Whenever I go to a new city, one of the first things that I do is look up restaurants and pubs there. I really believe that you can discover the soul of a city by eating in the local haunts, the classy establishments, and even the overrun tourist eateries. I am quick to look on Urbanspoon or Zagat for the top rated pubs, restaurants, and bars in order to attain some idea of what is offered in a new city. However, one of the easiest things to do is wander around and look for a hole in the wall to eat in. In fact, one of the best places I ate in while visiting Paris was literally a hole in the wall. This Creperie (whose name I have long forgotten) had two tables, and was run by two young men, but had the BEST crepes that I have ever eaten, even beating the famous Tit-O-Taton in Nice.
There are other times when you think Urbanspoon or Open Table might have led you astray. While visiting Alberta for a family wedding last summer, the Peytons had a very interesting yet sentimentally memorable dinner at a place called Tzin. In this crowded restaurant a wonderful Irish man served us tapas and specialty wine despite the fact that we almost left because they mixed up our reservation. After literally chasing us down the street, the owner wholeheartedly served his best food and created a fabulous night for our family.
Exploring and trying new places is something that I love to do, and since moving to Halifax I have referred to Urbanspoon, other bloggers and word of mouth to choose the places in which I eat. Word of mouth is something of a gamble. You have to be careful whose opinion you trust since some people may not have the same taste as you, and others just don’t appreciate certain aspects of a dining experience that may be important to you. However, most of the restaurants that have been recommended to me in Halifax have turned out to be satisfying and enjoyable in one way or another. The majority of the places that are mentioned in this post are places that were referred to me by Haligonians or Newfoundland transplants and are by no means the best of the best. However, if you are looking for direction about which pubs to visit on a big night out in Halifax, here are some great options.
One of the first and most commonly suggested pubs is The Henry House, which is located on lower Barrington, a few hundred meters from the Westin. I have already visited this pub twice in the short time that I have been in Halifax and was satisfied on both instances. The first time I visited was with Adam and a few of his friends from law school. Being a warm night in September we were able to snag a table on the small crowded patio area adjoining the historic building. Though we only had drinks, the server was more than friendly and even though it was a busy night, he was more than attentive to our casual needs.
The second time was with Adam and his Aunt and Uncle who were visiting from St. John’s. We had drinks and appetizers in the middle floor of Henry House, which is laid out on three floors: the bottom being the most casual and probably the most crowded with students and young people, the second floor still a pub, but for the slower pace of the older generations and their company, and finally the third floor which is more upscale with more of a restaurant feel. The whole building is comfortable with an old world pub feel and is more than welcoming to is varied clientele. The nachos that we had were awesome, and had an unusual ingredient: pineapple! Though some people hate pineapple anywhere near their food, it’s even better on nachos than it is on pizza!
After starting out an evening at Henry House, you still may feel hungry, or if you are still thirsty for craft brews, a good bet is to head to Rock Bottom Brew Pub on the ever popular Spring Garden Road. Suggested to Adam and I because of the weekly Trivia events, the pub is located under the most talked about pub in Halifax, Your Father’s Moustache and has a great selection of craft beer and pub style food. On the night that Adam and I went there, it was packed full of people and energy. Though the service was expectedly slow, being that it was a Friday night, Adam selected the Pulled Pork Sandwich and the sampler platter of beers, which he loved. He really appreciated the labels under the small pints of beer so that he could order more of the kinds he liked afterwards. I chose classic wings and had a pint of Deadwood Wheat. One sentence can sum up the Rock Bottom: Great beer, good crowd, okay food.
If you are more the sports bar type and you are in search of the perfect place to watch your favourite team, then Bubba Ray’s, which is also located on Spring Garden Road is a great option. I was referred to this place by my friend Krysi who stated that they had some of the best chicken wings in the city, and I was inclined to try Bubba Ray’s because I love chicken wings! There are literally television screens everywhere you look displaying numerous games at pretty much any time of the day. I went with Adam one Sunday night in order for him to catch the Packers game, and though these types of places are not my favourite, I enjoyed it none the less. The daily specials on food and drinks are great, and there is more than ample seating with good views of the screens. We ordered Bubba’s Main Event, a sampler platter, because I was intrigued by the deep fried pepperoni, of which I was slightly disappointed with because they weren’t battered. However, the University Wings and creamy cheese sticks more than made up for the lacking deep friend pepperoni.
Those who love wine and charcuterie (like myself) would be more inclined to avoid Bubba Ray’s and head down Barrington Street to Obladee Wine Bar. Adam and I met up with a few people here upon the suggestion of our friend Samantha, who was hosting a friend of ours from St. John’s. Obladee has a great selection of wine by the glass and, my personal favrouite, sparkling by the glass!
There are also small plates and charcuterie with an awesome selection of local products that are fresh and served with delicious bread. Adam and I ordered the Veal & Sweetbread Pâté fromRatinaud French Cuisine along with Ran-Cher Acres Chevre from Aylesford and they were both delicious! Obladee is a very hip and social place to enjoy good wine and good charcuterie. The decor is trendy and vintage and the candle lit room makes for a very classy night out.
Once you have drunken yourself into a tizzy, there are lots of places in downtown Halifax that cater to the late night munchies. Of course there are dozens of pizza places selling huge slices, but one of the first places that I am ashamed to admit I have grown to love is Pizza Delight.
Located on Spring Garden Road, Pizza Delight is open 24 hours a day, catering to any person’s social habits, and has ridiculously cheap drink and food deals any night of the week. Adam and I have been there several times after law school events or a night out on the town, and we have yet to be disappointed by the cheesy garlic fingers or the saucy wings; they even keep the serve-yourself-garlic-bread station open late night which is FREE. How can you not love that? They also have six dollar jugs of Sangria which are awesome. If you are looking for a late night place to congregate with your friends after a drunken night out, this is it.
There is also Willy’s, which serves right out of the window onto Blowers Street for the late night drunkards who need their fast food fix. This place is fast with giant servings and awesome poutine. If you want to avoid the craziness that is Smoke’s Poutinerie any late night of the week, than Willy’s is the place to be!
Though I have tried many places since arriving in Halifax just a few short months ago, there are still so many places that I am excited to experience. I love pubs and the greasy yummy food they offer and I am excited to keep on Exploring Eating and Repeating my way through Halifax. I am also always open to suggestions about yummy places to eat. If you know any awesome holes in the wall around Halifax, then let me know!