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Fun, upscale restaurant in Ottawa for a celebratory dinner

I've been scouring reviews for restaurants in Ottawa and I want to find one that is fun, with a relaxed atmosphere with good food and drinks. (we don't need a private dining room) I love Mexican food and thought that the Milagro Grill looks interesting. We are staying in a hotel in downtown Ottawa so we are taking a cab- but I guess anyone has an idea of a restaurant not too far outside of Ottawa- I am open to suggestions!

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Milagro Grill
357 Richmond Rd, Ottawa, ON K2A0E7, CA

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  1. **I was also wondering how MAMBO Nuevo Latino restaurant is- it does look fun!

    5 Replies
    1. re: LoveMyTortie

      Please don't go to Mambo! It has been getting terrible reviews in Ottawa - good drinks but the food is apparently sub par.

      How many people in your party? I might be able to come up with a few suggestions...

      1. re: ottawaoperadiva

        There will be 10 of us- 3 teens, and 7 adults ranging from 40-70 yrs old. We don't want somewhere stuffy- yet not too wild (I had heard that Mambo's music can be quite loud. ) I am unsure what time of day- probably between 5:00-6:00 PM.

        1. re: LoveMyTortie

          I'm not sure if you are interested in taking in a show but Scarlett's in the Byward Market has Eddy May Murder Mysteries. It includes dinner and a show for $52.95 and the evening begins at 7:00 pm.

          There is also a new Mexican restaurant in the Byward Market called Los Tacos de Mauro and the food has been getting rave reviews. Apparently they have a dj and dance floor later in the evening around 9:00 pm or so.

          There are also three restos in Ottawa that have live bands: Irene's Pub on Bank Street in the Glebe, The Elmdale Tavern on Wellington Street in Hintonburg, and Café Paradiso on Bank Street downtown. You would have to take a bus or taxi to the first two places but the last one is within walking distance.

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          Paradiso
          2041 Pine St, Burlington, ON L7R1E9, CA

          Byward Cafe
          55 Byward Market Sq, Ottawa, ON K1N9C3, CA

          1. re: ottawaoperadiva

            Thanks! All of those sound good but we are looking for something a bit more upscale. We are going there after our wedding- we don't have enough people for a private room... Most restaurants require larger groups- and if we did have a private room- we really don't want to limit ourselves the the menus with only offer select choices from an appetizer, entree etc. Eventually my sister and I will take a weekend to check out a few possible restaurants (we are in NY state) and I can't wait for that! I saw a lot of good reviews about Los Tacos de Mauro and we might go there for lunch even though it won't be one we are scouting out lol. Keep the ideas coming!!

            1. re: LoveMyTortie

              There are not a lot of Ottawa people on these boards or so it seems to me. I suggest that you post your question on www.ottawafoodies.com - you will get a lot more suggestions there.

              Have fun in Ottawa and congratulations on your wedding!

    2. I think your reference to Mexican and "something a little more upscale" has confused us. They tend not to go together ( at least in Ottawa). I agree with OOD that Cafe Paradiso would be a good spot for a family event...and I think it is hilarious that the map has put it in Burlington, rather than Bank Street where it belongs!

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      Cafe Paradiso
      199 Bank St, Ottawa, ON K2P1W7, CA

      4 Replies
      1. re: painperdu

        You are right - that is a bit confusing lol. It is so difficult to not be in the area where we are going to be staying. I am relying on other people to be my eyes, ears and stomach- and then my sister and I will be visiting to check things out later on. The more reviews I read- the more confused I get- I am comparing reviews from chowhound, tripadvisor, yelp, restaurantthing, ottawafoodies, yahoo travel, urbanspoon, and other places. I look at menus, wine lists, photo galleries- anything that could give me an idea if this is the place we want to go to. Money isn't a problem. We are eating quite early (5-6:00 PM). I want somewhere that isn't stuffy, too quiet, or overly pretentious. We don't need a place with live music. I like Mexican- but after looking at all the restaurants- any food will do- I guess we want to steer clear of "haute cuisine". I don't want to be in a small cafe, tavern, pub or anywhere that is well known for their "take out" (you know what I mean?) Maybe I should start shooting restaurants at you- and see what you say. I just really want to find somewhere nice and have the dinner be memorable - so I have to rely on the people that frequent these places regularly, or have friends that do. I will post on other boards as well as this one- and appreciate any help you can give me.

        So I will throw some restaurants out at you-
        How about...
        Stella Osteria?
        Empire Grill?
        Blue Cactus?
        Big Easy's?
        Hy's Steakhouse?
        Spin Kitchen and Bar?

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        Blue Cactus
        2 Byward Market Sq, Ottawa, ON K1N7A1, CA

        Empire Grill
        47 Clarence St, Ottawa, ON K1N 9K1, CA

        Big Easy's
        228 Preston St, Ottawa, ON K1R7R4, CA

        Osteria
        106 Victoria St, Toronto, ON M5C, CA

        1. re: LoveMyTortie

          From the bottom, Spin is a Marriott hotel dining room, not special. Hys is a formal steakhouse, the bar will be full of business and political people at that hour in the week, and thevdining room will be dead, especially on the weekend.

          Not much to distinguish between the others on your list. They are corporate "formula", food will be ok, sevice likely indifferent.

          Check out Brasserie Metropolitain. I have been to several events there, they handle them really well. Because of the size, they can create what feels like a private space for your group, even if it is not a private room. The ambience is European style bistro, and because of it's Market location, it is nearly always lively. I think it would be more uniquely memorable for your dinner...

          1. re: LoveMyTortie

            Empire, blue catus, stella are all very similar. nice senery, ok food.
            Hys is a upscale chain like ruth chris. If you been to one before youve been to all.
            Big easy is cajun similar to big daddys on elgin.

            Heres my suggestions
            1. Steak - al's steakhouse on elgin
            2. Atelier - molecular gastronomy. Ive never been. I believe its 75 pp for a set meal. Id guess you'll leave hungry.
            3. Agave in westboro for mexican. Not as nice or authentic as milagro but better than chi chis
            4. Gastropub in westboro or Domus in the mkt. Both are local meats and veg

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            Domus
            85 Murray St, Ottawa, ON K1N5M5, CA

            1. re: g5spark

              Sorry i thought you meant milagros in toronto not ott