10 Fantastic Places to Eat and Drink in Ottawa, Ontario
10 Oct 2022
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If you’re visiting Canada’s Capital region, there sure is a whole lot to see and do. But Ottawa is also home to some of the best restaurants around, serving up amazing culinary delights that are sure to please your palate.
Here are 10 fantastic places to eat and drink in Ottawa:
Play Food & Wine
Play Food & Wine is a small plate open-kitchen restaurant that serves up appetizer-sized portions. Located in Ottawa’s trendy Byward Market, this modern restaurant recommends ordering 2-3 small plates for a full meal instead of one main dish.
Great starter plates include the Artisanal Cheese Plate (3 cheeses, house compote, crostini), Charcuterie Plate (3 meats, house pickles, mustard, crostini), Grilled White Shrimp, and Fried Tomatillo (pickled scape pimento cheese, ancho chili, pickled peanut, cherry tomato), or the Gnocchi (kimchi, snow pea, Humboldt squid, XO sauce, black garlic, and sesame granola).
Finish off your meal with the Kvarey Arctic Salmon (creamy popcorn polenta, fermented ramp soubise, yellow beans, broken olive dressing), Confit Lamb Nelly (duck fat roasted potato, charcoal spiced cauliflower, pistachio purée, preserved lemon dressing), or the Soy Marinated Petite Tender Steak (mushrooms, frites, fennel ash aioli).
The food here is pretty spectacular and will have your taste buds wanting more. The plating is like a work of art.
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Chesterfield’s Gastro Diner
Just like the Chesterfield is uniquely Canadian, so is the food at this “not so greasy spoon”. If you love brunch, then you’re gonna love Chesterfield’s Gastro Diner, a healthy twist on classic diner fare.
Try one of these Brunch favourites: Foghorn Leghorn Benny (air-fried chicken, 2 poached eggs, challah loaf, tomato, spinach, pickled onion, topped with holly), the Jerk Benny (jerk chicken, cornbread, avocado, 2 poached eggs, mango salsa, topped with jerk holly), or the Steak Hash Leclaire (beef tenderloin, roasted spuds, red pepper, red onion, cheese curds, brussel sprouts, topped with two poached eggs, green goddess dressing, pickled onion, chili flakes, served with a side of toast).
You can’t go wrong with one of these and a Mimosa or freshly squeezed orange juice to start your day of playing tourist in Downtown Ottawa!
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If you are a fan of freshly shucked oysters, then you have to try The Whalesbone on Elgin Street! They have a pretty awesome menu, an extensive wine list, a great selection of mixed drinks, and some great local brews on tap. What are you waiting for?
For a fantastic appetizer, try the Seafood Chowder (bay scallop, shrimp, fish, bacon, potato) or the Bay Scallops Ceviche (coconut, cucumber, lemongrass, avocado, chili oil, cilantro).
For mains, try the Scallops & Pork Belly (sweet corn purée, fingerling potatoes, king oyster mushrooms, cauliflower, tomatillo), or the Lobster Bucatini (Lardon, spinach cream, zucchini, basil, cherry tomatoes, peas, and Padano).
If you’re in the mood for sharing, try their Hot Seafood Platter (lobster and shrimp roll, bacon-wrapped scallops, Argentinian shell on prawns, green gable muscles, old Bay fish cakes with lemon and Louie dressing), or the Mixed Grill Platter (8oz striploin, braised short rib croquettes, beef meatballs, 1/2 Jerk Cornish hen, slow roasted pork belly). Add an order of Truffle Fries (Padano, herbs, garlic caper mayo) and you are set!
Save room for dessert, because the Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake (chocolate mousse, flourless dark chocolate cake) is to die for!
If you’re there in the warmer months, definitely check out their backyard patio.
Calabogie Brewing Co.
Located in Ottawa’s west end, Calabogie Brewing Co is a great place to spend a sunny summer evening on the patio with an ice-cold beer. They have a solid lineup of beer and a really decent menu of great eats.
For an appetizer, try the Spicy Bleep Bloop Nuts & Bolts, the Taco Salad (Greens, tomatoes, green peppers, corn, beans, pickled onions, mixed cheese, nacho chips, cilantro lime crema), or the Garlic Padano Pretzels (Doughy style pretzels topped with Grana Padano cheese and garlic oil, with a side of Front Porch cheese sauce and K&P mustard).
For your main, look no further than “Tye’s Pyes” pizzas. Try The Margherita (Tomato sauce, mozzarella, buffalo mozzarella, grana Padano, basil, olive oil) or the All Dressed (Tomato sauce, mozzarella, pepperoni, bacon, cured ham, Brown Cow braised mushrooms, olives, pickled red onions, roasted green peppers).
I would be remiss not to mention the amazing beer at Calabogie Brewing Co. They are sure to have something in their beer lineup that you will enjoy. My favourite was the easy-drinking Adventure Series Cerveza Light Lager.
Their core beer lineup includes: Front Porch Kölsch (German-style ale), Portage Pilsner, Valley Light (Light Pale Ale), K&P 1883 Amber Session Ale (traditional English Ale), Bleep Bloop North East IPA, Horizon NEIPA, Bogie American IPA, and the Nitro Brown Cow Milk Stout. Want to sample a few? Try a flight!
If you are not in the mood for beer, try a Whiskey Fizz (Forty Creek whiskey, Bleep Bloop IPA simple syrup, lemon juice, orange juice, soda). Want the best of both worlds? Try the Calabogie Caesar (vodka, clamato, Bogie IPA, spices).
After a solid day of sightseeing in Ottawa, you deserve a stop at Calabogie Brewing Co.
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Tamis Cafe & Resto
If you are in the mood for some amazing Filipino cuisine, then you have to check out Tamis Cafe & Resto. It’s a traditional Filipino restaurant with very flavourful food, and the experience is off the charts!
They have amazing appetizers like Wonton Soup (hand-wrapped chicken wontons, carrots, celery & baby bok choy in a light chicken broth), Veggie Spring Rolls (carrots, cabbage, potatoes, sweet potatoes & green beans served with vinegar sauce), and the Crispy Pork Belly (deep-fried pork belly served with sweet & sour sauce, vinegar sauce & pickled papaya). If you are looking for something to share, try the Filipino Sharing Platter (6 deep-fried wontons, 5 spring rolls, spiced potato chips served with sweet and sour sauce).
For your main course, try the Chicken Inasal (Tamis style marinated full quarter chicken leg served with rice and mango salad), Shrimp Sinigang (sour soup with shrimp, green beans, radish, okra, and long hot pepper served with rice), Grilled Chicken Adobo (marinated chicken breast adobo style served with stir-fried mixed veggies & rice), or the La Paz Batchoy (beef broth, egg noodles, hard-boiled egg, chicharron, and roasted garlic).
But if you’re really hungry, then bring some friends with big appetites and order one of the Kamayan Feasts. It’s a big Filipino Feast served family-style on a banana leaf plate and placed in the centre of the table.
They have several to choose from including the Seafood Kamayan (milkfish/Bangus, shrimp, mussels, pork spring rolls, mango salad, grilled eggplant, tomatoes, and steamed rice), the Beef Kamayan (milkfish/Bangus, beef sirloin/Tapa, pork spring rolls, mango salad, grilled eggplant, tomatoes, steamed rice), and the Veggie Kamayan (veggie lumpia, fried tofu, okra, bok choy, grilled eggplant, mango salad, steamed rice).
You might need some help getting out of the door afterward, but it’ll be well worth it!
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Absinthe is a modern bistro dedicated to serving fine, locally sourced dishes. The menu changes according to the availability and seasonality of the ingredients.
For a unique appetizer, I recommend A Mari Usque Ad Mare (Smoked Trout and Char Rillettes with Crostini, Fish Cake and Tarter Sauce, Prosciutto Wrapped Shrimp with Romesco Sauce).
For your main, try the Beef Stroganoff (Sautéed Beef Tenderloin, Le Coprin Mushrooms, Sour Cream, Dill Spaetzle) or the Mariposa Duck (Le Coprin Mushroom Ragout, Cranberry Maple Sauce).
They also have a Prix Fixe Menu for lunch and dinner. The Dinner For One includes: Appetizer – Soup (Organic Mushroom Velouté, Tarragon Crème Fraîche) or Salad (Artisanal Greens, Toasted Pepitas, Parmesan, Lemon Thyme Dressing). Mains – Salmon (Roasted Salmon, Sweet Pea Coulis Vegetable Fricassee) or Steak Frites (Marinated and Grilled AAA Steak, Green Beans, Frites, Horseradish Aioli). Dessert – Chocolate Mousse (Caramel, Chantilly) or Malagasy Vanilla Crème Brûlée.
You can’t go to Absinthe without trying one o their amazing cocktails! Craft mixed drinks include the Sazerac (Absinthe, Rye, Cognac, Peychauds) and the Lavender Collins (Vodka, Lavender Syrup, Lemon Juice, Prosecco). For something refreshing, try the Aperol Spritz (Aperol, Prosecco, Soda). They also have beer and a great selection of wine (glass or bottle).
Give Absinthe a try for a truly wonderful French culinary experience!
Options Jazz Lounge
This hotel-based restaurant will surprise you. Options Jazz Lounge at the Brookstreet Hotel & Resort offers a relaxing culinary experience with a panoramic view of Marshes Golf Course. The food is mouth-watering.
And the live entertainment… there is a reason why Options Jazz Lounge was voted Best Jazz Lounge in Ottawa. The restaurant goes dim, and the music comes alive. Next best thing to being at Preservation Hall in New Orleans!
For starters, I recommend the Chowder (coconut green curry broth, salt cod brandade, potato chips, micro cilantro), a Classic Shrimp Cocktail (white wine poached black tiger shrimps, traditional seafood cocktail sauce), the Dynamite Rolls (tempura shrimp, masago, spicy mayo, avocado), or if you want to share an appetizer, the Charcuterie For Two (local cheese, cured meats, house pate, chutney, pickled vegetables, pickled mustard seeds, candied nuts, fruits, crostini).
For your main, I suggest the Gnocchi (le corpin farm mushrooms, brown butter, mushroom puree, porcini powder, crispy sage, back forty-fromagerie pecorino Verona cheese), the Rainbow Trout (pan-seared trout, pea puree, charred leek, pea, leek and chorizo fricassee, mint oil), or the NY Steak (12oz Beverly Creek Farm striploin, cumin roasted carrots, charred broccolini, five spices potato wedges, three-peppercorn sauce).
But make sure you save room for dessert! Try the Crème Brûlée (silky lavender & citrus infused cream, blueberry salad) or the Peach & Blackberry Crisp (brown sugar and oat crumble, fresh peaches, blackberries, Tahitian vanilla ice cream).
This was probably one of the finest meals I have ever eaten at a hotel restaurant, and the smooth sounds of the jazz band made the experience that much better.
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Gezellig sits in a converted 1950’s bank building in the Westboro Village area of Ottawa and is open for brunch, lunch, and dinner. Dutch for “cosy”, Gezellig really does have a convivial atmosphere.
A great way to start your culinary adventure is with the Heirloom Tomato & Marinated Bocconcini Salad (basil, brown butter vinaigrette, pickled shallots, toasted corn nut crumble) or the Artisanal Cheese & Charcuterie Plate (crostini, Gees Bees Honey, grainy mustard, pickled beans).
For your main course, I recommend the Pan Seared Icelandic Cod (farro, celeriac purée, snap peas, king oyster mushrooms crispy capers, béarnaise), the Bourbon Glazed Nagano Pork Loin (hominy grits, Swiss chard, apple & ginger chutney, pickled peaches), or the 10oz Beverly Creek Beef Ribeye (Le Coprin mushrooms, green beans fried, horseradish demi-glace).
Make sure you save room for Crème Brûlée (white chocolate, orange marmalade) and Bailey’s Irish Cream on ice. It’s the perfect way to end your Gezellig experience!
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Whatever happened to the classic diner? You know, like in the olden days, when our parents were teenagers? Like Pop’s Chock’lit Shoppe in the Archie Comics. Well, look no further because Zak’s Diner is it! The food and the atmosphere are what you’re looking for.
Awesome breakfast choices include The Great Canadian (two eggs, sausage, Canadian bacon, home fries, baked beans, toast, & one pancake), The Breakfast Club (fried egg, bacon, lettuce, tomato, cheddar cheese, & mayo), Zak’s Big Breakfast (two eggs any style with toast & your choice of bacon, sausage, smoked meat, ham, or fresh fruit), or Zak’s Omelette (bacon, swiss, tomato, green peppers, onion, spinach, & mushrooms).
If you are not in the mood for breakfast, they have smoothies, soups, salads, wraps, sandwiches, and poutine. Looking for a burger? Try the Banquet Burger (bacon & cheese) or the Zak Attack (two patties, bacon, Swiss, cheddar & 1000 islands dressing).
Don’t forget to try one of Zak’s Famous Milkshakes, made with premium ice cream and topped with whipped cream. This bad boy is available in a lot of flavours, and has been voted Ottawa’s best Milkshake since 1986.
You can’t go to Canada’s Capital city and not have one of these iconic pastries! I know there are BeaverTails locations all across Canada, but it is just something that you have to enjoy when you are in Ottawa. Whether it is along the Rideau Canal in the winter, in Byward Market, or at one of the other Ottawa locations.
I decided to go to the Tanger Outlet Mall location, which was close to where I was staying. I mean, what better way to end a good shopping trip than with a classic BeaverTail (sprinkle of cinnamon & sugar)! It’s nice and light, and great with a craft soda.
Other popular varieties include Killaloe Sunrise (cinnamon, sugar, and a slice of lemon), Hazel Amour™ (Chocolate hazelnut spread with a dusting of icing sugar), Bananarama™ (Chocolate hazelnut spread and banana slices), Apple Pie (Apple pie filling with whole apple slices, caramel sauce, and crumble), or the Coco Vanil’™ (Vanilla icing, crushed Oreo® cookies, and chocolate sauce).
They also offer Fries, Poutine (Fries topped with authentic Quebec cheese curds and a decadent gravy), Poutail™ (Signature poutine served on top of a BeaverTails® pastry), and BeaverDog™ (Hot dog wrapped in BeaverTails® pastry). I had the BeaverDog for the first time and it did not disappoint! It was my main course, followed by a Classic BeaverTail for dessert. Don’t knock it til you’ve tried it!
Nosh Your Way Through Canada’s Capital
While Ottawa is a fantastic destination to do fun things and take in historical sites, it’s also a great place to let your inner foodie run wild. Casual dining, craft breweries, market restaurants, and fine dining can all be found in Canada’s capital region.
If you are planning a visit to Ottawa, be sure to put a few of these awesome places to eat on your itinerary.
Craig is a husband, father, team leader, travel and food writer, senior youth group coordinator, designer, brander, community builder, volunteer, and social media strategist. He likes to travel, go camping, go on road trips, watch movies, build stuff, operate the grill, and sing with his band. Craig is a member of the North American Travel Journalists Association and Travel Media Association of Canada. If you are a PR agency or brand and would like Craig to review a travel destination, vehicle, restaurant, product or service, please send him an email.