The best local restaurants in Ottawa are places where you can sample Canadian cuisine that Ottawans love. While the capital is awash with high-end restaurants, it’s also packed with superb low-key eateries for the budget-conscious diner. You won’t need to spend big at these local favourites.

    From classic Canadian pub grub and decadent gravy-soaked poutine to healthy vegetarian-friendly fare, we’ve listed Ottawa’s best local eats below. Pick the restaurant to crush your cravings and get ready to enjoy high-quality gastronomy as Ottawans do.

    1

    Elgin Street Diner

    An always-open diner for comfort food

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    Elgin Street Diner is an Ottawa institution that’s been plating up tasty local meals like meatloaf for over 22 years. The informal eatery serves its superb diner-style fare 24/7, making it a hit among shift workers and the late-night party crowd.

    If you wake up famished, kick-start your day with a hearty yet budget-friendly breakfast – the likes of 2 eggs, bacon, homemade beans and poutine. You can’t go past their epic burgers either, which come stacked with up to 3 juicy layers and an enormous side of fries. Whatever you order, wash it down with an award-winning thick shake.

    Location: 374 Elgin St, Ottawa, ON K2P 1N1, Canada

    Open: 24/7

    Phone: +1 613-237-9700

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    photo by Peter Daniel (CC BY 2.0) modified

    2

    Art-Is-In Bakery

    A chic contemporary bakery serving filling meals

    Art-Is-In Bakery is a bo-ho favourite offering a mouthwatering array of baked treats plus frothy barista-made coffees and big meals. A passionate pastry chef co-founded this contemporary venue with his wife some years ago. The duo has since earned a stellar reputation in Ottawa for their fluffy baguettes, buns, and other oven-baked delights.

    If you can’t make it out to the City Center Avenue shopfront, you’ll find their fresh bread delicacies at most Ottawa farmers’ markets. Keen for something more substantial than a croissant? There’s a brilliant brunch menu and satiating dinner options like pizza and burgers, too.

    Location: 250 City Centre Ave #112, Ottawa, ON K1R 6K7, Canada

    Open: Tuesday–Thursday from 9 am to 7 pm, Fridays from 9 am to 8 pm, Saturdays from 9 am to 7 pm, Sundays from 9 am to 2 pm (closed on Mondays)

    Phone: +1 613-695-1226

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    3

    BeaverTails Byward Market

    Famous pastries and desserts from a well-established international brand

    BeaverTails Byward Market is a buzzing venue and successful international chain specialising in sugar-laden sweet pastries. From its name, you’d be right to assume it serves traditional Canadian cuisine. But don’t expect to find only tourtière on the menu.

    The standout choice is their iconic fried dough pastry, which comes smothered in icing and served with sprinkles on top. If that doesn't tickle your fancy, grab a big cup of creamy gelato or a savoury dish like poutine. Even though they have 140 locations worldwide, making it to Byward to try these delights is a highlight during any Ottawa trip.

    Location: 69 George St, Ottawa, ON K1N 1K1, Canada

    Open: Friday–Saturday from 11 am to midnight, Sunday–Thursday from 11 am to 11 pm

    Phone: +16132411230

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    photo by fw42 (CC BY 2.0) modified

    4

    Tavern on the Hill

    A panoramic hilltop gastro-bar for good food and ice-cold beer

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    Tavern on the Hill is a delightful gastro-pub residing on a panoramic hilltop in Ottawa. The scenic Major Hill Park locale boasts a pretty patio affording sweeping views over the Ottawa River and the Parliament House. Yet despite its privileged location, the popular local venue is unpretentious and affordable.

    The gourmet hot dogs are the menu item of choice, packed with creative fillings inspired by various international cuisines. Try the Seoul Sista, complete with kimchi, hoisin ginger-lime pulled pork, pickled jalapeño, and crispy onion. Sandwiches, tacos, and veggie bowls offer tasty alternatives.

    Location: 1223 Alexandra Bridge, Ottawa, ON K1N 9N4, Canada

    Open: Hours vary by season

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    5

    Occo Kitchen

    A slick gastropub specialising in gourmet street food

    Occo Kitchen does artisanal street food and classic pub grub in 2 industrial-chic locales in Ottawa. Customers can choose from an array of tasty comfort foods – think tacos, burgers, wings, and fries (the candied bacon burger with poutine is divine). And as you’d expect, there’s an impressive collection of frothy craft beers and yummy fruit-infused cocktails.

    Its esteemed head chef started the venture to bring his creative take on gourmet street food to Ottawa. Ever since, the lively gastropub has recently expanded to span 2 branches, one just outside the city in Orléans and another downtown.

    Location: 160 Bay St, Ottawa, ON K1R 7X8, Canada

    Open: Monday–Friday from 11.30 am to 9 pm, Saturday–Sunday from 10 am to 9 pm

    Phone: +1 613-422-6192

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    6

    La Bottega Nicastro

    Fantastic takeaway sandwiches from a charming Italian grocery store

    La Bottega Nicastro is your 1-stop shop for top-quality Italian groceries and tasty takeout treats in Ottawa. While the bustling Byward Market store sells a variety of everyday essentials – mostly homemade pasta, gourmet sauces, and fresh produce – it’s equally popular for its made-to-order sandwiches.

    The Subway-style sandwich bar has customers choose their preferred type of bread, deli meat, cheese, and toppings, which staff skilfully whip together and serve to go. Although these superb custom-built creations are among the best sandwiches in town, you won’t need to spend big. Grab an authentic Italian-style coffee from the espresso bar for your caffeine fix.

    Location: 64 George St, Ottawa, ON K1N 5V9, Canada

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 9 am to 6 pm, Sunday from 9 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +1 613-789-7575

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    photo by Ross Dunn (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    7

    La Pataterie Hulloise

    Ottawa’s favourite potato chip venue

    La Pataterie Hulloise does no-nonsense, potato-laden counter-serve meals in an unpretentious suburban locale. The longstanding venue (established 1982) is one of the city’s top patateries, a type of French-Canadian takeaway venue that specialises in fries.

    The most popular menu item is poutine, which comes smothered in their special brown sauce and dripping with juicy cheese curds. If you don’t fancy a hot chip dinner, there’s a solid selection of other takeaway goodies – think burgers, hot dogs, sausages, and sandwiches. Although it’s located across the river in Gatineau, this excellent eatery is worth the trip. 

    Location: 311 Boulevard Saint-Joseph, Gatineau, Quebec J8Y 3Y6, Canada

    Open: Saturday–Wednesday from 11 am to 9 pm, Thursday–Friday from 11 am to 10 pm

    Phone: +1 819-778-1659

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    8

    Edgar

    A lovely local bakery-cafe in Ottawa

    Edgar prepares an abundance of gourmet goodies each day, from sandwiches and spaetzle to soups and fresh garden salads. The pint-sized bakery-cafe also puts on a splendid seasonal weekend brunch, which is particularly popular with the city’s cycling set.

    As the place packs out with loyal locals, most folks prefer to grab a sandwich or pie from the bakery to takeaway. If you’re lucky enough to enjoy a lazy sit-down meal, try their signature dish: the Dutch Baby. This hearty egg soufflé comes with chunky white cheddar cheese, maple syrup, pork belly, and sliced apples – it goes down a treat.  

    Location: 60 Rue Bégin, Gatineau, QC J9A 1C8, Canada

    Open: Tuesday–Friday from 11.30 am to 6 pm, Saturday–Sunday from 9.30 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +1 819-205-1110

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    9

    Good Eats Café

    A fantastic healthy cafe with soothing herbal teas

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    Good Eats Cafe is a vibrant, health-conscious venue in Ottawa focusing on light and nutritious cuisine. Vegetable-packed sandwiches, technicoloured Buddha bowls, and garden-fresh salads dominate the menu – there’s ample choice for vegetarians and vegans here. Wash down your meal with one of their famous herb-infused teas (coffee and alcohol are available, too).

    But it’s not all about low-carb cuisine – Good Eats has great fast food options as well. Case in point: their bacon ranch poutine or jumbo chicken wings will cure even the most severe hunger pangs. The reasonably priced venue rotates its menu each week for variety.

    Location: 207 Bell St N, Ottawa, ON K1R 5B8, Canada

    Open: Sunday–Thursday from 8 am to 9 pm, Friday from 8 am to 11 pm, Saturday from 9 am to 11 pm

    Phone: +1 613-231-3287

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    10

    Cumberland Pizza

    A brilliant family-run pizza joint popular with locals

    Cumberland Pizza is a low-key, family-run Ottawa spot dishing up delicious pizzas and other delights. Located in Lower Town, it’s one of the more affordable options in the area, making it a hit among locals seeking a cheap but satisfying treat. Friendly, personable service and top-quality nosh keep them coming back for more.

    As you’d expect, the pizza pies are the highlight here, each layered in a generous pile of toppings and served crisp straight from the oven. If you’d rather have something light but fulfilling, grab one of their authentic Greek salads or platters.

    Location: 152 Nelson St, Ottawa, ON K1N 7R5, Canada

    Open: Monday–Thursday from 11 am to 9 pm, Friday from 11 am to 10 pm, Saturday from 12 am to 9 pm

    Phone: +1 613-789-9999

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    Harry Stewart | Contributing Writer

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