BEST OF Food & Drink

The meals, drinks, desserts, chefs, servers and shops that made an im­pres­sion on Hal­i­fax’s taste­buds this year.

The Coast - - FOOD & DRINK -

BEST PIZZA PIE

GOLD Mor­ris East, Hal­i­fax SIL­VER Mother’s Pizza BRONZE Pi­atto Pizzeria + Enoteca HALL OF FAME Sal­va­tore’s Piz­zaiolo Trat­to­ria “We started out 10 years ago with a sim­ple menu phi­los­o­phy of sourc­ing the best in­gre­di­ents to make not just good pizza, but great pizza with cre­ative top­pings. With ev­ery year that passes, I think our pizza tastes more de­li­cious,” says Mor­ris East’s founder Jen­nie Dobbs of her restau­rant’s win. And clearly our read­ers agree, vot­ing th­ese pies—whether it’s the Peach, the Lum­ber­jack or a clas­sic Margherita—wor­thy of the prize. “I am so thank­ful and hon­oured to our cus­tomers for not only vot­ing for us but also sup­port­ing us on our jour­ney to make the best pos­si­ble pizza,” adds Dobbs, who’s just de­buted a newly ren­o­vated look at the Mor­ris Street Mor­ris East. “Huge grat­i­tude to the staff and the cus­tomers who make ev­ery meal so mem­o­rable.”

DRINKS

BEST BAR

GOLD The Lower Deck, Hal­i­fax SIL­VER Durty Nelly’s Au­then­tic Ir­ish Pub BRONZE Good Ro­bot Brew­ing Com­pany A three-floor bar? What more could ale-chug­gin’ Haligo­ni­ans want? Some east coast mu­sic, danc­ing and good eats, that’s what. Luck­ily, the water­front’s Lower Deck has it all. The first floor is home to the pub, where you can find bands such as Sig­nal Hill, Wreck­house and McGinty ev­ery day of the week. Up­stairs, the beer mar­ket serves meals dur­ing all day and shifts into a dance­floor at night. Typ­i­cal pub fare such as wings and na­chos are on of­fer, but you’ll find seafood and vege­tar­ian dishes. Find the tap room on the top floor, which can be rented out for pri­vate events. BEST BARISTA GOLD Laura Arse­nault, Java Blend Cof­fee Roast­ers SIL­VER Dan Weir, Weird Har­bour Espresso Bar BRONZE Jeremy Wa­ter­man, Dilly Dally Cof­fee Cafe Af­ter work­ing at Java Blend for “many a year” Laura Arse­nault has fi­nally struck gold. “We are ex­cep­tion­ally for­tu­nate that we do have an amaz­ing, con­sis­tent clien­tele year af­ter year,” she says, humbly. “They just seem to come back and as a re­sult we are able to form some re­ally amaz­ing per­sonal re­la­tion­ships with them.” Her per­sonal favourite cof­fee drink? A dou­ble short breve—espresso topped with steamed cream. But be­ing a good barista is about more than know­ing your caf­feinated bev­er­ages. Arse­nault says it takes be­ing “in­ter­ested and in­vested in not only their clien­tele, but also the folks that they are work­ing with.” BEST BAR­TENDER

GOLD Shane Bee­han, Lot Six SIL­VER Emily Orr, Field Guide BRONZE Steven Cross, 2 Doors Down Bar + Bites When Shane Bee­han took gold for the first time, he was newish to bar­tend­ing and work­ing at Field Guide. Vot­ers have stuck with him for four years now, and fol­lowed him through his switch to Lot Six. “I love Hal­i­fax,” says Bee­han. “I want to help this com­mu­nity grow and be part of this com­mu­nity.” He’s also quick to give credit to his col­leagues. “All of my bar­tenders and co-work­ers and stuff like that, they al­low me to do what I do, too. No bar is one bar­tender, right?” BEST BEER SELECTION

GOLD Still­well SIL­VER Battery Park Beer Bar & Eatery BRONZE The Maxwell’s Plum How very thought­ful of you, Hal­i­fax, to be­stow some gold upon Still­well just in time for its fourth birth­day. Now that the beer bar’s spunky sis­ter lo­ca­tion (the one you voted as the Best Pa­tio win­ner) has gone into hi­ber­na­tion for the colder months, co-owner Laura Mac­Don­ald says it’ll be full speed ahead for plan­ning fun stuff (like a birth­day party) on Bar­ring­ton Street. “The thing for us that we try to do is re­la­tion­ship build­ing, get­ting ac­cess to dif­fer­ent beers from across Canada and from Europe,” she says, adding that the most heart-warm­ing pours come from the up-and-com­ers in the ever-grow­ing lo­cal scene. “You have to look at the beer in­dus­try as com­mu­nity. No one is go­ing to do well if we’re not holding each other up.” BEST BREW PUB GOLD Good Ro­bot Brew­ing Com­pany SIL­VER Battery Park Beer Bar BRONZE Ga­han House Good Ro­bot Brew­ing Com­pany is where some great beer is made and poured (see Best Craft Brew­ery), but it’s also a great spot to hang out. “Our fol­low­ers love Just Vor­lafs comedy show,” says co-owner Josh Coun­sil, re­fer­ring to a reg­u­lar event that earned GRBC sil­ver in Best Comedy Night cat­e­gory. “They love silent read­ing, they love the Good­will Bot nights.” The brew­ery/ tap room calls Ro­bie Street near Al­mon home, not exactly an area known for its bars and pubs, but Coun­sil thinks that may soon change. “I hear ru­mours of some more open­ing up, which is great,” he says. BEST CAE­SAR

GOLD Stub­born Goat Gas­tropub SIL­VER Durty Nelly’s Au­then­tic Ir­ish Pub BRONZE EDNA Once upon a time, my fa­ther or­dered a Cae­sar in the United States. The server said, “Are you from up north? Like, far north?” You won’t get that sort of re­sponse at the Stub­born Goat Gas­tropub. Its Cae­sar means busi­ness with­out go­ing over the top: No ba­con, no kim­chi and no oys­ter juice (it’s a

thing). Per­haps it’s the Blue Lob­ster vodka that makes this drink ex­tra spe­cial. There’s no short­age of places to get a Cae­sar in Hal­i­fax, so hav­ing the best Cae­sar in town is an ac­com­plish­ment. BEST CAFE

GOLD Two If By Sea Cafe SIL­VER Hu­mani-T Cafe, down­town BRONZE Java Blend Cof­fee Roast­ers Two If By Sea has gone through some changes in the last year, in­clud­ing say­ing two if bye to its Hal­i­fax water­front lo­ca­tion in His­toric Prop­er­ties. “It was def­i­nitely an emo­tional and hard de­ci­sion to say, ‘OK, we’re gonna leave this lo­ca­tion that we’ve put so much work into,’ and frankly, was go­ing re­ally well,” says co-owner Zane Kel­sall. “But re-fo­cus­ing our en­er­gies on Dart­mouth and with our new neigh­bours Yeah Yeahs Pizza, it’s just been re­ally re­fresh­ing.” TIBS fans can look for­ward to more crois­sants, and maybe some new baked goods, as the pas­try kitchen has moved to a big­ger space up­stairs. BEST COCK­TAILS

GOLD Lot Six SIL­VER 2 Doors Down Bar + Bites BRONZE The Bit­ter End “There are plenty of at­tributes to be­ing a bar­tender that don’t nec­es­sar­ily have to align with mak­ing great cock­tails,” says Lot Six bar­tender (and your Best Bar­tender) Shane Bee­han. “But when you bal­ance them both, I think you get a re­ally beau­ti­ful thing.” High-qual­ity cock­tails, he ex­plains, come down to a few dif­fer­ent things. Mak­ing sure your bar is or­ga­nized is im­por­tant, so you can sling those bevs at a fast pace. Clean tools and fresh juices en­sure that ev­ery­thing will taste the way it should. On top of that, Lot Six’s cock­tails bring some­thing dif­fer­ent to your taste­buds. Peach iced tea, cold brew cof­fee and pas­sion fruit are a few in­gre­di­ents you’ll find. BEST COF­FEE

GOLD Two If By Sea Cafe SIL­VER Java Blend Cof­fee Roast­ers BRONZE Just Us! Cof­fee House, Spring Gar­den (now The Smil­ing Goat) Two If By Sea co-owner Zane Kel­sall also co-owns An­chored Cof­fee, which is of course served by the steam­ing cup­ful at the cafe. While vot­ers al­ready think it’s the best, Kel­sall’s goal is to make it even bet­ter. “We’re just try­ing to find con­sis­tent pro­duc­ers that we can have longterm re­la­tion­ships with and build a mu­tual un­der­stand­ing of the qual­ity I ex­pect,” says Kel­sall. He notes that An­chored is in its fourth har­vest now, and they have peo­ple they’ve been work­ing with for ev­ery one of those four har­vests. “That’s why I think we’re see­ing—you know, ev­ery year there’s an ex­po­nen­tial in­crease in the qual­ity that we get out of the cof­fee.” BEST CRAFT BREW­ERY GOLD Good Ro­bot Brew­ing Com­pany SIL­VER Nine Locks Brew­ery BRONZE Gar­ri­son Brew­ing Com­pany “You don’t need to be pre­ten­tious to serve a qual­ity prod­uct,” says Good Ro­bot co-owner Josh Coun­sil. “We’ve al­ways en­forced with our ro­bots to make peo­ple feel com­fort­able. Craft beer is still a rel­a­tively new phe­nom­e­non for a lot of peo­ple, so never make them feel stupid. And like­wise, don’t make the beer geeks who know quite a bit—don’t make them feel ne­glected.” In the com­ing year, Good Ro­bot will be fo­cus­ing less on events and more on the beer it­self. “We’ve got a lot of awe­some feed­back and ac­co­lades on events,” says Coun­sil, “but we love beer. So we’re gonna fo­cus our at­ten­tion on mak­ing it bet­ter all the time.” It’s the per­fect pints paired with events like Just Vor­lafs’ comedy show that make for a sil­ver award and a stel­lar evening. BEST LIQUOR/WINE STORE

GOLD Bishop’s Cel­lar SIL­VER Rock­head Wine + Beer Mar­ket BRONZE NSLC, Bay­ers Lake Ah, fuck. It’s 10pm on a Satur­day and you for­got to pick up some beer for your buddy’s BYOB get-to­gether. And now all the liquor stores are closed! Or are they? Lucky for you, Bishop’s Cel­lar will still be there to fill your needs (and your growler) un­til mid­night. While the shop is of­ten known for its wine, it has a great craft beer selection as well, in­clud­ing the five ro­tat­ing taps that started flow­ing in sum­mer 2015. If it’s great booze you’re crav­ing, Bishop’s has it wait­ing for you even when your liquor run is a bit later than usual. All that and more has earned it gold time and again. BEST MARTINI

GOLD The Bit­ter End SIL­VER Lot Six BRONZE The Fire­side Restau­rant The Bit­ter End boasts that it’s sold more than one mil­lion mar­ti­nis. Whether you want a clas­sic or some­thing spe­cial to sip on, read­ers agree this place has you cov­ered. Take the Pink Lady for ex­am­ple—it’s a mix of vodka, rasp­berry Sour Puss, amaretto and cran­berry. With its $6.50 Martini Mon­days, The Bit­ter End is sure to cure any­one’s start-ofthe-work-week blues and make you feel any­thing but bit­ter (un­less, of course, that’s what you look for in a martini). BEST MILKSHAKE

GOLD Dar­rell’s Restau­rant SIL­VER The Chick­en­burger BRONZE Ard­more Tea Room Dar­rell’s milkshake brings all the gold to the yard, and it’s easy to see why. They’re great with a burger, but since they’re so thick the straw stands up in the glass, they’re ba­si­cally a meal on their own. That’s ac­cept­able, right? They have cal­cium, and the straw­berry one has fruit. Right? Guys, right...? Any­way, read­ers agree th­ese things are ir­re­sistible and they come in 10 won­der­ful (and some­times weird) flavours: Choco­late, vanilla, straw­berry, cran­berry, choco­late-peanut but­ter, vanilla-peanut but­ter, cream­si­cle, chai, pep­per­mint and Oreo. Makes sense why Dar­rell’s has struck gold nine years in a row. BEST NEW BAR

GOLD Chain Yard Ur­ban Cidery SIL­VER Vinyl Retro Dance Lounge BRONZE The Rooftop “We knew we wanted to be in the north end be­cause we feel like it’s sort of the culi­nary, craft hub of Hal­i­fax,” says Chain Yard’s Michael Lim about the Cidery’s time so far on Agri­cola Street. The cidery, bar and restau­rant (Un­chained Kitchen) has be­come a hub in its own right since open­ing, thanks to not just the fruits of its labour (get it? ap­ples?) but the vibe, too. “It’s been a lit­tle bit more than we’ve ex­pected at the tap room,” says Lim. “It’s the wel­com­ing at­mos­phere. We hired peo­ple we thought would be great at be­ing able to talk to guests, to make them feel com­fort­able.” BEST SPE­CIALTY COF­FEE

GOLD Two If By Sea Cafe SIL­VER Java Blend Cof­fee Roast­ers BRONZE Hu­mani-T Cafe, down­town You can’t have good spe­cialty cof­fee if you don’t have good cof­fee in the first place. It makes sense, then, that TIBS (which also won Best Cof­fee hon­ours) takes the gold here. “Ba­si­cally, we’re look­ing

at re­ally clean prac­tices that will give us re­ally clean cof­fee,” says Two If By Sea and An­chored Cof­fee co-owner Zane Kel­sall. Mochas, cap­puc­ci­nos and Amer­i­canos are just a few of the drinks TIBS has on of­fer, plus Zane’s Mac­chi­ato Spe­cial is some­thing unique to the cafe. Pump­kin spice latte who? Coast read­ers tell us TIBS has ev­ery­thing they need. BEST TEA

GOLD World Tea House SIL­VER Hu­mani-T Cafe, down­town BRONZE Sense and Sen­si­bil­iTea “This year has been a tes­ta­ment to my tenac­ity,” says World Tea House owner Phil Hol­mans. He’s re­fer­ring to all the con­struc­tion around the Nova Cen­tre and else­where on Argyle Street, which has made man­ag­ing a small busi­ness in the area even more dif­fi­cult than usual. Thank­fully, though, it’s still home to Hal­i­fax’s favourite tea. From chai to oo­long, the place re­ally has ev­ery­thing to of­fer a tea lover (and you can get a cup of cof­fee there too, if you must). “I’m hop­ing cus­tomers kind of see the value in buy­ing from small farm­ers and that it doesn’t have to be hugely ex­pen­sive,” says Hol­mans. BEST WINE LIST

GOLD Obladee, A Wine Bar SIL­VER The Bi­cy­cle Thief BRONZE Lit­tle Oak It’d be a lit­tle weird if Obladee didn’t do well this cat­e­gory, as few wa­ter­ing holes around town are so ded­i­cated to and pas­sion­ate about wine. It has a wide selection, in­clud­ing both im­ported and lo­cal bot­tles, which ex­plains how it’s won gold for seven years straight. Read­ers aren’t wine-ing about the list at The Bi­cy­cle Thief, though—it’s giv­ing Obladee a run for its money with its selection—and bronze win­ner Lit­tle Oak is also do­ing wine in a big way with the va­ri­ety it has on of­fer.

FOOD

BEST AT­MOS­PHERE

GOLD The Bi­cy­cle Thief SIL­VER Stub­born Goat Gas­tropub BRONZE Lot Six The truth of the matter is that great at­mos­phere takes hard work and at­ten­tion to de­tail, and Hakan Uluer says the crew at mul­ti­ple award-win­ning restau­rant, The Bi­cy­cle Thief, is all over it: “You can have great light­ing and mu­sic, but if you don’t have hos­pi­tal­ity, you don’t have the whole pack­age.” Uluer says you’ll never hear the same playlist at 5pm that you will at 9pm, and that his staff is even think­ing about bright­ness lev­els in the wash­rooms, but at the end of the day it just comes down to be­ing ob­ser­vant. “Ev­ery­thing has to come to­gether and sim­ply, it’s all about the de­tails. If the mu­sic doesn’t fit the night—if it’s crowded and buzzing and the mu­sic is still slow pace—it’s about feel­ing the room. And that’s the big­gest the ad­van­tage we have with our man­agers, they feel the room.” BEST BAK­ERY

GOLD The Old Apothe­cary SIL­VER Julien’s Patis­serie, Bak­ery & Cafe BRONZE Scan­way Bak­ery + Cafe The Old Apothe­cary is a dream for any­one with a sweet tooth. Owner Laura Ma­cLeod says the re­ac­tion to this year’s win “was a mix­ture of ex­cite­ment and re­lief,” given the bak­eries that have opened re­cently. “There have been some new, very good bak­eries open­ing. We work re­ally hard all year. Af­ter a tough sum­mer sea­son when we’re all tired and tourist-weary, it’s a re­minder that I opened this bak­ery in 2015 for down­town Hal­i­fax res­i­dents and work­ers. And our cus­tomers still sup­port what we’re do­ing, which makes it worth all the tired feet, hot kitchens and grumpy tourists.” BEST BED­FORD RESTAU­RANT

GOLD il Mer­cato Trat­to­ria SIL­VER The Chick­en­burger BRONZE Fin­bar’s Ir­ish Pub Clang­ing cutlery, moody light­ing and jaunty Ital­ian mu­sic—it’s all th­ese lit­tle things that con­trib­ute to the un­wa­ver­ingly warm at­mos­phere at il Mer­cato. A sparkling jewel in the Sun­ny­side Mall’s crown, the Ber­tossi Group restau­rant upped the ante since its 2016 win in this cat­e­gory by un­der­go­ing some ma­jor renos last spring. Af­ter 14 years in busi­ness, the old favourite has a new look—and a badass 50-seater pa­tio—to match its tried, tested and true Ital­ian eats. It’s a pack­age deal worth rid­ing the 80 for.

BEST BREAK­FAST

GOLD Ard­more Tea Room SIL­VER The Coastal Cafe BRONZE Cora, Hal­i­fax There are only so many places peo­ple are will­ing to get up at five in the morn­ing for, and one of them is the Ard­more Tea Room. Clas­sic to say the least, the Quin­pool Road diner has been help­ing folks start their days since 1958 with quick and con­sis­tent ser­vice, seem­ingly bot­tom­less cof­fees, fluffy pan­cakes, homey hol­landaise and eggs ev­ery way imag­in­able. Whether you’re nurs­ing a han­gover in a cor­ner booth or up be­fore the sun to get a jump­start on the day—this spot is syn­ony­mous with com­fort. That’s why the Ard­more’s well-oiled, greasy spoon break­fast ma­chine takes the gold for the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive year. BEST BRUNCH

GOLD Mic Mac Bar & Grill SIL­VER EDNA BRONZE The Coastal Cafe Hit the Mic Mac Bar & Grill on a Satur­day or Sun­day and you’ll find a packed park­ing lot, and likely some hun­gry peo­ple pa­tiently wait­ing for bot­tom­less cof­fee and a ba­cony cure. It’s noth­ing fancy—no gar­nishes or foamed milk are hap­pen­ing here—and a bit of a heart­stop­per, but that’s part of what keeps the reg­u­lars com­ing back. The brunch menu in­cludes hits like the gold-win­ning Mar­i­lyn’s Fish Cakes, the Big Hun­gry break­fast and the del­ish filet mignon and eggs. Gen­eral man­ager Joël Chi­as­son sums it up sim­ply: “It’s a good han­gover plate, that’s part of it for sure.” BEST BURGER

GOLD Dar­rell’s Restau­rant SIL­VER Ace Burger Co. (now part of Battery Park Beer Bar & Eatery) BRONZE Cheese Curds Gourmet Burg­ers + Pou­tinerie, Wood­side “What’s the big deal? Can’t you just make a ham­burger at home and spread peanut but­ter on the bun?” asks your un­en­light­ened friend. “No! It’s not the same,” you in­sist, slam­ming your fist on the ta­ble for em­pha­sis. While we can’t say for sure whether the best burger at Dar­rell’s is the peanut but­ter burger specif­i­cally, we’re pretty con­fi­dent that’s the case. Af­ter all, it’s what Dar­rell’s is known for: Beef, ba­con, let­tuce and tomato all topped off with crunchy PB. It goes against the laws of na­ture; there’s no sci­en­tific ex­pla­na­tion for why this should taste good. But it does. BEST BUR­RITO

GOLD Bur­rito Jax, Blowers Street SIL­VER Ha­baneros Mod­ern Taco Bar BRONZE Dee Dee’s Ice Cream Whether you want your bur­rito in tor­tilla or bowl form, Bur­rito Jax has got you cov­ered. This year marks its six years in a row of win­ning gold for the Blowers Street take-out joint. It might have some­thing to do with the fact that they of­fer ev­ery filler you could imag­ine—veg­gies, beef, pork, chicken, pep­per­corn steak and even fish—plus top­pings ga­lore. Keep­ing with the usual tra­di­tion, Ha­baneros Mod­ern Taco Bar is on its heels with sil­ver hon­ours. And Dee Dee’s is once again the brides­maid and never the bride, but we love it just the same. BEST BUTCHER SHOP

GOLD Gate­way Meat Mar­ket SIL­VER Get­away Farm Butcher Shop, Sea­port Farm­ers’ Mar­ket BRONZE Get­away Farm Butcher Shop, Hy­dro­s­tone This spring, Gate­way Meat Mar­ket will cel­e­brate 10 years in the butcher­ing biz, and it’s been on a BOH win­ning streak for two years now. “We have cer­tainly come a long w ay o ver 10 y ears—from a small 1,700 square foot store with only one em­ployee (other than my spouse, Jamey Selig, and I) to a 10,000 square foot build­ing with over 40 staff,” co-owner Ta­mara McKay shares via email. Some things, how­ever, have not changed. “We still sup­port lo­cal farm­ers and ne­go­ti­ate heav­ily with our sup­pli­ers to bring great deals to the city, and be­ing one of the busiest meat de­part­ments in At­lantic Canada gives us tremen­dous power to buy in bulk.” BEST CAM­PUS EATS

GOLD ToGo, Dal SUB SIL­VER The Gorse­brook Lounge BRONZE The Loaded La­dle Re­minder: You need to eat food to make your brain work. We know you’re busy, you’re stressed out and you pulled an all-nighter last night. We know you’re broke, and lazy and sav­ing your last few dol­lars for Power Hour at The Split Crow. But lis­ten—your bril­liant schol­arly mind needs sus­te­nance. And ToGo (for­merly Pete’s ToGoGo) is where to get the mon­strous sal­ads, home­made soups and big ass sand­wiches that’ll help you power through that cram ses­sion and still have enough en­ergy to hit The Gra­wood hard.

BEST CHEF

GOLD Renée Laval­lée, The Can­teen SIL­VER Craig Flinn, Chives Cana­dian Bistro BRONZE Stephanie Ogilvie, Brook­lyn Ware­house “The real­ity is, I’m the cap­tain of a sports team. An amaz­ing team,” says Renée Laval­lée, quick to shout out her two as­sis­tant cap­tains, Kyle and Josh, and num­ber one cheer­leader, her busi­ness part­ner and hus­band, Doug Townsend. Laval­lée, whose restau­rant The Can­teen cleaned up this year’s Best of Hal­i­fax awards with six wins, has de­throned long­time Best Chef champ Craig Flinn, but is adamant about shar­ing her mo­ment in the sun with her squad. “I work the line ev­ery day be­cause that’s the shift I re­ally en­joy. But at the end of the day, it’s not about me. It’s still me cook­ing but it’s about the en­tire team. I know if I’m off the field, I don’t have to worry about it.” BEST CHICKEN WINGS

GOLD Your Fa­ther’s Mous­tache SIL­VER The Ale­house BRONZE Lion’s Head Tav­ern & Grill When it comes to the pub food Haligo­ni­ans love, it ain’t no thing but a chicken wing (or 12). Back in 2011 when Your Fa­ther’s Mous­tache took sil­ver in this cat­e­gory, the Hal­i­fax Wing­man wrote on his blog: “I would have to say The Coast is cor­rect as th­ese are the sec­ond best wings I’ve tried in Hal­i­fax so far.” Who’s to say whether the wings im­proved or sim­ply the vot­ers’ tastes, but th­ese days Your Fa­ther’s Mous­tache wings are con­sid­ered sec­ond to none. By the way, Your Fa­ther’s Mous­tache’s gold medal wing nights are on Thurs­days. BEST CHI­NESE RESTAU­RANT

GOLD Jean’s Chi­nese Restau­rant SIL­VER Look Ho Ho Restau­rant BRONZE May Gar­den, Dart­mouth HALL OF FAME The Great Wall Restau­rant Last year’s re­tire­ment of The Great Wall into the Hall of Fame made way for Jean’s Chi­nese Restau­rant—which was long on its tail—to take over the top spot in this cat­e­gory. And owner Kong On Jean is pumped about it. “We have been work­ing re­ally hard and we have 15-year his­tory in down­town,” he says, cred­it­ing the restau­rant’s top-notch ser­vice and flavour for set­ting it apart from the pack. “There’s some­thing dif­fer­ent. I’ve been in Canada for 31 years al­ready and I know what Cana­dian peo­ple like. A lot of Chi­nese restau­rants don’t use the best qual­ity in­gre­di­ents, but we do no matter the price.” He adds a mas­sive thank you, and a prom­ise: “I’ll try to keep do­ing my best.” BEST CHOW­DER

GOLD The Can­teen SIL­VER Esquire Restau­rant BRONZE The Ar­mview Restau­rant & Lounge “It’s the way I’ve al­ways liked to eat chow­der,” says The Can­teen’s chef (and this year’s Best Chef) Renée Laval­lée of her win­ning recipe, which she calls more of a mod­ern chow­der. That mostly means that she’s aban­doned the flour, re­sult­ing in a thin­ner, less pasty broth that means the mas­sive hunks of smoked had­dock and Oul­ton’s ba­con can have their proper time to shine. “I’ve been mak­ing that chow­der recipe for five years and I love it. And peo­ple al­ways come in and say, ‘Man this is the best chow­der,’’ says Laval­lée. “And I think that’s be­cause it has re­ally good in­gre­di­ents.” BEST CLAY­TON PARK RESTAU­RANT

GOLD Mezza Le­banese Kitchen SIL­VER The Lower Deck BRONZE The An­chor Dear Gar­lic Sauce, We just wanted to get in touch to thank you for your ser­vice. All you do for Clay­ton Park, and all 10 Mezza lo­ca­tions, has clearly made an aro­matic im­pact. We know the falafel, sou­vlaki and don­air get the spot­light most of the time, and shawarma is clearly the favourite child. Your name isn’t even on the menu. But know that it doesn’t mean we’re not think­ing of you and your long lin­ger­ing flavour, al­ways. We could drink a case of you, but since that’s not an op­tion we’ll ded­i­cate this read­ers’ choice award in your direc­tion in­stead. Love al­ways, Lit­er­ally ev­ery­one BEST COOKIE/CUP­CAKE/ DOUGH­NUT

GOLD Lay­ers Cakes SIL­VER Two If By Sea Cafe BRONZE Ol’ School Donuts When Jen Har­ri­son, owner of the petite pas­tel cup­cake shop Lay­ers, gets word her bak­ery has once again won Best Cookie/Cup­cake/ Dough­nut gold, her ex­cite­ment tum­bles though the phone call. “This is our third year win­ning, and it’s almost like a val­i­da­tion the love is still there,” she says with a laugh. “We’ve had cus­tomers from day one that are still reg­u­lars five years later.” It’s the dreamy but­ter­cream and soft cake tex­ture fans can’t get enough of, Har­ri­son adds, but a ro­tat­ing ros­ter of flavours also adds ap­peal. “For a cup­cake shop, it’d be easy to stay the same, but new flavours keep peo­ple ex­cited.” Those flavours, she ex­plains, are crafted by her pas­try chefs, who find in­spi­ra­tion “all over, from in­gre­di­ents we have around the kitchen, or even other desserts they’ll turn into cup­cakes.” BEST DART­MOUTH RESTAU­RANT

GOLD Mic Mac Bar & Grill SIL­VER The Can­teen BRONZE Cheese Curds Gourmet Burg­ers + Pou­tinerie, Wood­side “All of our valiant ef­forts pay off! I’m not re­spon­si­ble for any of it, but I have a team of 90-plus peo­ple who hus­tle day-in and day-out,” says Joël Chi­as­son of the news that the Mic Mac Bar & Grill—an in­sti­tu­tion in its own right—is the win­ningest win­ner of the 2017 Best of Hal­i­fax awards thanks to its clas­sic cui­sine, and no frills vibe. “Our num­ber one goal al­ways is to serve qual­ity prod­uct,” says Chi­as­son of the Mic Mac ex­pe­ri­ence. “We don’t do any­thing fancy like a lot of new restau­rants. We’re very much a meat and pota­toes place—but we try to put out the best meat and pota­toes pos­si­ble.” BEST DESSERTS GOLD The Mid­dle Spoon Desser­t­erie & Bar, Hal­i­fax SIL­VER Sweet Hereafter Cheese­cak­ery BRONZE The Old Apothe­cary Dessert isn’t just the end to a meal, it’s an ex­er­cise in taste­bud ex­plo­ration, a hit of su­gar for your smart­ing sweet tooth and the orig­i­nal (and lit­eral) way to treat yo’ self. So, pull out all the stops and re­place them with dol­lops of whip cream as you sink your dessert spoon into chic rein­car­na­tions of all your post-sup­per favourites: Car­damom-scented car­rot cake, sticky tof­fee pud­ding swim­ming in a date-stud­ded sauce or peanut but­ter pie topped with a home­made Reese on the side. Th­ese dishes aren’t how mom made them—and that’s exactly the point.

BEST DINER GOLD The Ar­mview Restau­rant & Lounge SIL­VER Ard­more Tea Room BRONZE True North Diner The Ar­mview’s view isn’t too shabby from the pa­tio on a hot sum­mer’s night, but we’re will­ing to bet it’s what’s go­ing on in­side this restau­rant and lounge that keeps win­ning over read­ers. The fam­i­lyrun joint known for its big burg­ers, homey en­trees, lazy break­fasts and thick milk­shakes cel­e­brated some­thing a lot big­ger than a Best of Hal­i­fax gold win this sum­mer when it turned 65, and it seems to be liv­ing up to the “only gets bet­ter with age” ex­pres­sion. The food here is con­sis­tently clas­sic, the decor is a stylish, nos­tal­gic throw­back and the ser­vice is as warm as the bread pud­ding. BEST DON­AIR

GOLD Tony’s Don­air & Pizza SIL­VER Mezza Le­banese Kitchen, Bar­ring­ton Street BRONZE Johnny K’s Au­then­tic Don­airs HALL OF FAME King of Don­air, Quin­pool Af­ter over 40 years in busi­ness it’s no sur­prise Tony’s has its don­air recipe di­alled. The pop­u­lar fam­ily restau­rant is known for its take­out busi­ness: hot piz­zas, pou­tines and, of course, its take on Hal­i­fax’s of­fi­cial food. “It’s a fam­ily recipe and we’ve kept it close to us and close to our hearts over the years,” says Leo Sal­loum. “We re­ally be­lieve in qual­ity and we’ve kept that con­sis­tent over the years.” That’s why, he says, they’re still feed­ing reg­u­lars from decades ago and in­tro­duc­ing the dish to the next gen­er­a­tion. “I al­ways say, hav­ing a don­air is like hav­ing your first kiss—you’ll never for­get it. And if it’s a Tony’s don­air, you’ll def­i­nitely be com­ing back.” BEST FAM­ILY RESTAU­RANT

GOLD Mic Mac Bar & Grill SIL­VER The Ar­mview Restau­rant & Lounge BRONZE Athens Restau­rant Large por­tions, rea­son­able prices, spot-on ser­vice and room to spare make the Mic Mac a re­li­able spot to push to­gether a cou­ple of ta­bles and in­vite the whole fam jam out for din­ner. Chances are your grannie and kid cousin can both find some­thing clas­si­cally stick-to-your-ribs to or­der here, and the staff won’t give a crap when you all scream-talk over each other. “We come highly rec­om­mended, our rep­u­ta­tion is amaz­ing,” says the Mic Mac’s Joël Chi­as­son, of the word of mouth that keeps peo­ple flock­ing with the loved ones in tow. “You get qual­ity food for the price—that’s why peo­ple tend to bring their fam­i­lies and large groups here.” BEST FARM­ERS’ MAR­KET STALL GOLD Nog­gins Cor­ner, Hal­i­fax Sea­port Farm­ers’ Mar­ket SIL­VER Get­away Farm Butcher Shop, Hal­i­fax Sea­port Farm­ers’ Mar­ket BRONZE School House Gluten-Free Gourmet, Hal­i­fax Sea­port Farm­ers’ Mar­ket Thanks to this mar­ket stall, you need not head out to the An­napo­lis Valley to get your Nog­gins Cor­ner fix. Its Sea­port lo­ca­tion won this award, but you have lots of op­tions all over the city. In ad­di­tion, Nog­gins ap­pears at the Alder­ney mar­ket, the Hal­i­fax Fo­rum mar­ket and the per­ma­nent Santé Cen­tre mar­ket in Bed­ford. “Fresh fruits, veg­eta­bles and lo­cal cheese, meats and other qual­ity prod­ucts await you,” boasts the Nog­gins web­site. Get­away Farm Butcher Shop comes in sec­ond thanks to the car­ni­vores and lo­cal pro­duc­ers it sup­ports, and healthy—yet yummy—snacks abound at our bronze win­ner School House Gluten-Free Gourmet. Th­ese folks guar­an­tee you wont leave the Sea­port Farm­ers’ Mar­ket hun­gry. BEST FINE DINING

GOLD The Bi­cy­cle Thief SIL­VER Chives Cana­dian Bistro BRONZE EDNA “We don’t look at it as a restau­rant, this is our home. Ev­ery­one who comes here, we open the doors with open arms to wel­come them,” says Hakan Uluer, co-owner of your choice for Best Fine Dining of the year. The Bi­cy­cle Thief’s stand­out food is el­e­vated thanks to this com­mit­ment to the cus­tomer; to mak­ing their ex­pe­ri­ence per­sonal, de­li­cious and un­for­get­table. And a killer am­bi­ence for that meal (see Best At­mos­phere) doesn’t hurt ei­ther. “We’re not stiff. The most im­por­tant thing is how we in­ter­act with the peo­ple—be truth­ful and treat them like friends and fam­ily,” says Uluer of the restau­rant’s phi­los­o­phy. “It’s very sim­ple ac­tu­ally.”

BEST FISH & CHIPS

GOLD John’s Lunch SIL­VER Fredie’s Fan­tas­tic Fish House BRONZE Evan’s Fresh Seafoods & Restau­rant For some rea­son all-caps PIZZA is the prom­i­nent menu item on the street sign for John’s Lunch, but maybe that’s be­cause the fish and chips here is so freak­ing good it doesn’t need top billing. It’s been nearly 50 years since the first heap­ing plat­ter was dished out at Dart­mouth’s most leg­endary lunch counter, and since then folks have been con­sis­tently fol­low­ing their noses to the smell of the fryer. What makes this dish Hal­i­fa­mous is hard to put a fin­ger on—maybe it’s the en­tire pack­age deal that comes with a pit-stop here (see Best Seafood)—but nev­er­the­less, the masses con­sider John’s a Hal­i­fax must-try and the masses couldn’t pos­si­bly be wrong. Raise a tiny cup of tar­tar sauce, this is John’s sixth con­sec­u­tive win. And a word to the wise: don’t fill up on the moun­tain of fries, get into that had­dock first. BEST FISH CAKES

GOLD Mic Mac Bar & Grill SIL­VER EDNA BRONZE Ard­more Tea Room One hun­dred per­cent pure love is the se­cret to the cham­pion fish cakes (AKA Mar­i­lyn’s Fish Cakes) at the Mic Mac, sim­ple as that. And while many of the restau­rant’s wins this year can be cred­ited to its en­tire team, this one goes out to the dish’s name­sake. “Our owner, Terry Le­goffic, his wife passed away a few years ago—she put her heart and soul into this place, and it’s her recipe,” says Joël Chi­as­son, the restau­rant’s GM, of the dish. And the se­cret to what makes them so good will have to re­main that way, he adds: “If I told you I’d have to kill you.” BEST FOOD BLOG­GER

GOLD Lind­say Nel­son,

Eat This Town SIL­VER Josh Rankin, Life of Burg­ers BRONZE Adam Rosen­baum and Colin McPar­land, The Starv­ing Sailor Lind­say Nel­son’s love of food knows no bound­aries. This year the blog­ger be­hind Eat This Town ex­panded her hori­zons far be­yond

this town and tack­led towns across the coun­try to round up a list of 150 Cana­dian foods for 150 years of con­fed­er­a­tion. “I em­barked on an in­ten­sive se­ries about Cana­dian food in which I part­nered with blog­gers from all across Canada to show­case the top 10 iconic foods from each prov­ince,” she says of the project. This year, Nel­son is tak­ing the blog to the next level, giv­ing it a bit of a makeover be­fore the new year and launch­ing her lat­est city-wide quest—this time for ra­men. “I’m almost ready to pump out some top 10 lists that have been years in the mak­ing, things like chow­der, na­chos and fish and chips.” Sounds tasty. BEST FOOD DE­LIV­ERY

GOLD Sal­va­tore’s Piz­zaiolo Trat­to­ria SIL­VER Alexan­dra’s Pizza, Queen Street BRONZE Cha Baa Thai Restau­rant, Hal­i­fax “We’re very proud of our pizza and many things we do, but I’d go on the record say­ing de­liv­ery isn’t our strength,” says Sal’s owner Chris Cud­dihy, clearly a be­liever that hon­esty is the best pol­icy. “I have to as­sume peo­ple are vot­ing for the prod­uct, not the de­liv­ery it­self.” It’s a the­ory that makes a ton of sense, since his pizza pies were voted the best by you 10-plus times in a row be­fore be­ing in­ducted into our Hall of Fame. But when it comes to Sal’s rep for long de­liv­ery wait times, the ex­pla­na­tion is sim­ple—qual­ity comes be­fore speed. Cud­dihy says they won’t even send more than two de­liv­er­ies out with a driver be­cause they want the pies to be as close to per­fect as pos­si­ble when they ar­rive at your doorstep. But hey—some things are worth the wait, right? “Maybe read­ers had more time to vote when wait­ing for our de­liv­ery to show up.” BEST FOOD TRUCK

GOLD Ol’ School Donuts SIL­VER Gecko Bus BRONZE Bud the Spud Four years ago Noah Con­nolly was in grade 11 and his fam­ily was just launch­ing its bright red dough­nut­sling­ing school bus. Now he’s in univer­sity, Ol’ School has ex­panded its fleet and, for the cherry on the dough­nut, it’s won it­self Best Food Truck top hon­ours. Con­nolly says the busi­ness con­tin­ues to grow thanks to the fo­cus on qual­ity and the cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence, and strik- ing the bal­ance be­tween trendy and nos­tal­gic. “I couldn’t do it with­out my fam­ily first of all. My mom does a lot, this has kind of taken over our life,” he says on a break be­tween classes. “It has it’s ups and downs. You know they say work some­times fol­lows you home—but it’s lit­er­ally home for us.” BEST FRIES

GOLD Bud the Spud SIL­VER Still­well BRONZE Stub­born Goat Gas­tropub “We’re en­thu­si­as­tic about our fries,” says Bud The Spud’s Jody LeBlanc, and it seems that thou­sands of Haligo­ni­ans agree, ac­cord­ing to our polls. The OG of the city’s food truck scene, Bud been on the road in some shape or form for 40 years, a his­tory that’s helped it find the key to French fry suc­cess. “It’s prob­a­bly a two-prong thing. It’s not rocket science, we’re just very care­ful. We use fresh PEI pota­toes and care­fully cut them in the truck,” says LeBlanc. “And you get that in­ter­ac­tion that you wouldn’t get at an­other quick serve restau­rant, it’s served in brown pa­per bags, large por­tions, they get to sit on the wall at the li­brary. Peo­ple are com­ing for the in­ter­ac­tion as much as the fries.” BEST GLUTEN-FREE FRIENDLY

GOLD The Wooden Mon­key, Hal­i­fax SIL­VER enVie—A Ve­gan Kitchen BRONZE Heart­wood The Mon­key’s pas­sion for good in­gre­di­ents is what makes the restau­rant stand out from the bunch, hence why it’s a re­peat win­ner in the Best Use Of Lo­cal In­gre­di­ents cat­e­gory. And that pas­sion car­ries over to di­etary re­stric­tions, too. While The Wooden Mon­key isn’t a gluten-free kitchen, its chefs truly care about what their cus­tomers are putting in their bod­ies and will bust their butts to ac­com­mo­date the needs of its gluten-free din­ers when­ever pos­si­ble. That means most of the dishes you know and love on its menu can be trans­formed into meals that won’t de­stroy your tummy and will curb your hunger. BEST GREEK RESTAU­RANT

GOLD Athens Restau­rant SIL­VER ela! Greek Tav­erna, Bay­ers Lake BRONZE Blue Olive Greek Tav­erna Four con­sec­u­tive golds are a drop in bucket for Athens Restau­rant, which has been serv­ing up food fit for the Greek gods for over 35 years. The Quin­pool in­sti­tu­tion con­tin­ues to stand out thanks to the pride the Panopalis fam­ily takes in what they’re dish­ing out—it’s all about fresh in­gre­di­ents and passed-down recipes. Mous­saka, sou­vlaki, spanako­pita and ho­ri­atiki salad are just a hint at the Greek good­ies on the restau­rant’s menu, but for less worldly din­ers there’s your stan­dard fam­ily restau­rant fare (burg­ers, wraps, pasta) as well. While Quin­pool will never have the sparkling turquoise wa­ters of the Mediter­ranean and the ar­chi­tec­ture of the Acrop­o­lis, we’ll still raise a shot of ouzo to this vet­eran restau­rant.

BEST HO­TEL RESTAU­RANT

GOLD Gio, The Prince Ge­orge Ho­tel SIL­VER Tempo Food + Drink, Delta Bar­ring­ton BRONZE Red­wood Grill, Fu­ture Inns Ev­ery sin­gle year that we’ve had this cat­e­gory in the Best of Hal­i­fax read­ers’ poll, The Prince Ge­orge Ho­tel’s beau­ti­ful Gio has taken home the gold. Striv­ing to be any­thing but a stan­dard ho­tel restau­rant, the cel­e­brated dining des­ti­na­tion shines bright thanks to its mod­ern decor, am­bi­ent at­mos­phere and, of course, el­e­vated world-in­spired cui­sine. Whether you’re keep­ing it ca­sual with a quick down­town lunch or in­dulging in a Gio din­ner (sword­fish, bi­son, duck and sal­mon are among the main of­fer­ings) warm ser­vice will be the fo­cus and the rich lineup of desserts and cock­tails will be hard to re­sist. BEST ICE CREAM/GELATO/FROZEN YO­GURT

GOLD Cows SIL­VER Dee Dee’s Ice Cream BRONZE Hu­mani-T Cafe, down­town Its snaking queue and waft­ing scent of fresh-baked waf­fle cones are a sure sign sum­mer—and tourist sea­son—has reached its peak, but this water­front scoop spot is equally beloved by lo­cals, tak­ing home the gold for its deca­dent ice cream. “The friendly at­mos­phere, fun, bub­bly mu­sic, our scoop­ers are happy and want to be here,” Troy Palmer, Cows su­per­vi­sor, cites as the rea­sons for the shop’s suc­cess. Flavour names like Wowie Cowie and Messie Bessie surely win points, too. BEST IN­DIAN RESTAU­RANT

GOLD Dhaba Ca­sual Fine Dining SIL­VER Curry Vil­lage BRONZE A Taste of In­dia Things have never been busier in the Dhaba Ca­sual Fine Dining fam­ily. Not only is the restau­rant serv­ing up a steady stream of ded­i­cated din­ers, but its sib­ling Dhaba Sweets & Spice Shoppe is grow­ing so rapidly that it’s re­cently taken over more space in its Bay­ers Lake home. “We’re fill­ing a void,” says Faizal Junus, whose fam­ily runs the busi­nesses. He says fresh­ness, qual­ity and con­sis­tency are what makes Dhaba a re­peat win­ner in the Best of Hal­i­fax (this is its fourth score). “We try to make ev­ery ex­pe­ri­ence pleas­ant,” he adds. “We have 11 peo­ple who work in the kitchen, but my wife over­sees all of the fi­nal tests.” BEST IN­TER­NA­TIONAL GRO­CER

GOLD Pete’s Fine Foods, Hal­i­fax SIL­VER The Ital­ian Mar­ket BRONZE Tian Phat Yes, with­out a doubt, Pete’s has some fine food. You can get a world of gro­ceries there, but un­der­ly­ing that amaz­ing selection, the best rea­son to visit it to treat your­self. This writer highly rec­om­mends swing­ing by the fro­magerie for the dou­ble-cream brie. On top of that, the Best of Bri­tain sec­tion is full of fare that’s hard to find any­where else, with choco­late ar­guably the main at­trac­tion there. Cad­bury’s Flake bar, a favourite of Harry Pot­ter star Daniel Rad­cliffe is one of many sweets you’ll find. BEST ITAL­IAN RESTAU­RANT

GOLD Ris­torante a Mano SIL­VER The Bi­cy­cle Thief BRONZE il Mer­cato Trat­to­ria There’s a dis­tinctly Ital­ian en­ergy to Ris­torante a Mano, and man­ager Me­lanie Kron­bauer says that’s just as mem­o­rable for din­ers as the food it­self: “It’s an in­ti­mate space, and it’s lively. The staff are proud to work in a restau­rant like this, and that comes across in the ser­vice.” She adds that the mix of au­then­tic food, qual­ity ser­vice and that en­ergy is what keeps the restau­rant hum­ming, even on blus­tery, rainy nights. “Thanks to ev­ery­one who comes in weekly to en­joy what we pro­vide,” says Kron­bauer, “we en­joy what you bring to us, too.” BEST LATE-NIGHT FOOD

GOLD Willy’s Fresh Cut Fries & Burg­ers SIL­VER Free­man’s Lit­tle New York, Quin­pool BRONZE Tony’s Don­air & Pizza Texts from the morn­ing af­ter: Me: um, hel­l­l­l­llo? what hap­pened to you last night? you dis­ap­peared! Them: ha­haha don’t worry, i’m good. Me: how’d you get home? you hun­gover? Them: let’s just say I didn’t wake up alone this morn­ing Me: WHAT!!??!?! DE­TAILS PLZ Them: *sends photo of half-eaten Willy’s pou­tine and gravy smeared pil­low* Me: omg goals BEST LUNCH SPE­CIALS

GOLD Cha Baa Thai Restau­rant, Hal­i­fax SIL­VER Wasabi House BRONZE Pi­atto Pizzeria You may have no­ticed that we live in an age where sand­wiches cost $10, sans side. And as a so­ci­ety,

peo­ple seem to be mostly OK with it. Or at the very least com­pla­cent and hun­gry. Queen Street’s Cha Baa Thai? Not so much. The mul­ti­ple award-win­ning spot (see Best Thai Restau­rant) doesn’t only serve up a wide va­ri­ety of noo­dles and cur­ries and spring rolls and soups, but it’s knock­ing the midday meal out of the park. Green curry, cashew chicken, bar­be­cue duck and spicy prawn (plus rice and spring roll, PS) are among the dishes that’ll cost you a cool $11.50 week­days from 11:30am to 3pm. That avo­cado sand­wich isn’t look­ing so hot now, is it? BEST MID­DLE EASTERN RESTAU­RANT

GOLD Tarek’s Cafe SIL­VER Turk­ish De­light BRONZE Lemon Tree Restau­rant Steve Kennedy’s a sea­soned vet­eran at Tarek’s. With 15 years of ser­vice un­der his belt, he knows exactly what it is that keeps the Ro­bie Street eatery so freakin’ loved. “The staff is locked in, it’s been the same guys for a num­ber of years. That keeps us re­ally mo­ti­vated,” he says. “When you have a tight staff like we have, you’re able to put out a re­ally con­sis­tent prod­uct all the time.” Kennedy is quick to point out that Tarek’s reg­u­lars are the ab­so­lute best, help­ing word of mouth be the restau­rant’s num­ber one form of ad­ver­tis­ing thanks to all of their brag­ging, and that there’s one per­son who it’d all be im­pos­si­ble with­out. “Han­nora Kouriem, she’s our sous chef,” he says. “With­out her work­ing hard ev­ery morn­ing, there’s no chance we’d win any of th­ese awards.” BEST NEW RESTAU­RANT

GOLD The Can­teen SIL­VER Ri­naldo’s BRONZE Riot Snack Bar So The Can­teen tech­ni­cally opened in 2014, but The Can­teen that re-launched last year on Port­land Street is a dif­fer­ent beast en­tirely. “This Can­teen, as it is now, isn’t any­thing I ever planned on do­ing,” says chef Renée Laval­lée, who runs the buzzing spot with her hus­band Doug Townsend. The evo­lu­tion from sand­wich counter to sit-down fam­ily restau­rant was an an­swer to the needs and wants of its ador­ing fans, and the re­sult of want­ing to cre­ate an un­pre­ten­tious place that felt like home. Home with re­ally good food. “That’s the key for us, we have staff that are like fam­ily and it makes ev­ery­one feel very at home,” says Laval­lée. “I thank my lucky stars ev­ery day I get to work in a place I en­joy with peo­ple that I love.” BEST ONION RINGS GOLD Cheese Curds Gourmet Burg­ers + Pou­tinerie, Wood­side SIL­VER The Chick­en­burger BRONZE Krave Burger

There is lit­er­ally no such thing as a bad onion ring, so com­pe­ti­tion couldn’t be any stiffer than the race for the city’s BEST one. As it turns out Cheese Curds, pur­veyor of award win­ning ham­burg­ers and pou­tine, knows a thing or two about the inim­itable cir­cu­lar snack, too. Whether you’re dunk­ing them in ketchup, or wolf­ing them down with a lit­tle CC sauce, th­ese deep-fried ba­bies can ap­par­ently hold their own next to Bill Pratt’s stacked-high gourmet burg­ers. So, as our queen and saviour says—if you like it, put a ring on it. BEST PASTA

GOLD Ris­torante a Mano SIL­VER The Bi­cy­cle Thief BRONZE il Mer­cato Trat­to­ria If you’re won­der­ing what makes th­ese noo­dles stand out from the bunch, it’s all in the name, re­ally. “A mano” lit­er­ally means by hand—and that’s the se­cret to th­ese gold-win­ning pas­tas. “We do make it daily by hand, we have a small kitchen and a small restau­rant, it’s not mass-pro­duced. It doesn’t lose that qual­ity,” says Ris­torante a Mano’s man­ager Me­lanie Kron­bauer. “And Mau­r­izio is from Fri­uli, so there’s that au­then­tic­ity too.” There’s few things as in­dul­gent as au­then­tic home made ravi­oli or lasagne. This is the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive pasta gold for the carb-loader’s par­adise, and a Mano also takes home Best Ital­ian Restau­rant.

BEST PA­TIO

GOLD Still­well Beer­gar­den SIL­VER Stub­born Goat Beer Gar­den BRONZE Ga­han House HALL OF FAME Your Fa­ther’s Mous­tache Pa­tio means a lot of dif­fer­ent things in this town, and Still­well’s Spring Gar­den beer gar­den re­de­fines most of them. “I kind of like that it’s this for­got­ten lot and we’re al­low­ing it to be what it is,” says Still­well co-owner Laura Mac­Don­ald. “It’s such a great spot—you’re right in the mid­dle of ev­ery­thing, it’s sort of the meet­ing of all the Hal­i­fax neigh­bour­hoods.” With an­other sea­son of beers and dogs and bar­be­cue and ice cream in the books, she says 2017 was all about set­tling in and putting down roots down­town. “This is the first year we ran the beer gar­den with­out hav­ing to set it up from the ground up. It was an oc­ca­sion to more en­joy it,” she says. “And we felt more of the com­mu­nity this year.” The count­down to next sum­mer starts… now? BEST PIZZA PIE

GOLD Mor­ris East, Hal­i­fax SIL­VER Mother’s Pizza BRONZE Pi­atto Pizzeria + Enoteca HALL OF FAME Sal­va­tore’s Piz­zaiolo Trat­to­ria

See page 10. BEST PIZZA SLICE

GOLD Sal­va­tore’s Piz­zaiolo Trat­to­ria SIL­VER Si­cil­ian Pizza, Don­airs & Subs, Blowers Street BRONZE Yeah Yeahs Pizza You can’t get rid of Sal’s that eas­ily, Hal­i­fax. Af­ter be­ing ush­ered into the Hall of Fame last year thanks to its long run as Best Pizza Pie win­ner, the north end pizza joint has de­cid­edly been cho­sen your favourite slice of 2017. Yup, it turns out a sin­gle piece of the pie is just as good as the en­tire thing. “I have one almost ev­ery day,” says owner Chris Cud­dihy of his restau­rant’s golden slices and ad­mirable lunch habits. “I’m proud of the team, and our piz­zas are some­thing else.” BEST POU­TINE GOLD Willy’s Fresh Cut Fries & Burg­ers SIL­VER Smoke’s Pou­tinerie BRONZE Cheese Curds Gourmet Burg­ers + Pou­tinerie, Wood­side When you start with a fry this good, there’s re­ally no where to go but up. Six-time Best Pou­tine win­ner, and champ in the Best Latenight Food cat­e­gory too, Willy’s has the potato part of the equa­tion mas­tered, but the gravy-soaked fun doesn’t end there. Here you can get your pou­tine straight up, or bury it with stuff­ing, don­air, pulled pork, steak or ham­burger—hell, you can even buy an ex­tra bag of curds if your heart so de­sires. (But we’re will­ing to bet it’s not in your heart’s best in­ter­est.) It’s the lit­tle take-out win­dow that could, would and will con­tinue to as long as our read­ers keep lin­ing up for more. BEST PUB FOOD

GOLD Mic Mac Bar & Grill SIL­VER Henry House BRONZE Durty Nelly’s Au­then­tic Ir­ish Pub “We’ve been open for over 50 some years and it was a slow grad­ual process from a bar to a bar and grill. Now we’re far more on the grill side,” says Mic Mac Bar & Grill’s Joël Chi­as­son of what makes folks line up, pig out and keep com­ing back in the name of the ribs, burg­ers, brunch, fish cakes and wings. “The bar busi­ness th­ese days—you sur­vive on your food, al­co­hol sales don’t cut it any­more.” This is why the Waver­ley wa­ter­ing hole ze­roes in on qual­ity dishes—“noth­ing less than a tripleA steak”—and friendly ser­vice, con­sis­tently. BEST RESTAU­RANT

GOLD The Bi­cy­cle Thief SIL­VER EDNA BRONZE 2 Doors Down Food + Wine “Ev­ery­thing is made by hand, ev­ery­thing is from scratch and that’s the key,” says The Bi­cy­cle Thief’s co-owner Hakan Uluer. “We have a for­mula in our restau­rants: We don’t have tons of stor­age room, we or­der ev­ery­thing at the end of the night and it comes in in the morn­ing. Ev­ery­thing is made fresh ev­ery day. Risotto, we make it ev­ery day twice a day.” The Bike Thief is a pack­age deal, and that takes hard work, says Uluer. “Some­times you don’t even have time to stop and smell the roses, so this is great news to share with the team.” BEST RIBS

GOLD Bone­heads BBQ SIL­VER Mic Mac Bar & Grill BRONZE Ba­ton Rouge Hal­i­fax’s riff on the eats of the deep south is on the deep south side of Bar­ring­ton Street. That’s where Bone­heads—the now seven-time win­ner in the Best Ribs cat­e­gory— lives in a lit­tle no-frills space that lets the food (and the smoky aroma) speak for it­self. Saucy, charred and al­ways a mess, th­ese ribs round out a car­niv­o­rous menu of brisket, wings, pulled pork and chicken, sausage and other fin­ger- lick­ing snacks. Head here and pre­pare for a night of Wet Naps, den­tal floss and meat sweats. BEST SACKVILLE RESTAU­RANT

GOLD Tom’s Fam­ily Restau­rant SIL­VER Mezza Le­banese Kitchen BRONZE Chef’s Menu (now closed) Nostal­gia reigns supreme in Sack­ve­gas. New faces come and go in its restau­rant scene, but it’s the long-run­ning fam­ily busi­nesses that seem to out­last the rest. Tom’s Fam­ily Restau­rant is one of them. Af­ter a short run of gold wins for Chef’s Menu (which closed in the fall of 2017), Tom’s re­gains its top spot in Sackville (and in read­ers’ hearts), earn­ing a sev­enth gold in this cat­e­gory. Dim­itri and Tina Panopalis’ homey 200-seater woos ca­sual din­ers and mas­sive fam­i­lies with its week­end break­fast buf­fet, turkey din­ners, seafood spreads and Greek spe­cial­i­ties. BEST SALAD

GOLD Pete’s Fine Foods, Hal­i­fax SIL­VER enVie—A Ve­gan Kitchen BRONZE Heart­wood Sal­ads bars haven’t got the great­est rep. Soggy let­tuce, stale crou­tons, snotty toma­toes and Thou­sand Is­land dress­ing ring a bell? Where are all my veg­gies at? Pete’s, as it turns out. A nine-time win­ner in our Best of Hal­i­fax Read­ers’ Choice Awards, this veg­etable buf­fet will be Hall of Fame-bound

next year if no other rab­bit food can break its stride. But se­ri­ously, let’s talk about how much stuff (greens, veg, cheese, egg, nuts, pro­tein and fruit) can fit in those slick lit­tle-yet-heavy card­board boxes. It’s like a food ver­sion of a clown car, BEST SAND­WICH

GOLD The Can­teen SIL­VER Pete’s Fine Foods, Hal­i­fax BRONZE The Ital­ian Mar­ket The Can­teen’s orig­i­nal it­er­a­tion above Two If By Sea was all about the sand­wich. And its sand­wiches—the crob­ster roll, the han­gover, the turkey club—were a thing of beauty, hence why it this year marks its third gold win in this cat­e­gory. But when the nextlevel Can­teen (AKA your Best New Restau­rant) opened, reg­u­lars were missing the quick, take-out side of the eatery’s per­son­al­ity. So The Lit­tle C—a place for take-out, pa­tio seat­ing and Can­teen over­flow— was born next door. “It was lit­er­ally the peo­ple that pushed for it,” says chef and co-owner Renée Laval­lée. That right there’s the power of a good sand­wich. BEST SEAFOOD

GOLD John’s Lunch SIL­VER The Five Fish­er­men Restau­rant & Grill BRONZE McKelvie’s There’s no one who knows their way around a deep-fryer like the folks grind­ing it out over at myth­i­cal Dart­mouth diner John’s Lunch. We could talk about the fish it­self— how fresh it is, where it’s com­ing from and why it tastes so darn good all bat­tered up and soaked in vine­gar—but would it re­ally make a dif­fer­ence, hun­gry read­ers? Prob­a­bly not. That’s be­cause John’s Lunch is a cap­i­tal-E Ex­pe­ri­ence. A tiny time ma­chine that’ll take you back to 1969, when the eatery first opened. Yeah, the had­dock, clams and scal­lops have been hailed the best, not just by our vot­ers but by the Huff­in­g­ton Post, Cana­dian Liv­ing, MuchMu­sic and a bazil­lion folks on Trip Ad­vi­sor. But we’re will­ing to be it wouldn’t taste quite as good served any­where else. BEST SERVER

GOLD Chris Ha­ley SIL­VER Cora Tu­dor, EDNA BRONZE Amy Faulkner, 2 Doors Down Food + Wine Chris Ha­ley’s third con­sec­u­tive win marks a new chap­ter in his ca­reer and his run as Hal­i­fax’s Best Server, as he leaves his post at The Wooden Mon­key to bring Grade A ser­vice to fel­low Dart­mouthian, The Watch That Ends the Night. “I’m look­ing for­ward to this style of ser­vice and type of dining. And the fact that I get to work with one of the best chefs, Mark Gray, is such a cool ex­pe­ri­ence,” he says. “This is a big step in my ca­reer as a server, I’m go­ing an­other level up.” Ha­ley says suc­cess lies in chan­nel­ing his in­ner chameleon at work, pay­ing close at­ten­tion to each ta­ble’s vibe and nav­i­gat­ing what it is they need from him. “I want you to be as com­fort­able as pos­si­ble, with­out me be­ing there too much and lurk­ing around. You’ve re­ally gotta test the wa­ters to see where peo­ple are.” BEST SMOOTHIE

GOLD Pete’s Fine Foods, Hal­i­fax SIL­VER Hu­mani-T Cafe, north end BRONZE The Wild Leek Food & Juice Bar Fol­low the sound of the blender and you’ll find Pete’s smoothie and juice bar. For the ninth year run­ning, Haligo­ni­ans who pre­fer to drink their meals voted th­ese—the Cherry Bomb, the Mon­key See, the Pulp Fic­tion—the best in town. But there’s more than smooth­ies hap­pen­ing at this counter (and we’re not talk­ing about the very nearby gelato and frozen yo­gurt, though, those rule too). Swing by Pete’s nois­i­est nook for fresh or­ange and grape­fruit juices, wheat grass shots, power juices and pro­tein pow­ders and ques­tion whether chew­ing is over­rated. BEST SUSHI RESTAU­RANT

GOLD Wasabi House SIL­VER Sushi Nami Royale, down­town BRONZE Sushi Shige Ja­panese Restau­rant Yeah, yeah, yeah, you looooove the ex­tra rolls. Quin­pool Road’s sushi all-star, Wasabi House has won Best Sushi five times, and sure, it might have some­thing to do with the bonus rolls din­ers tend to get here, but it’s more about what the rolls rep­re­sent. Con­sis­tently a packed house, with a take-out line snaking out the door, Wasabi has no choice but to nail the cus­tomer ser­vice side of things. A sprawl­ing menu of de­li­cious tastes pre­pared by uber hard-work­ing sushi chefs makes this restau­rant beloved by many, but the thought­ful, ef­fi­cient, friendly ser­vice is the ic­ing on the cake—or, should we say, the roe on the mon­ster roll. BEST THAI RESTAU­RANT GOLD Cha Baa Thai Restau­rant, Hal­i­fax SIL­VER Talay Thai, Hal­i­fax BRONZE Cha Baa Thai Restau­rant, Dart­mouth Cha Baa Thai is do­ing some­thing very right. Many things, ac­tu­ally. The six-time win­ner of Hal­i­fax’s Best Thai dishes out con­sis­tently tasty, au­then­tic cui­sine that’s just as good whether it’s de­liv­ered to your door in the mid­dle of a snow­storm or on a pip­ing hot plate at a ta­ble for two in the Queen Street restau­rant. With a menu span­ning ev­ery­thing from fresh sal­ads and steam­ing soups, to heaps of noo­dles, rich cur­ries and crispy spring rolls, Cha Baa has some­thing for ev­ery type of taste­bud—and for the hun­gry deal hunters among us, there’s bang for your buck at lunch. BEST USE OF LO­CAL INGRE DIENTS

GOLD The Wooden Mon­key, Hal­i­fax SIL­VER The Can­teen BRONZE Chives Cana­dian Bistro The Wooden Mon­key is as de­tail-ori­ented as they get. The 14-year-old restau­rant has al­ways been com­mit­ted to mak­ing sure what goes into its dishes is good, in all senses of the word. And its com­mit­ment to serv­ing lo­cal, or­ganic food and drink as much as pos­si­ble hasn’t wa­vered af­ter all th­ese years. Get­away Farms, Sam­bro Fish­eries, Hut­ten Fam­ily Farm, Riverview Herbs, Pro­pel­ler Brew­ing Com­pany, Avon­dale Sky Win­ery, That Dutch­man’s Cheese Farm—the list of Nova Sco­tian sup­pli­ers that make th­ese meals so good goes on and on and on and on. BEST VEGE­TAR­IAN FRIENDLY RESTAU­RANT

GOLD enVie—A Ve­gan Kitchen SIL­VER The Wooden Mon­key, Hal­i­fax BRONZE Heart­wood “Win­ner win­ner tofu din­ner!” is Cory Urquhart’s ini­tial re­ac­tion to enVie top­ping this cat­e­gory yet again. And while it’s a per­fect ac­cep­tance speech, he also takes a minute to credit the veg-cen­tric eatery’s suc­cess to the dining ex­pe­ri­ence (and the food, duh), but also his staff and their abil­ity to bal­ance work and fun. “More than half of our cus­tomers aren’t ve­gan or vege­tar­ian, so we have al­ways had dishes that ap­peal to car­ni­vores as well as her­bi­vores,” says Urquhart. “We aren’t here to be a pushy ve­gan restau­rant that wants to force you into eat­ing plants, that’s not what we are about. We just want peo­ple to do their part to make the world a bet­ter place like we are try­ing to do, and en­joy them­selves when they walk through the door to eat, like we all do when we show up to work ev­ery day.”

LENNY MULLINS

BEST CHEF

Renée Laval­lée, The Can­teen

BEST COCK­TAILS

Lot Six

BEST RESTAU­RANT

Bi­cy­cle Thief

BEST FOOD TRUCK

Ol’ School Donuts

BEST BRUNCH

Mic Mac Bar and Grill

BEST PA­TIO

Still­well Beer­gar­den

BEST NEW BAR

Chain Yard Ur­ban Cidery

BEST CHI­NESE RESTAU­RANT

Jean’s Chi­nese Restau­rant

BEST BARISTA

Laura Arse­nault

Java Blend Cof­fee Roast­ers

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