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Ottawa - unique hidden gems

  • s

Was re-reading question about desert-island picks below (okay, so we got off-topic)and was wondering about other Ottawa hounds' hidden gems - the spots that you wouldn't find elsewhere. I'm thinking not just high-end, but lower end or street-food too. If you're not making it yourself, where do you find the best tabouleh, samosas, rice-paper rolls, etc?

A few of my examples:
-the special effort I make for rice-paper rolls at Cam Kong (with sautéed shallots and mushrooms) even though the rest of the menu is less exciting
-picking up fresh scones at the Sconewitch when I have houseguests

What are your unique hidden gems?

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  1. Some I can think of at the top of my head...

    Zuni Grill on Greenbank - Good food for Great Value
    Kanata Sushi - Affordable Sushi in the westend
    Nokham Thai - Great and Different Dishes
    Khao Thai - Best Yellow Curry in town
    Pasticceria Gelateria Italina - Great Italian Baked Goods.
    Mama's deli - Barrhaven (Great place to pick up European treats & meats)

    5 Replies
    1. re: JOJO

      You know, having just moved here last year I never know if something is 'hidden' or just new to me because everything is new to me.

      But haven't noticed people mentioning 'Chez Lucien' much here. On Dalhousie and Murray maybe? Great place for beer and a burger, cool building, amazing jukebox. And the prices are incredibly reasonable.

      Love this place! Chez Lucien and The Manx really do put me in mind of great old pubs in England.

      1. re: Piali

        -German Towne Deli at Bank and Slater at lunch for liverwurst on a bun and salami on rye (got to go early!).
        -Nicastro's on Merivale for anchovies that I can't get at the Byward Market or Glebe locations (it's in a clear jar at the back, forget the name).
        -Stubbe Chocolates on Dalhousie for thrice-dipped chocolate hazelnuts.
        -Wasabi's in the Byward Market for the best agedashi dofu in town.
        -Pho Bo Ga La on Somerset in Chinatown for their S7 special, a shrimp/garlic noodle soup.
        -Place Bell Bakery in the Place Bell building on Elgin Street at lunch for pinwheel sandwiches (got to go early!)
        -Farm Boy in Barrhaven for walnut bread.
        -Ottawa Organic Famer's Market at Bank and Heron every Saturday from 10 - 2 for wild BC salmon fillets. Same place for pretzel buns (if there's any left) from Beck's Bakery. Same place for organic pork chops and salami from "the pork man" who comes once a month.

        Ooh, now I'm hungry....

        1. re: Anijunga

          Di Rienzos on Beech for Italian sandwiches and Andrew the cheese guy at Nicastro's on Wellington & oh yeah thespicy chorizo at the Europa food centre on Beechwood

          1. re: bruce

            If you like healthy, fresh bread that doesn't taste like a brick, try Bread and Sons (bad name, good products.) They are completely committed to buying grains from local mills who grind mainly locally grown grains. Ingredients are organic.... skip the spelt bread, but do try whole wheat and whole grain loaves. Fab for sandwiches or toast.

            The turnovers are great and so are the brownies (spelt brownies that taste amazing, go figure.) Skip most of the cookies unless you like 'em crunchy.

            The owners are lovely and just getting the business going. Hope they stick around.

            You can find the place on Bank St. just south of Laurier on the East side.

      2. re: JOJO

        Mama's Deli has shut down. It was really close to my house, and the first time I was gonna head over and try it out it was all gutted out....but there was still a chalk menu board up...ghost of deli past :(

      3. Hopefully not too obvious, but: "Fettucine's." On Elgin, vaguely near Somerset. Pasta, Italian take-away stuff (though if desperate, it can be thrown in an oven there and eaten at one of the two chairs in the place...). Better than anything I cook -- which is no insult to me; it's also better than almost any other Italian place in the city.

        Also hopefully not too obvious: "Ahora." Mexican place on Dalhousie in the market. Very tasty, fantastic prices, remiscent of Southern California (as opposed to, say, normal Ottawa "Mexican").^

        Boushey's, also on Elgin a few blocks further south, is not a restaurant or even largely take-away, but what take-away is there is often -- especially the in-house stuff -- worth going for; makes a great picnic in the parks nearby or office lunch. (See especially a very well-done fruit salad; 4.50 for a big bowl of a good variety of good stuff -- their produce is usually excellent -- plus pasta salad, baked goods, etc.)

        Seconded:

        "Place Bell Bakery in the Place Bell building on Elgin Street at lunch for pinwheel sandwiches (got to go early!)"

        It's a deli, too, and in response to "got to go early," have to point out "got to go late" -- salads & some other take-aways are half-price late in the day. Much better than usual office-building fare.

        1. The Ritz on Elgin street is quite good: don't be put off by the name: Ritz restaurants are now all independently owned and operated, so the quality of the food varies a lot between locations.

          the elgin st. location is a small place, their specials are usually south american in origin, quite tasty and reasonable!

          m

          1. I haven't lived in Ottawa for years but I still miss Boushey's. Their tabouli and their rice pudding especially. I used to send people out for their rice pudding when I was sick. I think I picked my apartments to be within walking distance of Bousheys.
            I don't know if Lightning Bakery is still open in the Glebe but they had awesome pumpkin pie.

            1. Its not actually in Ottawa itself but i'd highly recommend the trip to Plantagenet to visit: "Mariposa Duck and Goose Farm"
              http://www.mariposa-duck.on.ca

              Actually, nevermind forget I mentioned anything. I want to keep this gem to myself *wink* and still be able to get a reservation (which is a must IMHO).