The best places to eat in PEI

Here I am, back with my second PEI vacation post! Being the foodie that I am and since the first thing most people wonder about a place they visit is where they can get some great food, I will be focusing on my favorite places to eat in PEI. I hope you like seafood, because that is what most of these places feature, but fear not! Even though Islanders are big on eating local and seasonal and a big part of their income comes from the sea, all the restaurants I will be writing about here also offer burgers, steak and sometimes pasta and they all offer salad. Because hey, not everyone enjoys fish and lobster, right?

First off, if you are looking for the best lobster rolls in Prince Edward Island, do like me and make your first stop on the Island the Water Prince Corner Shop in Charlottetown! I have made it an ongoing mission to try as many lobster rolls as I can in PEI and have yet to find better ones. The Water Prince’s potato salad is to die for as well! And yes, the shop really is on the corner of Water and Prince, it is blue with white trim around the windows, you can’t miss it!

The second place I took my Darling to eat in PEI was Rick’s Fish ‘n’ Chips in St-Peter’s. This place was featured on Canada’s The Food Network’s ‘You Gotta Eat Here’ for a reason: their fish and chips are amazing! Rick’s batter is light and not greasy and the fish always stays nice and tender. Another plus about this place is its location. The town of St-Peter’s is built around St-Peter’s Bay and Rick’s is right in the bend of the road that curves around it, which makes for some lovely views!

Now, before I continue on to the next restaurant, a small note about beer on the Island. As I mentioned earlier, the inhabitants of PEI take great pride in eating local. This applies to their beer drinking habits as well. Unless you go to a large British or Irish pub in Charlottetown such as the Churchill Arms (also featured on ‘You Gotta Eat Here’, do not expect to be served anything other than PEI ale, usually either Beach Chair Lager or Gahan when it is in season. I am not a big beer drinker, but my Darling knows his way around it quite well and he preferred Gahan. So this is fair warning if you love your Guiness, Labatt, Molson or whatever: bring it with you.

My Darling's Beach Chair Lager.
My Darling’s Beach Chair Lager.
Fish and Chips from Rick's  in St-Peter's.
Fish and Chips from Rick’s in St-Peter’s.
The Churchill Arms pub in Charlottetown.
The Churchill Arms pub in Charlottetown.

Now, back to Charlottetown! We ended up staying in town for two nights for our anniversary. The first evening was our actual anniversary and my Darling treated me to dinner at Fishbones Oyster Bar & Grill. Fishbones was my choice because I was dying for oysters and Fishbones did not disappoint, presenting us with a platter of four oysters, two Raspberry Points and two Malpeques. Malpeques are my all-time favourite oysters and I would gladly have shoveled away a dozen, but I decided to wait until we were actually in Malpeque to binge on them!

The John Brown Grille in Charlottetown with the Fish Bones in the background.
The John Brown Grille in Charlottetown with the Fish Bones in the background.
Our bottles of raspberry cordial.
Our bottles of raspberry cordial.

Our most pleasant surprise during our time in PEI was the raspberry cordial we decided to try when we visited Green Gables. This was my Darling’s idea. During all my visits to PEI I avoided this stuff like the Plague, because it look like it would more than likely be far too sweet for my sensitive Canadian taste-buds, but I was very pleasantly surprised. The drink was just sweet enough and pleasantly refreshing, so if you like carbonated water with a twist, don’t be afraid to try this fun little drink! It can be found all over the Island.

Dalvay-By-The-Sea hotel.
Dalvay By The Sea hotel.

Next, my Darling and I indulged in a little treat: afternoon at Dalvay By The Sea! I’m a bit of an Anglophile and am a stickler for afternoon tea done right and Dalvay absolutely lived up to my expectations. They serve up tea every day as of 2:00 P.M. and you get everything you see on our tea tier plus all the tea you can drink for 55$ for two! Do make sure you call and book ahead though, especially on the weekend as they can fill up fast! Also, please note that Dalvay By The Sea is inside the Brackley-Dalvay section of PEI National Park, so you will have to pay the Park’s entrance fee to get there. You can find more information about the Park and its fees here.

Our 4 o'clock tea at Dalvay-By-The-Sea.
Our sumptuous afternoon tea at Dalvay By The Sea.

Our last memorable culinary stop was in Malpeque at the absolutely delightful Malpeque Oyster Barn. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to take any pictures of beautiful Malpeque Harbour or the restaurant because it was pouring buckets the evening we were there, the only significant rain we saw during our entire two-week vacation. But trust when I say this: if you love oysters, this is the place for you. Malpeque oysters have a beautiful, sharp flavour to them that makes them instantly recognizable and this place serves them fresh, like 24-48 hours out of the water fresh, every single day. Absolute and total ecstasy if you love oysters like I do, even my Darling who was on the fence regarding oysters before our vacation was converted to the beginner level of oyster loving by these guys. Naturally, the Oyster Barn does not serve only oysters. My Darling enjoyed quite a nice lobster roll there and I loved their fish cakes, which were made with fresh fish and another PEI staple: mashed potatoes. Because if there is one thing you have to taste aside from the seafood in PEI, it is their potatoes!

Now, a few pointers about eating in PEI:

1- You are not in the big city. Planning on eating out anywhere on the Island any later than 8:00 P.M. is a big risk. This is because PEI is all rural. The biggest city there is Charlottetown and its population is approximately 35 000. The kitchen at the Fishbones is the latest closing one I know of and it closes at 10:00 P.M.

2- You will more than likely be staying at least a 20 minute drive away from the nearest grocery store if you are staying in a cottage, so plan your meals ahead so you won’t have to go to the grocery store more than once a week. Keep an eye out for the nearest gas station with a Needs convenience store attached to it, they have all the essentials in a pinch, but keep in mind that it might be at least 10 kms away from your place.

3- Keep it casual. PEI is a very laid back place, so you will not be needing any super fancy clothes to eat out, not even for afternoon tea at Dalvay. The only dress code on PEI is that you must be wearing a shirt, pants and shoes for service, meaning you will not be served if you show up abrefoot in your bathing suit. Yup, they really post this on the entrance to shops and restaurants, because most people who eat out or go shopping in the Summer are tourists who are either coming from, or heading out to the beach.

4- If you’re in a hurry, don’t be. Island restaurants pride themselves on serving their food fresh, so if you’re in a rush, head to the Water Prince for a lobster roll. That’s the only place where I have consistently been able to order and eat in under a half-hour because they keep their lobster salad so handy. Otherwise, plan on being in any eatery for at least an hour.

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