How can I tell you the best Canadian food experiences? I’ve been working on it for a long time. I’ve started Alberta Food Tours in 2006, am a Taste Canada award-winning cookbook author, and have visited and eaten in almost every place in this country. This list is truly just an introduction. It’s a little something to whet your appetite and set you out to explore this vast and very tasty place. I plan to continue adding to it. There’s items here I’ve done. There are others that are forming my new Great Canadian Food Bucket List. So, let’s get down to it.
What makes Canada’s food special?
Canada, as the world’s second largest country, has a terroir, a taste of place, that is largely unknown to global food travellers. We have novel tastes and therefore as the elements that make up our terroir are identified, exposed and celebrated, we will become one of the world’s most exciting food destinations. It’s time for us to take our place at the table of global cuisines.
As a tri-coastal northern hemisphere country with the longest coastline in the world we have foods found nowhere else. Food artisans and writers in each province and territory are currently sharing the bounty with food industry entrepreneurial efforts, publications and events. We grow a lot of the world’s food and also have a bountiful supply of wild foods thanks to the abundance of boreal forest in our country. We also have culinary institutions yielding talented chefs who are on par with the world’s best, innovative food tourism operators, and experience creators.
I’ll now take you on a guided tour of culinary media, offerings, and experiences for each province and territory from coast to coast to coast. Let’s start on the far east coast.
Newfoundland and Labrador (NL)
European explorers might have set out looking for spices but when they found NL’s cod they hit a culinary gold mine of a different kind. With the world constantly coming for their cod, the fish, as it is known in NL, was nearly fished to extinction. This resilient culture refused to die with their key to survival. The people here continue to adapt and celebrate the food and culture of this place.
Food, Culture, Place – a cookbook celebrating the ingredients of the island of Newfoundland – by Lori McCarthy and Marsha Tulk.
Wildness – a visual and gustatory feast from chef Jeremy Charles of Raymond’s in St. John’s.
East Coast Forager – a TV series featuring forager and chef Lori McCarthy.
NL Places and Experiences:
Fogo Island Inn – listed on NYTimes 52 Sustainable Places to Visit for 2022.
Fogo Island Fisheries – bringing back the cod but diversifying with crab and shrimp too.
Terre Restaurant and Cafe – In the ALT hotel and with a stunning view down the St. John’s harbour and out to see, chef Matthew Swift celebrates hand caught seafood, wild game and top local produce.
Chinched Restaurant and Deli – chef Shaun Hussey and pasty chef Michelle LeBlanc serve up nose-to-tail charcuterie in this cozy downtown St. John’s spot. We left feeling “tightly stuffed” as the name of the restaurant means in local vernacular.
Mallard Cottage – chef Todd Perrin’s cozy Quidi Vidi restaurant.
Portage – chefs Celeste Mah and Rob Larkin.
Rocket Bakery and Fresh Food – owner Kelly Mansell and her partners serve up goodies as wonderful as homemade.
Hare Bay Adventures – owners Renee and Wayne Collins Renee, Duane and Gracie Colli.
The Florian – chef Angela Gillies’ restaurant and hotel in Forteau, Labrador Straits.
Kiss the Cod and Get Screeched-In – featuring NL’s famous rum and the indelible experience of becoming an honorary Newfoundlander.
Ale Tales: The Story of Craft Brewing in NL – a listing of micro breweries in NL.
Nova Scotia (NS)
There’s 995,943 acres of farmlands in Nova Scotia and $2 billion in seafood exports. The soft Annapolis Valley farmlands balance a jagged coastline that almost completely circumnavigates the place.
Taste of Nova Scotia – Charles Lief and Heather McKenzie
Out of Old Nova Scotia Kitchens – Marie Nightingale
Out of New Nova Scotia Kitchens – Craig Flinn
NS Places and Experiences:
Bar Kismet – chef Anne Brace-Lavoie’s talent for seafood is matched by the infusions of mixologist Jenner Cormier in this house-party-esque spot in Halifax.
Field Guide and Fawn – chef Natalie Rosen – uncomplicated focus on east coast growers and producers in the North End of Halifax.
Newell’s Jewels – Jonathan Newell – Annapolis Valley forager.
Food Fantastique’s – Dining on the Ocean Floor – chef Domenic Padula – ditto as above.
Afishionado – sustainable fishmongers – Halifax
Curated Food Tours – Alexander Henden, Halifax
Bicycle Thief – a delightful menu, ambiance and location have made this a “go-to” in Halifax.
Drift – chef Anthony Walsh’s tribute to N.S’s food in The Muir Hotel, Halifax.
The Kilted Chef – Alain Bossé’s, author of The Acadian Kitchen & Mussels, restaurant in Pictou.
Beggar’s Banquet – a full-on Acadian experience in Fort Louisbourg, Cape Breton.
Prince Edward Island (PEI)
Canada’s Food Island indeeed. Home to an International Shellfish Festival; mussels, oysters, and lobster all thrive here. The rich red soil also produces a quarter of Canada’s potatoes. Each summer the island welcomes 10 times its population in tourism visitors. My favourite food thing to do, after a long day on the links or the beaches, is to attend a lobster supper. Chowder an biscuits, mussels and salads are all a warm up for the bright red crustaceans then, we wash it down with pieces of fluffly sheet cake and whipped cream topped strawberry shortcakes.
Canada’s Food Island – both a book and trip planning website.
Noted PEI chef with TV shows – Michael Smith
PEI Places and Experiences:
Copper Bottom Brewing – sure to put Montague on the map, with Ken Spears beers and his wife, Ashley Condon’s, music programming plus pub snacks sourced locally.
Nick of the North foraging – Chef Nick Chindamo – conservationist and forager.
Inn at Bay Fortune – chef Michael Smith’s pride and joy.
The Fiddling Fishermen – lobster suppers on a boat.
New Glasgow Lobster Suppers – tradition since 1958. This is where my Maritimer family always goes.
Prince Edward Island International Shellfish Festival – since 1996, Liam Nolan has brought notoriety and business to the island.
Craft Breweries, Distilleries, Cideries, Wineries and Meaderies – a list from Tourism PEI.
My home province is typically known as “the drive-through province.” But, for those of us in the know, there’s a bounty of wild food, seafood and home-made, home-grown everything as a reward for detouring off the Trans Canada highway. Canada’s only official bilingual province offers up Acadian specialties like poutine râpée, pets de soeur (nun’s farts – sweet little cinnamon rolls), cipâte (meat stew) and ployes (buckwheat pancakes). New Brunswick’s Bay of Fundy has the highest tides on earth and is one of the most accessible viewing areas for marine life in the world. Sustainable aquaculture was pioneered here. Wild blueberries are eaten in crisps, grunts, cobblers, buckles, pies, pancakes, muffins, tarts, and cakes. Fiddleheads, dulse, lobster, and fried clams are taste morsels that keep family and friends pulled back with the tides time and again.
Saveurs d’Acadie – Anne Godin and Amélie Poirier
Flavours of New Brunswick – Tom Mason
Eat Delicious – Dennis Prescott
Places and Experiences:
Rossmount Inn – chef Chris Aernie, St. Andrews
Origines: Cuisine Maritime – chef Benjamin Cormier, Caraquet
Cielo Glamping Maritime – chef Etienne Buisson at Haut-Shippegan – from picnics to weekly feasts, this is a taste of the French shore
Port City Royal – Jakob Lutes, Saint John
11th Mile – Chef Peter Tompkins has garnered a loyal Fredericton following with delicious, not overly fussy, food.
Les Brumes du Coude – chef Michel Savoie, Moncton
NB Wineries, Cideries, Breweries and Distilleries – Tourism NB
Home to most of Canada’s maple syrup production, wild foods, blueberries and cranberry bogs, plus cheese makers and world class duck farms, from the Gaspe to Quebec City and Montreal, from the Eastern Townships to Mont Tremblant, fine food is de rigueur.
Toque! Creators of a New Quebec Gastronomy – Normande Laprise
Joe Beef: Surviving the Apocalypse, Another Cookbook of Sorts – Frederic Morin, David McMillan and Meredith Erickson.
The Art of Living According to Joe Beef: A Cookbook of Sorts – David McMillan, Frederic Morin and Meredith Erickson
Made in Quebec – Julian Armstrong
Au Pied de Cochon Sugar Shack – Martin Picard
Noted Quebec chefs with TV shows – Ricardo Larrivée, Martin Picard (The Wild Chef), and Chuck Hughes
Montreal Cooks – Jonathan Cheung and Tays Spencer
Bonjour Quebec – tourism Quebec has great content on their website related to food and it’s beautifully laid out, clear and on point with what’s unique to the province
Places and Experiences:
Bika Farm and Cuisine – chef Fisun Ercan infuses her food with natural, sustainable flavours in this barn/farmhouse kitchen restaurant in Saint-Blaise-sur-Richelieu.
Restaurant Île Flottante – chef Sean Murray Smith’s shopping daily at Jean Talon market and giving guests the best experience possible in Montreal
Montreal Local Food Tours – serving up culture along with emblematic food
Restaurant Les Fougères – chef Yannick La Salle, Chelsea
Wineries, Breweries and Spirits in Quebec – Tourism Quebec – did you say Iced Cider?
Home to Canada’s largest city, Toronto, and the nation’s capital, Ottawa, Ontario has a long growing season and mild climate throughout the south. Produce is abundant. Wine regions include Niagara and Prince Edward County.
Taste Toronto – online magazine that speaks to the depth of Toronto’s food scene
Toronto Eats – Amy Rosen
Ottawa Cooks – Anne DesBrisay
Noted Ontario chefs with TV shows – Anna Olsen
Places and Experiences:
Merrill House – chefs Michael and Lili Sullivan are famous for their Prince Edward County wine country cuisine and afternoon tea in this mansion owned by antiques and art collector, Jordan Martin de Rosales in Picton.
Langdon Hall – chef Jason Bangerter has 30 hectares of estate plus a kitchen garden to forage in this famed romantic escape in Cambridge.
Visit Prince Edward County – exemplary in its clarity and organization
Destination Ontario – compilation of food festivals and trails throughout the year
Culinary Adventure Co – owners Kevin Durkee – food tours in Toronto and food tours in a box
Chopsticks and Forks – owner Jusep Sim – made the Top 25 Food Tours in the World by Trip Advisor 2022
Yawekon – In Ohswe:en (near Caledonia) – by chef Tawnya Brant – Gardener and seed saver, this chef is reviving the food of her Haudenosaunee (Mohawk) childhood.
Breweries, Cideries and Distilleries – Destination Ontario
Lakes filled with goldeye or pickerel, fields abundant with grains, Mennonite and Ukrainian specialties and Traditional First Nations foods, such as bison, game, fish, wild fruit and grain are enjoyed from Hudson’s Bay to the North Dakota border.
Winnipeg Cooks – Robin Sommerfield, author
Blueberries & Polar Bears series written by Helen Webber and Marie Woolsey
Out of Old Manitoba Kitchens – Christine Hanlon
Places and Experiences:
Deer + Almond – forager and chef Mandel Hitzer’s been leading the culinary scene in Winnipeg for over a decade. This is the taste of Manitoba.
One Sixteen -home to Good Neighbour Brewing Co. (women-owned by Morgan Wielgosz and Amber Sarraillon) and the upscale but approachable Two Hands restaurant, this is truly an inclusive and collaborative venture in the heart of Winnipeg
Winnipeg Hops and History Tour – Soncina Travel
14 Road Trip Worthy Restaurants – throughout the province compiled by Tourism Manitoba
Grains and pulses flourish on these flat lands. This is a place where, word of mouth makes the drive to its hidden gems worth the effort.
Flat out Food – Book and TV Series – Jennifer Sharp, author and host
Only in Saskatchewan: recipes and stories from the Province’s best loved eateries – Naomi Hansen
Out of Old Saskatchewan Kitchens – Amy Jo Ehman, author
Places and Experiences:
Homestead Bar a Vin – chef Elizabeth Aparicio – Mexican from scratch that people drive from all over the province to eat.
Wanuskewin – Metis and Plains First Nations food
Ayden Kitchen and Bar – chef Dale Mackay
8 out-of-the-way hidden-gem restaurants – Jennifer Sharp, Star Phoenix
The 10 Best Restaurants in Regina – Culture Foodie
9 Breweries and Distilleries to try in Saskatoon – Tourism SK
With its seven signature foods – beef, bison, canola, honey, Red Fife wheat, root vegetables and saskatoon berries, Alberta is known for the diverse ways these ar presented for consumption. From Chinese Ginger Beef to Bison Bourguigon, there’s so much more to discover.
Food Artisans of Alberta – Karen Anderson and Matilda Sanchez-Turri
Eat Alberta First – (publication date March, 2023) – Karen Anderson
Foodshed: and Edible Alberta Alphabet – Dee Hobsbawn-Smith
Calgary Eats – Gail Norton and Karen Ralph
Edmonton Cooks – Tina Faiz and Leanne Brown
Tapping the West – Scott Messenger
Places and Experiences:
Rouge Restaurant – chef Paul Rogalski, Calgary
JinBar – 2017 Canadian Culinary Champion, chef Jinhee Lee’s, ode to fun Korean food with decidedly Alberta ingredients
Culina Family of Restaurants – Metis chef Brad Lazarenko, Edmonton
Pei Pei Chei Ow – Indigenous chef Scott Iserhoff, Edmonton
Sauvage in Canmore – chef Tracy Little – hunger and gatherer menus bringing Alberta’s terroir to the table
The Butternut Tree – chef Scott Downey
RgeRd – chef Blair Lebsack
Chartier – Sylvia and Darren Cheverie, Beaumont
Cilantro and Chive – chef Rieley Kay, Lacombe and Red Deer
Twisted Fork – Metis chef Deb Poulin, St. Paul
Alberta Food Tours, Inc – Calgary, Canmore, Banff and Edmonton
Jasper Food Tours – Estelle Blanchette
British ColumbiA (BC)
Canada’s greatest wine region lies in the interior of BC. The Okanagan Valley has over 250 wineries producing world class vintages in the arrid northern tip of the Sonoran desert. Fruit orchards abound here as well. The lush rainy forests along the west coast were home to Indigenous Peoples that had the salmon as their abundant staff of life. It allowed them to develop arts and culture that is still prevalent today. Fisheries are still a predominant industry with albacore tuna, ling cod, halibut and several kinds of salmon found. Vancouver Island is famous for its Nanaimo Bars. A large South Asian immigrant population on the lower maninland makes things like butter chicken pizza a norm. The inside-out sushi roll was invented by a Japanese-Canadian chef in Vancouver. Richmond, B.C. was, during the 2008 Olympics there, voted the best place to eat Chinese food in the world. Sourdough bread bakeries dot the stops from Dawson Creek in the North of the province where the Alaska Highway starts. It’s a big province with an even bigger plate of offerings.
Lure – Ned Bell and Valerie Howes
Vancouver Eats – Joanne Sasvari
Island Eats – Dawn Postnikoff and Joanne Sasvari
Food Artisans of the Okanagan – Jennifer Cockrall-King
The Butcher, The Baker, The Wine and Cheese Maker – Jennifer Schell
Okanagan Wine Tour Guide – John Schreiner and Luke Whittal
The Deerholme Mushroom Book – Bill Jones
A Taste of Haida Gwaii – Susan Musgrave
Places and Experiences:
House of Boateng – chef Castro Boateng – Ghana meets Victoria’s local produce
Sourced – Edible Okanagan Events by The Paisley Notebook’s founder, chef Aman Dosanj
Wickaninnish Inn – chef Carmen Ingham’s food and the wild Pacific Ocean as backdrop
Sooke Harbour House – Alex Watson
Hastings House – chef Marcel Kauer, Salt Spring Island
Dining in Whistler – Tourism Whistler
Yukon Territory, North West Territory, Nunavut Territory
Country food is how the Indigenous People of Northern Canada call their food. Nhar whale, seal, walrus, bear, fish, berries, deer, elk, moose, caribou, and fowl. Sharing is the custom. Sourdough still a lifeline for many.
Boreal Gourmet, Boreal Table – Michelle Genest, author, Whitehorse, YT
First We Eat – Suzanne Crocker, Documentary Filmmaker, Dawson City, YT
Places and Experiences:
Inn on the Lake – chef Carson Schiffkorn, Marsh Lake near Whitehorse, YT
Klondike Rib and Salmon – Chef Klayton McColl – in Whitehorse, YT and with a sourdough dating back to 1898
Wayfarer Oyster House – Andrew Seymour, Eddie Rideout and chef Brian Ng’s smoked, fresh and internationally flavoured seafood plus standout cocktails in downtown Whitehouse, YT
Bonton and Co – Shelby Jordan, butcher; Ariel Adams, chef – house-made charcuterie and plant-based local share small plates in this downtown Dawson City, YT gem.
Sun Dog Adventures, Yellowknife – chef Calvin Rossouw – cozy eatery with homemade ice creams like wild mint, Arctic rose, spruce tips and birch syrup.
Wild Cat Cafe – Yellowknife, NWT
A Taste of NWT – Spectacular NWT
Discovery Hotel in Iqaluit, NT – chef Eduardo Delascio Burafah – with seal, caribou, beluga, muskox and narwhal on the menu, chef has a close relationship with local hunters and fishers
Get a Taste of the Arctic while in Nunavut – Travel Nunavut
Nunavut Food Security Council – country food, NT
5 Breweries worth a Pint Stop – Yukon Travel
Canada-wide Food Culture
Anita Stewart’s Canada – the late Anita Stewart
Feast – Recipes and Stories from a Canadian Road Trip – Lindsay Anderson and Dana Vanveller
Food Day Canada – Saturday of the August Long Weekend Annually
Taste Canada Awards – annual cookbook and culinary literature awards in English and French
Culinary Historians of Canada – advancing knowledge of Canada’s food history