Diggstown Star Vinessa Antoine’s Guide to Halifax


Bacon, books and Black history.

“I love that you can point the camera in any direction in Halifax and get a beautiful shot,” says Vinessa Antoine. The actor, known for previous roles in Being Erica and General Hospital, plays Marcie Diggs – TV’s first Black female Canadian lawyer – in CBC’s Diggstown. “The city has some dark and grungy areas that we don’t often see, and then there are also these beautiful backgrounds of water and lush green and nearby Peggy’s Cove. It’s quite spectacular.” Now in its second season, the legal drama is set in and was shot on location in Halifax and the surrounding area (peep Marcie surfing at Lawrencetown Beach in the show’s opener). The Canadian actor told us about her favourite spots to eat, drink and explore in Halifax.

January 24, 2020
A selection of bread, meat, nuts and sauce appetizers at Little Oak
   Photo: Jessica Emin

enRoute What’s your favourite restaurant in Halifax?

Vinessa Antoine Little Oak is my go–to after a long day of work. It’s a tapas–and–wine bar that has an incredible selection and really knowledgeable bartenders who will help you do food pairings. The thing that I love about it is they play hip hop. You wouldn’t expect it when you walk in. It looks cool and swanky, but then you go in and they’re playing Kanye West and Jay–Z. It’s got a very New York vibe to it.

A cup of macchiato at Steve-O-Reno’s Cappuccino with a pretty foam design
   Photo: Jana Wicha

ER What’s the best coffee shop in Halifax?

VA Steve–O–Reno’s Cappuccino! It’s the best. They’ve been around for a long time and have consistently quality coffee.

Bacon and eggs over a waffle at aFrite

ER Where’s the best brunch in Halifax?

VA aFrite has amazing brunch. They smoke their own bacon – beautiful, thick bacon – and make great French press coffee. When Hurricane Dorian hit Halifax, I wasn’t prepared at all. I didn’t have groceries and there was no bus service or Uber Eats. I remembered there was a restaurant close to where I was staying and I often saw the owner while I was out walking. Once he said, “If you’re hungry, come in and let me feed you.” When the rain started, I thought he might still be open, so I called and asked and he said “Yeah, but I’m closing in five minutes.” I sprinted over there in my pajamas in the pouring rain and he made the best breakfast, just for me.

The zigzagging staircase at the Halifax Central Library
   Photo: Halifax Public Libraries - New Brooklyn Media

ER What are the best family–friendly attractions in Halifax?

VA The Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia is great. I went there with my parents — when they came to visit — and my kids. It’s a wonderful centre to learn about Black Canadian history, information that I didn’t learn as a child. So, it’s a great place to soak up that part of the history of Halifax and Canada.

I know this sounds boring, but I love the Halifax Central Library. I will just plop down and just stay forever in a bookstore or library and this is one of the most beautiful libraries I’ve ever seen. It’s glass everywhere, so the light is wonderful. They have an amazing café on the first floor called Pavia that sells great coffee and pastries. You can take the elevator all the way up and it feels like a swanky hotel lounge, with sleek couches and great views of Halifax.

Large crowds of shoppers at the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market
   Photo: Steve Farmer

There’s a great variety of food and gifts at the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market at the end of Pier 21. I got really great homemade soap and essential oils there. You can bring the kids, too.