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Where to Eat on the Cabot Trail

Hi all.
My wife and I are driving the Cabot Trail for 4 days/3 nights in mid-August and need to line up where to stop along the way for the best food around.
We're driving from Halifax to Mabou, then from there up to Pleasant Bay, and then down to Ingonish. Flying out of Sydney the final day.
We're perfectly willing to stop anywhere along the way and out of the way if need be.


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  1. We drove the Cabot trail two years ago - absolutely unreal. When traveling we *never* eat at the same restaurant twice... Except on this trip... We stayed in Pleasant Bay, and ate the best Snow Crab / Lobster meal we have ever had (caught fresh that day) for <$25pp. You get a half of a crab and a full lobster per person... The house white wine was unreal, and reasonably priced...

    The restaurant was called 'The Rusty Anchor' and actually has a rusty anchor outside... Very small, with a great view of the water. Enjoy!

    1. Hometown Kitchen in Chetticamp (sp?), run by real life French speaking Acadians, and Hideaway Campground/Aspy Bay Oyster for the best half-shell oysters you'll ever taste on the east coast.


      1. I live in Cape Breton (not on the trail however) but go there yearly for at least a week of camping. As such we eat most of our meals at the camp site rather than in restaurants, however when a rainy day, or a day trip to the trail beckons, one of my favorite places in Ingonish is the Seagull Restaurant. I'm going to honest and say that the food is only standard but the view is amazing on the deck overlooking Ingonish and the ocean. If you are looking for fish and chips (fresh but deep fried) and want to lounge over the ocean this place is wonderful.

        The place mentioned above in Cheticamp is delish...the fish cakes are very very good. Basically if you get seafood any place around the trail you are likely getting local and freshly caught fair.

        If you have any questions about the area please feel free to ask me a question or two. I've lived in Cape Breton my entire life which gives you access to 34 years of experience and I'm more than happy to help if I can.

        1 Reply
        1. re: smiliepie

          We are going to Cape Breton Island for 5 days on early Sept. We will be traveling in a small RV and with our daughter, Yvette, who uses a power wheelchair. As a lifelong resident, can you give us any info that may be of interest? We prefer out of the way rather than taking the tour bus route. We will take day trips from Bras D'or Campground. Food, beaches, scenic overviews, accessible anything. Thanks, Anne

        2. If you are still on the island, there is a great little cafe called The Dancing Goat right on the Cabot Trail at the Margaree Forks. Stop for some great sandwiches, incredible soups and fantastic pastries and desserts. If you are there for breakfast even better. This is likely the only place on the trail you can get an espresso, cappucino or qualtiy cup of coffee. Check it out, you will not be disappointed.

          1. I was wondering what other places Chowhounds might recommend.

            Right now, I've got the Chanterelle Inn in Baddeck, The Rusty Anchor in Pleasant Bay (mentioned above), Coastal Waters in Ingonish, Main Street in Ingonish, Seascape in Ingonish and Seagull (mentioned above) on my list.

            Open to any ideas for good seafood or baked goods!

            Thanks for any suggestions.

            2 Replies
            1. re: prima

              What about the Pub in Mabou? Sometimes very good, sometimes overwhelmed. . . check out the number of cars. I've had good fish cakes and beans and gingerbread at the Distillery up the road. . . blanking on the name. I think the West side of the Cape is so beautiful with its mixture of hills and field and forest. Don't forget the Inverness Art Gallery for really good local art.

              1. re: Dempsey

                Thanks so much for your suggestions and comments, Dempsey. :-)

            2. Hi! Well now...if you're staying in Mabou the pizza at the Mabou River Inn is wonderful, as are the owners: Donna and Dave. The Red Shoe has a new chef this year and the one meal I've had there was wonderful. The 'pair of shoes' is a great app and the salmon was fantastic. Nicely plated and very satisfying.

              Also in Mabou - the food at the Mull is always reliable.

              Inverness: go to the Cabot Links golf course and have a feast, the scenery is outstanding (sunset is a must-see) and the food is delish.

              Margaree: The Dancing Goat - I'll echo what someone else said; great spot.

              Cheticamp: Again, I think someone else hit the nail on the head, the Hometown Kitchen is pretty consistent for good eats. If you like fried chicken, hit Mr. Chicken...great spot for years.

              Pleasant Bay: yep, nailed it again, the Rusty Anchor.

              I love the Hide Away Campground too - not so much a place to stop and have a meal, but their oysters...nom, nom, nom.

              Ingonish - if you're doing it, do it right...Keltic Lodge, pricy but worth it.

              Just a few other mentions...

              Sydney: Flavor 19 @ Lingan Golf Course is amazing, great setting, wonderful service and awesome food, but pricy.

              The Red Diner in one of the hotels on Kings Road is a great new spot. The prices are excellent and the portions are huge.

              11 Replies
              1. re: Aeval

                Sounds like you know the area well, Aeval! Do you have any recommendations for places along the Cabot Trail serving good butterscotch pie?

                1. re: prima

                  Back again. . . I once had the quintessential piece of butterscotch pie at the Glenora Distillery; still warm from the oven, meringue rather than whipped cream, not toothachy sweet but caramelly. The Acadian place in Cheticamp does really well by pie, too.

                  1. re: Dempsey

                    Dempsey, how long ago was that at the Distillery?

                    1. re: Aeval

                      Oh dear -- years, I guess. Just because it's not repeatable doesn't mean it was great! (In fact, that may be part of the definition of greatness.)

                      1. re: Dempsey

                        Agreed - I was just curious, a family member was the baker there for 13 years, I was just wondering if it was her pie you had. : )

                        1. re: Aeval

                          If he/she was there, that was the pie. You have great pie genes; nurture them!

                    2. re: Dempsey

                      Thanks again, Dempsey & Aeval.

                      I'm really looking forward to checking out the places you've mentioned. The Glenora Distillery didn''t seem to have Butterscotch Pie on the sample menus from 2011 http://www.glenoradistillery.com/drme... http://www.glenoradistillery.com/pubm... , but I'm hoping it might be on the menu when I visit.

                      Acadian Restaurant in Cheticamp

                      Hometown Kitchen in Cheticamp

                      Red Shoe Pub in Mabou

                      The Mull Cafe in Mabou

                      Dancing Goat in Margaree

                      Keltic Lodge near Ingonish

                      Big Intervale Fishing Lodge

                      Flavor 19 in Sydney

                      Red Diner in the Days Inn in Sydney

                      Cabot Links in Inverness

                    3. re: prima

                      I'd say your best bet would be the Dancing Goat in Margaree - they're baking is heavenly. I know we were somewhere and my husband commented on how good the butterscotch pie was, I just can't remember where we were, dammit. It will come to me though...I'll be back.

                      Oh I forgot about the Big Interval Fishing Lodge - it's a totally unique experience. You drive and drive and drive along a dirt road, you'd swear there was nothing there, but you come upon this lovely place along the Margaree River. It's a husband and wife operation, they cook and serve...but the food is great and the atmosphere is something else.

                      1. re: Aeval

                        And up that road, across the bridge, is the Great Quiltmaker.

                    4. re: Aeval

                      Only ended up having a handful of meals in Cape Breton because our bed & breakfasts filled us up with nice breakfasts during our stay.

                      I enjoyed a lunch of scallop-packed chowder and bacon-wrapped scallops on Glenora Distillery's patio, a slice of butterscotch pie at Aucoin Bakery in Cheticamp http://aucoinbakery.com/en/aucoin_bak... , the chowder and lobster roll at the Rusty Anchor (wouldn't recommend the dessert at the Rusty Anchor- the pie wasn't very good, but our starters and mains were very good) http://www.cabottrail.travel/pleasant... and a chowder and a lobster sandwich at Bell Buoy in Baddeck http://www.bellbuoyrestaurant.com/.

                      At the Fortress of Louisbourg, we had decent soups (fish chowder and pea soup) at the more casual of the 2 restaurants offered at the site. I liked the apple turnover and ginger molasses cookie I picked up at the cafe.

                      The Lobster Kettle in Louisbourg served some terrible fish and chips. In addition the fish being overcooked and dried-out, the haddock tasted old and the batter was greasy. The fish in the chowder seemed unfresh. My friend's fried clams weren't good, and we now wonder if they were frozen breaded clams. Looks like the Grubstake would been a better idea.

                    5. It's not exactly on the Cabot trail but in North Sydney, almost beside the Newfoundland ferry is the best dining experience on the Island. We found the Lobster Pound on our last night and for the same price it completely outshone anything else we had eaten. Crispy Lobster WonTons, Lobster Spring Rolls and fish cakes to start, wonderful fish, steak and great desserts. I am amazed that it hadn't found its way on to Chowhound before. Service way above the norm too. Don't miss and do book - it was full!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: tonyjohnson54

                        Sounds great. Thanks. Hope I get a chance to check it out.

                        1. re: tonyjohnson54

                          A big shout-out and vote of appreciation to tonyjohnson54 for the recommendation of the Lobster Pound. We ate there tonight and it was indeed wonderful. We had the lobster dinner, which tonight consisted of a 1.75-pound whole lobster for $35. Absolutely terrific! And the advice to call ahead for reservations was spot-on; they had a sign on the door that they were fully booked tonight, but fortunately we had made our reservations ahead of time. What a great place!

                          The Lobster Pound Restaurant
                          161 Queen
                          North Sydney, Nova Scotia B1S 2Y9, Canada

                        2. Find a wharf where crab fisherman dock and try to find some fresh snow crab. Cook it in boiling water over a campfire.

                          1. We're just entering day 3 of our Cabot Trail drive and can report a couple of good meals. We have been cooking our own breakfasts and dinners (staying in cottages) but we had:
                            - a nice lunch at the Red Shoe in Mabou (good seafood chowder, less notable but still tasty pulled pork mac & cheese, very good though short beer list)
                            - great baked goods at Boulalngerie Aucoin in Cheticamp (clearly the place where everyone within a 75-km radius buys their bread!)

                            Not on the Cabot Trail but en route to it, we had a suprisingly excellent lunch at Gabreaux's in Antigonish. The large menu was not only more interesting than most, but the execution in the kitchen was really good--someone clearly cares about what they're putting on diners' plates, which is is marvelous. At a place like that, they could easily be phoning it in, but they're not.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: travelmad478

                              To fill out my Cabot Trail experiences, I can report on three more places: lunch at the Seagull in Ingonish, and dinner at Tom's Pizza and Three Doors Down Diner in Baddeck. The Seagull gets a very enthusiastic thumbs up for their lobster club sandwich (a daily special, not always on the menu) which consisted of big hunks of fresh lobster and--miracle!--NO MAYO cluttering it up, except for a tiny bit spread on the toast. Great bacon, too. It was fantastic. We also had fish and chips and thought the fish was great, quite a bit better than the F&C we had at the famous Murphy's in Truro. The fries that came with both meals were just OK, nothing to write home about, but the restaurant also gets a special bonus for the view over the Ingonish harbor and bay--lovely on a nice day.

                              In Baddeck, we first tried to eat at Tom's Pizza, but were so disgusted by the donair pizza (warning to the uninitiated--it is as sweet as a dessert, and the meat they put on it was barely recognizable as food) that we tossed it after one piece and went across the parking lot to Three Doors Down Diner. This was just fine--I got a big bowl of beef vegetable soup and it hit the spot. There are plenty of fine-dining places in Baddeck, but we were just not in the mood for anything that fancy/expensive. I'm glad the diner was there, because there weren't a lot of lower-priced options at dinnertime.

                              1. re: travelmad478

                                You really need to try the oysters on the half, over here: I'm not familiare with their cooked food, but Man O' Manoschevitz! the oysters...


                                1. re: David11238

                                  Sadly, oysters are the one food on this earth that does not agree with me, so I was unable to sample any of them on my trip through the Maritimes. I'm sure they're great.