Where To Eat In Saint John, 10 Places To Satisfy Your Hunger

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My adventures have taken me to Canada’s “first” city, Saint John, New Brunswick. Over the course of my week long stay, I stretched my waistline to find you ten places to satisfy your hunger pangs. Everything from a great cup of coffee to a Brewpub, and a charming Bistro to a cocktail joint with a velvet Elvis painting hanging on the wall. Saint John has proven it has some fine dining options for the hungry tourist and locals alike. There is even a wine bar that would only be better if it were open more. Where to eat in Saint John? Here are my ten picks for you try when you are in Saint John.

A Dark & Stormy with a view in East Coast Bistro

Ganong Sweet New Brunswick treats on sale

1. East Coast Bistro – Ask anyone in Saint John where to eat and the first place they come up with is East Coast Bistro. Chef/Owners Tim Muehlerbauer and Kim Steele have created a destination restaurant that every foodie in town eats at when they want a great meal. The menu is hyper local and seasonal, the staff are friendly and prompt, and best of all the food is superb. During my stay in Saint John my birthday came and went. Where did I book a reservation for dinner? East Coast Bistro of course, and I wasn’t disappointed. The meal started with a half dozen Oysters, then a Purple Cabbage and Peanut Salad, followed by my main course of Steak & Frites. Perfection. Dinner ended with a surprise Birthday cake made by the Chefs. It was mine, all mine!

East Coast Bistro in Saint John

Half dozen Oysters at East Coast Bistro

Purple Cabbage & Peanut Salad

Steak & Frites from East Coast Bistro

My birthday cake surprise at East Coast Bistro



2. Port City Royal – Remember I hinted that a restaurant in Saint John has a velvet Elvis hanging on its walls. This is that place. That should tell you that you are in for something different here. The menu changes daily and depending on when you arrive for dinner you can choose from the entire menu or the dishes that haven’t run out already. This place is all about fresh, local and craft. Skip the beer and wine and go straight for a cocktail. The bartender mixes it up every night and this one by far one of the best Dark & Stormy cocktails I’ve ever had. For dinner, I enjoyed the Pan Roasted Broccoli followed by the Pan Seared Pork Chop Loin. There was a nice crust of crackling on my piece that gave it an extra punch of flavour. A place for foodies to fall in love with.

Port City Royal in Saint John

Velvet Elvis hangs on the wall at Port City Royal

Dark & Stormy at Port City Royal

Pan Roasted Brocoli at Port City Royal

Pork Loin Chop from Port City Royal


3. happinez winebar – To quote their website, “a little bar with lots of wine“. If I lived in Saint John, this would be my watering hole. It is only open Wednesday through Saturday so make sure you put it in your calendar for when you visit. It is intimate without feeling small. It is warm, cozy and CHEAP! Maybe I am used to West Coast prices but I couldn’t find a glass of wine for more than $10 on the menu. You can enjoy a flight of wines for $12.  I enjoyed a flight of Reds and left the selection completely in the hands of owner Peter Smit. To pair with the wines, happinez also offers a small but tasty selection of charcuterie and cheese plates to tantalize your taste buds. The only thing I wish is that they were open more during my stay.

happinez winebar in Saint John

Inside the intimate happinez wine bar

A flight of Red wine at happinez winebar

Charcutierie and cheese plate

Pate plate at happinez wine bar

4. Java Moose – In every city I’ve been to I always ask, where do I get a good cup of coffee? By coffee I mean espresso and by good I don’t mean Starbucks or Tim Hortons. The coffee shop in Saint John is Java Moose. With three locations in town plus two more in neighbouring Rothesay, there is no reason not to enjoy good coffee in Saint John. I started every day with my caffeine hit at their Prince William Street location or their kiosk in the City Market. The market was by far my favourite location, but they all brew a mean cup of java and best of all after three days they remembered my order, double shot Americano with room for milk.

Java Moose coffee shop in Saint John

Java Moose at the Saint John City Market

Breakfast sandwich and coffee at Java Moose

5. Urban Deli – The Urban Deli by day is a great lunch spot. Serving wicked sandwiches, burgers and salads. By nighttime, it turns into a fine Italian restaurant serving pasta, pizza and many more Italian classics. You would think this dual persona would dilute the quality and leave you wondering how they stay open. You would think wrong. I never made it to the Italian by Night, but I can certainly vouch for the amazing lunch time food they serve. It’s a small space so be prepared to sit at the communal table and make friends. One lunch I enjoyed inside the restaurant at the communal table was the Uptown Big Beef Bad Boy. On another occasion, I took a Smoked Meat sandwich to go and ate it at Kings Square while listening to local musicians perform in the park. Either way it is a home run when you eat at Urban Deli.

Urban Deli in Saint John

Uptown Big Beef Bad Boy from Urban Deli

Smoked Meat sandwich from Urban Deli in King's Square

6. Big Tide Brewing – Who doesn’t love a brew pub and Big Tide Brewing is the one and only in Saint John. Along with all the fine Beers they make on site, they also have a very tasty menu. My dinner there was certainly impressive. I started off with a French Onion soup and finished with the Italian Meatball Burger. A few of the folks I know from Saint John call this their favourite everyday restaurant and I can see why. That was a very delicious burger, it certainly left me feeling happy and full.

Big Tide Brewing in Saint John

French Onion soup at big Tide Brewing

Italian Meatball Burger from Big Tide Brewing

7. Britts Pub – I want to tell you what Britts Pub looks like inside, but every time I showed up to eat it was so busy the only place available for me was at the bar. I think that is a good sign it’s a popular place. It’s one of the few places that opens for breakfast and stays open for the nighttime pub crowd. I enjoyed both dinner and breakfast here. Unfortunately, my breakfast photos got deleted by accident, but you can take my word it was delish. For dinner, I mixed things up and had a Pulled Pork sandwich with a side of Turkey Poutine. BBQ and Christmas on two plates. Weird yet wonderful somehow.

Britts Pub in Saint John

Pulled Pork sandwich from Britts Pub

Turkey Poutine from Britts Pub

8. Bourbon Quarter – On Prince William Street you’ll find two places that are inspired by New Orleans and the Big Easy. The Bourbon Quarter and Magnolia Cafe. Both owned by the same folks they offer a taste of Cajun cuisine to visitors and locals in Saint John. I ran out of nights to try them out for dinner, but I was able to get there for breakfast and thoroughly enjoyed myself. A nice selection of Beer on tap, fast friendly service and a tasty Cajun Scramble that hit the right spot. On my list to try them out for dinner when I visit Saint John again.

Bourbon Quarter and Magnolia Cafe

View inside the Bourbon Quarter

Cajun Scramble from Bourbon Quarter in Saint John

9. Saint John Ale House – The Sain John Ale House could not have a better location if they tried. Located at Market Square they are steps away from the New Brunswick Museum, the Convention Centre, the Hilton and straight across the street is a Stage where acts perform all Summer long. Inside the restaurant they don’t rest on their location laurels, the chef takes his job seriously and produces some excellent food. I couldn’t resist a lunch time plate of Bangers and Mash that was so big I couldn’t finish it. They also have a great selection of local beers and cider on tap. I ordered a pint of my New Brunswick favourite, Red Rover Cider.

Saint John Ale House

Outdoor Patio at saint John Ale House

Bangers and Mash from Saint John Ale House

Red Rover Cider at Saint John Ale House

10. Lemongrass Thai Fare – Saint John has a thing for restaurants that are two restaurants in one. Lemongrass Thai Fare by day serves up authentic Thai cuisine on it’s heated three tier patio on the Saint John Waterfront boardwalk. At nighttime it turns into Peppers Pub and serves up its unique twist on Pub fare to go along with the great bands performing on their stage. I missed the bands playing by a couple of nights, but I did get to enjoy some fantastic Thai food that included Curry Dusted Calamari, Lamb Popsicles and nicely spiced Chicken Pad Thai. Not what I expected to eat in Saint John, but I am glad I did. A nice alternative to the usual pub fare.

Lemongrass and Peppers Pub in Saint John

Curry dusted Calamari from Lemongrass Thai Fare

Lamb Posicles from Lemongrass Thai Fare

Chicken Pad Thai from Lemongrass

So there you have my ten places to eat at in Saint John. I’m sure I’ve missed a few places like En Sushi and Thandi, but I ran out of time. One thing you should know about all of these places listed above is that they are all within a five-minute walk of each other in Uptown Saint John. So if you head out for dinner one night and you can’t get into to one of these places you have nine options to choose from in a 5-minute walk area. It is crazy to think that all the great places to eat in Saint John are in one area. They should call it the Foodie Mile.

Bon Appetite in Saint John and do go to East Coast Bistro and happinez and tell them Marc sent you and says hello.

Chef:Owner Tim and Kim at East Coast Bistro

Ganong Fruitfull Jellies

 

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About Author

Marc Smith is a former event planner turned vagabond adventurer. He loves strong Americano's, great wine, cold beer and zip lining over tree tops. Formerly of Vancouver, most of Marc's time when not travelling is in Canada's largest city, Toronto. Follow along on his nomad adventures and discover places to stay, things to do and where to eat & drink as he explores the world one city and region at a time.

34 Comments

      • I am so sad that you didn’t have an opportunity to experience Italian by Night at the Urban Deli. It really is something magical. Side note, Italian by Night is getting their own venue in uptown Saint John!
        Perhaps you could also sample A Taste of Egypt when you return.
        Thanks for taking the time to highlight some of our eateries!

    • The last time we were at the Ale House it was horrible. Grade F on the food scale. That will be our last time. Brits is by far the one place we go to celebrate all occasions…they are consistent, friendly, and the price is right!!

  1. Really too bad you didn’t have time for Thandi. Truly an amazing experience. If you ever get back to SJ, highly recommend!

  2. Excellent list Marc! I’m glad you found our diverse little uptown so flavourful. Let us know when you’re in the neighbourhood again and we can find you 10 more!

  3. I love Big Tide! My husband and I would probably both say it’s ourr favourite place to go out to eat at. I had only been to Happinez once, about 5 years ago, and wasn’t aware it was actually still around (sadly.) Will definitely have to go back again, we loved it, it was one of our first couple of dates! Great article, and as a local Saint John-er, you really gave an amazing overview of what our city has to offer!

  4. Nancy steele on

    Thanks Marc, we love having Tim and Kim home and yes what a great place to eat and experience fabulous food and service !

    Nancy and Jack Steele

  5. Chris Downey on

    Britt’s has it figured out. Breakfast is always a hit, lunch/supper are a mixture of high end pub food and random rare dishes they invent with fresh ingredients sourced locally. Then the whole thing changes into a popular hang out until the wee hours. By your third visit, they’ll have your favourite drink memorized and ready for you before you find a chair.

    Too bad you didn’t get a chance to sample Thandi’s. The quality of the service, food and atmosphere are all world class. Definitely deserves a spot in any SJ food list. Like East Coast Bistro, the owners are very hands on an make sure the quality is always there. I could make an argument that they have the best steak in town.

    There are a couple more very high quality Saint John restaurants that didn’t make your list that are outside of your five minute walk. Ironically both are Thai. Suwanna on the west side of town has awesome food and a charming historic atmosphere, Splash on Rothesay Avenue is in my personal top 3. Their massaman is to die for and the staff are all incredible. I try to frequent Splash every few weeks…

    Thanks for the great article. Unfortunately, I believe Saint John is underrated as a “foodie” destination. Hopefully articles like this will change that.

  6. I lived in SJ as a kid and my mom, step-dad and grandparents still live there. It’s a beautiful city and I love to visit. Your restaurant selection was great, but you missed the mark with Lemongrass. It’s good don’t get me wrong, but had you taken a short walk up King street and down Canterbury, you would have found the little jewel of a Thai restaurant that is Thandi. I don’t mean to tell you how to do your job, but if you missed Thandi, you truly missed out and your article is incomplete. Thandi should have been at the top of your list.

    • Tandis , Saint John’s best restaurant . surprised .
      The Indian food is really bad.
      I live in Rothesay , moved to Saint John , NB since 1971,
      We travel the world ,.
      I have met world renowned chefs in Toronto, Montreal , Vancouver Cape Town , New York , Delhi , Mumbai, Goa , Italy , Portugal , & many other countries ,
      I am not a chef however , I can cook next to a master chef comfortably.
      Have met many Michelin chefs , one of the most recognized Indian chef Sanjeev kappor , have met him in Delhi India .
      At International seafood festival had honour to meet Chef Linn Crawford , anyone travelling to Toronto please go to her restaurant on Queen st East .
      Saint John NB is my home by choice love this beautiful city and the people , great restaurants However very few , I would recommend .
      My top choice
      East coast Bistro , Splash, Italian by night , Port city Royal , Happinez , Billy’s , Vivaldis & Meditranian . .
      Shuhana was great now the building is falling apart the food is not what it use to be .
      Tandis is the worst Restaurants , espicially their Indian food is the worst Indian food I have ever eaten .
      I will never waste my time or recomend Tandis

      I agree with Marc ,, all his recomendations are great

  7. Great article! Hopefully you’ll be able to visit Decimal 81 and Thandi’s on your next trip. Great food choices at these restaurants too.

  8. It’s obviously been far too long since I’ve last been to Saint John! I don’t think I’ve been to any of the amazing places you have shared here, Marc! I think I’ll have to plan a return visit!

  9. larry gagnon on

    Too bad you didn’t get to sample A taste of Egypt and Thandi’s and the new restaurant on the fly at the SJ Airport!

    • Larry,
      Thank you for mentioning Taste Of Egypt. Hopefully it will be on their list for next time. What a great blog of some of the most fabulous restaurants in New Brunswick!

  10. Lemon Grass has to have the worst Thai food in the City of Saint John, obviously you didn’t get the opportunity to try Thandi , Suwana, Splash or even Thai PO which all put lemon grass to shame. WE gave Lemon grass two chances and they were both horrific experiences and we will never return.

    • Not so sure. i eat at and enjoy all the places you listed more than LG – but the few times I experienced Lemongrass were equally good. Especially the Pad thai. Personally I was surprised to see Java Moose on this list. Weak coffee and cold, fridge tasting treats doesnt equal quality cafe in my mind. I want to love their product – but wow, man is it hard. Shame Romanos Pizza didnt make the list! Thats real SJ awesomeness.

  11. Great list minus the Ale House and Big Tide. Both great places to drink but find Ale House over priced and Big Tides food is sub par and sometimes under cooked.

  12. My top pick for Saint John is Chuckles Lounge, home of Miller’s Cookhouse! It’s a rare treat that the cook comes out and asks how you are enjoying your food. He won’t make anything that he himself doesn’t find absolutely delicious. I may be biased as I put on the comedy shows at the venue (chuckles comedy club) but I’ve heard nothing but good things from people all over the city and its really getting quite popular! The food actually helps me sell comedy tickets! Ask around… You’ll hear the same from most people ;-).

  13. Kim Millership on

    What about “The Queens Buffet” beside Value Village; We had dinner there and found it quite delightful!!

  14. Simonne
    Seeing these pictures makes me miss Saint John a lot. I grew up there and moved to Ottawa a few years ago and although I love it here it’s not SJ. The food choices where you can eat are fantastic. It’s a great city.

  15. I don’t think he missed much at Thandi’s I had a horrible experience there and the manager/owners did not even take the time to acknowledge that I contacted them in regards to the situation. I won’t go into detail but it was by far the worst I could imagine in dining experience.

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