Ottawa, Canada City Guide {UPDATE}

cityguide_ottawa
Today’s Ottawa City Guide come to us from Krista Leben, the founder of Urban Craft Market, Ottawa’s Craft Bash, and urbanite jewelry. Krista is an American expat who has been bouncing around the globe since 2007 until she finally landed in Ottawa in the fall of 2009. She loves calling Canada’s capital her home, and can’t wait to introduce you to the cool side of Ottawa, so she has compiled a list of the top restaurants, shops, and additional “treats” to highlight this truly fun city! Thanks Krista for this incredible guide to Ottawa! — Stephanie

Read the full guide after the jump…

Ottawa City Guide

Be sure to check out this Google Map with all of the below listings!

BYWARD MARKET/DALHOUSIE

Victoire Boutique – A perfectly curated shop featuring Canadian fashion designers, lovely home goods, and lovely accessories. A must-visit in Ottawa!

Workshop Studio & Boutique – This lovely shop is filled to the brim with handmade goods from designers across Canada.

Paper Papier– A perfect little paper shop with beautiful wrapping paper, cards and decorations for your home.

EQ3 – A Canadian furniture and home goods chain, EQ3 has a wonderful selection of modern touches for your home.

Young Janes – A wonderful vintage-centric shop with beautiful dresses and accessories! A must-visit for vintage lovers!

Road Trip – A great selection of clothes and accessories for both guys and gals.

Domus Housewares – A wonderful kitchen store with an attached restaurant, the perfect place to pick something up if you’re looking for professional kitchen instruments!

Ma Cuisine – A well-appointed kitchen shop that I like to visit to pick up beautiful serving dishes and bowls.

Chez Lucien – This local pub features a great selection of burgers made in house as well as a wide range of craft beers to go with them. Live jazz on Sundays, and a wonderful staff.

La Bottega – A wonderful Italian food shop that’s a great place to pick up a snack or one of their customizable gourmet sandwiches (which will feed you for days)!

Planet Coffee – A great place to pick up a perfectly-poured latte or sweet treat. Cash only.

Murray Street – If you’re a meat lover, Murray Street is a must-vist. As true believers of the nose-to-tail philosophy, you can experience some great and interesting meat-centric dishes here. Great for Sunday brunch, too!

Auntie Loo’s – A little out of the way in the Lowertown area, Auntie Loo’s is Ottawa’s first vegan bakery and well worth the trip. Try their whoopie pies!

Ottawa City Guide

CENTRETOWN

Flowers & Vintaqe – Two talented ladies recently teamed up to create this fantastic little shop which is filled to the brim with organic floral arrangements and gorgeous vintage garb.

Stroked Ego – A shop filled with goods for dapper dudes. With everything from designer socks to shaving accessories, this is a great spot for guys.

Herb & Spice Wellness Shop -Sister store to a local grocery store across the street, this new shop features everything you need to keep yourself well naturally! From body care products to essential oils and beauty products, it’s an eco-beauty fiend’s dream!

The Whalesbone – With fresh oysters always on the menu -and other fantastic seafood dishes, this rustic and cozy space is great to pop into for a comortable and intimate dinner.

Grounded Kitchen & Coffeehouse– A favorite of office workers in the area, grounded has a wonderful range of sandwiches, pizza and gorgeous dishes for dinner.

Bread & Sons – This local bakery has a huge dedicated following in Ottawa, and rightly so: with awesome pizza, breakfast items and baked goods made from local ingredients on their menu, you Bread & Sons won’t steer you wrong!

Pressed– This gourmet sandwich bar is a beautiful and comfortable place to tuck into while you dig into a tasty sandwich featuring things like house-smoked chicken. Visit on the weekend for a stunning waffle brunch, topped with things like the perfect amount of pulled pork.

Union 613 Southern-inspired cocktails, grub and atmosphere makes Union an awesome place to tuck into any night.

The Red Apron – This take-home food shop has the loveliest selection of gourmet goodies made locally. It’s also a great spot to pick up a sandwich or coffee.
THE GLEBE/OLD OTTAWA SOUTH

The Papery– A lovely paper shop with gorgeous cards, darling gifts and a wonderful staff.

Alteriors– A wonderful selection of modern furniture, lighting and accessories.

Octopus Books– An independent book shop run by an owner with a great taste and staff that’s incredibly helpful.

Miss Tiggy Winkles – For the kid in you. This fun shop features toys, games and fun knick-knacks.

C.A. Paradis– An expansive kitchen store with every item you’ll need to outfit a gourmet kitchen!

Ottawa Antique Market – The biggest antique store in Eastern Ontario!

Cafe Morala– This darling cafe features sandwiches and Latin American specialties, like the most delicious empanadas in town.

Stella Luna– With some of the best gelato in town, this place is always packed and is a great place to hang out with your family on a warm afternoon.

Second Avenue Sweets – One of the most underrated bakeries in town, in our humble opinion. Try their cakewiches on the weekends, which somehow perfect both a whoopie pie and a cupcake all in one.

The Unrefined Olive – A gourmet olive oil and balsamic vinegar tasting bar, with oils and vinegars of impeccable quality.

Ottawa City Guide

ELGIN

Mags & Fags – An awesome magazine shop, with cards and gifts tucked within the store, too.

Boogie & Birdie – Sister shop to Mags & Fags, this newly-opend gift store has lovely local products and other little gems.

Perfect Books – A great independent book shop with thoughtfully selected books in every genre.

town. – A modern yet cozy atmosphere with modern Italian fare on the menu + a great cocktail list, you’ll love this eatery.

The Manx Pub– Tuck into this underground pub for the tastiest food you’ll ever eat in a bar. With pressed pulled pork wraps, delectable vegan dishes and daily specials, you’ll love the cozy atmosphere of this pub and its awesome staff.

Pure Gelato – This modern spot has a wide selection of tasty gelato and crepes of the savory and sweet variety. Also perfect for people watching through their big windows looking out onto Elgin Street.

Oz Kafe – Tucked underground, Oz features incredible and inventive dishes. Great for dinner, drinks or a late-night snack.

El Camino – A newcomer to Ottawa’s culinary scene, El Camino features tacos, tequila and a raw bar. With both a walk-up window and sit-down options, it’s easy to snag some of El Camino’s delicious food.

Ottawa City Guide

CHINATOWN/LITTLE ITALY

Raw Sugar Cafe– A cozy cafe with vintage tables to sit at and vintage clothes to shop from, it’s a great place to sit, relax and unplug.

The Moonroom – Tuck into this dark and modern bar for fantastic cocktails, small plates and wonderful tunes coming over the speakers.

two six {ate}– Fantastic cocktails, wonderful bar snacks and beautiful entrees

Le Kim Chi – A wonderful Korean restaurant with incredibly helpful staff. A great place to try Korean if you’ve never tasted the cuisine!

Art Is In Bakery – A very popular bakery here in Ottawa which started out by wholesaling their delicious bread, then expanded into a full-on bakery which now serves lunch, brunch and their delicious pastries. A must-visit.
Vietnamese Pho – Many of the restaurants in Ottawa’s Chinatown are actually Vietnamese Pho places. There are countless options, and everyone seems to have their favorite spot, but here are a few popular options: New Pho Bo Ga La, Pho Tu Do, Pho Bo Ga 1 & Vietnam Palace.

Ottawa City Guide

HINTONBURG/WELLINGTON WEST

Heavens to Betsy – This charming gift shop has everything to lovely perfume to darling greeting cards to vintage goodies. A great place to pick up a gift!

Fabrications – This shop features an impeccably-curated selection of fabrics and also has sewing machines which you can rent out to work on projects.

Flock – Sister shop to Workshop Studio & Boutique on Dalhousie. Full of Canadian handmade goodness.

Victoire Boutique– Sister shop to Victoire Boutique on Dalhousie.

JV Studios – New to the Wellington West neighborhood, JV Studios features jewelry designers from across Canada and is run by metalsmith Jasmine Virani. A great place to pick up a momento from your trip to Ottawa.

Wabi Sabi – A fabulous knitting and yarn store, Wabi Sabi sells beautiful hand-spun yarn and also has workshop and classes in which you can learn to knit!

St. Vincent de Paul – One of the most popular second-hand stores in Ottawa, St. Vincents is a great place to score some great finds at great prices.

Viens Avec Moi– A house of fashion and clothing shop for women, this shop also carries such goodies as Kinfolk magazine and other lovely gifts.

Blumenstudio – This gem of a shop is run by floral designer Kat Kosk, who creates wonderfully modern arrangements with a European flair. The shop is also a cafe with wonderful baked goods and some of the best lattes in town. If you’re in Ottawa around the holiday season, their Eggnog Latte is a must!

Hintonburg Public House – Quickly after opening, HPH became a local favorite, and rightly so–with cozy and comfortable furnishings, local beer on tap, and a great menu.

Suzy Q Doughnuts – Hands-down the best doughnuts in Ottawa. Flavors like Maple Bacon, London Fog and Raspberry Cassis top sky-high doughnuts that are too delicious to resist.

Supply & Demand – This seafood and raw bar has quickly become a local favorite not only for its wonderful food, but also for its lovely decor which features gorgeous white tile floors and charming seahorse wallpaper.

WESTBORO

Kitchenalia – A charming kitchen store with very knowedgable and helpful staff. My go-to place for all things kitchen in Ottawa!

Truly Swedish Design – This store, tucked away upstairs above several others, is impeccably curated and full of lovely Swedish finds.

Magpie Jewelry – This locally-owned jewelry boutique features is very well-curated and features many modern Canadian jewelry designers. A great departure from the traditional jewelry store. Additional location in the Glebe.

The Candy Store – A darling candy shop filled to the brim with your favorite childhood favorites as well as tons of tasty treats waiting to be discovered.

The Piggy Market – Tuck into this local market and delicatessan which features new goodies each day, including delectable Jamaican patties. If you’re in the neighborhood on Tuesdays, check out their taco special!

STAY

Arc Hotel & Lounge

Hotel Indigo

Ottawa Jail Hostel – Literally a hostel that is housed in a former jail. Stay if you dare; it’s been named one of the most haunted places in Canada!

NOTABLE LOCALS

Christiane Lemieux (of Dwell Studio)
Sandra Oh
Dan Aykroyd
Margaret Atwood
Paul Anka
Tom Greene
Alanis Morissette
Matthew Perry
Princess Margriet of the Netherlands (Her birth in Canada is an interesting & fun anecdote often told here in Ottawa, which you can read
here. Ottawa’s famed Tulip Festival is thanks to her legacy!

 

  1. Natalia says:

    Thanks for all of these amazing suggestions! I am moving to Ottawa (from London, UK) this summer with my family and reading this list and all the comments helps add to the excitement!!

  2. Mike says:

    Lovely list but since this was done a new shop opened in Old Ottawa South called The Modern Shop. They are exclusive retailers in Ottawa of Modern brands such as Modernica & Moooi . They should be on the list!

  3. Hilary says:

    Essential addition – Art-Is-In bakery, on City Center Ave – a really neat storefront with a patio in an unlikely location. Their bread is available all over the city. Also absolutely love True Loaf Bakery (Gladstone).
    Some summer markets to check out: Parkdale Market (everyday), Preston St. (Saturdays), Lansdowne (Sundays), Ottawa Organic Farmer’s Market at Bank and Heron (Saturdays).
    Some more recommendations and seconds to others’ suggestions: Whalesbone on Kent for “paper bag lunches”, Cafe Delice on Kent for the best espresso in town, Blue Nile Ethiopian restaurant (Gladstone), Petit Bills on Wellington (lobster poutine!), Ragtime Vintage on Flora, Chapeaux de Madelaine in an office building on Clarence St.
    And if you see Pascale’s Ice Cream, get it, get it, get it.

  4. Oscar says:

    Becta, Cafe Fraser, and Genji are not on the list. This guide is not quite complete.

  5. Julie says:

    Also, there is a new food truck Bonita’s Cantina – authentic mexican street food at the City Centre – near Art-is-in – definitely worth a stop in

  6. Patricia says:

    Yeah Ottawa! but don’t forget Oresta organic skin care in the Glebe and Hintonburg. Great products and treatments: http://oresta.ca

  7. meltingplastic says:

    I have lived in Ottawa my whole life and was thrilled to see DS feature it, BUT… Why aren’t there lists of things to do? Ottawa has an extensive network of bike paths, skating on the Rideau Canal, Bluesfest, Winterlude, Jazzfest, Tulip fest, plus world class galleries, theatre and museums. And don’t forget Hull Quebec just over the bridge for some great poutine and a whole new cultural experience! A city guide should be so much more than just shopping.

    1. Grace Bonney says:

      meltingplastic

      our city guides are each submitted separately from passionate locals, which leads to some variation among guides. we make requests, but people are creating these as a free donation to us and the community, so we gladly accept whatever they have time to offer. (we of course do some research ahead of time to make sure contributors are qualified to speak about the area though). we’ll try to make sure we get some updates that include more things to do :)

      grace

  8. Kelly says:

    Can you share where you got that arrow font? I love it!

  9. Mike says:

    I love Ottawa! I can’t wait to move there. My partner moved up there 3 years ago for work, so I’ve been driving 6 hours every other weekend to visit and we’ve been working on discovering some neat places! This list definitely helps – I’ll have to check these places out! It’s such a beautiful city :)

    Also some more places definitely worth checking out:
    -Za Za Za Pizza (Some really unique options)
    -Truffle Treasures (They have AMAZING orange ginger hot chocolate. Get it.)
    -The Cupcake Lounge (way better than Isobel’s, in my opinion. Also better than Thimblecakes – don’t be fooled by their cute name! Never go there!)
    -Kettleman’s bagels – fresh, delicious bagels… they even make sandwiches on them there. I won’t eat a bagel anywhere else!
    -Sconewitch (sandwiches on scones. Enough said.)

    -There’s also a really cute framing shop in the Glebe that sells plants, gift items and decor. It’s a very unassuming exterior but really nice inside. I think it is literally called the Framing Store or something.

  10. alicia says:

    Yes, would you be willing to share the name of the arrow font? It’s amazing!

  11. I recommend

    Macarons et Madeleines http://www.macaronsetmadeleines.com/ at 46 Lorne Avenue (you can get there from Chinatown by taking the stairs down from the end of Upper Lorne) – the best croissants and pastries I’ve had in Ottawa

    Cylie Artisans Chocolatiers http://www.cyliechocolat.com/ at 204 Dalhousie (Dalhousie at St. Andrew) – wonderful hand-made, hand-painted filled chocolates

  12. Lianne says:

    I definitely agree with the above poster who mentioned that this list is lacking in the “things to do” department. Ottawa is my hometown, and whenever I start going on about it, it is always about the plethora of incredible museums, the close proximity to beautiful outdoor escapes (gatineau hills, etc.), the incredible bike trails all throughout the city, and the amount of amazing festivals and events that occur throughout the year!

  13. Tonie St-Onge says:

    Don’t forget World Of Tea in Westboro. It is run by a husband and wife team who travel to asia to personally meet tea growers and buy their wares. They have thorough knowledge of their vast offerings. Delicious traditional, high quality tea. I popped in once and will go nowhere else now!

  14. Georgina Collins says:

    Hello!

    Love this page. Please note that Auntie Loo moved to 112 Nelson St unit 101C. I quote from her page (http://auntieloostreats.ca/)

    “We are now located on Nelson St in a complex known as “The Depot.” We are pretty much behind the Bytowne Cinema, and across the street (and down about a half block) from the Loblaws on Rideau & Nelson. We are located in the back corner of the building. And YES – WE HAVE PARKING!!! =) (Finally!)”

  15. Sarah says:

    No shout out to the Scone Witch?

  16. Caroline says:

    Yeah! I am a Canadian living in NYC and love coming back to Ottawa to visit family and friends. It is a beautiful city with amazing hidden treasures that are under appreciated by those who live there (my family included). Dont forget to mention a little trip over to Gatineau and enjoy some French culture too! We were just there and tried Chez Edgar for Sunday Brunch before heading back to the airport. Uniquely Canadian, love the diversity.

  17. Rachelle says:

    Wow, I was so excited to see Ottawa representin’ here! Love all the listings and I would like to add one more: The Daily Grind Art Cafe (601 Somerset St.) This place serves amazing food, has a kid-friendly atmosphere (you can buy art packs to keep the little ones amused), hosts loads of cool music and crafty events and is 100% gluten free, with dairy free, sugar free, vegetarian and vegan options!! Even though I have no dietary restrictions, I love eating there.

  18. Lina says:

    Don’t forget the Ministry of Coffee (in the golden triangle, on Elgin St.)! Fresh artisan beans and nutella lattes!!!

  19. Serena says:

    I’m surprised Milk Shop in the bywardmarket is not on the list. Really great place for
    Women’s clothing and accessories you’re sure to not have the same
    Stuff as everyone else in Ottawa like some of the stores mentioned above. Also Cafe My House for delicious vegan cuisine is great. New Nupur for Indian food is amazing too. Glebe has Earls Variety as well which is delicious. Modern Shop is also great for furniture and contemporary design. For awesome vintage finds check out Ragtime

  20. Lisa says:

    Things to do — Spa Nordic in the Gatineau, skating at Rideau hall (a more intimate skate then the canal), Snowshoeing in the Experimental Farm (yes, there is a farm in the middle of the city), the Ottawa Farmer’s market on Bronson (seasonal on Sundays), cycling or walking along the canal paths. Additional places to eat — there was mention of the Whalesbone restaurant, but you can grab a sandwich or fish and chips for lunch at their Kent Street outlet. I don’t think anyone mentioned Benny’s Bistro in the market for brunch. Also Jac’s Neighborhood Bistro on Bronson/McLeod for breakfast. During the summers there are also movies in Dundonald Park.

  21. Lisa says:

    Oh, and Life of Pie on Bank in Old Ottawa South!

  22. Stephanie says:

    Ottawa born and raised! Unless I didn’t see it, don’t forget about The Elgin Street diner!! It was featured on “You Gotta Eat Here!” and an Ottawa pizza institution – Colonnade Pizza on Metcalfe!

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