My adventures have taken me to Canada’s “first” city, Saint John, New Brunswick. Over the course of my week long stay, I stretched my waistline to find you ten places to satisfy your hunger pangs. Everything from a great cup of coffee to a Brewpub, and a charming Bistro to a cocktail joint with a velvet Elvis painting hanging on the wall. Saint John has proven it has some fine dining options for the hungry tourist and locals alike. There is even a wine bar that would only be better if it were open more. Where to eat in Saint John? Here are my ten picks for you try when you are in Saint John.
1. East Coast Bistro – Ask anyone in Saint John where to eat and the first place they come up with is East Coast Bistro. Chef/Owners Tim Muehlerbauer and Kim Steele have created a destination restaurant that every foodie in town eats at when they want a great meal. The menu is hyper local and seasonal, the staff are friendly and prompt, and best of all the food is superb. During my stay in Saint John my birthday came and went. Where did I book a reservation for dinner? East Coast Bistro of course, and I wasn’t disappointed. The meal started with a half dozen Oysters, then a Purple Cabbage and Peanut Salad, followed by my main course of Steak & Frites. Perfection. Dinner ended with a surprise Birthday cake made by the Chefs. It was mine, all mine!
2. Port City Royal – Remember I hinted that a restaurant in Saint John has a velvet Elvis hanging on its walls. This is that place. That should tell you that you are in for something different here. The menu changes daily and depending on when you arrive for dinner you can choose from the entire menu or the dishes that haven’t run out already. This place is all about fresh, local and craft. Skip the beer and wine and go straight for a cocktail. The bartender mixes it up every night and this one by far one of the best Dark & Stormy cocktails I’ve ever had. For dinner, I enjoyed the Pan Roasted Broccoli followed by the Pan Seared Pork Chop Loin. There was a nice crust of crackling on my piece that gave it an extra punch of flavour. A place for foodies to fall in love with.
3. happinez winebar – To quote their website, “a little bar with lots of wine“. If I lived in Saint John, this would be my watering hole. It is only open Wednesday through Saturday so make sure you put it in your calendar for when you visit. It is intimate without feeling small. It is warm, cozy and CHEAP! Maybe I am used to West Coast prices but I couldn’t find a glass of wine for more than $10 on the menu. You can enjoy a flight of wines for $12. I enjoyed a flight of Reds and left the selection completely in the hands of owner Peter Smit. To pair with the wines, happinez also offers a small but tasty selection of charcuterie and cheese plates to tantalize your taste buds. The only thing I wish is that they were open more during my stay.
4. Java Moose – In every city I’ve been to I always ask, where do I get a good cup of coffee? By coffee I mean espresso and by good I don’t mean Starbucks or Tim Hortons. The coffee shop in Saint John is Java Moose. With three locations in town plus two more in neighbouring Rothesay, there is no reason not to enjoy good coffee in Saint John. I started every day with my caffeine hit at their Prince William Street location or their kiosk in the City Market. The market was by far my favourite location, but they all brew a mean cup of java and best of all after three days they remembered my order, double shot Americano with room for milk.
5. Urban Deli – The Urban Deli by day is a great lunch spot. Serving wicked sandwiches, burgers and salads. By nighttime, it turns into a fine Italian restaurant serving pasta, pizza and many more Italian classics. You would think this dual persona would dilute the quality and leave you wondering how they stay open. You would think wrong. I never made it to the Italian by Night, but I can certainly vouch for the amazing lunch time food they serve. It’s a small space so be prepared to sit at the communal table and make friends. One lunch I enjoyed inside the restaurant at the communal table was the Uptown Big Beef Bad Boy. On another occasion, I took a Smoked Meat sandwich to go and ate it at Kings Square while listening to local musicians perform in the park. Either way it is a home run when you eat at Urban Deli.
6. Big Tide Brewing – Who doesn’t love a brew pub and Big Tide Brewing is the one and only in Saint John. Along with all the fine Beers they make on site, they also have a very tasty menu. My dinner there was certainly impressive. I started off with a French Onion soup and finished with the Italian Meatball Burger. A few of the folks I know from Saint John call this their favourite everyday restaurant and I can see why. That was a very delicious burger, it certainly left me feeling happy and full.
7. Britts Pub – I want to tell you what Britts Pub looks like inside, but every time I showed up to eat it was so busy the only place available for me was at the bar. I think that is a good sign it’s a popular place. It’s one of the few places that opens for breakfast and stays open for the nighttime pub crowd. I enjoyed both dinner and breakfast here. Unfortunately, my breakfast photos got deleted by accident, but you can take my word it was delish. For dinner, I mixed things up and had a Pulled Pork sandwich with a side of Turkey Poutine. BBQ and Christmas on two plates. Weird yet wonderful somehow.
8. Bourbon Quarter – On Prince William Street you’ll find two places that are inspired by New Orleans and the Big Easy. The Bourbon Quarter and Magnolia Cafe. Both owned by the same folks they offer a taste of Cajun cuisine to visitors and locals in Saint John. I ran out of nights to try them out for dinner, but I was able to get there for breakfast and thoroughly enjoyed myself. A nice selection of Beer on tap, fast friendly service and a tasty Cajun Scramble that hit the right spot. On my list to try them out for dinner when I visit Saint John again.
9. Saint John Ale House – The Sain John Ale House could not have a better location if they tried. Located at Market Square they are steps away from the New Brunswick Museum, the Convention Centre, the Hilton and straight across the street is a Stage where acts perform all Summer long. Inside the restaurant they don’t rest on their location laurels, the chef takes his job seriously and produces some excellent food. I couldn’t resist a lunch time plate of Bangers and Mash that was so big I couldn’t finish it. They also have a great selection of local beers and cider on tap. I ordered a pint of my New Brunswick favourite, Red Rover Cider.
10. Lemongrass Thai Fare – Saint John has a thing for restaurants that are two restaurants in one. Lemongrass Thai Fare by day serves up authentic Thai cuisine on it’s heated three tier patio on the Saint John Waterfront boardwalk. At nighttime it turns into Peppers Pub and serves up its unique twist on Pub fare to go along with the great bands performing on their stage. I missed the bands playing by a couple of nights, but I did get to enjoy some fantastic Thai food that included Curry Dusted Calamari, Lamb Popsicles and nicely spiced Chicken Pad Thai. Not what I expected to eat in Saint John, but I am glad I did. A nice alternative to the usual pub fare.
So there you have my ten places to eat at in Saint John. I’m sure I’ve missed a few places like En Sushi and Thandi, but I ran out of time. One thing you should know about all of these places listed above is that they are all within a five-minute walk of each other in Uptown Saint John. So if you head out for dinner one night and you can’t get into to one of these places you have nine options to choose from in a 5-minute walk area. It is crazy to think that all the great places to eat in Saint John are in one area. They should call it the Foodie Mile.
Bon Appetite in Saint John and do go to East Coast Bistro and happinez and tell them Marc sent you and says hello.