Great restaurants in Ottawa range from elegant oyster shacks to sleek fine-dining establishments. Indeed, the food scene of the Canadian capital caters to bureaucrats and an affluent crowd who have no qualms about splurging on top-quality cuisine.

    This list shows you where to eat in Ottawa and what to try – top selections span from molecular gastronomy to seasonal New Canadian fare. All these venues are great spots for special occasions and serve at least some traditional Canadian cuisine. Get ready to eat your way around Ottawa in style.

    1

    The Whalesbone

    Fresh oysters far from the sea

    Whalebone is the top spot to enjoy freshly caught seafood in Ottawa, especially if you’ve got a taste for oysters. For a landlocked city situated miles from the sea, that’s no easy feat. While the popular fleshy shellfish is the signature dish, you’ll find a slew of other marine delicacies here. The menu rotates each morning depending on the catch of the day.

    Eco-conscious eaters needn’t feel guilty about slurping down oysters because Whalesbone has an official Ocean Wise certification. While the local franchise has multiple venues in Ottawa, its Elgin Street establishment is the liveliest of the lot. Quirky signage, intriguing decor, and a live DJ (on weekends) make it a trendy place to dine.

    Location: 231 Elgin St, Ottawa, ON K2P 1L6, Canada

    Open: Monday–Thursday from 4 pm to 11 pm, Friday from 11.30 am to 11 pm, Saturday–Sunday from 3 pm to 11 pm

    Phone: +1 613-505-4300

    Map

    photo by Richard Akerman (CC BY 2.0) modified

    2

    NeXT

    Gourmet shared dishes full of international flavours

    • Food
    • Couples
    • Luxury
    • Group

    NeXT is a Eurasian fusion powerhouse and the brainchild of the esteemed culinary superstar Michael Blackie. This award-winning West End restaurant is famed for its bite-sized gourmet cuisine. Most delectable dishes have a hint of Canadian influence and are prepared to share with friends.

    Blackie and his team expanded the takeout menu throughout 2021, and the concept looks set to stay. Try the Blind Sharing package, which gives you 9 refined dishes designed to be eaten by 2. If you’d rather dine in, expect a sophisticated atmosphere plus superb wine pairings.

    Location: 6400 Hazeldean Rd, Ottawa, ON K2S 1S4, Canada

    Open: Wednesday–Sunday from 5 pm to 9 pm (closed on Mondays and Tuesdays)

    Phone: +1 613-836-8002

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    3

    Riviera Ottawa

    Creative Canadian-influenced fare in a posh locale

    • Food
    • Couples
    • Luxury
    • Group

    Riviera does upmarket Canadian cuisine in an elegant old bank building on Sparks Street in Ottawa. From creamy carbonara to juicy striploin steaks and fresh lobster spaghetti, there’s a creative Canadian-inspired dish on the menu for every taste.

    Keen to try something new? The dill-pickled, chip-crusted halibut is divine. Another unusual highlight is the ever-so-popular mushrooms on toast, smothered in shaved black truffle and served with a perfectly poached egg. Tall ceilings, vintage decor, and a buzzing open-plan kitchen evoke a sophisticated vibe.

    Location: 62 Sparks St., Ottawa, ON K1P 5A5, Canada

    Open: Tuesday–Saturday from 5 pm to 10 pm (closed on Sundays and Mondays)

    Phone: +1 613-233-6262

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    4

    Play Food & Wine

    Splendid shared plates plus superb imported wines

    • Food
    • Couples
    • Luxury
    • Group

    Play Food & Wine is a market-driven, small-plate venue serving lip-smacking contemporary cuisine in Ottawa. The upscale establishment prepares each delicious dish from scratch, using sustainable produce sourced fresh from local farmers. All portions are prepared to share so diners can experience a broad spectrum of flavours in a single sitting.

    On the savoury menu, you’ll find tasty morsels like toasted fennel gnocchi with brown butter turnip puree and bison tataki cooked in juniper and chilli oil. If you still have room for dessert, you can’t go past the dark chocolate and peanut butter tart – choose from banana jam or roasted peanut toffee. There’s a solid selection of fine French wines to accompany your meal.

    Location: 1 York St, Ottawa, ON K1N 5S7, Canada

    Open: Tuesday–Thursday and Sunday from 5 pm to 9 pm, Friday–Saturday from 5 pm to 10 pm

    Phone: +1 613-667-9207

    Map

    photo by Jeangagnon (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    5

    Fraser

    A local favourite doing inventive dishes

    • Food
    • Couples
    • Luxury
    • Group

    Fraser Café is a widely popular Rockcliffe restaurant that has evolved into an Ottawa institution over the years. Exposed brick walls, neutral hues, and low-hanging lighting set a casual tone. Locals pack the place out most nights (making reservations necessary) thanks to its top-quality cuisine at reasonable prices.

    The seasonal Canadian menu blends bold and familiar dishes, each with a distinct international twist. Expect classics like barbeque beef striploin alongside adventurous options such as the Arctic char served with wild rice and kimchi broth.

    Location: 7 Springfield Rd, Ottawa, ON K1M 1C8, Canada

    Open: Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday from 5 pm to 9 pm, Friday–Saturday from 5 pm to 10 pm

    Phone: +1 613-749-1444

    Map
    6

    Gezellig

    A laidback spot to savour refined international cuisine

    • Food
    • Couples
    • Luxury
    • Group

    Gezellig is an Ottawa restaurant that lives up to its name, which is Dutch for “cosy and convivial”. The Richmond Road bistro is set in a converted 1950s bank. The bright and airy locale offers a relaxed atmosphere to devour a meal with friends – think plush leather booths, tall ceilings, and polished pine furnishings.

    The restaurant promotes the use of sustainable, locally sourced food with ingredients supplied by eco-conscious regional producers. Globally inspired recipes include the rillettes with pickled mushrooms and peppercorn bread. The signature dish of braised Ontario lamb shank with grilled onion gremolata and a fenugreek cream curry is a must-try.

    Location: 337 Richmond Rd, Ottawa, ON K2A 0E7, Canada

    Open: Wednesday–Thursday from 5 pm to 9 pm, Friday from 5 pm to 10 pm, Saturday from 10 am to 2 pm and 5 pm to 10 pm, Sunday from 10 am to 2 pm and 5 pm to 9 pm

    Phone: +1 613-680-9086

    Map
    7

    Beckta Dining & Wine

    High-end cuisine in Ottawa with fine wine on the side

    Beckta Dining & Wine is the brainchild of Stephen Beckta, the culinary master behind the buzzing Ottawan bistro, Gezellig. But this refined venue is a touch more upmarket than its casual younger cousin. Beckta Dining & Wine is considered one of the top upscale haunts in the entire city. And true to its name, a knowledgeable in-house sommelier can recommend the perfect pairing for each dish.

    Creative seafood and meat dishes comprise most of the menu, with options like beef tartar with whitefish caviar and Laurentian chicken with pistachio pesto. If you’d rather savour a broad range of flavours, give the 8-course tasting menu a go.

    Location: 150 Elgin St, Ottawa, ON K2P 1L4, Canada

    Open: Tuesday–Saturday from 5 pm to 10 pm (closed on Sundays and Mondays)

    Phone: +1 613-238-7063

    Map

    photo by Jeangagnon (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    8

    Town

    Brilliant Italian-inspired dishes in a warm locale

    • Food
    • Couples
    • Luxury
    • Group

    Town plates up the best Italian-inspired fusion fare in Ottawa. A foodie’s favourite, this intimate, low-lit bistro does creative takes on time-honoured Mediterranean classics. Try the ricotta-stuffed meatballs with polenta or the lamb Bolognese, best washed down with a fine Italian wine. Leave some space for their buttermilk panna cotta for dessert.

    While the chef-owner focuses on faraway flavours, almost all ingredients are locally grown. Slate tile floors, slick leather booths, and dimly glowing Edison lights evoke a warm and cosy vibe.

    Location: 296 Elgin St, Ottawa, ON K2P 1M3, Canada

    Open: Tuesday–Thursday from 5 pm to 10 pm, Friday–Saturday from 5 pm to 11 pm

    Phone: +1 613-695-8696

    Map
    9

    Absinthe

    A Parisian-style venue serving French and Canadian dishes

    • Food
    • Couples
    • Nightlife
    • Luxury

    Absinthe does an eclectic menu of classic Canadian comfort food and refined French-inspired cuisine. From smoked bacon burgers to beef tartar and hanger steaks to butterflied duck breast, it’s a top spot to sample the best of both national cuisines – a juxtaposition of sorts.

    Reminiscent of a 19th-century Parisian café, this bohemian venue features black leather booths, tall ceilings, and assorted antiques. And yes, you can order the namesake “Green Fairy” from the stained metal bar at the end of the room.

    Location: 1208 Wellington St. W, Ottawa, ON K1Y 2Z7, Canada

    Open: Monday–Wednesday from 5 pm to 9 pm, Thursday–Saturday from 5 pm to 10 pm (closed on Sundays)

    Phone: +1 613-761-1138

    Map
    10

    Atelier

    Exquisite modular gastronomy with the element of surprise

    Atelier brings modular gastronomy to new heights in Ottawa with its much-loved 12-course tasting menu. Atelier’s internationally acclaimed head chef Marc Lepine alters his culinary offering each evening, rotating ingredients to ensure everything is fresh. Immaculate presentation, innovative flavour combinations, and the element of surprise keep diners coming back for more.

    Lepine prefers to keep his New Canadian menu under wraps – diners don’t know what they’re eating until they sink their teeth in. Each course gets a novelty name like “Welcome to the Jungle” or “The Alien” to keep guests guessing throughout their meal.

    Location: 540 Rochester St, Ottawa, ON K1S 4M1, Canada

    Open: Wednesday–Saturday from 6 pm to 8 pm (closed Sunday–Tuesday)

    Phone: +1 613-321-3537

    Map
    Harry Stewart | Contributing Writer

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