A Foodie’s Guide to Ottawa
Ottawa’s culinary scene is about as diverse as the Canada itself. This is a city where Canadian cuisine is cooked alongside ethnic foods, food trucks are as popular as fine dining, and modern chefs work in tandem with fresh food markets. It’s truly something to behold — and devour.
Follow our foodie guide and leave Ottawa with a full stomach and a smile on your face.
Discover how locals live with a trip to Ottawa’s ByWard Market. For nearly two centuries, farmers and craft merchants have taken to the market to share the fruits (literal and metaphorical) of their labour. Snap up food from some of the 260 stands, pack your picnic basket, and head to Parliament Hill for a quintessentially Canadian experience.
In addition to all the wonderful foods from local producers, the Ottawa region is home to several award-winning vineyards. Domaine Perrault is a family-owned vineyard just 20 minutes from downtown, with 10 different varieties of wine for you to sample. If you like fruit wines made from apples, blueberries or cranberries, Blue Gypsy Wines is a great local option. Or, head south to the Jabulani Vineyard & Winery for a selection of more than 15 wines in a picturesque setting.
Of course, you can also sample the best local wines within the city itself, at many restaurants or in the Vineyards Wine Bar Bistro, serving a selection of more than 300 bottles of wine.
Take advantage of Ottawa’s budding craft beer scene. New varieties of stouts, IPAs, and pilsners are yours to try at one of the many local breweries, with new flavours emerging with every changing season. Beyond the Pale, Broadhead Brewing Company, Lowertown Brewery, and Dominion City Brewing Co. are just a few of the great options in the city.
You can’t leave Ottawa without spoiling yourself with a classic BeaverTail. Don’t be fooled by its unsavoury name! These sweet snacks are a uniquely Canadian tradition: fried pastry shaped like a beaver tail served warm with the topping of your choice, from cinnamon to powdered sugar to Nutella and bananas. Sink your teeth into a BeaverTail year-round at the ByWard Market.
Check out the Feast On website before you make a reservation for dinner. This unique programme recognises local restaurants committed to showcasing Ontario’s fresh, locally grown produce.
Here are a few stand-out restaurants to satisfy any palate during a stay in Ottawa.
Let’s start with an icon: Le Cordon Bleu. The North American headquarters of this famous French culinary arts institute is based in Ottawa. Dine in the school’s extravagant restaurant, Signatures, for an unforgettable gastronomic experience.
From classical cuisine to modern menus! Marc Lepine is a two-time Canadian Culinary Champion — a feat no other chef can claim. His restaurant, Atelier, serves up an inventive 12-course tasting menu every night. A solar oven, liquid nitrogen, and other experimental techniques are used to create dishes with names like Yolko Uno and the Codfather.
Ottawa has no shortage of award-winning chefs. In 2014, Rene Rodriguez wowed the judges and won Top Chef Canada. Now you can sample the cooking that earned him that title at Navarra. The restaurant offers a new take on Spanish Tapas, with dishes like sea scallop ceviche, confit octopus, and Mexican tacos in a jar.
Then there’s NeXT, the labour of love of award-winning chef Michael Blackie. His own food and travel memories have come together to form a unique menu of Canadian, Asian, and European-influenced dishes. If you’re worried this sounds too posh for your tastes, the menu headings are “nibbly bits,” “tasty stuff,” and “dirty stuff,” so you can rest easy.
If you’re a fan of farm-to-table cooking, Murray Street Kitchen Wine Charcuterie really embodies this cooking philosophy. The cuisine is made from fresh regional and seasonal ingredients from local farmers. The ingredients are compiled to create a small, but delicious menu. You can’t go wrong with a charcuterie and cheese board.
While in Canada, you owe it to yourself to eat like a Canadian. Le Café, found in Ottawa’s National Arts Centre, serves up Canadian contemporary cuisine. The menu uses ingredients from across the country, like Ontario lamb and Fogo Island cod from Newfoundland, all paired with wines chosen by Canada’s only Master Sommelier, John Szabo.
The logo of fine dining staple Restaurant e18hteen references steak, seafood, and wine. While the restaurant offers a great variety of dishes, this is the place if you’re a fan of those three. Savour a lobster bisque followed by a reserve Angus AAA ribeye paired with the perfect wine.
Beckta Dining and Wine is another fine dining option with a particularly historical feel. The restaurant is located at 150 Elgin Street, the grandiose (allegedly haunted) former residence of a doctor. The heritage building, built in 1875, has many of its original features and creates a unique ambiance in which to enjoy contrasting, modern cuisine.
The foodie tours
If you only have a short amount of time to spend in Ottawa a foodie tour will showcase the best of the city’s gastronomy.
Hop from one restaurant to another enjoying signature dishes on an Experience Food Tour. Learn about the evolution of Ottawa’s food scene as you indulge on fine dining and ethnic foods during a C’est Bon Cooking Tour. Still hungry? Take the ByWard Market Food & Wine Tour and stop at four of the historic market’s top restaurants for tastes of award-winning cuisine.
With food come the drinks. Beer fan? Join the Brew Donkey Tour and experience a variety of Ottawa breweries, brew pubs, and craft beer bars. Fancy yourself a wine connoisseur? RunawayGrape hosts guided gourmet wine and food tastings. You’ll learn basic wine tasting techniques and then sample a selection of world-class Ontario wines.