Guided Tour - Downtown Halifax

The heart of the city is bursting with unique shops and services that bring the local spirit to life.

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LENNY MULLINS
  • LENNY MULLINS


EAT

Adventurous diners take note: Argyle Street has a new hotspot for you to discover. East of Grafton Tavern combines local craft beer, innovative cocktails and a food menu that is daringly unique—all encased within a casual, wondrous environment. Chef Luis Clavel has created a menu that features food you may remember Grandma making...but with a world traveller-inspired twist. Try the Newfie-style cod, Welsh rarebit or the Grafton burger: Four four-ounce cast-iron blackened patties with a bacon peppered bun...and served with an iron dagger! Open Tuesday through Sunday for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch, East of Grafton is funky, fun and mysterious—with a subtle hint of familiarity. Experience it for yourself, but be ready to expect the unexpected. East of Grafton Tavern, 1580 Argyle Street


A staple of downtown Halifax for more than 30 years, the Historic Farmers’ Market continues to shine, providing Halifax with the best Nova Scotia has to offer from farmers, artisan crafters, bakers, meat producers and more. A truly unique farmers’ market, it is the only market in the area that is cooperatively owned and managed. It has roughly 35 year-round members, and with seasonal members can result in about 45 to 60 vendors per week for guests to choose from. Boasting a variety of well-established, small-scale farms and producers, the Historic Market can supply everything from apple cider vinegar, speciality cheeses, meats and fermented foods, to a wide range of ethnic and exotic vegetables, fruits, herbs and spices, along with all the seasonal favourites too. Historic Farmers’ Market, 1496 Lower Water Street, Alexander Keith’s Brewery


Located on Barrington Street, Elle’s Bistro provides original dishes and a relaxed atmosphere in a family-diner setting. A small space where everything is prepared fresh and in small batches with a local focus, it truly is family and wallet friendly! Mary Elle Planetta’s store, which opened in 2014, saw an opportunity and jumped on it, quickly becoming popular with items such as her blueberry- or strawberry rhubarb-stuffed French toast, an ever-expanding eggs Benedict menu (currently more than 10 styles), jalapeño breakfast sandwich on homemade latkes and her local beef burgers. Elle’s Bistro is also licensed, and offers great Caesars and has a good selection of local craft beer. Elle’s Bistro, 1678 Barrington Street


When you’re looking Middle Eastern and Canadian cuisine in a friendly, casual and low-stress atmosphere, Baba Ghanouj Cafe can suit all one’s needs. Owned by Roy Khoury, who has been a presence in the Halifax Middle Eastern food scene since 1992, Baba Ghanouj (open since 2014) has a menu that includes all-day breakfast, certified Halal meals, and vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free options. Enjoy a delicious, authentic meal that is both health conscious, cost-conscious and is delivered with friendly customer service. Come in and try the grilled lamb pita, chicken shawarma or the big-guy 3x3 breakfast. Baba Ghanouj Cafe, 1701 Barrington Street


LIVE


Studio 21 has been showcasing high-end contemporary art to the downtown Halifax area for more than three decades. With approximately 50 artists showcased—roughly half of them local—Studio 21 has a rotating group of artists on display, as well as being one of two galleries in Atlantic Canada that exhibits regularly across North America—expanding beyond their own gallery space. As of June, Studio 21 has also offered to enhance any artworks purchased even further, by offering a custom framing service that makes your newest acquisition even more of a personalized memento. Drop by Tuesday through Saturday for a consultation, or to see the latest works on display. Studio 21, 1273 Hollis Street


When Amanda Hennigar founded her own wellness center, she envisioned a customized level of care and attention to detail that resulted in unrivalled customer care. Bespoke Clinic is the result: A wellness business center which offers services from naturopathic medicine, counselling and occupational therapy, to hypnotherapy, private yoga instruction and reiki. Bespoke also has a business incubator space, which associate practitioners can rent at an extremely affordable rate, to offer their services and grow their businesses faster. Most people are quite busy in the run of a day, and Bespoke is proud to offer treatment for a wide range of conditions. Treatment plans are highly customized to the patient to give the best chance of healing success, while the clinic is also looking to add social workers, massage therapists, chiropractors, acupuncturists, nutritionists and life coaches to their roster. Bespoke Clinic, 1809 Barrington Street, Suite B100


One of Halifax’s favourite destinations for contemplative lifestyle supplies, Drala offers unique, affordable gifts in an apparent oasis of calm, uplifted energy—in the heart of a bustling city. Rand Gaynor continually provides customers with a unique shopping experience. So many customers over the years have said “I love this store” that “You’ll love this store!” was adopted as its slogan. Since 1996, Drala’s loyal clientele, of both locals and visitors, come to find interesting products that are difficult to find elsewhere. Buckwheat Hull Pillows, which are made in Nova Scotia, and handmade Turkish stained-glass lamps, are two such products— both are only available in Halifax at Drala. Drala, 1567 Grafton Street


What do you get when you combine years of friendship with a combined 60 years of experience in the optometric and optical world? Ocean Optometry, an independent office that offers eye exams, fine eyewear and contact lenses. Led by Dr. Euan McGinty, Dr. David John Wilson and opticians Michael Bonang and Alicia Austin, Ocean Optometry takes the premise of friendship and applies it to their customer service, with personalized service in a relaxed environment being a point of emphasis. Ocean Optometry possesses a unique collection of independently-manufactured eyewear. They also focus on having products made from natural materials, making them environmentally friendly, and offer bespoke frames by TD Tom Davies—similar to a custom-made suit— to provide the best possible fit for their customers. Ocean Optometry, 5240 Blowers Street


It began with artisans making pewter designs in 1974 in a vacant boat building shop (circa 1880) in Mahone Bay. Since then, Amos Pewter has opened locations in Peggys Cove, Charlottetown and the historic Halifax waterfront. Amos Pewter designs and hand-crafts pewter jewelry, home decor, tableware and ornaments, which are inspired by nature and our coastal surroundings - offering a connection of the area to customers. Customers can chat with the artisans and watch them carefully ladle hot, free-flowing molten pewter from the melting pot and capture it in a spinning mould. They also offer a hands-on experience where visitors can finish and personalize their own pewter sand dollar, an experience which is uniquely Amos. Each year Amos designs an annual collector ornament, which has become a traditional collectors’ piece for many customers. Each ornament comes with a story and is packaged in a gift envelope...the 2016 ornament is the Cardinal. Amos Pewter, 1751 Lower Water Street


SHOP


Celebrating more than 10 years on Barrington Street, The Loop is not just a store—it’s become a landmark. Offering a modern, airy, open and well-lit space, The Loop looks more like a gallery or an art studio than a retail shop. Mimi Fautley’s store offers natural fibre yarn, and other supplies, for knitting, crocheting, felting and spinning. Crafters of all levels are welcome, with support, advice and workshops available to help every project, no matter the size. The product selection is diverse, with a number of local and artisanal products, including the Cascade 220 Superwash: a high-quality, soft, machine-washable 100 percent wool. Come in and discover it—or any of the other exciting products—that you’ll be hard-pressed to find elsewhere. The Loop, 1547 Barrington Street


When NSCAD University moved to its Granville Street location, there had to be a store for where the art was made—in 1998 the NSCAD Art Supply Store moved with the school. A location rooted in the history of the downtown commercial core, it’s not just a place to purchase art supplies, but also where students—and artists from various parts of the province and beyond—can meet and chat informally. Often people drop in just to say hello, have a laugh, get a hug and chat. If you’re looking for a specific product and the store has it, they’ll sell it to you. If not, they’ll get it for you. And If they can’t get it, or if it doesn’t exist, they’ll suggest solutions that might work for the customer. NSCAD Art Supply Store, 1871 Granville Street


A modern handmade boutique and letterpress studio located in downtown Halifax, Inkwell offers an abundant selection of specialty printed paper products and handmade delights. Everything you can find in the store has been personally worked on by the artist—both local and international—giving it that added feel of care and attention. Owner Andrea Rahal has thrived over the last five years, largely in part to the uniqueness of the products: Inkwell has two antique letterpresses on site, which are used to make its in-house line (Inkwell Originals) and custom client work. A 600-year-old printing process, the cast-iron presses are hand powered and paper is fed by hand. Requiring time and a high degree of skill, the type and image are pressed into the paper through the pressure of the press, resulting in a charming and timeless tactile impression in the paper. Inkwell, 1658 Market Street


Biscuit General Store, which recently celebrated its 20th anniversary, continues to provide downtown Halifax with fun, interesting and high-quality clothing and accessories that are sure to please. Wendy Friedman hand-selects every item that’s found inside her “boutique department store,” drawing upon the feedback that she hears from customers every day. Biscuit carries the philosophy of embracing everyone, and making them feel welcome. This community approach is reflected in their efforts to support Canadian brands, but they also stock the latest fashions from Scandinavia, London and more. If there’s a style Friedman can’t find? She’ll have it made in LA for her in-house brand Bonanza by Biscuit. Biscuit General Store, 1661 Argyle Street

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