Potatoes and Shellfish. Before I landed on Prince Edward Island in May 2018, this is what I knew. It was east, an island and it’s name was on the bags of potatoes and mussels and cases of lobster and oysters that came into the restaurants I worked at. As a chef and food blogger this was a culinary pilgrimage in some sense. I wanted to see where those bags of “product” came from. Between meeting the farmers and fisherfolk, being the sous chef at The Inn at Bay Fortune and eating my fair share, I offer my two sense on where to eat in PEI.
Go and get shucked!
Where to Eat in PEI
Where to Eat in Charlottetown
An islander for three years now, but living on the far east side of the island, it took me a little while to get to know Charlottetown. For many, this is the centralized hub and for me it was a treat to get to town for errands. Over time and now many visits to Charlottetown later, I now feel confident to properly suggest an up to date list of the good eats available there.
Charlottetown’s first Grocerant, a reasonably new term for me in the industry. My friend, Chef Dave Mottershall is back in the saddle at Terra Rossa after opening Terre Rouge (same location, name changed languages) many moons ago. Dishing up simple Italian cuisine with fresh flavours, the menu is all available for take out as well.
With plenty of distanced seating inside as protocol requires, calling ahead is a large help these days for restaurants navigating this new norm. As a grocerant, the shelves support local producers and suppliers along with house made charcuterie and preserves. Perfect for lunch while picking something up for dinner.
With a wide selection of the local, craft brews flowing on tap and a range of tapas style dishes, Hopyard is a Charlottetown staple in recent years. The menu is always good and ever-changing with a range of meaty to veggie options.
Can’t forget about about the classic vinyl. With quite a selection, there is always some good tunes on.
Piatto Pizzeria and Enoteca
Wood fire oven pizza should be enough said. It is for me and I’m not even a fan of the za, but thin crust and a wood fire makes all the difference here. If you are looking for a pizza of quality, then Piatto’s should be on your radar.
Brit’s Fish and Chips
Fish and chips has always been a favourite of mine. I assume this is the doing of my British father. Maybe that’s why the name called to me right away. Anyways, when I get close to the coast or on an island nation, just like when I went to England, I arrived on PEI and craved for a classic fish ‘n’ chips. Brit’s didn’t let me down.
I don’t know many a soul who doesn’t love velvety smooth, rich and creamy, luscious ice cream on a hot day. With countless flavours/combinations Cow’s has that want… no, need covered with a few locations across the island. 3 in Charlottetown alone, it shouldn’t be hard to get a nice chilled treat.
Right beside the downtown location of Cow’s, really treat your sweet tooth and nostalgic self with some vintage candy. Even if you don’t purchase anything, I’m sure a walk inside will bring you back a few years.
Maid Marian’s Diner
Classic diner breakfast is something every town needs and Maid Marian’s is always busy slinging all day breakfast. I can’t honestly say I’ve tried anything other than the Robin Hood Breakfast. Two eggs, sausage, home fries and toast. Hits the spot every time.
With a few locations in town, a good cup of Joe is never too far away. Cozy, trendy cafes with a nice light menu makes it a great lunch spot as well.
Fishbones/John Brown Richmond Street Grill
If you’re looking for a classic bar and grill experience, these two are right up your alley. Located on Richmond Street, a walking street, they have nice patios while Fishbones boasts a great rooftop patio as well. These two are more about the atmosphere on a sunny day than the food, but the grub isn’t too bad either.
Where to Eat in PEI doesn’t end in Charlottetown. Prince Edward Island is a small island with a big appetite. 3.5 hours from tip to tip (East Point to North Cape), it is easy to get out and explore the rolling patchwork of fields and forests while taking in all the flavours as well. Whether by the beach or in the rural countryside, a good feed is never too far away or the ingredients that make it up.
Local is a very trendy word these days used by all sorts of businesses, but here on PEI, local doesn’t seem to be a trend. Local is in the blood of islanders and flows through the red sand that makes it up. Enjoy an island feast and enjoy the island.
Central PEI (around Charlottetown)
Richard’s Seafood (two locations) – Covehead/Victoria-by-the-Sea
Fried seafood is a snack of gluttony. I could endlessly eat fresh succulent, crispy fried clams and my first year I was hear, I did. Unfortunately clams have been more difficult to come by in recent years apparently, but the scallops and breaded fish ‘n’ chips are probably my favourite on the island.
This small red barn on the north shore has generated quite a buzz with near constant line ups and a second location open now in Victoria.
Blue Mussel Cafe – North Rustico
I make a point of coming here at least once a summer. Quite often when I have a visitor for a little while, the drive and seaside town of North Rustico makes for a beautiful maritime experience by itself. Getting a table at the busy Blue Mussel Cafe tops it off with a taste of the island.
The steamed mussels are a must for the table to share!
Cheeselady’s Gouda Cheese: Glasgow Glen Farm – New Glasgow
There aren’t too many cheese makers on Prince Edward Island, but the few there are, are passionate and experts in the trade. Chef Jeff McCourt took on production of this amazing Dutch Gouda years ago supplying the island with a great variety of cheese with multiple variations. Peppercorn, Fenugreek and a Bluda Gouda to name a few.
It’s not just cheese here though. With a wood fire oven burning in the shop, the pizza here is no joke. I rarely eat pizza, but here is where I tend to get my annual fix.
The Hand Pie Co. – Albany
Land Ho! After the 12.9 km long Confederation Bridge you must be feeling a twinge of hunger. Problem solved in only a 7 minute drive. The Hand Pie Co. makes an array of flavours from a classic pasty, chicken pot pie, all-day breakfast and curried chickpea to name a few.
The Inn at Bay Fortune – Bay Fortune
Now rated #31 in the country by Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants, this restaurant/inn is the one that blew the horn and ushered the call that brought me to Prince Edward Island in the first place. That being said, now that I’m the sous chef here, my opinion may be a little biased, but simply check the reviews.
In past years, we have curated a feast, an evening and a bit of a production. In light of Covid-19, we have pivoted like many businesses to a BBQ-style Picnic. Take out or picnic right on the front lawn with a full service bar until September 6. Open to Inn guests until Thanksgiving Sunday, we provide a simple, yet refined Farmhouse style dinner sourced from our farm and the island.
For reservations – The Inn at Bay Fortune
Lobster Shack – Souris Beach
Lobster is a quintessential food experience on Prince Edward Island and on the east coast in general. With that understood, a lobster roll or dinner may not be hard to come by, but the best one might be. Make your way east and look no further. These brothers fish their own lobster and provide a classic, fresh, clean tasting lobster roll.
Have a taste of their famous Colville Bay Oysters as well. Some of the best on the island!
Poke Shack – Souris Beach/North Lake
A little newer to the Souris Beach line up, the Poke Shack brought this Hawaiian dish to the eastern shores of PEI. The owners are big players in the fishing communities (PEI Bluefin Tuna in particular) which make this not only seafood of impeccable quality, but allows islanders to get a taste of the tuna that was previously shipped directly to Japan.
Another location at North Lake, One Tuna Cafe.
Shirley’s – Souris
These types of places exist everywhere, but quality differs greatly. Shirley’s is a cheap burger shack and ice cream hut. Why did it make this list? Well, a couple reasons. It reminded me of that greasy cheeseburger from the local ball park I adored as a kid and the value is huge. $10 for a double cheeseburger with fries. Can’t go wrong and who doesn’t have these cravings from time to time.
Rick’s Fish and Chips – Saint Peters Bay
Rick’s has stood the test of time for over 25 years becoming a staple in the area and a perfect spot for lunch or dinner after exploring Greenwich National Park. Grab a bench and enjoy one of the most beautiful spots to watch the sun set over Saint Peters Bay.
The Catch – West Point
With very little in the area, The Catch fills that void. If you are out exploring the very rural west side of the island West Point Lighthouse be sure to stop for dinner. A classic bar and grill with good eats and a beautiful sunset view.
Where to Eat in PEI isn’t the only thing one must know and just like everywhere in the world, Craft Beer has reared its beautiful head here on the island. While possibly late to the game, they played one hell of a round of catch up. Talented brewers dot the island so be sure to stop in for a tipple while exploring the coastal drives. (drink responsibly)
I discovered this beer my first summer at the Summerside Sunday Market where I bought a growler of the stout and red ale. That day Moth Lane without question became one of my favourite breweries. I made the pilgrimage last summer and sat in the tap room tasting the wares and listening to the stories of the brew master. This is a PEI experience, not to mention the scenic drive towards Ellerslie.
– Charlottetown, PE
– Charlottetown, PE
Prince Edward Island Brewing Company
– Charlottetown, PE
– Montague, PE
– Montague, PE
– Bordern-Carlton, PE
– Summerside, PE
At the end of a day here, your eyes will be spoiled with the scenic patchwork fields and coastal views. Your mind might be thinking about cheap real estate and the east coast lifestyle, while your heart is filled with hospitality. All this, but most of all your stomach will be full as you navigate between lighthouses and get a taste of this amazing island.
If you think I’m missing a quintessential establishment on Where to Eat in PEI, please let me know in the comments below.