When you think about restaurants that foodies just won't shut up about, most food-lovers assume that all the magnificent restaurants are downtown. But that's not always the case-- there are so many choices to choose from, specifically in the Ottawa suburbs.
There are so many neighbourhoods in Ottawa, it shouldn't come as a surprise that there are also many unique and finger-lickin' food spots that crowd these streets. If you don't live downtown or you want to get out of the city centre to check out some new views, you'll appreciate that good things actually do exist outside the downtown area.
Here are some of the top restaurants in Ottawa that are all surprisingly located in the suburbs:
Location: 655 Kanata Ave Unit L2
This spot near the Kanata neighbourhood in Ottawa is a fusion of unique culinary concepts, cultures and cooking techniques. This restaurant aims to create meaningful relationships with loval producers and artisans and you can really sense it in the restaurant's ambience. Their menus are ever-changing and evolve to fit the changing seasons, which makes it a truly pleasant dining experience!
Location: 357 Richmond Road
This restaurant focuses on a zen ambience and really shifts the focus to juices. Their menu is quirky and yoga-inspired, and they have a clear and undeniable way of marketing their vegan and vegetarian eats! Despite their "clean eats" vibe, they aren't afraid to go heavy in the form of sandwiches, burgers and poutine (vegan option is available). Their high-tech juice equipment makes for awesome and yummy cocktails, too.
San Marino Pizza
Location: 2201 Jockvale Road
You had me at pizza. But seriously-- this special pizza spot is SPECIAL because they serve pizzas with the endless toppings. Hard-boiled eggs, layers of cheese, garlic, meat lovers, even chocolate and sprinkles and banana...
Their crust and sauce is made in-house and their pizzas usually feature a slight layer of crispy cheese crust on top, which gives it that extra oomf when you take a bite. Their torched layer of crispy cheese on top of their pizza pies is probably the single detail that wins the loyalty of hungry customers.
Location: 103 Murray St
Everyone's all about that Thai food, nowadays. Thai cuisine makes some of the most aromatic, sweet and savoury seafood dishes on the planet-- this sweet, fragrant smell is the first thing you'll notice when you walk through the doors of Khao Thai.
This restaurant has been serving authentic Thai food since the mid-2000s. That's a very large number of years considering how fast the food industry has been evolving in Canada nowadays. It definitely adds to the intrigue! Khao Thai also a great spot to bring a date because of their romantic dim lighting and swoon-worthy interior decor. If your date is vegetarian or vegan, the chefs are more than happy to swap meat for veggie only. Their curry dishes made with sweet coconut milk is particularly popular.
Location: 610 Bronson Ave
Table 85 is a definite hidden gem. They started out as a catering company tucked away in the basement of an office building in Ottawa, but their authentic Korean dishes scream Korea, not Canada. Their Korean fried chicken takes it home; it is twice fried and then doused in either sweet-and-spicy or sweet-and-soy glaze sauce.
Because it's fried twice, it makes for an extra crispy crrrrrunch with every bite. You can request a full bird size or a half and half, if you have food FOMO and want to try both sauces. If you want something a little more carb-filled, you can order a handful of rice and noodle dishes from their cheap yet delectable menu (seafood jajangmyeon, japchae noodles). Pro Tip: this restaurant is scoped out due to their finger-lickin' chicken and traditional Korean dishes, so their ambience is close to fiction-- you may want to bring your delicious food home to enjoy or at a nearby park.
Mezzanotte Bistro Italiano
Location: 50 Murray Street
This Italian Bistro is boldly decored and adorned with plush seating and wavy walls that make you feel like you're dining inside the world's most elegant yacht. Their pasta menu is off the charts, with the list going on and on! They serve dishes like braised beef agnolotti, pine nut tortellini and cheese-stuffed ravioli. Mazzanotte specializes in pasta that comes in every shape, making your bowl of pasta look deliciously appetizing. One of the restaurant highlights-- they have a second-floor view over Murray Street, a perfect view paired with an expansive wine list.
Location: 51-53 William St
If you're a chocolate fiend, you'll be ecstatic to know one of downtown Toronto's favourite chocolate fondue cafés also exist in Ottawa. This illegally scrumptious chocolate spot serves gooey, melted milk chocolate in a charming fondue pot with endless options of dessert food: cakes, fruit, biscuits, waffles, ice cream and s'mores.
Location: 231 Elgin St
When people think Ottawa, it's typical for a large spitting image of "BEAVERTAILS" to pop into their heads. Ottawa isn't ofen thought of as a seafood centre where shellfish lovers can gorge and delicious oysters and lobsters and crawfish. However, at Whalesbone, the sustainably sourced seafood spot offers cohesive textures and flavours and you'll be impressed with the pure quality of finesse to each dish. This impressive restaurant will make you wonder why Whalesbone hasn't figured out a way to market salmon skin as crispy potato chips-- they are that inventive.
The King Eddy
Location: 45 Clarence St
This fancy diner is a jewel spot near the touristy Byward Market area. Their menu is a compilation of homey comfort food and greasy-spoon diner options. You can find yourself gorging down corn dogs, chicken and waffles and double cheeseburgers (the famous King Eddy burger). This diner is also open 24 hours from Wednesday morning through to Sunday evening, to satisfy all your late night cravings. Perfect drunk food!
Location: 825 Exhibition Way
The newly opened Lansdowne Park restaurant has dim lighting and an open concept space. Their nostalgic outdoor patio is occupied with plastic-looking patio chairs and tables that will remind you of your own backyard at home. This is the perfect spot for the whole gang, as the spot is sandwiched between a cinema and a football stadium. Who wants a beer?
Like many new restaurants that open, Local's menu is all over the place. There's a certain charm in that, though. If you're feeling for tacos, they got you covered. Polish perogies? Jerk Chicken? Burgers? You will likely find the food you're craving. What makes Local's special is that they pull off the food they make pretty well, and if you've got a hard-to-please group with diverse tastes, Local should be a great option.
Location: 7 Springfield Road
This picturesque spot sits just a couple blocks from the Rideau River and their interiors are modern and quaint (it is a café after all). Their menu falls more on the modern and contemporary side which is super cool and exciting, but if you're looking for traditional meals, they still serve dishes like fluffy pancakes and rancher's eggs. It's a perfect balance!
Come dinnertime, Fraser Café is all about the seafood. They have amazing shrimp options if you're into shellfish and you can buy oysters for $3 a piece. After indulging in fresh seafood, you can indulge some more in their freshly made in-house ice cream and doughnuts served with chocolate sauce.
Location: 1325 Wellington St. W
Although this spot is called a pub, it certainly doesn'y scream messy, greasy pub food. This Gastropub serves plates like the classic veggies with steak or fish, but their menu is ever-changing to stay in style with the changing seasons. They offer a stellar amount of local craft beer and apparently, the Calabogie Front Porch Kolsch is a must try. Try to say that five times fast.
This spot is owned by one of the top sommeliers but it's still bizzarely under the radar in the Ottawa area. The definition of a hidden gem (it is located in a former burger joint in Hull), it's not surprising that their natural-leaning wine list is a winner. This Euro-vibe resto serves bougee plates like boudin, basil-fennel baked ricotta and bison tartare. Fancy! Note: this impressive restobar won't allow under-18 year old's to enter the premises due to their bar license.
Location: 62 Sparks St
This refined restaurant were the makers of famous Taqueria El Camino and Asian street food-inspired restaurant Datsun. It doesn't come as a surprise the chefs Matthew Carmichael and Jordan Holley have raised the bar a notch higher in terms of considerable elegance. Their menu tiptoes between familiar classic dishes like steak-frites and adventurous options like pig head macaroni.
Let's be real, who doesn't love ramen? This popular ramen chain restaurant is widely visited to their steaming bowls of flavourful ramen noodles. This restuarant arrived about two years ago in 2016 and it's important to note that Sansotei makes their famous pork bone broth in-house daily, which means your soup will be not only flavourful but aromatic to the senses.
You can choose thick or thin noodle types from 6 varieties, as well as their various assortments of broths. You can try their classic tonkotsu broth, or if you're feeling a bit adventurous, their wild tomato broth. It's a bit creamy (which is actually a new food trend in the East Asian soup noodle scene) but not heavy.
The Cookery Bistro
Location: 99 Kakulu Drive
This vegan-friendly spot whips up delicious HOMEMADE plates, like in a real kitchen. If you're a clean eater and on the hunt for a refreshing vegetarian/vegan spot in Ottawa, you will be sure to part from MSG and oils and other undesirable stuff commonly found in other restaurants. Like their soups for example-- no additives added, the flavour is curated from long simmering of the finest ingredients, seasoning and filtered water.
The Cookery Bistro is located in the Kanata Medical Building but the company actually specializes in catering in Kanata. However, their take-out counter is the seamless spot for a grab-n-go breakfast or lunch. No processed cheese, no preservatives, nothing artificial. They use real meat, real cheese, homemade spreads made from scratch and the freshest of veggies. Long story short, this place might make you fall in love with salads.
Location: 465 Bank St
This resto has won innumerable heaps of praise in the Ottawa community due to its fresh and classy small-plate foods, rooted in healthy local produce and creative forward-thinking. The chefs love to whip up raw bar menu items like tartares and crudos.
Art Is In Bakery
Location: 250 City Centre Ave
Art Is In Bakery is one of Ottawa's several great bakeries but locals say this spot is arguably a notch above the rest, and some even say it has paved the way for other bakeries! Their dill infused potato loaves, rich and buttery croissants, thick sandwiches and cheesy in-house pizzas draw many crowds on the weekends. Their coffee and assortment of luscious pastries make for a splendid high tea and brunch.
Location: 225 Strathcona Ave
This resto-bar is located in the Glebe neighbourhood in Ottawa and plays to its Canadian audience-- they dish out plates like venison, blueberries and colourful root vegetables as the frontline of their appetizers. It's especially cool if you grab a seat in the centre of the restaurant, at their daring bar that wraps around the kitchen.
Ox Head Restaurant
Location: 790 Kanata Ave Unit M1
Ox Head has been happily serving the Kanata neighbourhood for the past 12 years (wow!) and serves outrageously vibrant beef stews, minty and refreshing rice paper wraps and a variety of Vietnamese hot-bowl favourites like pho and spicy bò kho noodles. If you're looking to add a bit of satisfying spice to your life, this spot is the place to try. For about $15 per person, you can devour a giant bowl of egg noodles filled with shellfish (shrimp, imitation scallops, fish balls) and fresh sliced meats.
There you have it--- not all good restaurants and Ottawa favourites are located downtown. The market is definitely a great place to head on weekends, but sometimes it's fun to get out of an area you locate so often and try something new. There are many incredibly unique food spots around Ottawa so it's time to try some new places in the city, especially with the new season starting.