This could be your lunch. (photo: Delia Macpherson)

Restaurant Review

Halifax diner makes it "grandma's way"

Old-fashioned cheeseburgers and homemade cream pies? Yes please.

Johnny's Snack Bar has been around for 30 years.  Nestled on the corner of Windsor and Almon Streets in Halifax, the unassuming little diner is the definition of a hidden gem. 

Johnny's is easy to miss and is often overlooked in the Halifax culinary community. The Coast names The Ardmore and The Armview in the top diners of their food expose each year. While both are great diners, the popularity amongst the "in" crowd have led to a decline in authenticity.

This is a diner in the truest sense, feeding a few dozen regulars a week who have been coming there for decades. It offers indescribably good coffee, a selection of cream pies (about $3) home made by Johnny's wife Georgia and the best old fashion cheeseburger in Halifax hands down, topped with fried onion, melted cheese, mustard and relish. The service is quick and friendly. 

"There's nothing else like it," says Melinda DeMont who's been waitressing at Johnny's for two years.

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After thirty years, Johnny himself is still behind the counter. (photo: Delia Macpherson)

The Menu

The restaurant's menu is made up of traditional fare - fish, beef, chicken or ham being the focus of most dishes. 

"Our best sellers are anything with ham, like the western omelets ($3.75)," says DeMont. "It's ham off the bone, like picnic ham. What your mom would cook for Easter dinner."

It really does taste like how "grandma used to make," particularly the apple pie. If you're not into ham, go for the chicken clubhouse deluxe ($8.25). It's rare to find a restaurant that cooks whole chickens to make their clubhouses.

The chicken club comes with a heaping pile of French fries and coleslaw (also reminiscent of grandma's recipe). Combined with the atmosphere, the diner coffee and the killer 'slaw, it really is one of the best clubhouse sandwiches you'll find in Halifax.

The Atmosphere

You can sit at the counter that lines the front of the restaurant or in one of the comfortable faux-brown leather booths. The curtains are white and lacy, the table mats are made from paper and read "welcome." You're left with the impression that at one time you could smoke in this diner.

The crowd is older; most patrons in their sixties at least. In the corner of your eye you'll catch a couple in their 70's holding hands and saying grace over a pair of hot chicken sandwiches.

Offered until 11:30 a.m. every day is a selection of greasy-spoon breakfast items, including the best-selling omelets. For two eggs, bacon, ham or sausage, toast and hash browns you pay $4.50. With the sausage option you get four not three (a nice touch). They are crispy, not too oily and less fatty than most breakfast sausages. The eggs are well cooked, the hash browns are simple potatoes sliced and fried in house. You won't find much salt or pepper in your food; it's up to you to season to your taste.

Two other items on the menu worth trying are the onion rings ($3.25) and the old-fashioned milkshakes ($3.25). The onion rings are crispy, greasy and big enough to share, exactly what you're looking for when you go to a diner and order onion rings. The milkshakes are thick. The ice cream and syrups are blended together to make them the old fashioned way. Milkshakes are hard to do wrong but you can't beat Johnny's price.  

Do yourself a favour when you find a place like Johnny's; add it to your list of go-to restaurants and cherish it.

The diner takes cash only so make sure to hit the ATM before heading over.  There's free parking in the Forum across the street.


Comments on this story are now closed

LOVE,love, love Johnny's Snack Bar, all the food and the people who own it and work there. We are regulars, we go in every Wed. for Supper and have never been disappointed.

Posted by Ann Marie, Bill(y) & Curtis | Feb 9, 2022


Posted by Becky Sutton | Feb 9, 2022

What a find! Thanks D!

Posted by Tessa Elliott-Israelson | Feb 10, 2022