Ottawa is a pretty awesome city to live in, especially right now. The city is expanding in so many ways. From new restaurants to unique desserts, Ottawa is (slowly) catching up to many trendy cities. When you're visiting here for the first time you may feel bombarded with lists telling you to visit Parliament Hill or skate on the Rideau canal, although those are nice to do, there's nothing better than doing Ottawa like a local.
Doing the typical tourist activities in Ottawa has its perks, but you don't truly experience what Ottawans love by following a basic itinerary. They will normally tell you to visit Ottawa museums, eat a BeaverTail, or check out Rideau Hall. Don't get me wrong, eating a BeaverTail is almost mandatory if you've never had one before, but Ottawans don't just eat BeaverTails all day (although that would be wonderful). There are so many restaurants and cafes that locals love to visit and they may be hidden from people visiting.
Whether you want to eat at popular places, visit local bars, try out cafes that Ottawans love, or do things that are pretty popular, you definitely won't be bored doing Ottawa like a local. Locals know what's best so why would you do anything differently? If you are traveling here for the first time you have to check out these places, at the end of the day they are popular for a reason.
For Yummy Foods, Click "NEXT"
Occo Kitchen // Multiple Locations
This restaurant started out as a small take-out place and has expanded to an amazing restaurant in Orleans. The food here ranges from tacos to burgers to fish n' chips. It's a great place to go catch up with some friends and taco'bout what's going on in your life.
Common Eatery // 380 Elgin Street
Common Eatery, is, well... a common place to eat amongst Ottawans. If you're one who loves aesthetically pleasing restaurants you will adore this place. They have a stunning wall of roses that makes for a perfect backdrop that is totally insta worthy.
El Furniture Warehouse // 77 Clarence Street
This place is loved by Ottawans, specifically broke students. Why? Every single food item on the menu is only $5. I mean this place is basically every student's dream restaurant. Sometimes there's a line to get in, but don't shy away because of the line, it's worth the wait.
Evoo Greek Kitchen // 438 Preston Street
Yum, yum, oh and I almost forgot YUM. Evoo Greek Kitchen serves up delicious traditional Greek dishes. From spanakopita to loukaniko Evoo will take you straight to Greece. Did I mention they also sell the most amazing Greek desserts too?! If you love sweets like I do then you have to visit Evoo and try them all.
Zak's Diner // 14 Byward Market Square
Zak's Diner is an Ottawa icon. It is located in the heart of the ByWard Market and will give you major Pop's Chock'lit Shoppe vibes. The milkshakes at Zak's are unreal! If your cheat day is coming up soon, you have to try Ottawa's iconic Zak's diner.
Tomo // 109 Clarence Street
Another Ottawan classic, Tomo is definitely worth trying if you're a lover of sushi. The restaurant is also super aesthetically pleasing and almost every basic girl has Instagrammed this place at least once. Tomo also turns into a bar at night, the vibe changes from a cute place to eat to a great place to drink.
Shawarma Palace // Multiple Locations
Ottawans LOVE shawarmas. Honestly, I don't know one person from Ottawa that hates shawarmas. If you're deciding where to have one, you should definitely check out Shawarma Palace, their food is always fresh and super tasty.
The Waverley // Multiple Locations
If you are looking for a bar that also has elements of a restaurant then look no further. Here you can sip on great cocktails, enjoy delicious food, and take in the chill vibes. The Waverly blurs the line between a restaurant, social house, and a bar.
Bar Laurel // 1087 Wellington Street West
With an award winning bartender working at Bar Laurel, you are bound to have a spectacular drink here. Bar Laurel is a Spanish influenced bar that sells a wide range of beers cocktails and wines.
Ward 14 // 139 Preston Street
Ward 14 is a super quaint and quirky bar perfect for any squad to visit. What do you get when you a vintage shop meets a cocktail bar? Ward 14. This bar holds many fun trivia nights and serves unique drinks to sip on, you will not be bored while at this bar.
Copper Spirits and Sights // 325 Dalhousie Street
This is without a doubt an Ottawan classic. Copper Spirits and Sights is located in the ByWard Market and has the most amazing views of downtown Ottawa. Here you can drink your favourite wine while watching the sunset over Parliament Hill.
The Albion Rooms // 33 Nicholas Street
After undergoing a massive face-lift The Albion Rooms has a fresh and modern design that is definitely worth seeing. This resto-bar serves a variety of drinks from wines to beers to kombucha, The Albion Rooms will fulfill any of your drink needs.
Bar Robo // 692 Somerset Street West
Bar Robo is a café by day and a bar by night. You can spend an entire day in this bar. From casually studying in the daytime while sipping on coffee, to dancing along to live music at night Bar Robo is the perfect place to spend the day.
For Adorable Cafes, Click "NEXT"
Stella Luna Gelato Cafe // 1130 Wellington Street West
This café recently opened up in Ottawa and it is quickly becoming a local favourite. Here you can indulge in delicious gelato while taking in the stunning aesthetics of the café.
Morning Owl Coffeehouse // 380 Elgin Street
If you love cafés in Ottawa you have most likely visited this café at least once. There are multiple locations of the Morning Owl Coffeehouse but the one on Elgin is definitely the most popular. From the latte art to the wall mural, this café is 100% Instagram certified.
Black Squirrel Books & Espresso Bar // 1073 Bank Street
This is the type of café locals lowkey don't want you to know about. The food and drinks available are all locally sourced and made fresh. They serve vegan options for desserts and only use local roasteries for the coffee.
Quelque Chose Pâtisserie // 379 Richmond Road
This adorable café will make you feel like you're in a dream. From the pink walls to the white furniture, this café is literal perfection. Not to mention they sell the most scrumptious macarons! From Nutella to white chocolate the café will fulfill all of your macaron desires.
Arlington Five // 5 Arlington Avenue
Arlington Five is an Ottawan classic. It's a café that almost every café hopper in Ottawa has been to. The vibe is cozy and quaint, from the brick walls to the vintage-looking lights, this place is definitely worth checking out.
Little Jo Berry's // 1303 Wellington Street West
Truly a vegan's paradise. Little Jo Berry's serves up a whole lot of vegan goodies. From vegan ice cream to vegan macarons, Little Jo Berry's got your back. Even if you're not vegan this café is an Ottawa classic you have to try.
For Fun Activities, Click "NEXT"
McArthur Lanes // 175 McArthur Avenue
This bowling lane has been open in Ottawa since 1966, so it is definitely a well established local favourite. Most Ottawans have been here at least once. The pizza place outside of the bowling lane is also a classic Ottawan place to eat, so grab a slice after bowling some strikes!
The Loft // 14 Waller Street
The Loft is an Ottawan favourite. Why? Well, why not?! Here you can sip on wine, beer, or coffee while playing your favourite board game all night long. The Loft closes at 2 am on Fridays and Saturdays, so if you're the type that always wants to end on a win, don't worry, you'll have time.
House of TARG // 1077 Bank Street
House of TARG is a classic for any Ottawan that loves live music and arcade games. There are a variety of pinball and classic arcade machines that will transport you straight to Stranger Things. House of TARG features local rock, metal, punk, and DJ's so you are bound to have a fun-filled night.
Outdoor Workout // Multiple Locations
WAIT. Before you jump down my throat about how nobody likes exercising, believe it or not, there are some people in Ottawa that do. Taking a jog outside is such a nice way to start off your day, or even challenging yourself to do the Parliament Hill stairs. I'm not saying this is for everyone, but if you enjoy exercising daily, you will likely enjoy this too.
Escape Rooms // Multiple Locations
Ottawans love anything different from just visiting Parliament, so when Escape Rooms finally hit the Ottawa scene, they really took off. Escape Rooms are a perfect way to have a fun night with a group of your friends. They're also a great way to filter out which of your friends you should stick with if you're ever in a zombie apocalypse.