Best Chowder in Nova Scotia

I’ve been trying to write a post about the best chowder in Nova Scotia for years now, but never feel like I’ve covered enough ground. Chowder is so ubiquitous across Nova Scotia that it would be quite impossible to try every bowl. The Nova Scotia Chowder Trail is a start – but since it is a promotional list, you can’t necessarily count on it for insight about the best chowders in Nova Scotia. This blog has always been about not trusting glorified “lists” by major publications, and since the inception of Eat This Town I have always committed to thoroughly examining everything for myself.

But chowder is a big ask!

I can only drive so far, spend so much money, and eat so much chowder. And as the years go by, I’m no longer sure I can vouch for the place I loved in 2016, or the place that changed ownership last year.

Last year I wrote a piece for Curated Magazine: (For the Love of Chowder: Four of Nova Scotia’s Best) and this expediated my pursuit. But I’ve still only scratched the surface.

So take my recommendations with a grain of salt (and a splash of cream). I have worked hard on this list, but there is a chance that some of these chowders aren’t as I experienced them. If not an absolute list of the best chowder in Nova Scotia, this is a useful guide for your own chowder trail adventure. Comment below with your own favourites and experiences.

At the bottom of this post, I’ll show a few candidates that didn’t make the list due to inconsistencies and uncertainties.

But let’s first take a look at my top picks!

Best Chowder in Nova Scotia: Top 5 Overall

1. Charlene’s Bayside Restaurant & Cafe

9657 NS-105, Whycocomagh, NS

Right in the middle of Cape Breton Island lies the best chowder I’ve had anywhere, and I’m confident in saying this is the best chowder in Nova Scotia!

The bowl is loaded with seafood (just look at all that lobster!), and a super flavourful broth. Served with a humble dinner roll on a paper placemat, this bowl of chowder is both traditional and elevated. The best of all worlds!

2. The Canteen

22 Portland St, Dartmouth, NS

Whenever people ask me where to go for the best seafood in Halifax, I tell them to go to Dartmouth. A scenic ferry ride across the harbour will deliver you to The Canteen – your one-stop-shop for iconic Nova Scotian seafoods.

The chowder is exceptional, and The Canteen has won “Best Chowder” in The Coast’s Best of Halifax Awards since 2017 (I won’t hold that against them).

This bowl of chowder has a nice light broth (it’s gluten-free) and flavourful additions of double-smoked bacon, smoked haddock, leeks, celery, fresh dill, lemon zest, salt and pepper complimenting the ample portions of haddock, lobster, mussels and potatoes.

3. Le Caveau

11611 Evangeline Trail, Grand Pré, NS

Tucked away in Grand Pre Winery, Le Caveau has consistently been one of the best restaurants in Nova Scotia and a summery meal on their garden terrace should be on your bucket list.

The chowder here is inspired by Ajo Blanco, a chilled Spanish soup (sometimes called “white gazpacho”), with its use of ground almonds, garlic, olive oil, and soaked bread.

This chowder is served hot, of course, but contains those ingredients in its base as well as cream. It is filled with scallops, lobster, cold water shrimp (all local) and julienned celery root, garnished with smoked paprika and toasted almonds. It is an ingenious marriage of Spanish and Maritime ingredients, traditions and flavours. Very yum.

4. Quarterdeck

5 Willow Lane, Summerville Centre, NS

I hesitate to put this on the list just because someone told me it wasn’t as good the second time he had it. Alas, consistency.

But when I had this chowder in 2020 I described it as “flawless”. Superb flavour and texture in the base, with lots of lobster, haddock and scallop. Served with a lovely cheddar jalapeno biscuit.

But even if you do drive all the way to Liverpool (plus 13 minutes) and it’s not as good as I say, it is worth it for the ocean view alone. The Quarterdeck Resort is located right on Summerville Beach which is one of the nicest, sandiest beaches in Nova Scotia.

5. Argyler Lodge & Restaurant

52 Ye Old Argyle Rd, Glenwood, NS

It’s been even longer since I’ve had this chowder (2018). But it was just such a pleasant bowl, garnished with edible flowers. It has stuck with me.

The Argyler is a nice place to spend a night or two by the ocean when visiting the Acadian Shore. I also really enjoyed their creamed lobster on a homemade bread bowl.

Bonus: Harbourstone Pour House

1919 Upper Water St, Halifax, NS

Located in the Marriot Harbourfront, Harbourstone is one of the safer bets for seafood on the Halifax waterfront. It contains sea scallops and tiger shrimp (grilled to order), along with P.E.I. mussels and Faroe Island salmon.

Every bowl is made to order, with cream and fresh seafood added to a base of pureed potato, onion and leek.

I wrote in Curated: “It is a well-balanced dish of ocean and cream, with an earthy essence of potato.”

Top 5 Pub Chowders

1. Grand Banker

82 Montague St, Lunenburg, NS

The Acadian-Cajun stew at the Grand Banker may not a traditional chowder, but its uniqueness is what I like about it. It’s been a signature menu item since the Grand Banker opened in 1996.

It is a thick and hearty chowder (thickened with flour) that also incorporates tomato paste and fresh tomatoes with cream. Potatoes are omitted, but the seafood is grilled to order: local south shore haddock and Adam’s & Knickle scallops, PEI mussels and tiger shrimp. A secret spice blend gives the dish a kick; it’s a Lunenburg level of spice, but it’s nice.

2. Rope Loft

36 Water St, Chester, NS

This is a popular and touristy spot, and I can see why. You can’t beat the view and the summertime vibes of their waterfront patio. I’m usually hesitant about this sort of place, but I was so impressed by this chowder. It’s heaping with seafood and the flavour of the broth was bangin’. It ain’t too hard on the eyes either.

3. Durty Nelly’s

1645 Argyle St, Halifax, NS

Durty Nelly’s is a popular night life destination and gastropub in downtown Halifax. They promote their chowder as “award winning” so I’ve always been skeptical. I’ve tried the chowder 3 times now to sort out my feelings, but I’m pretty confident that this belongs here. It’s a thick and tasty chowder, with a somewhat unique broth. While it would benefit from a bit more seafood, the seafood within is top notch. The sweet Guinness bread accompanying it is also notable.

4. Henry House

1222 Barrington St, Halifax, NS

I’m always surprised by how good this chowder is, even if it’s a bit pedestrian. I really shouldn’t be surprised, though. I’ve always enjoyed the food at the Henry House. I am partial to the basement pub, and pairing my food with a pint of Peculiar.

5. Red Shoe Pub

11573 Nova Scotia Trunk 19, Mabou, NS

This is a nice creamy chowder, revved up with a bit of chilli oil. It’s not particularly bursting with seafood but has a nice flavour and a biscuit on the side.

The Red Shoe Pub is worth the trip alone for the traditional Cape Breton music and step dancing. It is a destination pub that you have to visit at least once.

Top 5 Traditional Chowders

1. Crow’s Nest / Shore Road Seafoods

3931 Shore Rd W, Granville Ferry, NS

Don’t be distracted by the heap of potatoes on top, this bowl of chowder is hefty AF and full of glorious seafood. There is a fish plant just down the road, and Digby scallops are fished just down the way. Everything is fresh and well prepared here. It’s also got that quaint, kitschy lobster trap vibe if you’re into that.

There is another location right in Digby called (somewhat confusingly) The Crow’s Nest / Sure Thing Seafood.

2. La Cuisine Robicheau

9651 Nova Scotia Trunk 1, Saulnierville, NS

Just less than an hour’s drive from Digby, along the Baie Sainte-Marie, is one of my favourite destination restaurants in Nova Scotia.

La Cuisine Robicheau is the nicest restaurant in this region, but the food still has that homecooked appeal and is the best place to try traditional Acadian cuisine. Being situated in a fishing village, this chowder screams freshness.

3. Evan’s Fresh Seafoods

Alderney Landing, 2 Ochterloney St, Dartmouth, NS

Evan’s is a must-visit for anyone in pursuit of fresh local seafood. The Dartmouth ferry basically drops you off at their doorstep, which is perfect.

Everything from their fish tacos to their lobster poutine to their fish and chips is top notch and the seafood is so fresh (brought to you from an actual fisherman and his family). The chowder is an old Acadian recipe, handed down by the owners’ mother. Beauty in its simplicity, it doesn’t get much better than this.

4. The Knot Pub

4 Dufferin St, Lunenburg, NS

The Knot Pub is my favourite pub in the world, and it is one of the few restaurants in Lunenburg that is open year-round. It’s where the locals go, and for good reason; it’s got some of the best pub food around and the vibes are unmatched.

They make a really nice fish chowder, which is distinct from seafood chowder which can be thicker and/or creamier. This simple fish chowder has great flavours and is a great way to kick off your meal.

5. Neil’s Harbour Chowder House

90 Lighthouse Rd, Neils Harbour, NS

You’ll find this chowder house just off the Cabot Trail, with rugged coastal views and a spartan dining area. It is a notable chowder for its use of soft shell crab, which, as far as I know, is only fished in Cape Breton. The broth is thick, but has an unusual texture that makes me suspect they thicken it with corn starch but I didn’t think to ask at the time.

It is a humble chowder that grew on me, as I dined at a picnic table overlooking the ocean. A unique experience to include on your next Cabot Trail adventure. Just keep in mind that they are only open for a short season (fall foliage trippers beware).

Candidates that didn’t make the list and why:

Salt Shaker Deli

124 Montague St, Lunenburg, NS

Inarguably one of the most prized chowders in the province, I really thought it would make my top 5 best chowders in Nova Scotia . But I’ve found it too inconsistent over the years. Going clockwise from the top left, we’ve got a wonderful bowl of creamy chowder from 2010. Then we’ve got an AWFUL grey bowl from 2016 when the Salt Shaker decided to cater to dairy-free folks by using celery root puree instead of cream. By 2017 (next pic), they nixed that and returned to their wonderful creamy chowder. But wait – another visit in 2022 was a bit disappointing and the presence of seafood was scarce. So I hesitate to recommend the Salt Shaker Deli.

Should it be on my list? Maybe? But the pictures here tell a story.

Seaside Shanty

5315 Nova Scotia Trunk 3, Chester Basin, NS

This one pains me the most because I always pictured their bowl of chowder being in my top 3! The chowder at Chester Basin’s Seaside Shanty used to have an absurd pile of seafood atop luscious broth. It almost seemed impossibly wonderful. But I returned this year (2023) to see if the new owners had made any changes and I almost sobbed into my bowl.

Lane’s Privateer Inn

27 Bristol Ave, Liverpool, NS

My initial visit here was a train wreck. The owners knew I was coming, but somehow forgot that I was specifically coming to try the chowder. They were all out of lobster, and the owner made a special trip to the dock just for me. Of course, the problem with this is that I probably got more lobster than a normal diner would have (skewing my perception).

On my next visit there was new ownership but the chowder was more or less the same (maybe slightly less impressive).

This is a bowl of chowder that has so much potential but is just missing a certain je ne sais quoi. It is decent though, and I especially appreciate the seared Mersey (very local) scallops.

2 Doors Down

1533 Barrington St, Halifax, NS

This used to be my favourite bowl of chowder in downtown Halifax, but inconsistency has made it impossible to recommend. I believe there are two different chowders that rotate (or at least, there were) and the one on the right was about as disappointing as the one on the left was phenomenal.

I’ve had other good bowls of chowder at Edna, Black Sheep, and various other upscale Halifax restaurants where chowder occasionally makes an appearance. But I don’t know where I stand right now when it comes to bougie bowls, rotating menus and tinkering chefs. It’s hard to recommend a moving target.

I will continue my search for the best chowders in Nova Scotia at my leisure, and do my best to update this post as things change.

Where do you think has the best chowder in Nova Scotia? Comment below!


  1. I’m surprised “Oh My Cod cod” in Mahone Bay didn’t make your list.
    It was delicious and chock full of seafood.
    I guess I’ll have to check out some of the others on this list.


    • When I went to Mahone Bay, I tried Matteus Bistro and Rebecca’s. I don’t remember why I didn’t try Oh My Cod, but I’m thinking this was an oversight on my part because so many people have since recommended it. I’ll get on that as soon as I can!


    • Finding it really funny that one never thought of stopping in Cheticamp, CB
      After all it is a fishing village. Next time make it a point to stop at the Seafood Stop!
      Quaint little spot


      • Thank you for the recommendation. The funny thing is that I always stop in Cheticamp when driving the trail. I enjoyed the chowder at Le Gabriel quite a bit. This is the first time someone has recommended Seafood Stop, so thank you for this.


    • Deanna’s Eats and Treats in Lakeside on St Margaret’s Bay Road makes a wonderful chowder most Fridays. Check it out, see how it stacks up!


  2. To “Eat this Town” there is a chowder challenge at the Galic Collage in Saint Ann’s each spring and it is sponsored by L’Arche Cape Breton and was first won by Charlene’s Bayside and two times Charlene’s Bayside was the peopleschoice.


  3. Heading to the Cabot Trail tomorrow! I’ll definitely stop at Charlene’s Bayside Restaurant & Cafe based on your recommendation. Thanks for this!


  4. My chowder is great… when on road trips I always have the seafood chowder at “Waves Seafood & Grill” in Bridgewater….. best I’ve had !


  5. This list should be “printable” so I can check each one off as I try them! I figure I’ll try the first one next week, we will be going thru, now we “HAVE TO” stop!


  6. I was a huge fan of Seasaide Shanty chowder until the new owners ruined it. I was hoping with all the bad reviews they would change it back to the original recipe but no luck. I don’t even eat there anymore.


    • I tried a lobster sandwich filled with nothing but small lobster legs with a few pieces of regular lobster meat. Definitely no like the lobster sandwich that was repaired in the owner’s first appearance on a tv foodie contest. I asked to speak with the owner a few times. Instead of the owner coming to me I had to go in search of her. By this time I was a bit ticked off. When I finally located her and asked about the little lobster leg filling there came no answer and she walked away from me.
      I was dumbfounded at such a rude encounter.


  7. I would have to agree that Charlene’s Bayside Restaurant makes one of the best chowder I’ve ever had next to my own but I’ve never had the opportunity to start up my own restaurant… just a dream. Your article has stirred up a desire to try the other places you mention. Thanks


  8. By far the best I’ve had is in West Pubnico at a little place called The Red Cap (Cap Rouge) . So fresh the seafood must’ve swam into the bowl!


  9. If you ever get down that way, there is a little canteen in Advocate Harbour (at the campground) that makes amazing seafood chowder. It’s quite a hidden gem in our province.


  10. I too will always try a bowl of seafood chowder when eating at a new restaurant if it’s on their menu. I have tried it in dozens of restaurants in Nova Scotia and also in other provinces and serveral places in the US. I have tried the chowder in a few places in Cape Breton, Annapolis Valley, Lunenburg area and, of course, HRM since I live here. My list looks totally different than yours. My all time favorite is Bownstone Restaurant in Antogonish then Porter’s Lake Pub. My 3rd favaorite is The Hilltop Maritime Tavern in Fredericton then The Vines Restaurant in Dartmouth. I only have one that I would not go back to and that is Liscombe Lodge Resort because there was no crackers or roll included and the chowder was very sparse although the cream sauce was very tasty and the view of the river was exquisite. I am thrilled that we stumbled onto this article and I am excited to try a few spots on your list. Cheers


    • Interesting list! Antigonish/Pictou are definitely blind spots for me. I did try the chowder at Gabrieau’s Bistro but I was unimpressed. I never would have thought to try Vines, and a few people have been recommending the Porter’s Lake pub which wasn’t on my radar at all. Thanks for this. Cheers!


  11. Thanks for the places to go list! I have had a few of these as we make a point to go for motorcycle chowder road trips. Agree 100% about the Shanty. Route 3 cellar in Liverpool has a solid entry in the pub category. Crow’s Nest is my number 1 at the moment! Cheers and happy hunting!


  12. I think it is a shame that this article bothers to write up the Chowders that they think are the worst. They include the one from the Seaside Shanty because it is not the one the previous owners made.

    I enjoyed the lobster chowder at the previous restaurant – 3 years ago. But I was not surprised when the new owners decided to design their own menu. They also invested significant money into redoing and winterizing. They are now open year round which is a thrill to those of us who actually live here.

    The current chowder is much lighter than the previous one that was full of whipping cream. The current one has a much more nuanced flavour – I think there is fennel in it.

    Why bother to tear it down? Many people love it and we should be supporting good local businesses!


    • I didn’t talk about any chowders that I thought were the worst. The chowders at the bottom of the post were close to making the list but didn’t for the reasons mentioned. As for the Seaside Shanty, I call it as I see it. And in the discussion on my Facebook page, a lot of people are saying the same thing. One person told me they even sent the chowder back to the kitchen. The new owners were literally given the recipe for the holy grail of chowders in the province, and they took it away. I’m not sorry for calling that out.


  13. What a fun list! Love trying new chowder. My fave is Wiley’s Wharf in Wallace. A lovely husband and wife run restaurant. We love it so much we are renting an AirBNB next door next


  14. I had a bowl of chowder at Luckett Vineyards yesterday and it was DELICIOUS! When you get to the Valley again, drop in and try it!


  15. Thanks for that, I love a good Chowder and this gives me some great choices. I also totally agree that the Knot Pub is the best. Although we live in Dartmouth it is our go to when we are in the Lunenburg area, it never fails to please, and the atmosphere is absolutely “pub perfect”. I will say that since I moved to the Maritimes from Uppity Canada over 30 years ago I still am not impressed by the overall Seafood restaurant scene here. The failure to promote and use locally caught fish ( other than Lobster, oysters and mussels) is a disappointment, we need to take tips from our Cousins in Maine and Massachusetts in that department.


  16. You have to give Wave’s in Bridgewater a try and also The Osprey Nest in Petite Rivière. I’m a “chowder snob” and having been involved within the seafood industry for over 30 years, both of these restaurants hit high marks with me.


  17. For a city chowder I enjoy the one at the Brooklyn Warehouse served with warm biscuits. Pete’ s in the valley does a pretty good one too served with a lovely kale salad.


  18. Thanks for all the recommendations! I whole heartedly agree with your Seaside Shanty review. Their chowder used to be my favourite and it was so disappointing to find out the new owners are not using the same recipe.


  19. Glad to see you have the Crowsnest on your list, they truly have the best chowder. We live close by and it is always great.


  20. Our family’s favourite is Cafe l’Acadie in Indian Harbour, near Peggy’s Cove. The lobster chowder is terrific, as are the Acadian dishes. There is rappie pie on Sundays and deep-fried rappie bites that are Chef Gary’s creation of an Acadian street food. Delicious.


  21. An unsuspecting great chowder can be found at Millstone Pub on Baker Drive in Dartmouth. Great broth, great flavour, lots of seafood. I will say my number 1 spot is The Canteen, then Evans Seafood in Dartmouth.


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