A Foodie’s Tour of 15 Unbeatable Restaurants That You Can’t Miss

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Taste of Ottawa   Travel and Eats  

Everyone knows that one of the most important parts of experiencing a new city or country is tasting the local eats.

From tapas in Barcelona to pasta in Rome, each city brings a special flavor to your travel experience. When you visit Ottawa, take the opportunity to truly experience the city through some of its best local cuisines. On this list, you’ll find delicious and gourmet restaurants that local foodies can’t get enough of. With the highest quality, local ingredients and meals handcrafted by local chefs, the restaurants on this list are truly unbeatable if you really want to see the best of what Ottawa has to offer.

Carben Food & Drink

Carben Food & Drink
Photo credit: Carben Food & Drink

Carben Food & Drink is a modern, delicious, and clean restaurant located in Hintonburg that is run by power-duo husband and wife team, Caroline Ngo and Kevin Benes. Dedicated to serving great food in a comfortable environment and with excellent service, Caroline and Kevin have yet to fail – their dishes are at once delicious, clean, and always exciting as the menu is always evolving. Looking for a beverage to compliment your meal? Carben’s craft cocktails are created with the same care and dedication as the food and will not disappoint.  

Coconut Lagoon

Coconut Lagoon
Photo credit: Coconut Lagoon

Prepare yourself for a most memorable journey through South Indian cuisine at Coconut Lagoon. The delicious and high-quality food has a special flavor, aroma, and originality that you can only get at Coconut Lagoon. The talented chefs serve up rich South Indian food and specialize in handmade Parathas, Idli, Dosa, curries, and exotic seafood dishes. Check out Coconut Lagoon if you are looking for a particularly flavorful take on Indian cuisine!

Amuse Kitchen & Wine

Photo credit: Amuse Kitchen & Wine

Amuse Kitchen is the newest culinary experience in Kanata South. You’ll definitely want to visit before it’s on every list of “new restaurants to try.” Check it out sooner rather than later so you can beat the crowds because there is no way that the modern and innovative cuisine won’t be attracting hordes of people soon. The contemporary eclectic cuisine is designed to AMUSE every palate and when paired with a bold wine list and delicious cocktails, it sure doesn’t disappoint. Perfect for a date night or to get together to eat, drink, share with friends, AMUSE’s classy and cozy setting offers an elegant experience for ay time of day.

Ahora Mexican Cuisine

Ahora Mexican Cuisine
Photo credit: Ahora Mexican Cuisine

Ahora is simply the best Mexican food available in Ottawa. We’re not just saying that – the restaurant has been Awarded Top Mexican Restaurant by the Top Choice Awards every year since 2013. Ahora offers a wide array of healthy Mexican food staples including burritos, nachos, quesadillas and tacos, all prepared with the freshest ingredients. They also have a free Salsa Bar where you can choose from a variety of mild and hot sauces to spice up your meal just the way you like. With bright colors and friendly décor, the atmosphere and fabulous flavors of Ahora will make you believe you actually traveled to sunny Mexico for a meal when in reality, you never had to leave Ottawa.

Fauna

Fauna
Photo credit: Fauna

Located smack in the middle of Centretown, Fauna offers the perfect spot to do what we all love best: eating and drinking with friends and family in a fun space. The menu offers both small and large plates that are perfect for sharing or for trying several and tasting them all. The menu is seasonally driven, fresh, and innovative. With ingredients sourced from local farmers and producers wherever possible, you can feel just as good about the source of what you’re eating as you feel about eating it. Fauna also offers an extensive wine list and cocktail menu so that you can really elevate your dining experience to the next level.

Stoneface Dolly’s

Stoneface Dolly's
Photo credit: Stoneface Dolly’s

Stoneface Dolly’s is one of Ottawa’s best spots for breakfast and lunch and, on the weekends, brunch. The eclectic, homestyle gourmet cuisine is quite popular so reservations are a must, but luckily you now have two locations to choose from, one on Preston and one on Riverside South. Stoneface Dolly’s warm and friendly owner Bob, who is originally from South Africa, has a passion for mixing ingredients to bring out unique and different flavors that you don’t find at every corner lunch joint. You’ll often find him making the rounds and chatting to any number of guests, both new visitors, and regular customers. If you’re visiting Ottawa and want to get a real and authentic local experience, Stoneface Dolly’s is one of the best options, serving up both gourmet dishes and genuine conversation.

DiVino Wine Studio

DiVino Wine Studio
Photo credit: DiVino Wine Studio

If you’re looking for a glass of high-quality wine while in Ottawa, DiVino Wine Studio will be the perfect option for you. DiVino offers an extensive wine list, open kitchen, and delicious, authentic Italian cuisine that all come together for an unforgettable dining experience. Whether you are a true wine enthusiast or a newcomer, DiVino will have something for you. Allow Sommelier Eric Diotte to select a perfect wine pairing for your meal or choose a bottle yourself from their seemingly endless selection.

 

Taj Indian Cuisine

Taj Indian Cuisine
Photo credit: Taj Indian Cuisine

 

Taj Indian Cuisine is a family-owned restaurant that opened in 1987 and has remained a fixture in Ottawa for over 30 years. Owner and Chef Indu Bakshi has been a part of Taj Indian Cuisine since it opened in 1987. Ever since, she has been focusing on providing a personalized and customized dining experience for everyone who walks in the door. When you visit Taj you’ll know that you are enjoying the very best of North Indian Punjabi style cooking. With each meal prepared from a selection of innovative recipes that Chef Indu creates herself, you can truly taste the care and love that goes into each rich and tasty dish at Taj.

Gibsons on Queen

Picture Credits: Gibsons on Queen

 

Gibson’s on Queen offers some of the very best made from scratch comfort food in all of Ottawa. They have a wide variety of options including small plates, sharing plates, handcrafted sandwiches, burgers, salads, and soups. Gibson’s is also well known for their vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free menus that don’t sacrifice one ounce of flavor. Offering breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Gibson’s is perfect for any time of the day. It is a well-loved local favorite located right in the center of the Downtown/Parliament Hill neighborhoods.

Pizarros Restaurant

Pizarros Restaurant
Photo credit: Pizarro’s Restaurant

Pizarro’s Restaurant is a true local favorite. Co-owners, chefs and childhood best friends Pat and Frank have been proudly serving authentic, homemade Italian food to the Ottawa/Vanier region for 28 years. You can truly feel the camaraderie and family vibe the moment you walk in the door. Get comfortable and chat with the friendly and genuine staff as you taste some of the very best Italian cuisines in Ottawa. Some of Pizarro’s most well-loved staples include their homemade pasta options, with Manicotti, Cannelloni, and melt-in-your-mouth Lasagna rolled and prepared fresh weekly. Other famous options are the homemade meatballs and pizza, cut and prepared fresh by the order, as well as the chicken and veal dishes and the absolutely decadent, house-made Creme Caramel and Tiramisu desserts.

Mezzanotte Bistro Italian

Mezzanotte Bistro Italian
Photo credit: Mezzanote Bistro

 

Mezzanote Bistro provides a truly elegant Italian dining experience that you have to experience while visiting Ottawa. The newly remodeled wine cellar is perfect for a date night or small function and the decadent lounge area welcomes guests to relax and enjoy the comforts Mezzanotte provides. With high-end Italian dishes and a perfectly curated wine bar, Mezzanotte has nailed the classy Italian dining experience. Taste their handcrafted, authentic takes on some of Italy’s most succulent dishes while sipping on some delicious vino in this small and personal space.

Social Restaurant & Lounge

Social Restaurant & Lounge
Photo credit: Social Restaurant & Lounge

At the Social Restaurant & Lounge, the exquisitely curated spaces almost (almost!) upstage the delicious food and handcrafted cocktails. With multiple dining rooms, a gorgeous bar space, and beautiful outdoor patio, you have your pick of eating and drinking experiences at the Social. Their gourmet handcrafted menu is an eclectic compilation of new takes on traditional favorites. Taste delicious salads crafted with farmers’ greens, wild caught salmon, and exquisitely decadent cheesecake while sipping on high-end cocktails and listening to the live jazz performance that has become a staple of the Social’s evenings.

Occo Kitchen

Occo Kitchen
Photo credit: Occo Kitchen

Occo Kitchen offers upscale takes on artisanal street food while focusing on locally sourced ingredients and from-scratch cooking. Enjoy tacos, spring rolls, burgers, fries, wings, soups, and salads – all with a local twist. From the bread to the ketchup, everything is made daily using perfected recipes using local premium ingredients that are prepared from scratch in the kitchen. If you’re visiting Ottawa and want a classic burger and fries or basket of wings, Occo Kitchen delivers, but with an upscale, local flavor that you can’t find anywhere else.

SOIF Bar à Vin

Photo credit: SOIF Bar à Vin

SOIF Bar à Vin is a true wine bar, where wine is the main focus. Véronique Rivest, the sommelier-owner, is one of the most respected sommeliers in Canada and abroad. She curates a concise but ever-changing list of authentic wines with a focus on organic and biodynamic growing practices. But we all know that even the best glass of wine wouldn’t be the same without food! And they both make each other better. SOIF also offers a full kitchen and offers an award-winning menu of small and sharing plates, allowing guests to grab a bite or have a full meal. The food is purposely simple: great ingredients and simple preparations, to let flavors shine through and be very wine-friendly. If you’re a true wine fan, SOIF is the number one destination in Ottawa for a glass.

Bâton Rouge Steakhouse & Bar

Baton Rouge Steakhouse & Bar
Photo credit: Bâton Rouge Steakhouse & Bar

Bâton Rouge Steakhouse & Bar has been around Canada since 1992. With multiple locations around the country, it’s obvious that their delicious steaks and meats have struck a chord with carnivorous Canadians. We recommend the bold flavors of the pork back ribs, slow-cooked to fall-off-the-bone perfection, and basted with a homemade barbecue sauce that is to die for. The menu also offers a wide array of the finest steaks, hand-selected for superior marbling and aged for optimal tenderness, as well as craveable appetizers, crisp salads, burgers & sandwiches, seasonal vegetables, premium seafood, and decadent desserts. Take a moment and truly savor your food and the experience while eating at Bâton Rouge.

 

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About the Author: Annie Albrecht

Annie Albrecht is a freelance writer, editor, and content marketing strategist from Austin, TX. Currently based in Madrid, she spends most of her time trotting around Europe, hiking mountains, and facetiming her dog while sipping a glass of red wine. Besides travel, Annie loves discovering new music, lively political discussions, and being outside.

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