Ottawa has a diverse culinary scene with new establishments opening every year. With so many dining options, you'll never run out of great places to eat; the problem is where you should start. From small, locally owned bistros to oyster bars, food trucks, and fine dining, there is always something for everyone. If you're looking for a place to take someone special, here are some of the top-rated restaurants in Ottawa.
Restaurant Les Fougères
If you head to Chelsea, just north of Ottawa, you can dine at Les Fougères . Owners Charles Part and Jennifer Warren-Part opened the restaurant almost 30 years ago and have been serving expertly crafted dishes in a fine-dining atmosphere ever since. This award-winning restaurant serves small and large plates created with local ingredients along with pizzas cooked in the hearth oven.
Some of the dishes you can get at Les Fougères include the Atlantic halibut with roasted cabbage and grapefruit and the seared grand bank's scallop, shrimp, and salt cod ravioli. If you can’t decide, the grilled flank steak with zucchini beef jus and shishito vinaigrette is always a good choice.
NEXT first opened in 2013 and was rated as one of Canada's hottest 100 new restaurants in 2015. You'll find it in the west end of the city in Stittsville, offering a menu that reflects the best food memories of chef Michael Blackie. The food at NEXT is often described as a fusion of Canadian roots and influences from both Asia and Europe.
The dishes at NEXT are designed to be shared. You can start with small plates, such as the kapow cauliflower with sweet soy and plum vinegar sambal, cashew, and edamame, or try the shrimp and chorizo croquette. The oven-roasted asparagus is always a good choice. It's made with spiced miso cream, scallions, and pickled ginger. For your main dish, try Blackie's crispy chicken or the slow-roasted beef brisket. There's also a pan-seared ling cod and the 32-day aged Prince Edward Island prime beef rib-eye.
With its 44-course tasting menu, Atelier offers a unique dining experience. When you plan a dinner at Atelier, plan for a four-hour event. The staff encourages smartphones, so you can take pictures of the Instagram-worthy plating and share them with your followers. Reservations are required, and when you book your dinner, you can request pairing options to go with your meal. There are options for full wine pairing, half wine pairing, and cocktail pairing. If you don't drink but still want the experience, the staff also provides placebo pairing.
Chef Dave creates a menu for Restaurant e18hteen that highlights the best of Canada. He puts his own stamp on the food by finding ways to use ingredients in new and innovative ways. You'll find e18hteen in the ByWard Market, where you can feast on menu items such as grilled octopus, miso-glazed black cod, and Atlantic lobster.
Choose from several raw and chilled items, such as oysters, jumbo prawn cocktail, and yellowfin tuna tartare. The steak tartare is another delicious choice from this menu. You can also get steaks and chops cooked just the way you like, and these come with a choice of two sides and one sauce. The sides are just as good as the entrées, with russet pomme frites, seasonal vegetables, pomme purée, and herb salad to choose from.
Beckta is a fine-dining experience with à-la-carte and tasting menus. If you prefer something a little more casual, the wine bar has a more laid-back atmosphere than the formal dining room but still offers the same fantastic food. The two dining areas share a menu but offer different dining experiences.
The menu at Beckta features a wonderful cheese and charcuterie board with a daily selection of meats, cheeses, and seasonal spreads. There are also several small plates to choose from for something light. The grilled prawns or charcoal grilled octopus are good options, along with the steak tartare and pan-seared sweetbreads. When you want more than just a small plate, the large plate menu has options for any diner, no matter what you like to eat. From smoked duck breast to pan-seared branzino and Beverly Creek striploin, this menu has something for everyone.
Beckta has an extensive wine menu with a variety of wines sold by the glass. The house cocktails are handcrafted by the talented staff with drinks such as the South Island Smoke with Ardbeg 10, gin, pomegranate, orange, lime, and egg whites.
Absinthe is a contemporary restaurant with a constantly changing menu of seasonal and gourmet European dishes. The café is inspired by 19th-century Parisian cafés and features black leather booths, low lighting, and dark hardwood tables. Combine this unique atmosphere with contemporary cuisine for the perfect dining experience.
The menu offers an extensive list of wines and cocktails and a prix-fixe menu. You can feast on dishes such as their well-known steak frites with marinated and grilled AAA steak, green beans, and wonderful horseradish aioli.
Make sure to save room for dessert. The Crème Brulée is a must.
La Bottega Nicastro
La Bottega Nicastro is a casual spot in Ottawa with fantastic food. The counter-service and specialty food establishment has a premium espresso bar with homemade lunch items, along with wine, Italian beer, and deli sandwiches to go.
This is the perfect spot for a casual lunch in Ottawa and a great place to go when you need something quick. You'll find it in the ByWard Market, and you can choose from many options to build your ideal sandwich. Start with your favorite meat and cheese, and then choose a bread and add the spicy eggplant for one of your toppings. You won't be disappointed.
The staff at Jim Tubman Chevrolet hope this list of restaurants in Ottawa gives you some ideas for the next time you want to take someone special out for a meal. If you know of other restaurants we missed, make sure to give us a call or stop by the dealership to tell us about them.