Whether it’s lapping up a latte, surviving a rafting trip on the Ottawa River or learning to make artisan soap, Peter Johansen enjoys exploring Canada’s capital region for a popular daytripping feature in the Ottawa Citizen. His stories in other outlets — from Montreal’s Urban Expressions to TAPS: The Beer Magazine – have won Canadian and international travel-writing awards.
True enough, Ottawa ain’t the city that never sleeps, but that’s not because of a caffeine shortage, especially in Lowertown where coffee shops abound. If you can’t find something to give you a java jolt among these options, you really are sleepwalking.
Hotel bars aren’t a mere convenience for hotel guests. Some of Ottawa’s best are grandly sumptuous: perfect venues for a milestone occasion. Other bars are stylish and sleek, ideal for a dress-up date night. There are those where friends meet after work, and a couple that are perfect for the T-shirt-jeans-and-bottle-of-beer set. One thing our favourite hotel bars have in common, though, is decent drinks and nibbles.
Maybe it’s because our summers are short that all Ottawa citizens flock to restaurant patios as soon as the snow melts, and stay till it falls again. Some eateries plop down a couple of tables just about anywhere outside, abutting busy roadways where they snarl sidewalk traffic. But we’ve found great al fresco dining – from gourmet fare to burgers ‘n’ beer – that eliminates both sunstroke and exhaust fumes.
Whether it’s the Spanish with tapas, the Greeks with meze, the Italians with cichèti or the Indians with thali, it’s clear Canadians aren’t the only ones with a big appetite for small plates. Sometimes you’re just not that hungry, or are indecisive, or want to share. At times like these, you’ll thank the food gods for these small-plate gems.
Wine bars are great for a quiet, uncomplicated drink. But the good ones also allow patrons to explore Mother Earth’s greatest gift to humankind, glass by glass. So, if you’re like me, barely able to distinguish Muscadet from Merlot or Burgundy from bilge water, head to these capital area wine bars for an affordable and palate-pleasing time. If you’re already a connoisseur? No bilge water at any of ’em. Guaranteed!
Not that we have anything against Bob and Doug McKenzie and their two-fours of Red Cap, but sometimes you want to step beyond brewskies and savour craft beers. With nearly two-dozen microbreweries in the Ottawa area – and more on the way – there’s never been a better time to enjoy the wide range of tastes that dedicated beer makers can concoct. Here are some leading servers of locally crafted beer.
The city’s Chinese restaurants offer dine-in and takeout options for those looking to enjoy authentic sweet or spicy dishes like dim sum and noodles. Choices seem boundless, though there’s comfort in the old saying that the older the civilization, the better the food. In this round-up of top Chinese eateries in Ottawa, only some deliver to your home but all deliver goodness.
Start mastering your chopsticks, folks. There’s sushi to eat. Whether you prefer made-to-order or all-you-can-eat buffet style, these popular destinations chop and roll some of the best sushi this side of the Pacific Ocean.
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