The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.
I've lived in Ottawa for over three years now and, as I moved here without any go-to restaurants, it took me time to find my favourites in a new city.
It wasn't an easy task as there are tons of diverse food options in Ottawa, plus the many takeout meals at home thanks to the pandemic, but I have finally found my favourite restaurants.
From pizza and burger joints to upscale eats and lots of noodles in between, I've tried a lot of different spots in the capital and I can't live without these eleven.
Joe's Italian Kitchen
Burrata and polpette meatball appetizers from Joe's Italian Kitchen.
Address: Multiple locations
Why You Need To Go: Home to Canada's first Pinsaria, this Italian spot serves an upscale style of pizza that is made from ingredients shipped directly from Italy. I feel like you can truly taste the fresh ingredients and authentic recipes in each dish, not to mention the Almonte and Kin Vineyards dining locations are an absolute vibe. Eating mouthwatering Italian dishes by a waterfall or in a vineyard — yes, please.
Trio Bistro and Lounge
French 75 and Country Garden cocktails from Trio in Westboro.
Cuisine: Cocktails and Canadian tapas
Address: 307D Richmond Rd., Ottawa, ON
Why You Need To Go: If my husband and I are in the mood for cocktails and sharing plates in an intimate atmosphere, this is our go-to spot. The English Country Garden cocktail is one of my absolute favourite drinks in the city and always tastes refreshing. The sharing plates are fun to snack on and it's great for a relaxing meal or a spot to pop by pre or post-dinner.
The Beachconers Microcreamery
Ice cream cone in front of The Beachconers Microcreamery.
Cuisine: Ice cream
Address: 273 Britannia Rd., Ottawa, ON
Why You Need To Go: This local joint serves deliciously creamy ice cream and rotates its flavours so it's a bit of a surprise whenever you go in. The peanut butter and honey flavour is not only my favourite from this shop, but overall, and I always stock up on pints when they're available.
The micro creamery is also attached to the Britannia Coffeehouse which serves local coffee and tasty baked goods. I highly recommend trying one of its scones.
Megan eating a Kettlemans Bagel sandwich on her wedding day.
Cuisine: Bagels and sandwiches
Address: Various locations
Why You Need To Go: If you're looking for an affordable meal, picnic treat or comfort food, Kettlemans Bagel in Ottawa is worth the hype. The bagel sandwiches always taste fresh and I even had my wedding day lunch catered by the restaurant. Multiple out-of-towners raved about how great the deli sandwiches were.
Cuisine: Pizza and pub fare
Address: Various locations
Why You Need To Go: Moving from the city of Windsor, home to the infamous Windsor pizza, I am quite picky when it comes to a good slice of pie, but Willy's is great because it's not too thick or thin and doesn't taste greasy. The restaurant also serves tasty fries, onion rings and other comfort food but my favourite menu item is the chicken bites. I don't know what they do to these saucy pieces of chicken but they're better than any wings or similar item I've had, period.
Taj Indian Cuisine
Address: 3009 Carling Ave., Ottawa, ON
Why You Need To Go: I have tried a number of Indian restaurants in Ottawa, and other cities, but I always come back to Taj Indian Cuisine. The butter chicken sauce is creamy and flavourful and there is never any unwanted fat in bits of meat. I can be quite picky when it comes to meat dishes and I never stress when ordering from this local spot. The butter chicken, garlic naan bread and vegetable samosas are some of my go-to orders.
Sabai Thai Cuisine
Pad Thai and spring rolls take out meal.
Address: 4055 Carling Ave., Kanata, ON
Why You Need To Go: If you're craving Pad Thai in Ottawa, this local restaurant is the place to go. I've tried a couple of other Thai spots around the city and they honestly just left me disappointed. The mix of fresh veggies, tasty sauce and slurpable noodles is always a win and the crispy spring rolls are a great side addition.
Fried chicken sandwich at Umbrella Bar.
Address: 186 Preston St., Ottawa, ON
Why You Need To Go: This is the best fried chicken sandwich in Ottawa, hands down. Originally the chicken sandwich, burgers and mac n' cheese were served at the Umbrella Bar location at Dow's Lake but since the new Umbrella Burger location has opened you'll find those menu items on Preston Street. It was a little heartbreaking for the brief period when the new spot wasn't open and the mac n' cheese was already removed from the original restaurant menu, thank goodness I can order it again.
Liuyishou Hotpot Ottawa
Price: 💸💸 - 💸💸💸
Cuisine: Chinese hotpot
Address: 10-1568 Merivale Rd., Nepean, ON
Why You Need To Go: Ever since my trip to China in 2018, hotpot has been one of my favourite meals out because it's a fun activity as well as tasty. This hotpot chain serves delicious broth options — my favourite is the spicy soup base — with a bigger variety of dishes, particularly veggies than other places. You get to choose each piece of your meal, including the type of noodles.
Spicy TanTan ramen bowl and dumplings takeout.
Address: 1537 Merivale Rd. & 153 Bank St., Ottawa, ON
Why You Need To Go: Moving to a larger city like Ottawa opened my world up to a variety of new cuisines, particularly Asian food. I am such a fan of ramen now and my favourite dish is the Spicy Tantan bowl from Sansotei. You can choose your noodle type and the broth is always fresh and creamy. I recommend ordering the Gyoza dumplings as well.
Cuisine: Latin inspired
Address: Beechwood and Glebe locations
Why You Need To Go: When the pandemic was at its peak, my husband and I loved ordering the Taco Kit from Soca Kitchen which came with a bunch of pre-made ingredients. The mix of sauce and toppings make these tacos absolutely delicious and they pair well with the cucumber margarita — my favourite. The Glebe restaurant location feels like a classy dining space where you get to enjoy high-end comfort food.