Recline into plush crimson seats at one of a dozen or so hardwood tables at this cozy basement pub; order a single malt scotch or an imported brew and relax. Authors read their works periodically during the week and the famed Sunday brunch was voted as the Best Brunch two years running by readers of Xpress, Ottawa's entertainment newspaper. There are various goodies on the menu like Eggs Ireland and stout French Toast stuffed with bananas. Traditional pub grub, including Shepherd's Pie and burgers are also offered, as well as more upscale choices, like Moroccon Stew and grilled salmon.
Located in an erstwhile bank building, Gezellig is an elegant restaurant which offers high quality Canadian food and a range of fine wines. Although the menu concentrates on Canadian dishes, it takes its influences from culinary traditions from the world over. Complementing these flavors perfectly, the wines are carefully chosen from and globally sourced. With neutral tones, mood lighting and tasteful decor, the restaurant is both classy and inviting. Following the meaning of its own name which is a Dutch word for a cozy atmosphere, the restaurant is a perfect place for a family meal.
Beckta restaurant is one of Ottawa's most prized fine dining experiences. It serves contemporary cuisine using many local and regional ingredients and with an accent of Japanese cuisine. The menu is imaginative but in no way intimidating; from their delightfully tender Ontario AAA Striploin to their Squid Bagna Càuda, the meals are lovingly prepared and presented. Beckta is also renowned for its carefully selected wine list and attentive, knowledgeable staff. Reservations are essential.
Located in an 18th-century heritage building, the restaurant with its unique mosaic waterfall behind the bar and couches, leather sofas and muted lights offers a relaxed dining ambiance. The menu spans meat and seafood delicacies cooked creatively complementing the Spectator award winning wine list. Combine any of these with one of the fifty wines or their signature flights that perfectly complement your meal. If that's not all, have a foot-tapping time with live DJs playing funky beats.
Climb the long, narrow stairs between the cheese and fish shops of the Byward Market to Ottawa's trendiest jazz bar, the Mercury Lounge. Besides, there are DJ and dance events, poetry reading sessions and more making Mercury Lounge a versatile event venue. A red velvet theme runs throughout the narrow, two-floor club, from the lanterns over the bar to the thick drapes hanging from the factory ceilings. Dress varies among the young, professional, club-going patrons, from fashionable evening wear to the occasional pair of jeans.
This landmark watering hole, better known as The Laff, is one of the last traditional taverns in Ottawa. Opened in 1849, the bar has undergone a number of renovations but is still in the same Byward Market location it has occupied for over 150 years. Although the kitchen serves up a limited menu of hamburgers and sandwiches, its main reason for being is cold draft beer served directly from the tap. The main bar also features live entertainment on most nights.
Named for one of Canada's founding fathers—who was assassinated on nearby Sparks Street in 1868—this massive pub manages to maintain a cozy, intimate feel. Set in a historic structure from 1883, it features comfortable booths that are separated from one another by beautiful stained glass windows. Try one of the daily pub fare specials or an Irish breakfast on the weekends. The pub often draws large crowds on Wednesday through Saturday evenings, when local musicians entertain patrons with live Celtic tunes.
Another gem from celebrity restaurateur Stephen Beckta, Play is a decidedly different dining concept adding to the rich culinary diversity of Ottawa. The restaurant was established in 2009, and quickly became one of the hottest dining destinations in the city. The menu at Play offers a constantly evolving selection of small plates, crafted using locally-grown, seasonally available ingredients. With the aim of letting diners sample multiple preparations, the menu offers delights like marinated fig, octopus and boar sausage. The selection at the wine bar is one of the city's best, spanning the top wine regions of the world. There's a fine array of cheeses as well as charcuterie for company. Restaurant interiors are tastefully done, with mellow tones, and minimalist décor choices. There's a separate space for private events as well.
If tapas and small plates excite you, this contemporary kitchen and bar is a definite feature on your must-visit list. A chic bistro located in Byward Market, SIDEDOOR offers an array of creative eats catering to Asian Fusion and Mexican cuisine. While colorful creations stimulate your hunger pangs, elegant wine pairings help cleanse the palate for the next bite. Boasting an expansive private room with a capacity of accommodating up to 120 guests, this is a great venue for celebrations.
A place that can do no wrong, Grounded Kitchen & Coffeehouse presents good food and great service in an even better ambiance. An exciting menu filled with scrumptious delicacies made with the best available ingredients, this charming cafe is one of the best breakfast and brunch places in town. The unconventional decor of the cafe, made with all things recycled, sure does leave a lasting impression on you. As the night falls, this cafe tempts socialites with its full bar menu and a fine bistro fare.