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Signatures Restaurant
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Signatures Restaurant

The 15 best restaurants in Ottawa

Hungry after all the sightseeing? The best restaurants in Ottawa serve diverse food all across the city

Written by
Katie Shapiro

Canada’s capital is a culinary charmer. Enough alliteration? You can never have enough alliteration, truth be told, and you can never have enough of the excellent food served at the best restaurants in Ottawa. Poutine and BeaverTails might be the first things that jump to mind when you think of Ottawa food, but that just proves how much culinary exploring there is to do.

Ottawa is a hugely underrated city, packed with fun things to do and serenity usually missing from capital cities. Québec is just across the river, and the influence is palpable. Delicious, too, if we didn’t mention that already. Ottawa’s food scene is flourishing.

Best restaurants in Ottawa

Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Aatik C.

1. Citizen

Boasting a casual, Nordic-inspired aesthetic, Citizen serves up beer, wine, cocktails and small plates until late. Citizen is a great place to drop in for a full meal or a glass of obscure wine. Mainly because the menu of small plates is eclectic—and like nothing you'll have tried before. Our advice? Try the fried chicken sandwich or the “Spanish breakfast.” There are always vegan and vegetarian options. The best thing? It changes weekly, so you don't get stuck eating the same old stuff.

Price: Average

Union 613 & Jabberwocky
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Jeffrey B.

2. Union 613 & Jabberwocky

Three stories of good grub and great booze await in an old brick house in Centertown. Slip behind the bookcase for a drink in Union 613’s speakeasy or rub elbows with locals at communal seating tables on the main floor. Union 613 is known for the fried chicken and cornbread, while their sister bar on the second floor, Jabberwocky, serves a small menu of vegan snacks to pair with the meticulously made cocktails and carefully curated lists of wine, beer and spirits.

Price: Pricey

Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Stephanie W.

3. Atelier

Atelier is a high-end tasting menu restaurant hidden behind a nondescript facade, focused on molecular gastronomy. Atelier is, hands down, the most unforgettable dining experience in Ottawa. Chef Marc Lepine is recognized as one of Canada’s most innovative chefs. Dishes are always visually stunning and often playful, but the taste is never sacrificed. It’s worth noting the thoughtful wine pairings as well.

Price: Blowout

Two Six {Ate}
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Jennifer P.

4. Two Six {Ate}

The folk behind Two Six {Ate} are clearly a good bunch of people. For one, the name is a witty pun on their address (268 Preston St). Secondly, they serve up a nose-to-tail menu, meaning almost every bit of the animal is turned into something tasty, and hardly anything is wasted. Naturally, everything is sourced locally, and food comes in hearty meals or snack-size. 

Price: Average to pricey

Ola Cocina Taqueria
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Ola Cocina

5. Ola Cocina Taqueria

Ola Cocina is an east Ottawa favourite that happens to be off the beaten path while serving tacos and other Mexican dishes. Try a “usual suspect” like the cod fish taco with wasabi crema and mango salsa or an “Ola signature” like shrimp with melon pico and guacamole. Chef and owner Donna Chevrier makes her own hot sauces, while churros ice cream sandwiches are sinfully delicious. Open for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch, this place will revamp your tastebuds.

Price: Bargain

Wellington Gastropub
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Kathy L.

6. Wellington Gastropub

An upmarket pub that hosts frequent beer/winemaker dinners, as well as occasional album listening parties, The Wellington is a great place for good, seasonal pub grub. The Wellington's chef, Jonathan Korecki, rotates the menu regularly and always uses as much locally sourced meat and produce as he can. Expect typical pub menu items like burgers, steak and fries, but done to an exceptional standard. The beer menu is of the craft variety and comes in at a satisfying two pages long, while the wine gets equal billing, with vintages from all over the world on offer.

Price: Pricey

Wilf and Ada’s
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Lillian T.

7. Wilf and Ada’s

Get ready for a charming from-scratch diner serving breakfast and lunch all day, seven days a week. Wilf & Ada's is an Ottawa institution. Hungry diners will be tempted to order the Dagwood, a triple-decker B.L.T, or the loaded poutine with roast chicken. Brunch classics, like the eggs in purgatory (eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce) are crowd-pleasers. This is a bustling place so expect to wait for a table on weekends. While you do, grab a coffee from the sister spot next door, Arlington 5.

Price: Average

Soif Bar à vin
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Julianne M.

8. Soif Bar à vin

Soif Bar à Vin is a wine bar in Hull that also serves sophisticated small plates, and there are plenty of reasons why you should head this way. Why exactly? Because the spot is owned and run by one of the top sommeliers in the world, Véronique Rivest, who makes sure there is something for everyone. Dishes like sea bream tartare or rapini toasts can all be expertly paired with a wine. Whether you’re a fellow sommelier or an inexperienced wine drinker, expect Rivest and her staff to guide you through the global wine selection without pretension.

Price: Average

Supply and Demand
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Mimi J.

9. Supply and Demand

A sleek restaurant in Wellington West, Supply and Demand has a menu that focuses on raw bar offerings, vegetarian plates, meat and fish from local producers, and pasta made in-house daily. If you are after high-quality surf and turf, Supply and Demand will hit the spot. And if you want to make your dinner experience really special, try taking a pasta class, where you get to prep and eat the pasta that you just made (with wine pairings, of course).

Price: Pricey

North and Navy
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Queenie C.

10. North and Navy

North and Navy plays with the similarities between the climates of Eastern Ontario and Northeast Italy, using traditional Italian cuisine as the inspiration and working with local ingredients. Pretend to be Italian and have an aperitivo at the bar before a hearty meal. Pair polpette (meatballs), fried smelts with orange and basil, a glass of prosecco or a negroni. Sunday dinner is served family style, and your grandmother eats for free. Don’t skip the tiramisu—trust us on this one.

Price: Pricey

PiliPili Grilled Chicken
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Kat Z.

11. PiliPili Grilled Chicken

As the name suggests, Pili Pili Chicken is a small joint serving wood charcoal grilled pili pili chicken (aka peri peri or piri piri—in French African countries, it’s pili pili!) in the Byward Market. This is probably the best charcoal-grilled chicken in town. The smokiness from the grill is intoxicating without being overpowering, and the spice and herb rub will leave taste buds tingling. Other grilled meats are also on offer. A side of fried plantain—perfectly crispy on the outside—is a must.

Price: Bargain

Huong’s Vietnamese Bistro
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/William F.

12. Huong’s Vietnamese Bistro

Looking for Vietnamese food in Chinatown? This is the place. Ottawans aren't exactly short on places to find delicious Vietnamese cuisine, but Huong's is definitely up there with the best of them. Tuck into hefty servings of soul-warming Vietnamese food for a very wallet-friendly price. Take your time over a steaming bowl of pho, accompanied by bánh xèo, the savoury fried pancake. Dreamy.

Price: Bargain

Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Stephanie W.

13. Fairouz

In an elegant oasis on Somerset Street, chef Walid El-Tawel leads his team in dishing out Fairouz’s sophisticated menu. Start with a fresh pita and a fennel tahini dip, or dive right into sharing plates like zaatar-crusted lamb sirloin. Be sure to save room for dessert: creations—like a tahini ice cream or the spiced date cake—are revelatory.

Price: Pricey

Gooneys Sandwichworks
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Hazel H.

14. Gooneys Sandwichworks

With a name like Gooneys, you’d be forgiven for not realizing that this is the place in town for arepas. A Colombian and Venezuelan staple made of corn maize, the arepa makes the perfect sandwich wrapper. Open for breakfast and lunch, try the best-selling pabellon: an arepa stuffed with black beans, shredded beef, plantain and feta cheese—all topped with cilantro salsa.

Price: Bargain

Cheshire Cat Pub
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Harley C.

15. Cheshire Cat Pub

After well over a decade of serving up fish and 'chips', cheesy ploughman's platters and Yorkshire puddings with beef, the Cheshire Cat Pub is still going strong. Not even a fire, which completely gutted the place in 2013, could stop the spirited owners and their customers. The beer is another draw for the Cheshire Cat, with crafts from all over Canada, Europe and the UK. 

Price: Average

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