The food in Eastern Canada has always been simple, pure, and mindful of natural ingredients.

Sure, it’s easy to find breaded, deep fried, artery hardening mounds of seafood and potatoes (this is where clams and potatoes come from)… but surrounding it all is what Maritimers are really good at creating: good food from what is locally available.

Our journey started in Montréal and took us through New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. We specifically followed the St. Lawrence to avoid travelling through the US. Below is a listing of some of the restaurants we explored; we chose each because they had gluten-free, vegan, dairy-free, and corn-free options available.

Cafe Frida

15 Rue des Forges, Trois-Rivières, Quebec

The trip started with the vegan Cafe Frida… we arrived at the restaurant just as it opened and at 8am it’s very easy to find parking in the historic district of Trois-Rivières. I’m pretty sure that after 9am it’s more difficult to find parking.

The great news is that the coffee shop is steps away from the historic waterfront, which means you can grab a coffee and muffin and enjoy while exploring.

Recommended: Any of the muffins. My latte was fantastic. Ordering language: Français, English.

Cafe Bistro OK

9 rue des Pionniers Ouest, Saint-Jean-Port-Joli, Québec

This is a longer sit down stop roughly 4-hours from Montreal. The view is serene and if not pressed for time, as an after meal digest you could wander the waterfront area and explore Québec’s rich history.

For this restaurant you have to time your arrival just right… and arrive during lunch or dinner when the kitchen is open. The restaurant advertises that it’s open 7am-10pm but we arrived at 2pm and felt awkward; maybe it’s different in the summer.

We passed through on our first New Brunswick road trip (hence the photos with snow), but missed the window of opportunity on our second trip.

Recommended: the tuna poke salad (pictured). Ordering language: Français.

Cafe Lotus Bleu

52 Chemin Canada, Edmundston, New Brunswick

I have mixed reviews about this restaurant. The food is simply fantastic… but the coffee rather meh and not worth the long wait (when pressed for time).

And, during our first pass through, when asked which gf meals to try, the server recommended the falafel plate. It was delicious but unfortunately, the falafel was made with flour. This meant that the rest of the trip to Moncton was painful and unpleasant.

However, on the second pass through, the server remembered us and had the fortitude to man up to the mistake; hats off to her for that!

Recommended: the falafel plate, lentil soup. Ordering language: Français, English.

Calactus

125 Church St, Moncton, New Brunswick

We planned our Moncton stop rather poorly. It was a weekend of festivals for the city (Acadie Rock, River of Pride) and everyone planned to be in Moncton as their final destination… while we are just passing through on our way to a destination.

This meant we had to meander away from the main strip to find a restaurant with space, which worked out well because Calactus is a gem of a find. It has friendly people, a great atmosphere and unique food all working in its favour. The Pakoras were so good that we ordered an extra dish so we could eat them for breakfast!

Recommended: the Pakoras, Enchiladas, and Thali. Ordering language: English & Français.

Union Street Cafe

183 Commercial Street, Berwick, Nova Scotia

Berwick has traditionally been a foodie bubble in the Annapolis Valley; and, this restaurant definitely has the West Coast hipster vibe working in its favour.

True to the West Coast vibe, this is also a live music venue (with East Coast flare). If you’d prefer to eat and have non-shouting conversations, go early.

The food is locally grown and sourced. The fusion menu speak city and not small town; there’s a cookbook.

Recommended: the ginger peanut noodles. Ordering language: English.

Green Elephant

687 Main Street, Kingston, Nova Scotia

Keto. This is a ketogenic restaurant; if there’s one thing I’ve learned about growing up near a military base it’s that food trends tend to find their way to surrounding base towns faster than in other places. As such, all of the baked goods at the Green Elephant cater to just about every food/diet preference.

The base also brings people with refined tastes; this means real espresso lattes (a feat in the province that is fuelled by Tim Hortons) and the possibility of an allergy friendly, diet friendly breakfast/brunch. This is our baked goods “stock-up” location in conjunction with the French bakery next door.

Recommended: Belgian Waffles or the Oatmeal Power Bowl. Ordering language: English. The bakery next door: English & Français.