6 Must-Try Restaurants in Ottawa, Canada

Ottawa, Canada’s capital city, is perhaps known more for its political heft than the restaurant scene. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t good food to be had all over the city. We spent three days in the capital in September, and basically just ate and walked the whole time (really, what else does one need to do?). These 6 must-try restaurants in Ottawa, Canada were the best of the bunch:

Starling – Byward Market

Since visiting Denmark in 2018, Instagram has become my go-to for finding aesthetically beautiful restaurants with equally good food. Starling was one of those Instagram finds. The food was only okay, but the fancy cocktails and unique avian-themed decor (check out that birdcage booth!) made for a memorable evening. I’m now 100% committed to bringing bird wallpaper into my life in the long run.

Starling restaurant in Ottawa, Canada
Starling’s avian-themed restaurant was an aesthetic hit

Oat Couture Cafe – The Glebe

Possibly the most unusual concept restaurant I’ve seen, Oat Couture serves up a huge array of… oatmeal. The Glebe, a neighbourhood of Ottawa around Lansdowne Park, is full of cute shops and independent restaurants. The sheer number of things you could have in your oatmeal was somewhat astonishing (and some options more attractive than others!). For those not in the mood for oatmeal, have a breakfast sandwich, but if you’re feeling adventurous, I recommend the ramen oatmeal with sesame mushrooms.

Oat Couture Cafe in the Glebe, Ottawa
The very pretty Oat Couture Cafe

Sidedoor – Byward Market

This was a superb hidden gem. The name is apt- Sidedoor is down an alley in Byward Market, and looks out onto a leafy courtyard. But you wouldn’t find it without looking. We took the server’s advice and ordered two appetizers and a side to share – it was plenty for two people. We had the Vietnamese pancake with shrimp, spicy noodles, and steamed shrimp dumplings. Highly recommend.

Sidedoor restaurant in the Byward Market
Sidedoor in the Byward Market

Looking for more 3-day trips? Try this one in Southern New Brunswick.

Metropolitain Brasserie – near Parliament

Metropolitain is the place to be if you’re wanting to spot politicians. Of course, when we were there the House wasn’t sitting, so we didn’t see any. But this classic French bistro is still a hit. Their large patio takes up the entire corner of the street and gives off the true Parisian vibes. The wasps were ferocious in Ottawa this year, but Metropolitain won the prize for best efforts to keep them at bay with their clever traps (not necessarily a reason to go to a restaurant, but better than the alternative!).

Metropolitain Bistro in Ottawa

Headquarters – Byward Market

Restaurant meets hair salon at Headquarters in Byward Market. They had a cool vibe and a unique take on a vegetarian eggs Benny. Good service, tasty coffee, and you can get your hair done when you’ve had your lunch. What more could you want?

Spending more time in Canada? Check out these easy day trips from Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Very tasty vegetarian Eggs Benny at Headquarters

Thali – O’Connor Street

This was absolutely the highlight of the trip in terms of food. Thali serves Indian cuisine from the Kerala region, and the speciality- thali, meaning “plate” – featured little tastes of several different curries. I had the vegetarian version, which included lentil and chickpea curries, eggplant, papadam, yogurt sauce, and tapioca. This was hands down the best food we had, and was the least promoted – but the packed patio gave it away as a local hit.

Thali – meaning ‘plate’ offered the best variety of flavours

Two spots we didn’t get to are still on my list for the next trip: Fairouz Cafe for Middle Eastern food, and North and Navy for Italian!

6 must-try restaurants in Ottawa, Canada

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