John’s, Newfoundland.”

Head Chef Nick Van Mele supports local food suppliers on his menu, featuring celebrated Newfoundland producers such as The Organic Farm, NL Organics, Dancing Roots, Barking Kettle, Lesters, Quidi Vidi Brewery, Five Brothers Cheese, Newfoundland Sausage Company and The St. John’s Fermentary.

Locals rave for The Grounds Cafe’s seasonal menu, which evolves throughout the year based on what’s fresh and available. A few popular items include fresh salads, quiche and ham and cheese on a country biscuit.

The Parlour Gelato serves the best ice cream in St. John's Newfoundland.
The Parlour Gelato serves the best ice cream in St. John’s Newfoundland.

The Parlour Gelato

The best ice cream shop in St. John’s is The Parlour, located a short stroll from Bannerman Park. The cheery ice cream parlour opened its doors in April, 2019 and features housemade gelato, fresh coffee (beans roasted in house) and waffles.

The Parlour Gelato was a dream for owners Gary Long and Laura Bloomquist, who knew they wanted to open up their own shop after moving to St. John’s from Nicaragua five years ago.

Skip inside The Parlour on Military Road and you’ll find a sun-soaked interior featuring a gelato freezer and vintage espresso machine. Hop up on one of several stools while clutching your cone and enjoy people watching through the floor to ceiling windows.

If you’re visiting in the morning, grab a frothy cappuccino and one of the kitchen’s pretty pastries. You’ll find oversized Blueberry Earl Grey Scones, Coconut Oatmeal Cookies, Date Squares, Almond Biscotti and Cherry Chocolate Chip Muffins.

If the weather is warm, take a peak at the gelato selection and order a scoop or two. Local ice cream lovers adore the menu’s Newfoundland sourced ingredients such as blueberries, partridgeberries, bakeapples and raspberries.

The Parlour Gelato’s signature move is an ice cream cone wrapped in a Hong Kong-style bubble waffle. Do it for the ‘gram!

Toslow serves fresh pastries and coffee in a hipster interior.
Toslow serves fresh pastries and coffee in a hipster interior.

Toslow

Toslow is a tiny, hidden cafe, which you can reach by skipping up the steps that flank the National War Memorial in downtown St. John’s.

The cute cafe and bar opened in June, 2018 and is named after a resettled community from the Burin peninsula. The name is supposedly derived from the French “tasse de l’argent,” since the harbour is cup shaped. Chris, one of the co-owners of Toslow explains, “I usually tell people it’s a Newfoundland word but derived from French. It’s a nod to the days of old, a sense of loss and keeping your cup full.”

Chris describes Toslow’s quirky interior, “All the design comes from ourselves, mostly just decorated by things we own or were given to us. I think it sort of captures a more maternal side of Newfoundland. Think more nan’s basement than fadder’s shed.”

In the morning Toslow fills with locals who come here to pick up their morning cup of coffee, rhubarb dotted scones and the kitchen’s signature breakfast sandwiches. At night the hipster interior becomes more of a bar, which feels like you’ve accidentally stepped into someones living room.

Chris explains Toslow’s beverage program, “We really focus in on local craft beer, work closely and collaborate with the local breweries and even have our own cask that gets filled regularly. We also started privately importing natural wine from across Canada. We have a seasonal cocktail menu as well, which often uses foraged ingredients plus a small spirits list.”

Bannerman Brewery is the city's newest craft beer destination.
Bannerman Brewery is the city’s newest craft beer destination.

Bannerman Brewery

90 Duckworth Street, 709-747-2337

Bannerman Brewery is St. John’s newest craft brewery. Opened in May 2019, Bannerman Brewing is co-owned by Phil Maloney, Jason Sharpe and Stephen Follett.

While Phil toured around the world as a musician for over a decade, he sampled the best in beer and coffee wherever he went. He wanted to bring home quality beverage offerings to his home town of St. John’s.

Maloney explains the story behind the St. John’s breweries name, “To know the story of our brewery is to know the history of our neighbourhood. Long before we poured our first beer, Bannerman Brewing was the location of the city’s historic East Fire Station. Originally constructed after the Great Fire of 1892, it was rebuilt in the 1950s and still stands today at the corner of Duckworth and Ordnance Street.”

Maloney continues, “During the Great Fire, some 11,000 people lost their homes. Displaced, but not defeated, residents banded together with nothing more than a few belongings to set up a tent city in Bannerman Park. They weathered the aftermath of the fire and re-built the city. It’s this story of collectivism and community that Bannerman Brewing proudly celebrates.”

Ian Higenell of HW Architecture designed the sky-high space. The design inspiration draws on elements of traditional German beer halls, presented in a minimal design style, while using as many local products as possible.

Maloney describes what design element he loves most about Bannerman Brewery’s “cozy St. John’s living room vibe, “One of our favourite design elements is the massive amount of Douglas fir used in the interior of the space. The wood was reclaimed from a demolition site in Pleasantville, Newfoundland. The beams served as structural support for the old American Army barracks. The estimated age of the beams are just after WWII. The processing of the beams were a labour of love. They now they make up the bar in our tap room, event space, all of the table tops and bathroom counters.”

Chef Amy Anthony has crafted a munchie-tastic menu, featuring a shortlist of dishes that pair perfectly with espresso in the morning and craft beer in the afternoon until late.

Maloney explains, “Everything we do is crafted to promote and support our in-house brewing program, which focuses on traditional and modern styles. We look equally to European and North American beer culture for inspiration, both in terms of what we serve and how we present it. At any given time, you’re as likely to see a new-school hazy, fruited, lactose-IPA as you are a true-to-style German Helles. We spare ourselves the trouble of over-complicating things just for the sake of it; at the end of the day, everything is meant to be as inviting and approachable as it is adventurous.”

Get your Japanese noodle fix at Bad Bones Ramen.
Get your Japanese noodle fix at Bad Bones Ramen.

Bad Bones Ramen

178 Water Street, 709-237-2200

Bad Bones Ramen is ranked as one of the best Japanese restaurants in St. John’s. The casual ramen restaurant is popular during the lunch hour, catering to the downtown business crowd during the week. On weekends, the Asian kitchen’s bowl of steaming noodles offers a great late night snack after bar hopping on George Street.

Bad Bones Ramen first opened its doors in the summer of 2017, becoming an instant hit with noodle lovers in Newfoundland’s capital. The restaurant offers several ramen options including Chicken Miso, Dirty Shrimp, Pork Belly Shoyu, Pork Tantanmen, Kimchi Shrimp and Curry Pork.

While one massive bowl will do you just fine, if you’re slurping noodles with friends we suggest sharing one of Bad Bones Ramens appetizers. Highlights include Shoyu Glazed Ribs, Chili Lime Wings, Tempura Shrimp Tacos, Chicken Gyoza, Yaki Onigiri and Tuna Poke.


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Magic Wok is the best Canadian Chinese restaurant in St. John's.
Magic Wok is the best Canadian Chinese restaurant in St. John’s.

Magic Wok Eatery

408 Water Street, 709-753-6907

In June, 2016 Ann Hui, food writer for The Globe and Mail, published a fascinating article on the history and importance of Chinese-Canadian food titled, Chop Suey Nation. Chinese immigrants arrived to help build the Great Canadian Railway, and afterwards opened local restaurants serving a Canadianized version of their favourite dishes from home.

Before St. John’s experienced a renaissance of its fine dining food scene, many of the most popular eateries in Newfoundland were pleasant pubs and Canadian Chinese restaurants.

I asked every food-loving local I met, “what are your favourite St. John’s restaurants?” After the responses gravitated to the award-winning fine dining concepts that make up this list, I decided to edit myself. “What are your favourite restaurants in St. John’s to eat late at night? The best takeout places? Or a restaurant in town you’ve been dining out since you were a kid that makes you nostalgic?” The vast majority whispered, Magic Wok on Water Street.

If your visit to Newfoundland is your first foray into Canadian cuisine, why not sample the cheap and cheerful offerings at St. John’s best Chinese restaurant? It’s one of the best restaurant’s in the city to enjoy a cheap meal and even for Canadians will feel nostalgic.

Lunch specials feature iconic Canadian Chinese dishes such as Sweet and Sour Chicken Balls, Lemon Chicken, Egg Rolls, Won Ton Soup and Deep Fried Shrimp Dumplings. The Chinese menu here won’t taste like the dishes you’ve enjoyed in Hong Kong, Taiwan or Markham.

Chinese chefs tweaked their recipes to cater to the palates of locals, who initially found spooning through bowls of fried rice to be an exotic endeavour. Hard working Chinese families from Newfoundland to Vancouver Island have spent decades serving their own interpretations of family heirloom recipes. And in the process have played a role in transforming Canadian culinary history.

Restaurants in St. John's Newfoundland: Exile serves cocktails and American dishes at the JAG Hotel.
Restaurants in St. John’s Newfoundland: Exile serves cocktails and American dishes at the JAG Hotel.

Exile Restaurant

115 George St W, 709-738-1524

Exile Restaurant is located on the main floor of the boutique JAG Hotel in downtown St. John’s. The rock & roll themed restaurant opened in December 2014. Its name is inspired by Exile on Main Street, A Rolling Stones album. Owner John Steele is a huge Stones fan, which guests can appreciate as they skip through the live music-inspired dining room.

The 70 seat restaurant in St. John’s Newfoundland is best described as casual meets cool. A bar sweeps across the entrance, perched over an intimate dining room that enjoys ample lighting thanks to floor to ceiling windows. Plush benches are wrapped in rich red velvet, offering a chic vibe to Chef Andrew Dale’s American comfort food menu.

Exile Restaurant’s menu features two signature dishes that have been on the menu since they day the kitchen first fired up its stove. Chef Dale’s Moose Masala and Roasted Cod offer a creative homage to Newfoundland’s iconic food staples.

Get Stuffed serves comfort food in an upscale atmosphere.
Get Stuffed serves comfort food in an upscale atmosphere.

Get Stuffed

190 Duckworth St, 709-757-2480

Get Stuffed opened in 2006 and prides itself on offering comfort in both its dining room and menu. Located in a beautiful 3-story heritage building in downtown St. John’s, the popular restaurant offers a main floor dining room featuring hardwood floors, blue and purple tabletops and a choir of shiny mirrors.

Over the last decade Chef Rob Somers has tweaked the Get Stuffed menu to feature mouth-watering gourmet dishes. Wag your finger down the menu and you’ll find a combination of comfort food classics, traditional Newfoundland dishes and a selection of fancier plates.

Highlights from the Get Stuffed menu include Spicy Maple Bourbon Cream Mussels, Meatloaf, Newfoundland Cod Cakes and the restaurant’s signature dish, Cheese ‘n ‘doo, a gruyere and sharp cheddar mac and cheese.

Pick up a sweet treat at Newfoundland Chocolate Company.
Pick up a sweet treat at Newfoundland Chocolate Company.

Newfoundland Chocolate Company

166 Duckworth Street, 709-579-0099

While the Newfoundland Chocolate Company isn’t exactly a restaurant, it should be on every foodies to do list when visiting St. John’s. Located in the heart of Newfoundland’s capital, the city’s best chocolate shop was a dream for husband and wife team Brent and Christina.

What started off as the couples passion project flourished into the provinces most celebrated chocolatier. In May of 2008 the first box of Newfoundland Chocolate Company Chocolates was sold at a local craft show.  Soon after, Belbin’s Grocery in historic Quidi Vidi became the first store to carry the chocolates and others quickly followed. 

The flagship store can be found on Duckworth Street so skip inside to sample a selection of truffles, bars and ice cream cones. Newfoundland Chocolate Company is one of the best shops in St. John’s for those looking to purchase gifs for friends and family back home. Many of the products are named after or decorated in Newfoundland landmarks or giggle-worthy sayings.

Review Our Travel Checklist When Planning Your Next Adventure! 

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Never travel without insurance! We suggest World Nomads comprehensive coverage as it includes over 250 adventure activities such as scuba diving, bungee jumping and surfing.

If you’re planning a road trip make sure to compare the best local car rental options.

Looking to book a tour or VIP experience on holiday? Book the best local tours on Viator.

Be sure to check your travel destinations electrical plug requirements in advance. If you travel often be sure to purchase a multi-region adaptor.

Whether you’re marching through a city or exploring a rugged rural landscape, it’s important to ensure you’re traveling with comfortable footwear. We suggest these comfortable walking shoes for urban adventures or these waterproof hiking boots when embarking on a hike holiday.

Capture your holiday on a quality camera. We suggest the pocket-sized Canon Powershot G7 or professional SLR we shoot with Canon EOS 6D.

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