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The 16 Essential Restaurants of St. John’s, Newfoundland

Where to eat fish and chips, wild game, and more in this colourful seaside city

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Newfoundland and Labrador’s icebergs, puffins, and craggy coastlines have attracted tourists from all over the world for decades, but recently, St. John’s has become a culinary destination in its own right. Canada’s most easterly city is also the most colourful, and while the rainbow-like array of historic homes is often covered with fog, the food scene shines all year round. For a city of 150,000, there are surprisingly diverse offerings, ranging from Mallard Cottage’s reimagined Newfoundland cuisine to low-key Filipino at RJ Pinoy Yum.

It’s also worth noting that Newfoundland is the only province in Canada where you can legally serve wild game in restaurants. Pair that with an exploding craft beer scene, renewed interest in local ingredients, and some unexpected Asian influences, it means St. John’s offers much more than fish and chips (but the city does that pretty darn well, too).

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

The Grounds Cafe

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Who knew it would be a genius idea to open a cafe in a garden centre? The Grounds Cafe at Murray’s Garden Centre in Portugal Cove serves brunch and lunch fuelled by the restaurant gardens in a dining room with cathedral-like ceilings and hanging plants and hooked rugs adorning the walls.

Mallard Cottage

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The 18th-century cottage in Quidi Vidi that houses the rustic Mallard Cottage is a National Historic Site, but the food is anything but old-fashioned. Chef Todd Perrin reimagines Newfoundland cuisine with dishes like roasted carrots with dukkah and Newfoundland honey, house-made linguine with stinging nettle pesto or turbot chop with shaved parsnips and oyster aioli.

Bannerman Brewing Co.

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Bannerman Brewing’s massive open taproom also serves as a morning cafe with espresso drinks and remote workers, then shifts into a bustling eatery by midday. In the kitchen, pop-up-turned-must-try-restaurant Namjim serves up Thai-inspired dishes enriched by local and foraged ingredients — green curries with sustainably harvested mussels, lobster fried rice, and larb with wild Newfoundland beach greens. In warmer weather, an enormous garage door retracts to double the taproom size with a patio overlooking Duckworth Street and, on a sunny day, the harbour.

This coffee shop offers so much more than (very) good espresso drinks. Every week there is a new danish flavour — everything bagel, banoffee pie, and poached pear with chai, to name a few — not to mention harissa and honey bear claws, tofu rib subs with scallion mayo, and onion dip breakfast sandwiches. In the evenings, there are natural wines, craft cocktails and small plates that lean vegetarian like ten treasure fried rice and roasted cauliflower with mole.

Hungry Heart Cafe

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Smack in the middle of Rawlin’s Cross (the city’s most confusing intersection), the Hungry Heart offers an oasis replete with seasonal local fare for breakfast and lunch. Favourites include a moose and manchego burger with caramelized onions, roasted beet and apple salad, and local lamb pappardelle in a small, brightly lit corner dining room.

Terre Restaurant & Café

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If you make the smart decision and follow the menu’s advice to “let the kitchen cook for you,” Chef Matthew Swift will not steer you wrong. This relative newcomer to St. John’s (the restaurant opened in 2019 inside the ALT Hotel St. John’s) is now one of the best restaurants in the city and renowned across the country. It’s known for its close relationships with sustainable aquaculturists and one of the province’s only subsea foragers, which show up on the plates of scallop crudo in marigold cream sauce and halibut filet with maitake and sandwort.

India Gate Restaurant

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While there are an impressive number of Indian restaurants in St. John’s for its size (in recent years the number of South Asian restaurants has skyrocketed), India Gate Restaurant is the institution, serving up curries, roti and tandoori for more than three decades. They also lean into current trends with masala poutine smothered in their Rogan josh sauce.

After a tenure with Nobu in Tokyo, chef Tak Ishiwata opened Basho and its popular bar in a historic building downtown over a decade ago, and it’s still serving up some of the best sushi in St. John’s. This minimally designed Japanese fusion restaurant produces high-grade scallop rolls, tuna tartare with roasted garlic avocado, white truffled and tomato yuzu salsa, and one of the best filet mignons in the city.

The Nook and Cannery

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Chef Amy Anthony’s atypical cafe is both decidedly vegan-friendly and appealing to meat lovers with an ever-changing menu of soups, salads, and sandwiches. The global menu with local influences showcases items like Trini Doubles made with toutons (a Newfoundland pancake-like fried dough) coloured yellow with curry and stuffed with black beans, zucchini, and pickled shallots. Or try the Hawt Mess Fries with house-made kimchi, sesame seeds, roasted sesame seaweed bits, sweet and spicy pickled peppers, and spicy aioli.

The Duke Of Duckworth

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Hidden on McMurdo’s Lane between Duckworth and Water Streets, the Duke of Duckworth is an iconic watering hole that serves up some of the best pub grub in the city. Pints of Guinness and local beer flow endlessly at this small, always bustling bar, making “the Duke” everything a local spot should be. The fish and chips are iconic, but the huge bowls of chowder are one of the best-kept secrets in the city.

Ches's Famous Fish and Chips (multiple locations)

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Ches’s Fish and Chips is an institution in St. John’s and has been pumping out piles of fi and chi (the colloquial term for fish and chips, pronounced “fee and chee”) since 1951. Diner vibes prevail in Ches’s’ oldest location on Freshwater Road, which serves fish and chips, cod bites, and seafood platters. If you want to eat like a local, be sure to order your fries with dressing and gravy, a Newfoundland tradition.

Chinched

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Turquoise walls and a gallery wall of pig-themed art sets the tone for this relaxed dining room and deli. Their house-made charcuterie (think spruce tip mortadella and salami cotto) flies off the shelves and the happy hour’s pig ear fries are a favourite. The seasonally changing bistro menu is also decidedly meat-heavy with small plates like caramelized pork rillettes, braised wild rabbit gnocchi and tuna kataifi with sumac yoghurt.  

Piatto Pizzeria + Enoteca (multiple locations)

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Piatto Pizzeria + Enoteca’s eateries (there are two in St. John’s and four throughout Atlantic Canada) are the only pizzerias certified by Naples’ VPN east of Montreal. Expect affordable Neapolitan-style pizzas, great Italian wine, and cocktails in their signature red and black dining rooms decorated with full-size red Vespas. The wood-fired pizzas range from a traditional Margherita to “the Stephanie” with goat cheese, prosciutto crackle, caramelized pears, and balsamic reduction. This pie has reached celebrity status in St. John’s.

The Merchant Tavern

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In an old bank building downtown, diners crowd around the mammoth square bar at the centre of the Merchant Tavern, decorated in navy blue and presided over by the head of a moose that chef Jeremy Charles shot himself. The somewhat casual little sister of Raymonds (closed in 2020) stands out on its own thanks to the handmade pasta and big hunks of meat flying out of the open kitchen — not to mention a thoughtful wine list overseen by sommelier and co-owner Jeremy Bonia, carefully made cocktails, and plenty of local beers on tap.

The Adelaide Oyster House

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While the Adelaide Oyster House is known for shucking the best oysters from across the continent (and more recently an uptick in Newfoundland’s own bivalves), the reverence for its tacos is what made it one of the most popular eateries in St. John’s. The tuna taco and fish taco are worthy of your time, as are Kobe beef lettuce wraps with Japanese “mac” sauce, kimchi, and rice puffs (which have been on the menu since day one). Expect a trendy ambience: the lights are low, and the music is loud, while the space is laden with dark clapboard and wood tables.

RJ Pinoy Yum

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The city’s first (of two) Filipino restaurants in St. John’s can be found in a new standalone location in the west end. Bright yellow and red decor liven up the simple dining room and the ube shines purple in the dishes. Pork siopao, chicken java yum rice, and pancit abound with shaved ice dessert halo-halo to finish.

The Grounds Cafe

Who knew it would be a genius idea to open a cafe in a garden centre? The Grounds Cafe at Murray’s Garden Centre in Portugal Cove serves brunch and lunch fuelled by the restaurant gardens in a dining room with cathedral-like ceilings and hanging plants and hooked rugs adorning the walls.

Mallard Cottage

The 18th-century cottage in Quidi Vidi that houses the rustic Mallard Cottage is a National Historic Site, but the food is anything but old-fashioned. Chef Todd Perrin reimagines Newfoundland cuisine with dishes like roasted carrots with dukkah and Newfoundland honey, house-made linguine with stinging nettle pesto or turbot chop with shaved parsnips and oyster aioli.

Bannerman Brewing Co.

Bannerman Brewing’s massive open taproom also serves as a morning cafe with espresso drinks and remote workers, then shifts into a bustling eatery by midday. In the kitchen, pop-up-turned-must-try-restaurant Namjim serves up Thai-inspired dishes enriched by local and foraged ingredients — green curries with sustainably harvested mussels, lobster fried rice, and larb with wild Newfoundland beach greens. In warmer weather, an enormous garage door retracts to double the taproom size with a patio overlooking Duckworth Street and, on a sunny day, the harbour.

Toslow

This coffee shop offers so much more than (very) good espresso drinks. Every week there is a new danish flavour — everything bagel, banoffee pie, and poached pear with chai, to name a few — not to mention harissa and honey bear claws, tofu rib subs with scallion mayo, and onion dip breakfast sandwiches. In the evenings, there are natural wines, craft cocktails and small plates that lean vegetarian like ten treasure fried rice and roasted cauliflower with mole.

Hungry Heart Cafe

Smack in the middle of Rawlin’s Cross (the city’s most confusing intersection), the Hungry Heart offers an oasis replete with seasonal local fare for breakfast and lunch. Favourites include a moose and manchego burger with caramelized onions, roasted beet and apple salad, and local lamb pappardelle in a small, brightly lit corner dining room.

Terre Restaurant & Café

If you make the smart decision and follow the menu’s advice to “let the kitchen cook for you,” Chef Matthew Swift will not steer you wrong. This relative newcomer to St. John’s (the restaurant opened in 2019 inside the ALT Hotel St. John’s) is now one of the best restaurants in the city and renowned across the country. It’s known for its close relationships with sustainable aquaculturists and one of the province’s only subsea foragers, which show up on the plates of scallop crudo in marigold cream sauce and halibut filet with maitake and sandwort.

India Gate Restaurant

While there are an impressive number of Indian restaurants in St. John’s for its size (in recent years the number of South Asian restaurants has skyrocketed), India Gate Restaurant is the institution, serving up curries, roti and tandoori for more than three decades. They also lean into current trends with masala poutine smothered in their Rogan josh sauce.

Basho

After a tenure with Nobu in Tokyo, chef Tak Ishiwata opened Basho and its popular bar in a historic building downtown over a decade ago, and it’s still serving up some of the best sushi in St. John’s. This minimally designed Japanese fusion restaurant produces high-grade scallop rolls, tuna tartare with roasted garlic avocado, white truffled and tomato yuzu salsa, and one of the best filet mignons in the city.

The Nook and Cannery

Chef Amy Anthony’s atypical cafe is both decidedly vegan-friendly and appealing to meat lovers with an ever-changing menu of soups, salads, and sandwiches. The global menu with local influences showcases items like Trini Doubles made with toutons (a Newfoundland pancake-like fried dough) coloured yellow with curry and stuffed with black beans, zucchini, and pickled shallots. Or try the Hawt Mess Fries with house-made kimchi, sesame seeds, roasted sesame seaweed bits, sweet and spicy pickled peppers, and spicy aioli.

The Duke Of Duckworth

Hidden on McMurdo’s Lane between Duckworth and Water Streets, the Duke of Duckworth is an iconic watering hole that serves up some of the best pub grub in the city. Pints of Guinness and local beer flow endlessly at this small, always bustling bar, making “the Duke” everything a local spot should be. The fish and chips are iconic, but the huge bowls of chowder are one of the best-kept secrets in the city.

Ches's Famous Fish and Chips (multiple locations)

Ches’s Fish and Chips is an institution in St. John’s and has been pumping out piles of fi and chi (the colloquial term for fish and chips, pronounced “fee and chee”) since 1951. Diner vibes prevail in Ches’s’ oldest location on Freshwater Road, which serves fish and chips, cod bites, and seafood platters. If you want to eat like a local, be sure to order your fries with dressing and gravy, a Newfoundland tradition.

Chinched

Turquoise walls and a gallery wall of pig-themed art sets the tone for this relaxed dining room and deli. Their house-made charcuterie (think spruce tip mortadella and salami cotto) flies off the shelves and the happy hour’s pig ear fries are a favourite. The seasonally changing bistro menu is also decidedly meat-heavy with small plates like caramelized pork rillettes, braised wild rabbit gnocchi and tuna kataifi with sumac yoghurt.  

Piatto Pizzeria + Enoteca (multiple locations)

Piatto Pizzeria + Enoteca’s eateries (there are two in St. John’s and four throughout Atlantic Canada) are the only pizzerias certified by Naples’ VPN east of Montreal. Expect affordable Neapolitan-style pizzas, great Italian wine, and cocktails in their signature red and black dining rooms decorated with full-size red Vespas. The wood-fired pizzas range from a traditional Margherita to “the Stephanie” with goat cheese, prosciutto crackle, caramelized pears, and balsamic reduction. This pie has reached celebrity status in St. John’s.

The Merchant Tavern

In an old bank building downtown, diners crowd around the mammoth square bar at the centre of the Merchant Tavern, decorated in navy blue and presided over by the head of a moose that chef Jeremy Charles shot himself. The somewhat casual little sister of Raymonds (closed in 2020) stands out on its own thanks to the handmade pasta and big hunks of meat flying out of the open kitchen — not to mention a thoughtful wine list overseen by sommelier and co-owner Jeremy Bonia, carefully made cocktails, and plenty of local beers on tap.

The Adelaide Oyster House

While the Adelaide Oyster House is known for shucking the best oysters from across the continent (and more recently an uptick in Newfoundland’s own bivalves), the reverence for its tacos is what made it one of the most popular eateries in St. John’s. The tuna taco and fish taco are worthy of your time, as are Kobe beef lettuce wraps with Japanese “mac” sauce, kimchi, and rice puffs (which have been on the menu since day one). Expect a trendy ambience: the lights are low, and the music is loud, while the space is laden with dark clapboard and wood tables.

Related Maps

RJ Pinoy Yum

The city’s first (of two) Filipino restaurants in St. John’s can be found in a new standalone location in the west end. Bright yellow and red decor liven up the simple dining room and the ube shines purple in the dishes. Pork siopao, chicken java yum rice, and pancit abound with shaved ice dessert halo-halo to finish.

Related Maps