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A foodie’s guide to Ottawa

Le Cafe Ottawa

A foodie’s guide to Ottawa

Ottawa’s culinary scene is about as diverse as the country itself. Canadian cuisine is cooked alongside ethnic foods, food trucks are about as popular as fine dining, historic markets and modern chefs work in tandem… it’s really something to behold.


If you want to leave Ottawa with a full stomach and a smile on your face, this foodie’s guide is for you.

Food Truck Ottawa
Ottawa has a variety of delicious food trucks

Authentically Ottawa


If you like to live like the locals do, a trip to Ottawa will likely involve sourcing out local ingredients and foods at the ByWard MarketExternal Link Title. For nearly two centuries, farmers and craft merchants have taken to the market to share the fruits (literal and metaphorical) of their labor. Grab food from some of the over 260 stands, pack your picnic basket, and then head to Parliament Hill for a fully Canadian experience.


More than 60 different street vendors and food trucksExternal Link Title also make a great picnic option, from pancakes at Flapjack's Pancake ShackExternal Link Title to lobster rolls from Ad Mare SeafoodExternal Link Title.


In addition to all the wonderful foods from local producers, the Ottawa region is home to several award-winning wineries. Domaine PerraultExternal Link Title is a family-owned vineyard and winery only 20 minutes from downtown with 10 different kinds of wine that you can sample. If you like fruit wines, made from apples, blueberries or cranberries, Blue Gypsy WinesExternal Link Title is a great local option. Or, head south to the Jabulani Vineyard & WineryExternal Link Title 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 BistroExternal Link Title, which offers a selection of more than 300 bottles of wine.


Ottawa also has a budding craft beer scene. New varieties of stouts, IPAs, pilsners and beyond are yours to try at one of the many local breweries, with more emerging with every changing of the season. Beyond the PaleExternal Link Title, Broadhead Brewing CompanyExternal Link Title, Lowertown BreweryExternal Link Title, and Dominion City Brewing Co.External Link Title are just a few of the great options you'll find in the city. 

Ottawa Beavertails
Snacking on Beavertails

You can't leave Ottawa without spoiling yourself with a BeaverTailExternal Link Title. These sweet snacks are a uniquely Canadian tradition: whole wheat pastry shaped like a beaver tail and served warm with the topping of your choice, from cinnamon to powdered sugar to Nutella and bananas. You can enjoy a Beavertail year-round at the ByWard Market.


If eating local is really important to you, even when it comes to restaurants, pay a visit to the Feast OnExternal Link Title website. This program recognizes restaurants committed to showcasing Ontario's unique tastes, and you can use this certification to ensure what you're eating is fresh and local.

Le Cordon Bleu
Le Cordon Bleu

The restaurants


While there are way more great restaurants than could possibly be explored in this guide, here are a few standouts that will satisfy any palate on a trip to Ottawa.


Let's start with an icon: Le Cordon BleuExternal Link Title. The North American headquarters of this famous French culinary arts institute is based in Ottawa. While we may not all have nine months to pursue our dreams of becoming a classically-trained chef, we all have a few hours to dine in the school's extravagant restaurant, SignaturesExternal Link Title.


From classical we move to modern. Marc Lepine is a two-time Canadian Culinary Champion -- a feat no other chef can claim. His restaurant, AtelierExternal Link Title, serves up an inventive 12-course tasting menu every night. A solar oven, liquid nitrogen, and other experimental techniques are used to serve up dishes with names like Yolko Uno and the Codfather.


Ottawa isn't short on award-winning chefs. In 2014, Rene Rodriguez wowed the judges and won Top Chef Canada. You can enjoy the cooking that earned him that title at NavarraExternal Link Title. 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 NeXTExternal Link Title, the labor 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 fancy for your tastes, the menu headings are "nibbly bits," "tasty stuff," and "dirty stuff," so you can rest easy.

le café
le café

While in Canada, why not eat like a Canadian? Le Caf?External Link Title is the restaurant in Ottawa's National Arts Centre, and serves up Canadian contemporary cuisine. The menu uses ingredients from across the country, like Ontario lamb and Fogo Island cod, all of it paired with wines chosen by Canada's only Master Sommelier, John Szabo.


The logo of fine dining staple Restaurant e18hteenExternal Link Title calls out three particular items: 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. Savor a lobster bisque followed by a reserve Angus AAA ribeye paired with the perfect wine.


Beckta Dining and WineExternal Link Title is another fine dining option with a particularly historical feel. The restaurant is located at 150 Elgin Street, the grandiose (allegedly haunted) former home of a doctor. The heritage building, built in 1875, has many of its original features, and creates quite the ambiance in which to enjoy contrasting, modern cuisine.  


The foodie tours


If you only have a short amount of time to spend in Ottawa and are having a tough time choosing which restaurants to visit, why not opt for a foodie tour instead?


Hop from one restaurant to another enjoying signature dishes on an Experience Food TourExternal Link Title. Learn about the evolution of Ottawa's food scene as you indulge on fine dining and ethnic foods during a C'est Bon Cooking TourExternal Link Title. Or take the ByWard Market Food & Wine TourExternal Link Title 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 TourExternal Link Title and experience a variety of Ottawa breweries, brew pubs and craft beer bars. Wine fan? RunawayGrapeExternal Link Title hosts guided gourmet wine & food tastings. You'll learn basic wine tasting techniques and then sample a selection of world-class Ontario wines.


For more on dining in Ottawa, visit the Ottawa Tourism website.