Billed as a gourmet sandwich bar and coffeehouse, Pressed is a welcome addition to its Centretown West neighbourhood. An ever-changing blackboard menu offers an array of sandwiches made with high-quality ingredients (smoked chicken, eggplant tempura, and margherita are a few favourites), along with soups, salads, and sides. The cozy cafe is also a popular place to be on weekends when brunch is served. Try the Hangover — a waffle topped with smoked beef brisket, cheese curds, and gravy. Add a latte, and you’re ready to take on the day!
750 Gladstone Ave, 613-680-9294, www.pressed-ottawa.com
For many a diner, it can be hard to find a restaurant with that elusive blend of good food, a lively, laid-back atmosphere, and owners who truly care about the restaurant they run. Fresco Bistro Italiano ticks all three boxes. The menu is Italian-inspired and features mains like duck confit and braised lamb shank, as well as flavourful pasta dishes, salads, pizzas, and more. The decor has the modern/rustic balance down pat, with old photos of Ottawa landmarks hung on the exposed brick walls. After hours, head upstairs to the Guest Room for tapas, drinks, and music.
354 Elgin St., 613-235-7541, www.frescobistro.ca.
Tosca Ristorante © Photoluxstudio.com – Christian Lalonde
Classic Italian flavours rule the menu at Tosca Ristorante. Dishes are simple but never dull — fine, fresh ingredients are expertly put together to create satisfying, interesting dishes like chicken con noce, linguine al pescatore, and veal parmigiana. An impressive wine and cocktail list offer the perfect accompaniment to your meal. The sumptuously appointed dining area makes any night out feel special, but in the summer months, the 80-seat patio beckons — perfect for watching the downtown crowd stroll by. Weekly lunch specials are also offered. A second location will be opening in Findlay Creek in Ottawa’s south end later this year.
144 O’Connor St., 613-565-3933. www.tosca-ristorante.ca
Le Baccara. Photo © Photoluxstudio.com – Christian Lalonde
Located within the Casino du Lac-Leamy, Le Baccara makes dining an elegant affair. Complete with rich fabrics and handsome furnishings, it feels a world away from the buzzing excitement of the gaming floor. Having received the CAA-AAA Five Diamond distinction since 2001, this is a restaurant that has staked a claim at the top of Ottawa’s dining scene. Enjoy the French-influenced cuisine, made with market-fresh ingredients, and be sure to order a bottle of vino from the wine cellar, which houses 500 different varieties as part of a 13,000-bottle collection.
1, boul. du Casino, Gatineau, 819-772-6210. www.casinolacleamy.ca
Coasters’ lobster gilled cheese sandwich
A ByWard Market mainstay, Coasters serves up great food and unbeatable views in a comfortable, casual atmosphere. Seafood is the specialty (fish tacos, all-you-can-eat mussels, fish and chips), but with classics like burgers, pulled pork and lighter fare like salads and wraps on the menu, there’s something for everyone. We recommend the lobster grilled cheese — a deliciously indulgent take on a comfort food classic. Warm decor and a fantastic view of the market below make for a memorable Ottawa experience. Open daily.
ByWard Market. 54 York St., 613-241-4954. www.coasters.ca
Sometimes, great food can be hard to find — and we mean that in the most literal sense. These three eateries are off the beaten track but fully worth the effort.
Art-Is-In Boulangerie: The lineup is often out the door at this industrial lunch counter, and for good reason — the sandwiches, flatbreads, soups, and baked goods are among the best in the city. Pick up a loaf of bread on the way out — it’s what made them famous, after all. 250 City Centre Ave., Bay 114, 613-695-1226, www.artisinbakery.com
Los Tacos de Mauro: One might not expect to find authentic Mexican food in a nightclub above a convenience store, but that’s exactly what Los Tacos de Mauro provides. Slightly surreal (disco ball and all), but completely delicious. 349 Dalhousie St. 613-562-9756
Edgar: Located in a residential neighbourhood across the river in Hull, Edgar’s small kitchen churns out exciting lunch fare and frozen meals all week and a to-die-for brunch on the weekend. Don’t miss the sweet/savoury Dutch Baby on the brunch menu — a crispy, fluffy pastry shell filled with pork belly, maple, cheddar, and apple. 60, rue Bégin, Gatineau (Hull sector), 819-205-1110, chezedgar.ca
The Mill St. Brew Pub
Located in a 165-year-old heritage building that started its life as a pulp mill, Mill St. Brew Pub is a new — and welcome — addition to Ottawa’s dining scene. Several Mill St. beers can be found on tap and are switched up regularly, and three are brewed on site (and boast locally inspired monikers to boot): the Portage Ale, the Ambre de la Chaudière, and the Valley Irish Red. In keeping with the Ottawa trend, many of the ingredients from the pub’s menu are locally sourced. Popular dishes include flatbreads, tourtières, and mussels, and brunch is always a crowd pleaser. Bonus: Mill St. is a short walk away from the Bluesfest site at LeBreton Flats, making it the perfect spot for a pre- or post-concert meal.
555 Wellington St., 613-567-2337. ottawa.millstreetbrewpub.ca.
Le Café at the National Arts Centre offers great views of the Rideau Canal.
The sun is shining. The drinks are cold. All you need is a patio. Try one of these popular outdoor dining spots.
375 Queen Elizabeth Dr. (Glebe)
21 George St. (ByWard Market)
Murray St. Charcuterie
110 Murray St. (ByWard Market)
361 Elgin St. (Downtown)
53 Elgin St. (National Arts Centre)
Fraser Café has been a neighbourhood mainstay in New Edinburgh since it first opened in 2008, and for good reason. The menu is short and their approach to dining is simple: use the freshest ingredients available to make fantastic food, at a reasonable price, in a casual and lively setting. (Does it really get better than that?) The kitchen excels with their main dishes, which are as creative as they are delicious. And if you’re ever looking for a place to host a more intimate meeting, presentation, or party, their newly opened Table 40 offers the same food and service in a private dining room right next door.
7 Springfield Rd., 613-749-1444.
How does a buttery croissant sound right about now? If your mouth is watering at the thought, then a trip to The French Baker is in order. Along with flaky croissants, this bakery is also popular for its French macarons and pains au chocolate. As if that weren’t enough, nestled in the back of the downtown location is Benny’s Bistro, with an original brunch menu of both sweet and savoury dishes (think French toast with roasted apple compote and salmon gravlax). The bistro is also open for breakfast and lunch throughout the week, and the bakeries are open daily.
ByWard Market, 119 Murrary St., 613-789-7941, and the Glebe, 801 Bank St., 613-236-7579.
A pasta dish made 'al momento' at Mamma Garzzi's
Mamma Grazzi’s offers comforting food reminiscent of a mother’s kitchen. Known for Old World Italian cuisine with homemade pasta and hand-rolled thin crust pizzas, this restaurant sticks to an “al momento” philosophy of cooking, with each dish prepared individually to order. And with pastas and pizzas ranging from about $11-$20, this is good food that won’t break the bank (try the Odessa and Milano pastas, which are local favourites). Plus, now that the weather is warm, you can even enjoy your meal on one of the prettiest patios in the city.
25 George St., 613-241-8656.
Dinner is a fun affair when you head to Black Cat Bistro in Little Italy, starting from the moment you walk in the door. The décor is both chic and cozy, making it the perfect place for a special occasion or dinner with pals. The food is colourful, prettily plated, and pulls from classic French cuisine. And if you love hamburgers, we recommend “Burger Tuesdays,” which sees the creative minds in the kitchen whipping up a different burger every week. Save room for something sweet (the unique “Rocky Road” dessert is a must). 428 Preston St., 613-569-9998.