Cocktail junkies, seasonal food buffs, brunch enthusiasts, pastry fiends and oatmeal aficionados will all find something to love in the nationʼs capital
Canada’s capital houses more than just government buildings. It’s home to a culinary scene that is just as diverse and multicultural as our country. Here, chefs and restaurateurs are not afraid to push boundaries and take risks.
From one foodie to another, here is your quintessential guide to eating well in Ottawa.
113 - 115 Clarence St
This new café in Ottawaʼs ByWard Market area has to be one of the most aesthetically pleasing spots I’ve set foot in for quite some time. I’m talking modern industrial design, marble quartz tables, plants and lots of natural light.
Not only was I mesmerized by the beautiful interiors, the brunch menu was captivating too. Think espresso ricotta pancakes, or a flash-fried poached egg that’s perfectly runny on the inside, placed oh-so-perfectly on a hefty portion of avocado toast.
Their coffee program is just as innovative and features items such as a s’mores latte and more.
62 Sparks St
Located in a former bank building on Sparks Street, this restaurant elevates Canadian cuisine and drinks in our nation’s capital. The lunch menu changes depending on what's in season. Co-owner and chef Jordan Holley is not afraid to take risks when it comes to combining flavours.
He mentioned that they only source Ocean Wise seafood and make everything they can in house, including their breads. Aside from the fantastic food, they have an innovative and extensive cocktail menu.
267 Dalhousie St
It’s not often that you come across an outdoor market in the heart of a bustling city.
From flowers and plants to fresh produce, the ByWard Market is buzzing all year round with its fresh and varied offerings.
Coming from a culinary background, I'd have to say this market is a foodie’s ultimate paradise. Aside from food, the ByWard Market has an array of eclectic shops, boutiques and galleries.
208 Sparks St
If you’re a cocktail junkie like I am, and love experiencing unique concoctions, put this Sparks Street spot on your “must visit” list in Ottawa.
From the moment you set foot into this bar, you’re instantly transported into another universe. There are twinkle lights all over the ceiling and you’ll see their signature rabbit logo the moment you grab a seat at the bar.
The Rabbit Hole, one of Ottawa’s newest bar and lounge is known for its wood-fire pizzas and artisanal cocktails.
225 Strathcona Ave
Tucked away on a side street right off Bank Street in the Glebe neighbourhood, this charming spot serves up seasonally inspired small plates and well-selected wines in an open-concept space.
There’s no “bad seat” in the restaurant, because no matter where you sit, you get a view of the chefs cooking up a storm in the kitchen. It’s like dinner and a show all at once. The menu is constantly changing, with seasonally inspired small plates, cocktails and wine.
250 City Centre Ave
The first thing you see when you walk into this City Centre Ave. bakery is a sign that says “From scratch, no shortcuts, homemade comfort food made using local, high-quality ingredients,” which instantly warmed my heart. This edgy gastro-bakery is my version of pastry heaven.
It comes with an array of freshly baked pastries that fulfills any sweet craving. Aside from the pastries, they make a mean sourdough loaf and serve a delicious cup of coffee from local roastery, Blue Barn.
1223 Alexandra Bridge
Patio season is in full swing now that summer has finally arrived. If you’re looking for a spot to enjoy an unobstructed view of our capital’s Parliament buildings while sipping on an ice-cold beer, wine or cocktail, then I highly recommend this spot at the north end of Majorʼs Hill Park.
Aside from serving up drinks on tap and housing an impressive wine list, they feature a selection of drool-worthy gourmet hot dogs to enjoy on the patio or on-the-go. Dietary restrictions? Vegan? No problem. The menu is very accommodating. Plus, they’re family friendly so everyone can enjoy this spot.
428 Preston St
Craving a little flavour in your life? Look no further than Preston Street. Praised as a crudo and charcoal (raw and grilled) restaurant, Mati marries Greek flavours with Italian cuisine … in the best way possible! The kitchen staff pride themselves on their Argentine grill and trust me, it makes a world of a difference in flavour.
Order a steak or anything that’s cooked on the grill top and you’ll understand why. When choosing what to eat, I highly recommend combining a mix of items from both the crudo and charcoal section.
Now, if wallet and belly permit, order the seafood tower for the ultimate experience. It combines a mix of hot and cold items, from lobster tacos and scallop crudo, to fried calamari and grilled shrimp. In the chef’s opinion, this is the best way to experience Matiʼs well-curated menu.
1154 Bank St
If you’re an oatmeal lover like me, you’ve come to the right place. Whether you’re craving something sweet or something savoury, you can have it all at this oatmeal café on the corner of Bank Street and Glen Ave. in Old Ottawa South.
The ownerʼs creative and modest take on oatmeal is incredible. The standouts here were the Kyoto Bowl, featuring sticky beef brisket cooked in-house, and the classic Lunchbox Bowl, packed with bananas, almond butter, dates, and more. And yes, they most definitely offer oat milk, and in an iced latte on a hot summer day, it’s delicious.
1433 Wellington St W
Situated on Wellington Street West lies a homestyle, old-fashioned diner that screams comfort food.
Upon arrival, you may be taken aback by the mismatched decor that looks like it’s out of a seventies movie, but don’t worry, it’s what gives this diner its charm. The menu items feature a mix of everything.
A must-have here is the “Israeli” breakfast – an assortment of fresh challah bread, poached shakshuka (eggs prepared in a spicy tomato sauce), fruit, grapes and more, all served on a wooden board. Oh, and if you’re a fried-chicken fan, the chicken and waffles here are a hit.
1 Sussex Dr
Taking a tour at Rideau Hall is a must when visiting Ottawa. The tour begins in the grand entrance foyer, honoured by portraits of Canadian-born Governors General.
Next, you see the majestic ballroom where cabinet ministers are sworn in and medals of bravery are awarded.
Then, you come across the room where state dinners are held, and saving the best for last you’ll end the tour in the Tent Room which was created to host indoor parties similar to outdoor events. Fun fact, this room also doubled as a Tennis Court.
Abhishek is a Toronto-based food and travel photographer and content creator that highlights food, coffee, travel and everything in between.
Both a culinary and hospitality and tourism management graduate, today his passion lies in the intersection between creating, developing and experiencing gastronomic creations, spirits, local coffee culture and more.
This content was produced by The Globe and Mail's Globe Content Studio.
The Globe's editorial department was not involved in its creation.