Halifax’s 12 best breakfasts

Breakfast at Mary's Place on Robie Street. Photo: Jessica Emin

Halifax has an abundance of lovely places for breakfast and brunch, ranging from the affordable, no-nonsense, greasy spoon, to the place that makes its own jam and infuses its hollandaise sauce. This list of the best Halifax breakfasts will help decipher where to crush your cravings.

On the Run

German breakfast platter at Norbert's Good Food in the Seaport Farmers' Market.

German breakfast platter at Norbert’s Good Food in the Seaport Farmers’ Market. Photo: Jessica Emin

Handheld or just packaged up, these small restaurants and cafes will fill you up when you want to get around, or eat in bed.

  1. Food Wolf, my favourite Halifax food truck, is in the kitchen at the Mayflower Curling Club for the winter months, but during Spring, Summer and Fall, it serves up brunch beside the Brewery Market on Lower Water Street. The food is so good it sells out almost every brunch, so get it early for twists on eggs benedict, or huevos rancheros. The Food Wolf changes up its menu often, and is inspired by international cooking, so fussy eaters be warned. Check its website and social media for location, schedule and times.
  2. Steve-O-Reno’s Cappuccino has true to-go options that don’t require a fork. Its classic breakfast sandwich on english muffin, and the eggs and soldiers (soft poached eggs with toast dipping sticks, in a cup) are easy to grab if you’re on the fly in downtown Halifax, or on the way to a weekend activity. Warning: Grabbing coffee is quick, but food can take longer than expected, don’t park illegally because it might not be an in-and-out kind of thing. 7:30am to 1:00pm Monday to Friday, 8:00am-3:00pm Saturday, 8:30-3:00pm Sunday.
  3. Norbert’s Good Food is hearty and wholesome. It is located at the Northernmost end of the Seaport Farmers Market, and is supplied by Selwood Green Farm. The vegetables served are organic and local, and the cheese, meat, eggs and dairy are always from neighboring local vendors. I’d suggest either the OMG Egg Croissant Sandwich or the German Breakfast Platter, which is like a sweet and savoury morning charcuterie board. The wait on weekends can be longer, so take the time to get a few groceries in the meantime. Closed Mondays.

Cheap Comforts

The early bird special at the Ardmore Tearoom on Quinpool Road.

The early bird special at the Ardmore Tearoom on Quinpool Road. Photo: Jessica Emin

Morning done right, with everything you need, and no fancy trimmings. These restaurants usually have a breakfast special, and it is not frowned upon to put ketchup on everything.

  1. Mary’s Place Cafe was a second thought one morning, because The Coastal, across the street, was full, and I’m glad it was. Mary’s is a perfect little diner, with small booths, and usually just one server. The service is without flair, but smiling and efficient. The menu is a mixture of Americana and middle Eastern fare, which is ideal if you can’t make up your mind whether to get a breakfast special, a cheeseburger, or Tabouleh; just get them all. 7:00am to 8:00pm all-day breakfast.
  2. Elle’s Bistro is mostly a diner-style, eggs and toast, kind of breakfast spot, but there are a few menu items that are out of the ordinary, like a breakfast sandwich with two potato latkes as the buns, stuffed full of jalapeno and egg. Finish off breakfast with Elle’s delicious cheesecake. 7:00am-7:00pm all-day breakfast.
  3. The Ardmore Tea Room has, hands down, the best breakfast special in town. Before 11am on weekdays a hearty two-egger with toast and choice of meat is $3.99. Pair that breakfast with a huge milkshake served in the bucket sized metal blending cup. 5:00am to 8:00pm all-day breakfast.

Crowd Pleasers

Les Oeufs Hiver at The Coastal on Robie Street.

Les Oeufs Hiver at The Coastal on Robie Street. Photo: Jessica Emin

These are the best places to go if you’ve got a self professed high-brow eater and a toast and coffee only at the same table. Diner-style meets herb garnish. The menu usually gives the choice of basic or more elaborate plates.

  1. The Coastal has elevated my idea of breakfast food and could almost inched its way into the next breakfast category (morning art), but there are a few details that make it less ideal if you’re looking to get a full-service meal. The restaurant space is tiny, and being one of the most popular breakfast options in Halifax means that the lineups can be long. Once inside, with a secured first-come first-serve table, orders are placed at a cash, paid-for, then brought to you. Despite what can seem like jumping through hoops, to tired or hungover non-morning folk, the payoff at The Coastal is big. The Coastal’s menu is creative, changes with the seasons, and has a handful of foolproof signature dishes like The Elvis (a waffle sandwich with bacon, banana and peanut butter) and Huevos Rancheros that could rival those in Mexico. So, in short, fancy food, not fancy atmosphere; worlds collide. Closed on Wednesdays.
  2. The Foggy Goggle, a cozy basement bar and restaurant, has great food for everyone. Its menu boast something for vegans, vegetarians and meat eaters. The breakfast pizza and chocolate banana French toast are heavenly, the faint smell of yester-eve’s beer and the carpeted floor bring it down to earth. 9:00am-3:00pm Saturday and Sunday.
  3. At Durty Nelly’s whether the Irish breakfast, corned beef hash, or steak and eggs (among other things) are ordered, this restaurant requires a cleared schedule, because the make-your-own-caesar bar, with dozens of garnishes, rimmers and hot sauces, deserves some serious commitment. 10:30am to 1:30pm Saturday and Sunday.

Morning Art

No packaged hollandaise in this list. Some ingredients on the breakfast menu at these restaurants can be surprising, but you will leave wondering why you haven’t been treating breakfast more seriously all along.

  1. Edna is the best in the city for food and atmosphere. The restaurant is bright and airy with orchids and flowers arrangements as accents. It offers breakfast cocktails, like French 77 and oyster garnished caesar. The breakfast plates, like local smoked pork chop with eggs and duck fat potatoes, or lobster florentine, are usually served with just the right touch of greens or herbs to freshen the dish. If a craving for cheese or fresh local oysters on the half shell happens, Edna can deliver. Edna is also very accommodating to food allergies or preferences, so the servers are ready with suggestions or substitutions for the paleo, gluten-free or vegan person in your party. 10:00am-2:30pm Saturday and Sunday.
  2. Bistro Le Coq offers a rich French brunch, made complete by a good wine list including by-the-glass Champagne, served in beautiful coupes, à la Great Gatsby. Le Coq is the kind of breakfast restaurant that has such an decadent, and vast, menu that doing the affair in courses is better. I recommend starting with the sharing plate of five cheeses and house-made preserves. For mains, the lobster eggs benedict with a truffle oil hollandaise and steak tartare with a poached egg are my favourites, especially good when enjoyed on their summer patio. 11:30am-4:00pm Saturday and Sunday.
  3. Terrace Restaurant at The Prince George Hotel is all-you-can-eat breakfast done in style with seafood, meats, omelettes, fresh fruit and more, which is ideal for an insatiable appetite. The hotel suggests making reservations. Noon to 2:00pm Sunday only.


This story was originally published in Halifax Magazine.

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