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Apr 24, 2007 08:36 AM

Casual Ottawa Recs

I will be in Ottawa most of next week, staying at Minto Place Suites on Lyon. I'm looking for a family restaurant in the area, or somewhere that won't scowl at us bringing along 2 kids under 4, as well as some suggestions for casual dinners without the kids. Hubbie has a fish and seafood allergy, otherwise we're open to anything. Also, any good independant coffee houses downtown? Thanks for the help!

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  1. my favourite coffee house in ottawa is bridgehead, they serve fair trade coffee. the closest to you is bank st & albert.

    another place a bit further on is the roasted cherry coffee house. they are a youth initiative . they have sandwiches, light lunch & breakfast treats.

    near you at albert & lyon is the scone witch for the freshest, tastiest scones. they have breakfast & lunch.

    if you are eating early, taking your kids with you shouldn't be a problem.

    not sure how adventurous you are, but there are lots of restaurants/choices in the byward market.
    the black tomato (patio out back
    )Black Thorn Cafe at Clarence & Sussex
    mama grazzis
    Royal Thai on Dalhousie
    Saigon (Vietnamese) on Clarence St.
    Agora (mexican) on Dalhousie, is very casual
    Memories (Clarence, close to Sussex)
    Zak's - diner, very kid friendly
    D'Arcy McGee's - pub on spark's street

    on Elgin street,
    the manx pub is a great pub, very, very small and has kids toys and usually lots of kids for dinner before 6pm.
    pancho villa (mexican)
    Colonnade Pizza (Metcalfe and Gilmour downtown, good pizza)

    in the Glebe
    The Works - burger joint, burgers you would never find anywhere else, trust me!

    4 Replies
    1. re: hipfunkyfun

      For the most part, I agree with hipfunkyfun:

      The Works (on Bank St, just south of the 417) is a perfect place for kids, really fun varieties of burgers. Just across the street from it is the Clocktower Brewpub which also has good food (and much more than just burgers) and some great beer.

      For Mexican food, Ahora is a semi-cafeteria (order at the cash, food delivered to your table) with good burritos and enchiladas for really cheap (avoid the cheap wine though). For something more like a standard restaurant, Pancho Villa's is the best choice, try the mole sauce.

      The Manx is really funky and probably has Ottawa's best selection of Ontario beers. Be aware that it's a basement spot near the south end of Elgin as it can sometimes be tricky for first-timers to find.

      Black Thorn Cafe is slightly more upscale, but has a phenomenal patio overlooking a cobblestone courtyard in the Market...probably best for just the two of you.

      1. re: hipfunkyfun

        Try Stoneface Dolly's on 479 Bronson - good wine selection and specials are always good.

        1. re: kellytoronto

          Unfortunately Stonefaced Dolly's on Bronson is no longer and has been replaced with a place Called Jak's Kitchen.

          1. re: cbalzan

            Stonefaced Dollys is now on Preston. Anyone got a hit on what Jak`s is like? I live up the road and was wondering. :)

      2. Assuming your kids like more exotic food, you could go to Kasbah Village on Laurier; Curries on Gladstone; or Coriander Thai on Kent (I think).

        Johnny Farina on Elgin makes great pizza and yummy salads.

        For a casual breakfast, I'd hit Cora's on Dalhousie. Yes, it's a chain, but I'm a fan - and the menu's so broad everyone can find something.

        Bridgehead is my fave coffee house, but if you're in the market, you can also stop by Planet Coffee.

        1. I'll agree with the above posters that the Works is your best bet for a kid friendly place... best burgers I've had, probably anywhere (definitely better than any of the Toronto options). It gets really busy with long lines and it's way easier to get a table earlier in the evening (like before 6:00). Of course, an arrangement like this sometimes works better for kids because you're eating early anyways.

          Another good kids friendly place is Colonnade Pizza, which is Ottawa's finest pizza (or so everyone says). The pizzas are really delicious, as long as you love cheese.

          Without kids, you're in luck because you're near a few great options. 222 Lyon is a Tapas Bar almost right across the street from the Minto. The atmosphere is not amazing (it's a bit cheesey) but the food is good authentic Spanish tapas.

          A bit further up the street you'll get close to Beckta, which is quite expensive. But across the street from that is a place called A'Roma, which is a mezze (greek tapas) bar. Apparently it is also very good.

          As for coffee, everyone loves Bridgehead, but imho a better option is Ideal Coffee - found in the Market on Dalhousie St. It's a sister branch of the place of the same name in Toronto. Far better coffee than you can get anywhere else in Ottawa.

          Enjoy the trip.

          6 Replies
          1. re: CampariSoda

            I disagree about Colonnade - it's limp, greasy pizza. For that style of pizza, Pizza Pizza is better. (For thin crust, I'd say Forno Antico.)

            I forgot to mention in my previous post: Khao Thai, my fave Thai place in the downtown area. The menu is more creative than the competition (the pad thai comes wrapped in an omelette, for example) and the space is lovely (exposed brick, etc.)

            1. re: piccola

              I tried Forno Antico a month or two ago and I have to say I was very disappointed with it. The crust wasn't as thin and crisp like traditional wood fired Italian pizza, but rather like a thin foccaccia bread, more spongey than chewy. The sauce had little flavour and I found the toppings sparce. It wasn't worth the price we paid. I should also mention that we were eating the vegetarian pizza and the pizza margherita. Perhaps if we had ordered a meat pizza it would have been more successful

              1. re: wyf

                agree, forno antico was terrible pizza. not as awful as the chains, but very sparse toppings and bland. it seems like one artichoke on the entire pizza.

                i have only had vegetarian pizza at colonade (downtown on gilmour). i get the colonade special without ham. there is lots of cheese, fresh brocolli and fresh veggies. i really like it, but it is very heavy and filling. i would not compare it to pizza pizza, but i think pizza pizza tastes like cardboard.

                finding good pizza in ottawa is an entirely new thread!

                1. re: hipfunkyfun

                  Sorry to be a little off topic but I hope you'll forgive me for my indulgence. For excellent, proper, thin-crust, Italian-style pizza, go to Costco. They have this brand called Italpizza that's imported from Italy and it's fantastic! All they have is Pizza Margherita although they used to carry a vegetarian one a while back that was also great. For me, it's the best pizza in Ottawa and the closest I've found to the ones I ate and made in Italy.

                  1. re: wyf

                    I moved away from Ottawa and haven't been to FA in at least a year, so it may suck now for all I know.

                    I also like the pizza at Johnny Farina, of all places. Re: Pizza Pizza - I think all locations are different; the one in the Glebe is pretty good, esp. te healthy whole-wheat thin crust one.

                  2. re: hipfunkyfun

                    I went to Forno antico a year and a half ago. Have they lowered their standards? i really enjoyed it the first time I had it. Too bad if they did. :(