Revised: November 15, 2018
It’s been over a year since I originally compiled and posted this list and since then, I moved to Ottawa permanently. Friends often now ask for recommendations of where to eat, so I will regularly update this post with my favourites so if you’re planning to visit, you have them!
Recently, Chatelaine published my recommendations for good eats in Grey-Bruce. It reminded me that I drafted this post this summer but didn’t share it. Enjoy!
I said many times this summer, if you have to live in a hotel in Ottawa, the Novotel is certainly not a bad option. Since their suites don’t have kitchenettes, I also got to eat out a lot and after several months commuting into the city for work, these are my favorites.
Savvy Farmgirl’s Best Of Ottawa
Best pizza – Anthony’s on Wellington
This is simply fantastic pizza and a great atmosphere. The first time I visited here I had a great conversation with the bartender and other patrons at the bar. The pizza is made right in front of you, the crust and sauce ratio is just right and I love arugula and prosciutto on pizza.
Best schnitzel – The Ministry of Coffee
OK, so I don’t often order schnitzel. But the Ministry of Coffee had a schnitzel sandwich and Beaus deal on Tuesdays that got me to try this sandwich and it was just so good. I became a “Tuesday regular” because of it for a few weeks. I also like that the Ministry is a coffeehouse that serves beer & wine.
Best fish & chips and spaetzle – Hintonburg Public House, 1020 Wellington Street West, Ottawa
Truthfully, I haven’t had a bad meal at the HPH. They rotate their menu options seasonally, but their lightly-battered fish, perfectly salty and crispy fries and aioli seem to be a regular item. This spring they also had spaetzle with mushrooms and arugula and it was lick-the-bowl good.
Best oysters & all around good fare – The Elmdale Tavern
This is now our “local” haunt. We often head over during happy hour for $10 small plates of tuna toast, mussells (save the bread to sop up the oh-so-good coconut broth) or beef tartare. Our favourite night is Thursday for “buck-a-shuck” oysters. Their fixins can’t be beat (my favourite is wine vinegar and horseradish) and the vibe is great, whether it’s live music on Sunday or just a busy night after work.
Best summer beer – Beyond the Pale Pink Fuzz
Really, I just like this beer all the time. One night I accidentally drank three before I’d realized it and was glad I was walking home. This easy-drinking, citrus-infused beer is a refreshing change from the traditional strong craft brews. Ask for it at around Ottawa, especially along Wellington West.
Best Brewpub – Waller St. Brew Pub
It’s tiny. It’s small-batch beers. And it’s a little quirky but this little side-street, basement pub is not to be missed by craft beer aficionados. They also offer Flights for Hope where $2 from every flight of beer sold goes to a different cause monthly. Who doesn’t like drinking good beer for a cause?
Best lamb – The Albion Rooms, 33 Nicolas Street, Ottawa
The lamb curry dish at The Albion Rooms should be on everyone’s must-try list. This building is cool in itself; it is the oldest hotel in Ottawa and the restaurant is split up into multiple rooms. The lamb is perfect, fall-off-the-bone cooked and on a bed of curried lentils with some delicious crispy roti. The Albion Rooms also have some of the best bartenders – social, good mixologists and easy on the eyes.
Best presentation – Bar Laurel, 1087 Wellington St. W.
This is a tapas-style restaurant, so expect to order several small plates for sharing. The food is good and the presentation stunning. The dishes looked like something off the cover of an LCBO magazine. Definitely, a place to go with some friends who appreciate true Instagram-worthy food, sharing and don’t have huge appetites. It is a little pricey.
Best breakfast sandwich – Art Is In The Bakery, 250 City Centre Ave.
It is messy and pricey and worth the wait. After having the avocado toast & egg breakfast a few times at Art Is In (also very good) I thought I would get a breakfast sandwich to go. I learned you wait just as long, and it is uber messy (think cheese and egg and bacon grease all over your hands) but it was SO good. Their bread is delicious and I am certain it is what makes the sandwich.
Best benny – Too hard to choose just one!
This is tough. I LOVE breakfast and eggs benedict. Wilf & Ada’s, Stoneface Dolly’s and The Albion Rooms all make a good eggs benny but at $16 it can be a little pricey. If I want cheap breakfast, then I grab a bagel sandwich at Kettlemen’s.
Best bagels – Kettleman’s Bagel Co., 912 Bank St.
The Kettlemen’s Special is a sesame seed bagel with salmon and lox. It’s so good. This was the first place I tried a bagel and wanted to just eat it plain. Made fresh in the store 24 hours/day, it’s also convenient for an early morning or to grab a treat for work. We frequently enjoy bagels in the office.
Best fish taco – Deacon Brodie’s Pub
Full disclosure: I am dating the head chef here. That said, I think the fish taco is the best I’ve had in Ottawa (not counting El Camino’s $15 tuna taco – it was delish, but not something you’re going to eat every week). The rest of the menu is pretty solid as well, with all the curries, sausage and smoked meats made in-house. You can also order the full menu til 1 AM. Bonus if you’ve put in a full night enjoying the brew pubs downtown!
Best Mexican – El Camino, 380 Elgin St.
Ok, when I wrote this post I wrote about a couple places in the market that I liked. Then I went to El Camino and my mind was blown. Their Mexican corn was slathered in creamy, cheesy goodness and the oxtongue taco was different and delicious. This is a trendy spot with rave reviews so it can be hard to find a seat if you’re with a group and it is on the pricier side for tacos. If you want a cheaper option, Zac’s Cantina and Corazon de Maiz in the Byward Market have never disappointed me either.
Best Thai – Anna Fine Thai, Holland Ave.
With more options than other Thai restaurants and curries that make these dishes delectably different, we found Anna Fine Thai on Skip The Dishes and we will definitely be back! The Crispy Duck with Panaeng Curry had lots of kick but not too much I couldn’t enjoy the flavour, all the vegetables were cooked perfect (not too mushy) and the Thai Coconut Curry with Lightly Battered Seabass melt in my mouth. The tofu Fresh Rolls are also a nice spin on the standard shrimp rolls.
Some of our other regulars:
- Koreana Palace – We ate in at this corner restaurant on Somerset and it was a delight. The small kimchi and other fermented salad dishes were colourful and all the barbecue meats were mouthwatering good. I crave Korean all the time now.
- Gladstone Golden Grill – Charcoal barbecue chicken and the lamb never disappoint and the ginger juice is the perfect amount of sweetness and bite.
- Kochu – Always great sushi to eat in or take out.
- Sushi 88 – Also great sushi and I like the larger combos which make it a great spot to eat and share.
- Sherwood deli – Grab a chicken avocado bacon sandwich on delicious egg bread if you’re on the run.
- Gongfu Bao – bao buns with pulled pork and brisket? Yes please. Great for takeout and eat-in but check the hours ahead.