Coffee emporia have cropped up throughout Halifax over the last decade, just as they have in urban areas everywhere. Many also stock sandwiches, pastries, and light snacks in addition to the java. A few of the best downtown options are Caffé Ristretto (tel. 902/425-3087) at 1475 Lower Water St. (Bishop Landing) with its nice harbor views; Timothy's World Coffee, which has locations with Wi-Fi on both Barrington and Upper Water streets; Cabin Coffee (tel. 902/422-8130) at 1554 Hollis St. with its Bohemian feel and good espresso and cappuccino; and the dependable Canadian chain Second Cup, with Wi-Fi'ed branches on Duke Street and Spring Garden Road, among others.
For chain fast-food meals (if you must), again stick to Spring Garden Road. For a quick snack on the same street, the plastic patio furniture outside belies the good snacks, pastries, coffees, teas, and light meals inside Annie's Place (tel. 902/420-0098) at 1513 Birmingham St. (corner of Spring Garden); look for the big CAF&EACUTE; sign. Outstanding bargain lunch specials include a changing menu of offerings such as a slab of grilled meatloaf on focaccia or chicken sandwiches. It opens early, but closes in late afternoon each day. For more upscale fare, explore downtown or some of the tiny side streets that cross Spring Garden.
The Brewery complex, on the uphill side of Lower Water Street just above the docks, is perhaps the city's most interesting one-stop shopping and dining experience. Originally the site of the Alexander Keith brewery -- North America's oldest -- the space here was eventually redesigned and renovated to enclose courtyards from the weather, link the various structures of the abandoned brewery, and create a kind of interior market of shops and restaurants. It's working. Today the complex houses the city's finest Italian restaurant, as well as a range of other drinking, dining, and shopping options. While navigating the labyrinthine courtyards to find a particular establishment can be a bit confusing, it's also great fun to see what pops up around the next corner.
The Saturday morning farmer's market held within the Brewery's walls is a weekly highlight for Haligonians, rain or shine. It's Canada's oldest such market -- and possibly its most interesting. The market runs from 7am until just 1pm each Saturday, so go early in the day for the widest selection of donuts, fruits, vegetables, coffee, baked goods, smoked meats, crafts, Greek pastries, wine and chocolate samples, dynamite crepes -- and many other items.
You don't come to Halifax for a fancy-pants, precious experience, but if you've just got to eat and drink something luxe, check out Onyx (tel. 902/428-5680; www.onyxdining.com) at 5680 Spring Garden Rd. It's the sort of place with a champagne flight, and a C$100-plus tasting menu; supposedly rock stars eat and drink here when they're passing through town.
Several of Halifax's hotels also have very good fine-dining restaurants tucked within them, notably the Prince George Hotel's Gio (tel. 902/425-1987; www.giohalifax.com) at 1725 Market St. which has won raves and culinary awards.
Morris East (tel. 902/444-7663; www.morriseast.com), an excellent thin-crust pizza joint (though it's fancier than "joint" suggests), uses a wood-fired oven; sometimes you can smell the place before you can see it. It's at 5212 Morris St. on the west side, about a block from Henry House.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.