Traditional Inuit hunting and fishing is the cheapest and most convenient way for many Nunavut residents to feed themselves in this isolated land where even basic grocery items are several times more expensive than in supermarkets of other territories. Musk ox with wild mushrooms and caribou dressed in wild blueberry sauce appear far more often, and cost far less, than beef or chicken on many Nunavut restaurant menus. Berries and whipped animal fat are the main ingredients in akutuq, Nunavut’s most popular dessert. However, the most common Inuit staple food is whale and seal meat, which are only found on the dinner table of local homes.

Bars and Pubbing in Nunavut

Bars and other standard nightlife spots are virtually non-existent in Nunavut, where alcoholism remains a major problem among many locals. Alcohol consumption is either highly restricted or banned altogether in many communities, including the territory’s second largest municipality, Pangnirtung. These restrictions are strictly enforced to the point where Royal Canadian Mounted Police search the bags of incoming visitors. Any alcohol brought into ‘dry’ communities is promptly confiscated.

Iqaluit is one of the few places in Nunavut where visitors can drink as freely as in southern Canada - albeit at a much higher price. Most Iqaluit watering holes are located inside hotels, like the Frobisher Inn’s Storehouse Bar and Grill (P.O. Box 4209, Astro Hill Complex, Iqaluit). This Iqaluit hangout is a popular place to enjoy hearty pub food, watching sporting events on big screen televisions, or play a round of darts or pool between 5:00 p.m. and 1:00 a.m. from Monday to Saturday. Hotel Arctic (P.O. Box 2019, Iqaluit) is also on the short list of Iqaluit hotels with their own bars.

The Kudlulik Peninsula community of Rankin Inlet is one of the few places outside Iqaluit where alcohol can be legally served. Rankin Inlet’s two main bars - and hotels - are the licensed guest lounge inside the 50-room Siniktarvik Hotel (P.O. Box 190, Rankin Inlet) and the Nanuq Inn (P.O. Box 630, Rankin Inlet), whose licensed restaurant is restricted to hotel guests.

Dining and Cuisine in Nunavut

Finding quality restaurants in Nunavut is nearly as difficult as finding bars, but one of Iqaluit’s most exotic offerings is Yummy Shawarma (Building 1085-E, Iqaluit) which brings a taste of the Middle East to Canada’s far north. Donair meat and a Lebanese roast chicken salad are among the most popular menu items at Nunavut’s first shawarma restaurant.

The waterfront Grind and Brew (Building 116, Iqaluit) has managed to hold its own against Nunavut’s first Tim Horton’s franchise thanks in part to its popular bacon and cheese ‘Eye Opener’ breakfast sandwich and homemade pizza. Another long time Iqaluit coffee stop, the Caribrew Café (P.O. Box 4209, Astro Hill Complex, Iqaluit) has also expanded its menu to include mozzarella sticks, hummus, and curry.

Nunavut’s greatest variety of restaurants outside Nunavut may be found in Rankin Inlet, whose Sugar Rush Café (116 - 24 Inukshuk Avenue, Rankin Inlet) serves up sandwiches, soups, coffee, and doughnuts. The Amittuq Nirivik Restaurant (P.O. Box 120, Igloolik) is the finest dining option in the community of Igloolik. Northern Store supermarket fast food courts are frequently the only restaurants in most other Nunavut communities.