Food in Ottawa tastes like CRAP [General]

2011 Dec 17
I have just moved to Ottawaa a few weeks ago and cannot help but notice how BAD food tastes here. It seems like everywhere you go anything you eat does not taste good and it seems like its prepared by the janitor rather than the chef.

I've lived in few places from windsor to metro-detroit to los angeles and I travel a lot. I've ate at a couple dozen restaurants in ottawa so far; honestly the best food I've had here is worst than the worst I've had anywhere else...chinese food is unedible, shawarmas are awful, hamburgers are shitty, pizza is discusting everywhere etc.

what's up with that? it really seems that people openning restaurants here where never in that line of business in the first place.

2011 Dec 17
So what you are really trying to say is, after spending a few weeks here you are now full of crap.

2011 Dec 17
Wow! Thanks for sharing such quality information! You bring such keen insights. Must be because you've lived everywhere from Windsor to Metro Detroit! I grew up in Windsor and always thought of it AS BEING Metro Detroit. Maybe you could suggest what outstanding fine dining establishments I should be checking out when I visit next week? Please share.

2011 Dec 17
It sounds like you have just had a string of bad luck ottawa in fact does have some very good resturants inccluding high end and take out is every place great of course not but you can say that about every single city atleast in north america.

Golden Palace is one of the top rated resturants no only in ottawa but all of canada people have the egg rolls shipped to them they like them so much there are other places as well that are good and of course there are some that are not to good.

There are some real good places such as Colonade & Gaberia plus some mom & pop places thata re very good.

Are touch and go most of the best ones are in the west and east end and not in the core.

Ottawa has some real good places such as the Works & Five Guys.

2011 Dec 17
sometimes writing reviews at 1 in the morning is not a good idea.
Ottawa has its share of good and bad restaurants. I've found that there are some pretty honest reviews of restaurants here to help you make a better choice.

2011 Dec 17
Are you kidding; Why is anyone giving this person any reponse???

All this kid eats is fast food!

Merry Christmas

2011 Dec 17
I grew up in Windsor...what part of Windsor? Me >>> WF Herman SS >>> St Clair College >>> You?

Food tastes are so subjective and personal...not going to touch that one!

2011 Dec 17
Interesting, I always thought Trolls enjoyed eating crap... must brush-up on my folklore.

2011 Dec 17
What would we do without the amusement value of our new users.

2011 Dec 17
Funny, I had the exact same reaction. After living in NYC for 10 years this place is incredibly disappointing. I have only found 1 restaurant that is worth going to. Havana Cafe on Bank St. Besides that you are in for nothing special...

2011 Dec 17
What does crap taste like?

2011 Dec 17
I would think it's a little nutty a little corny...

2011 Dec 17
Is this all just another plug for Havana Cafe?

2011 Dec 17
It is unfortunate Foodtaster has had an unhappy experience. I would be willing to connect with him/her and discuss preferred cuisines, then dine together at an establishment I think fits best his/her desires. Those who know me understand I am a big champion of Ottawa cuisine, our very talented chefs, and I'm willing to stand up (with a fork) to demonstrate. Yeah, I'll take one for the team!

2011 Dec 17
reidjr2012: Thanks I will take your advice and will check out some of these places.

OttawaFood: we're not the ONLY ones seeing that food in ottawa sucks anyone i've met from outside says the's probbaly because we lived elsewhere and actually know what good food tastes like...btw I lived in brooklyn (bay ridge and 5th) in the early 90s.
I will definetly try to check out havana cafe.

blubarry: my friend, only windsor residents consider themselves part of "metro-detroit" .. metro-detroit is anything north of the river (american side). and yes in metro-detroit food is by far better than in ottawa. and even in windsor chinese and middleeastern food tastes way better than here.

Ratty: unfortunatly I will keep eating from local restaurants and eventually become like you guys: full of crap..and will officially become a lazy, lifeless, grumpy deadbeat like a lot of people in this city including you guys

Terry: wow you're so smart not just fast food...everything dine-ins, takeouts and fast food

Ron: thank you.....I would appreciate it if you would suggest some good restaurants including places I can get take-outs

2011 Dec 17
I have in good faith offered an informed alternative. I encourage you to take me up on the offer. And, of course, I will report on the result because, after all, as Food editor of the Citizen that is what I do. Kind regards. BTW, I have travelled (and eaten) in many parts the world. Have you been to India/Nepal lately? Nicarauga? France? Britain? Italy? Spain? Portugal? Germany? Oh, FYI, I do not do a lot of takeout. And, no one in my sphere puts "crap" and "Ottawa food" in the same sentence.

2011 Dec 17
Ron, you may have something...a sort of food tour for newbies to Ottawa. Or maybe a food tour in general for people interested in the food scene of Ottawa? Or has it been done before?

Foodtaster: when were you last in Detroit? Is it finally rising from the ashes? Such a waste! Love the old neighbourhoods near the bridge, large wooden Victorian style houses, sitting in ruin.

2011 Dec 17
I am puzzled. Isn't FoodTaster just an Internet troll?

Doing up a bit of a decent resto critique on a forum isn't rocket science. FoodTaster has not done one since joining the site. His/her words are far too general to have any merit.

A decent essay on "Food in Ottawa tastes like CRAP" would articulately lay out some experiences to support his claim. Nothing. Just sweeping generalizations.

What little we have to go on is that FoodTaster likes chinese food, shawarmas, hamburgers and pizza. Not my average dining out experience so I won't be of much help.

I think Ron has made a ridiculously generous offer and if FoodTaster is not a troll and only misguided, he would snap up the opportunity before Ron changes his mind.

Taking a pass on this thread. Not into trolls much.

2011 Dec 17
At the risk of feeding the troll....

@ Foodtaster: You mention pizza, shawarma, Chinese, and hamburgers - most of which are obtained at fast food joints. I'd encourage you to try some of Ottawa's "slow food" restaurants. Obviously, you can use this website to seek out those with top reviews. If it's fast food and take-out you prefer, I can recommend the following:

- Colonade for pizza. There's a place on Bank St. beside the Quickie with a sign that says "Awesome Pizza" and it's our go-to place for mediocre cheap pizza (10.99 for a large 3 topping).
- Chez Lucien for burgers. Five Guys and The Works are also dearly beloved purveyors of meat patties.
- Maroush is my favorite shawarma option downtown. Shawarma Prince on Merivale is very good.
- Golden Palace for "Canadian Chinese". If you're looking for an authentic experience, Mongolian Hot Pot is great fun. I have a dear friend from Sichuan province, China who insists it's as good as back home.

In closing, I find such sweeping remarks bashing an entire city to be silly in that it's a gross generalization and makes absolutely no sense. I've had my fair share of shitty food in cities all over the world. Certainly, Ottawa has its fair share of shitty food, but I do hope you find something you like.

I'd love to hear about the restaurants you *have* tried so far.

2011 Dec 17
spud guy -- You've given me something to think about. On my own time. Don't know if the Ottawa Citizen will be on board with this, but I am. Yours is a good idea. I would enlist the help of our good friends C'est Bon ( who have been conducting culinary tours at least 2 years now. They are very good, and I would be happy to participate to encourage folk to discover and enjoy the nation's culinary capital. Oh, and yes, I'm concerned about trolls taking this site.

2011 Dec 18
To spud guy: Riverside, but spend more time in Detroit and out in the county now. We have a place out in the county, but only get there a couple times a year these days. I have had more than my share of shitty food in Detroit and Windsor, but there are some real prizewinners. What I miss most is perch, in season. And Omnivore, Thanks for taking one for the team...I think you've got a rough road ahead.

2011 Dec 18
Chinese food in Ottawa has lots of room for improvement. Consistency is the major problem for many of the Chinese restaurants in Ottawa. I was told that all the good Chinese chefs don't want to come to Ottawa and they would rather stay in Toronto or Vancouver (I think they don't speak good English and hence they find that Ottawa's life is so much different than living in Toronto or Vancouver.)

2011 Dec 18
There is a lot of good food in Ottawa and a lot of crappy food!

It is kind of hard to find decent food on a "budget" though.
I do not eat at fast food chains (except Harvey's veggieburger), and find it hard to find decent things.

For "fake" Chinese food I used to like Cathay- the honey garlic spare ribs were quite good, chicken fried rice was good,almond chicken guyding was good too..
Too bad there is no more Cathay downtown.

Anyone know where I can find a decent Hot and Sour soup with no meat in it?

Guess I'll have to settle for the Golden Baguette hot and sour soup- but it is not the Chinese kind- it is sort of like a vegetable soup.
Still good but not like the Cathay Chinese kind...

2011 Dec 19
There are loads of good budget eateries in Ottawa. Have you tried Ahora, the Mexican cantina on Dalhousie? Smoke's Poutinerie, also on Dalhousie? A little further afield, Hintonburger on Wellington? All will provide you with a really good entrée made from fresh, good quality ingredients for under $10.

Sometimes I wonder what people's expectations are.

2011 Dec 19
I have to agree that if somebody bases their expectations of Ottawa cuisine on shawarma, pizza, burgers, Chinese, they will be miserable here.

I don't think there is a decent Lebanese place in town, let me get that out of the way off the bat.

As far as pizza, all the joints are lousy. However, Tennessy Willems is very good. The best burgers I think are at the higher end restos like Absinthe, Fraser, Petit Bill's, Allium.

That said, compared to the US where you can go into a little hole-in-the-wall dive and eat really well and very cheap, we don't seem to have that tradition here. We have Hintonburger as an eccentric-looking blue collar joint, but the fare is above-average at best, sloppy and inconsistent at worst.

2011 Dec 19
I have gone to Ahora before- the food was fine.

Maybe I should have been more clear that I am usually in the end of town near Billings Bridge and the Glebe, also Bronson.

Well, I guess near Bronson I will try the new Panini place!

2011 Dec 20
I've spent siginificant amounts of time in San Fransisco, New York and Lived in Calgary, Vancouver, Toronto and other than the obvious difference in population and density I think the best in Ottawa holds a candle to the best in a lot of other towns.

When friends/family come to visit me (mostly from VAncouver Toronto or UK) They have plenty of tongue in cheek negative things to say about Ottawa (i.e. Small, drab, boring, bad hockey team, cold etc etc)

I have yet to hear anybody who visits the city critisize the food, more often than not it's their favourtie part of the trip.

I suppose everybodies entitled to their opinion, but to me it sounds more like being critical for critiscm's sake.

In addition to what's been mentioned:
Murray St, Grounded, So Good, Oz Cafe, Manx, Town, Vera's Burger Shack.

2011 Dec 20
Just read the whole thread...

If Ron's buying I'm actually going to change my above statement to match Foodtaster's.

"What Crap food Ottawa has, If only there was a good place to get raw oysters and arctic char hot dogs.."

2011 Dec 21
Arctic char hot dogs?

I hope that is a joke as I do not get....?

You can buy "salmon dogs" or salmon "sausage" at Pelican fishery.
What stopped me from buying it was that the store could not tell me the ingredients in it, not made in store and that just "some local guy" makes this and sells it to us...

-it might be good,but I like to know what I am eating-I have gotten ill so many times from things.

2011 Dec 21
referring to the thread, not the food in Ottawa (just to clarify)

2011 Dec 21
I really don't get where this guy is coming from - unless his palate is WAY different than mine.

I also moved up here from Windsor, in June. I find the shawarma up here is decent (We usually get Shawarma Planet or Andalos). Windsor style pizza is it's own thing, and not likely to be replicated here - but Riverside Pizza is decent enough for us, and we've also liked Gabriel's. The Works has treated us decently for burgers, although I would prefer mine more medium-well than well. We're still trying to find the right "Chinese" place for us, but hell, we didn't really like the Chinese in Windsor for the most part - only Red Sail was reasonable. I think Lucky Chow has been the best for us in Ottawa; but we don't get "authentic" as my husband is allergic to shellfish. And the pho? AWESOME compared to what I had once tried in Metro Detroit and hated...

2011 Dec 21
I can, off hand and without really trying, think of about ten restaus in Ottawa i would stack against comparable places anywhere.

"ottawa has crap food" is a dated sentiment that stopped making sense about a decade ago except to the people who don't bother looking.

2011 Dec 21
Burgers - Dick's, Works, Hintonburger, Five Guys, Vera's, Art-Is-In. Onion rings are awesome at both Dick's and Works.

Pizza - depending on what toppings and type of pizza you like...I like a Milano's Special from Milano's as I really like that combination of toppings. Their other pizza's are good, but I really really enjoy this one.

I used to order from Georgie's often enough and thought it was very good, but haven't tried it in 10 years or so. Gabriel's is almost always very good, as is Colonnade and Jo-Jo's in Stittsville is also good.

Chinese - I like Golden Palace and a small place in Carleton Place called Hing Wah. Not a huge menu, but what they do, they do well. I also like Royal Treasure and another that I think is called The Wall...

Shawarma - Marroush, Shawarma Prince and Shawarma Palace.

2011 Dec 21
Bottom line ... there is some food in Ottawa that is crap. Then again, there is some food in Ottawa that's just heaven and a whole lot of mediocre in between.

..... just like any other place on the planet.


"One mans crap is another man's heaven."


"Heaven is in the taste buds of the gastronome"


"Things aren't just crap and heaven... there is a lot of mediocre area"


2011 Dec 22
I'm thinking that Foodtaster posted here on Ottawa Foodies without bothering to look at what people have said about the MANY good restaurants in all price ranges in Ottawa. There is a lot of excellent free advice here if you take the time to check it out before you issue a blanket condemnation. I would politely suggest that Foodtaster check out all the favorites that people have noted on other threads on Ottawa Foodies.

Also suggest that he/she read what the Washington Post had to say about Ottawa and its food scene:

2011 Dec 31
My goodness what a hometown response in support of local culinary traditions! However having three or four reasonably good, please note I do not say great, restaurants do not a culinary utopia make. Sadly he is right on the whole the food in Ottawa is crap. And whose fault is it you might ask? In my view it is the clients. They are not sufficiently demanding enough. Why should the owners’ waste money on improvements if their clients are willing to accept the slop that is put in front of them...? As for Chinese food it is probably the worst to be found in any of the large metropolitan areas in Canada. As for the Golden Dragon give me a break! True they make egg rolls but since when do egg rolls stand as a measure of the quality of the Chinese food that is offered. In point of fact they serve a 1970’s style version of “American Chinese Food” which does not come close to the real thing.

Sous Chef

2011 Dec 31
So...Sous Chef....what, pray tell are YOU as a client (and presumably sous chef) doing to improve the situation? Specifics please. What were the perceived problems? How were you more "demanding", and what was the response from the establishments that served you? Your comments above are full of bitterness, but lacking in information.

And as someone who has been enjoying it all my life, in my view, 1970's American style Cantonese food (I would argue that it's much older than that) is as relevant to Canada as authentic regional Chinese Hunan, Szechuan etc. They are all different things, and on a given day I may be in the mood for any of them, and there are good and bad examples of each in most cities.

2011 Dec 31
Wow not demanding guess 2188 has not read any of my reviews LOL. I agree that Ottawa pizza has a lot of work to do. There are great burgers ever try Quinn's or Vera's? As for Chinese not really my thing so I can't comment. Steak well we could use a good steak house that doesn't empty our wallets. As consumers we do have a responsibility not to sugar coat some of the mediocre food in our reviews and this is happening so I disagree again with 2188. We have come a long way in the past five years. The Wellington Gastro Pub is a great restaurant give it a try. 2188 before knocking things a few more reviews are in order for some credibility to your forum posts. I really do not see any on your profile weird only a troll would comment without actually eating at restaurants. Why not give some examples of what restaurants are so bad and why they were so bad and help "demand" better food. Darn I think I just fed a troll me things he is getting bigger!

2012 Jan 4
There's a lot to improve in Ottawa, food-wise, but plenty of it is good, and even sophisticated. However...I think there's even more to improve in the approach some on this forum have taken toward Ottawa dining. Criticism should be constructive. If these people really think eating in Ottawa isn't worth doing, then don't do it. Suggest how to change, not just unilaterally condemn. I'm disappointed in these people.

I'm disappointed in some Ottawa food, but certainly not all. Constructive criticism, and encouragement for those who are doing a good job. And there are!

Enough of the bad-mouthing.

Happy New Year, Ottawa Foodies! Let's find good food to talk about in 2012!


2012 Jan 4

I can assure you the Havana Cafe people have nothing to do with this! They are genuine hardworking food specialists...this IS a plug, all of a sudden (mine, that is)! I just don't want anyone to think they are like that. they aren't.

2012 Jan 4
I'm sorry but as a member of the ottawa food industry I feel as if I have to weigh in. Ottawa is on the cutting edge of Canadian cuisine, and with restaurants such as Atelier, Courtyard, Benny's Bistro,Beckta, etc.. I think you just need to change it up a bit.

2012 Jan 5
Ottawa is on the "cutting edge"??

I never really thought of that- but then when you live here your whole life you kind of get used to how things are I guess...

Well, hopefully this year I will get to eat at Atelier- no one I know in Ottawa wants to go there with me though :(

*I have also been to Havana Cafe a couple times and staff has always been very cheerful and nice.
-I don't eat ham or porc, so there was not as much on the menu for me the day I went (for sandwiches that is).

2012 Jan 5
This thread and one or two others have made me determined to never go to Havana Café.

2012 Jan 5
Bottom line is, for fast food (the OP subject), Ottawa is pretty bad. Just off the top of my head, compared to say Mtl, where you can have some of the best juicy, sweet fries at virtually any casse-croute, steamed dogs, smoked meat, hot steak and pep subs, burgers (greasy spoon style or more sophisticated like McKibbins, take your pick), pizza (not great like USA but better than the Ottawa fare), shish taouk (go to Boustan on Crescent or virtually any Mtl place, and tell me honestly that the slop they serve at Marroush compares), Mexican at Carlos and Pepes, souvlaki joints, chicken joints like Chalet BBQ or Roasters, BBQ at Bofinger, a Belgian brew with a burger and fries at Frites Alors... so many options.

2012 Jan 6
@Johnny English - Havana Cafe is a good restaurant. You might consider trying it for yourself instead of knee-jerking to posts you find gushy.

@BaconIV - we seem to have similar Mtl fast food faves, aside from Carlos & Pepes... I don't think that place has been any good food-wise since the mid90s.
But while i agree with you on subs, smoked meat and Chalet BBQ specifically, i can offhand name at least one place in Ottawa for every other food you mentioned that i would match against the best Mtl has to offer... although admittedly i've never eaten at Boustan while sober so my perspective may be slightly warped...

2012 Jan 6
OSM, btw I recently heard that Boustan either is closed or the guy sold it. You know, the long-time familiar owner/cook who piled on the garlic sauce on the amazing potatoes. I've had it sober, and I can attest that the abominations that pass for Lebanese eateries in this town couldn't shine Boustan's skewers. Even the Amir chain puts anything here to shame.

I haven't tried Tacos de Mauro, but no Mexican place here compares to C&P in Mtl, I assure you it was very good in 2005 when I last visited. Mauro might be good, but I bet it ain't cheap, and that's precisely part of my whole complaint. In this town, for stuff that is traditionally fast food and inexpensive, you either have to go upscale with the production that entails (very good burgers at Absinthe and Fraser), or pay an arm and a leg ($25-30 for Colonnade's above-average pizza at best).

Finally, for an essentially Anglo town, the pubs here are heinous. This was probably my biggest disappointment.

2012 Jan 6
Bacon I.V. I do not eat any of the things you mentioned- so maybe that is why I think I have a hard time finding things to eat!

I can't eat garlic (without getting very ill) and do not eat any of the meat things you mentioned.
but since I am in Montreal a lot will try and check out some of the places you mentioned- only prob is family never wants to go to those places.

I usually get fallafels in Ottawa and thought those were hard to screw up?
Well I had a horrible fallafel in a medical building on Bank st.
I was desperate for food and could not wait and felt very faint.
The Fallafel sounded ok, but then they microwaved the balls/patties, put the vegetables on the pita and threw that in the microwave again?
not very tasty.
-this was at the medical building on bank st where there is a travel medical clinic on the bottom floor.
-I forget the address.

2012 Jan 11
I would tend to agree about some of the fast food compared to some other cities, however I have been to some outstanding restaurants in Ottawa and in other places.

I would agree with Bacon on the Montreal steamies, but disagree on Carlos and Pepes, which is really just a place to get cheap pitchers and tacos at Happy Hour - I don't even consider it Mexican, I consider it like Lone Star - pseudo Mexican and find that even Ahora is more Mexican. Carlos attracts big business because of location and price, I spent most of my time there as a teen and in my 20's.

If you want good Mexican in Montreal, go to Casa de Mateo (there is even a cozy little hotel above-near the resto). I also feel that Marcos and Pepes and even 3 Amigos, for a short while, outdid Carlos. However this thread is not about Montreal LOL.

The only half-decent pizza I have had in Ottawa is Collonade and the pizza I used to order out near Limoges (which was more QC like). I have never eaten a Gabriel's pizza where the cheese wasn't plastered onto the pizza and dried out -I don't get the Gabriel's thing at all, shrug. I find the sauce in Ottawa missing something?

So I think pizza and steamies are all I miss here in Ottawa, but I've had such wonderful experiences at so many other restaurants here in Ottawa, including many that are not expensive. Explore a little more and I think everyone can find something yummy!

2012 Jan 11
@Bacon - per schnicken (whose Mateo reco i'd heartily second, btw), C&P is tex-Mex, not Mexican, and i haven't been there since about '99 after an extended run of just plain bad food only barely improved by the cheap drinkies, so i'll take your word for it that it's gotten better, but even so, Tacos de Mauros is cheap, genuine Mexican, and vastly better. AND it features a disco ball prominently which is an automatic win.

And the entire Amir chain on its collective best day couldn't even walk into Shawarma Palace on Rideau without slinking out in shame.

2012 Jan 11
Sure there are some bad places in Ottawa just as most citys but i have a issue when some say all food in Ottawa is bad its you have to search i have found some of the best fast food places are not in the core but in places such as Nepean,Orleans etc.

2012 Jan 11
You're right guys, I know it's Tex-Mex. I'll take your recos on the Mtl places (authentic and otherwise) as well as Mauro here. The best real Mexican places I've been to are all in the states, even northern states.

OSM, we have clearly divergent shawarma tastes, haha.

Last thing, Ontario chains are generally lousy (East Side, Jack Astor's, Kelsey's, Casey's). But then so are many Mtl ones like Mikes, St-Hubert, Cage...

2012 Jan 11
East Side started in Mtl iirc and the other three are widespread in QC and just as crap there as here in a family dining mass produced sort of way. Mikes stopped being good when they shifted their focus from subs to pizza. St-Hubes in Ottawa is the exact same as everywhere else and the less said about the food at sports bar Cage the better other than it tastes good with beer.

I'm a huge fan of Mex food down south but i'd stack Ahora and Mauros against most of it north of Texas.

And my shawarma can beat your shawarma senseless, SO THERE!

*victory dance*

2012 Jan 12
I know OSM, theose chains suck regardless of geography. But I think you're wrong on East Side. And shawarma.

*crotch grab and moonwalk*

2012 Jan 12
East Side Mario's is one of the Prime Restaurants products, as are D'arcy McGee's pubs and Casey's.

According to the wikipedia site for ESM, it has history in both Florida and Ontario. The American side of ESM was owned by Pizza Hut for a little while before being reacquired by Prime Restaurants.

2012 Jan 12
Oh good... we can blame the US for most of it!

And at least Shawarma Palace ain't no stinkin' chain.

*Icky shuffle*

2012 Jan 15
Well my opinion is that its wrong to suggest we dont have pretty good Chinese/Indian food since there are tons of restaurants from these two cuisines..though I would agree on the cost and consistency. Cost and consistency are usually evident in top food cities.

On the other hand, when you look at the list of the restaurants most popular in ottawa, its a pretty shitty list.

But when it comes to finding good American food from the south, finding a good mexican restaurant, and for most part, good pizza, its just not here. The places are just ok.

I find the best places in Ottawa are the holes-in-the-wall whether its pizza, chinese, indian, etc. It's usually the places that aren't popular. It's that little joint in your little community that a lot of people just don't know about.

2012 Jan 15
Have not had the pleasure of eating at Mauros but have tried Ahora meh. Chicago probably the best Mexican north of Texas. Even the Tortas Frontera at O'Hare is very good. Osolo if you are ever in Chicago try Frontera Grill very impressive. Oh and again Ottawa pizza is pretty bad.

2012 Jan 15
When you say "Ottawa pizza is pretty bad", are you specifically referring to takeaway food? There are some good places in Ottawa for pizza. I like The Grand very much if I'm downtown, and Favorita on Preston is excellent; both have proper wood-burning ovens and both serve very authentic pizza with thin, crispy bases and a light touch with toppings and cheese.

2012 Jan 16
Yes I am Johnny along with others.The grand needs bigger pies with choice if ingredients. Been a while since we have had Favorita from what I remember it was just ok. Everyone raves about Colonnade I don't get it.

2012 Jan 16
Hmm. When you say "bigger pies" I find myself wondering what you want from a pizza; I suspect from that that your tastes may be more towards the American style which is fine, but not something you're going to find at authentic Italian-style pizza restaurants such as The Grand or Favorita.

I've been to Colonnade and I can remember absolutely nothing about what I ate, which I suspect is a fairly telling statement. When we do have takeaway we order from Lorenzo's on St Patrick St; it's decent without being particularly special, but it's considerably better than any of the chains.

2012 Jan 16
Yup Johnny more American. Favorita came in a large and you could order what you want on it just did't taste that good.The Grand only put three small leaves of basil on the margarita a tad on the cheap side with their ingredients really I didn't think basil leaves were that expensive. I will be trying this while in Vegas This pizza was really good as well These two were also yummy We do not have anything like this here that I have found. Most of the pies I have tried are weighted down with cheap greasy cheese and tasteless toppings with soggy crust not to mention the over salted sauce. I shouldn't comment on Lorenzo's since I have nothing good to say. I ate at the original on Arch Street in my youth.

2012 Jan 17
Colonnade is decent, its one of the better ones imo. Maybe the appeal there is that on the outside the pizza actually looks pretty unappealing but you bite into it and its actually decent tasting. I go to the one near billings usually with friends..i notice a lot of older clientele there usually. Last time I was there though I saw John Manley...that was cool! I like the environment there too though..its a nice place to relax!

The best pizza though imo is J N Pizza (on 1663 cyrville road). This pizza is big on toppings, lots of cheese, nice crust...its the best in Ottawa imo.

2012 Jan 17
I love the pizza at Tennessy Willems , La Favorita and Za Za Za (Back Lane's pizza dough bread is great but I have yet to try the pizza itself). The problem in Ottawa is not the resto pizza, it's the delivery stuff. I just don't order it. It always disappointed me.People have recommended different delivery pizzas but it is always mediocre at best.

2012 Jan 17
iheartsamo - "The best pizza though imo is J N Pizza (on 1663 cyrville road). This pizza is big on toppings, lots of cheese, nice crust...its the best in Ottawa imo. "

See, here's the problem encapsulated. What people call good pizza and bad pizza is entirely down to taste. For me, you just described my worst pizza nightmare - big on toppings and lots of cheese. That isn't a pizza, that's a fondue on bread.

For me, I want a thin, crispy crust, I want a well balanced and herby sauce, I want a single or possibly two small but high quality toppings and I want a very small amount of cheese. Pizza for me is about the balance between base and sauce - the topping (if any) and cheese are not an integral part of the dish, and certainly shouldn't be the dominant part.

That isn't to say you're wrong, just that the development of the dish in different cultures from its origins in Italy has taken it in wildly different directions. The North American style differs hugely to the European version, so for anyone to say that Ottawa has "bad" pizza is simply saying that they struggle to find the kind that they like.

2012 Jan 17
No doubt, Johnny English.

I'm in love with both kinds so I'm just saying I haven't had a good Italian style pizza here. I spent a week in New York in Oct 2011 and had great thin crust pizza.

I like both. I like the thin crust, Italian version. 3 things on a pizza. 3 ingredients that go beautifully together on perfectly developed dough..nice and puffy, beautiful crust.I grew up in Europe often eating delicious Italian bread. And really good pizza is about good dough and bread and then mixed with simple fresh ingredients that go really well together.
But I haven't found that in Ottawa.

2012 Jan 17
I'm totally with Johnny english on the pizza. To me it should be balanced. I like to taste all the ingredients mixed together. I don't get buying a crust just to taste bread and cheese!

I harken back to "real" italian cooking where cheese is in lots of dishes, but not loaded on like "north americans" do. I love the italian style pizza where there is nothing but olive oil, garlic, a few tomatoes and cheese on a thin crust - as iheartsamosa said, if crust is done right.....

I'm not a fan of cheese to begin with, but love it when it's balanced, whether it's pizza, pasta or spiced in a fondue.

I too like both thin and thick crust.

Since I can get so many 2 for 1's in Montreal, I find it nuts that a good pizza should cost so much here in Ottawa, but it certainly seems like one may have to pay a little more. Ah well!

2012 Jan 17
I'm with Johnny as well three toppings at most with a simple tangy tomato sauce. I do like both types.

Tennessy is tasty but if I could change ingredientsts instead of a set menu where changes are frowned upon it would be more enjoyable. Back Lane didn't impress at all almost like they only serve pizza becausacrossss the street does.

The "American" needs qualingredientsents something Ottawa delivery is lacking IMO. The N.Y style pizza or American I have had is not covered with a thick layer of cheese as is Ottawa style but a few slistrategicallyally placed ie:Lombardies. Grimaldies boamozzarellaella from free range cows.

Iheart do you not find the Colonnade on Bank to be dirty inside?

When I say bad pizza I should say poor quality my bad.

2012 Jan 17
I agree with tree pug, Ottawa is most deficient in good delivery pizza versus the gourmet fare. This is the pizza I prefer, and would eat regularly if there were decent providers in town. On that note, I must try J N, thanks for the reco iheartsamo.

I agree on Tennessy Willems being a proper Italian style pizza. Love the sauce, the crust, the toppings. The other places mentioned (Grand, Favorita) I think are not good at all (the sausage at Grand was breakfast sausage in taste and consistency, and Favorita's crust was dry and taste-free). Just because a place has a wood-burning oven, does not mean it is good or authentic Italian.

The balance some of you mention is very much present in American pizzas from Chicago style to Brooklyn. Thick crust: lots of cheese, sauce, toppings. Thin crust: less so. For delivery pizza, any small town in the USA beats Ottawa.

Finally, my complaint is not just limited to quantity (although my biggest pet peeve is sauce being applied seemingly with an eye dropper by some cheapskates) but quality. The sauces are orangey, bland, watery. I don't get any of the thick, red, herby, sweet, tomato stuff so prevalent in US joints.

And methinks the pizzerias that go easy on the toppings are not really doing so because they're pizza purists and artisans, seeking the ideal artsy-craftsy balance and harmony and oneness of purpose and the rest of it; they're doing it because they're cheapskates, plain and simple. Or else they wouldn't slug you $20 for a pie a 4-year-old could inhale.

2012 Jan 17
Dear Mr Foodtaster, if that's your real name.
Try the Newport's Popeye Pizza.
Try Hintonburger for an artery clogging, tastebud blasting delightofaburger.(you will need a nap immediately after)
Try YumYum's Shwarma.
Try Colonnade Pizza, slightly burnt cheese on the crust...aaaaaaaa
The quality of the Chinese food I've had has dropped off from what I remember years ago, and Mekong is all "pan asian" instead of only super delicious Vietnamese (Dennis said his customers want General Tao Chicken, Sizzling Red Beef (DELICIOUS), Almond Soo Guy)
Ottawa's real culinary strength doesn't seem to lie in the category that you consider "food" though. Broaden the horizons a bit and visit Social, Wellington Gastro Pub, Murray Street, Oz Cafe, Play, Atelier(maybe not for you Foodtaster, it's food that requires some thought and imagination and some daring open mindedness oooooooo).
Try Urban Pear or Juniper. Definitely go to Allium on a Monday night SWEEEEEETTTTT (no burgs though....)
What about soup Foodtaster? What about noodles, and broth, and proteins like pppppork, shrimp, beef tendon? What about Sriracha? What about Chinese cilantro and Vietnamese basil? There are 1 million Pho spots in Ottawa, most are quite respectable. Springroll House, Pho Bo Ga (there now appear to be 26 of these) are above average for someone with your discerning palate that should offer up a wide variety of options.
In closing, will you be writing a Michigonians Guide To Eating Bytown? Don't starve and have a tasty day.

2012 Jan 17
[quote]And methinks the pizzerias that go easy on the toppings are not really doing so because they're pizza purists and artisans, seeking the ideal artsy-craftsy balance and harmony and oneness of purpose and the rest of it; they're doing it because they're cheapskates, plain and simple. Or else they wouldn't slug you $20 for a pie a 4-year-old could inhale.

Totally agree.

I hope you enjoy J N ...let me know how you like it. I don't know if you ever had Centre Pizza (montreal road/centre street)...its the same owner so he brought that pizza to J N.

2012 Jan 17
[quote]Iheart do you not find the Colonnade on Bank to be dirty inside? [/quote]

Not especially. Maybe I'm not paying enough attention?

2012 Jan 20
Pizza styles... yeah, Ottawa has one. No, it's not Italian. Or American. And not easy on the digestive system. :) (Which for some is a plus.) My fave is across Barrymore's, simply because it's the least greasy I've had - and still manages to retain the taste of the ingredients. I rarely put more than 3, and never pepperoni. Gabriel's is so greasy is triggered my acid reflux last time I had it. No thanks. (Again, for some, it's a plus.)

I will agree there's a ton of shawarma places, most of them interchangeable and fairly low in taste, especially compared to Montreal (and, yes, even Amir). A few perk up, and Palace on Rideau can stand to Mtl's best. Marroush cannot. (But once again, it can still get enjoyed by many palates.)

There are not a ton of Chinese or even asian-in-general places. Not compared to any major city. We're not big enough for it, we get the standard family-run places. We don't have the concentrated asian population to need several top dim sum restaurants, for examples, the way Montreal has near the Palais des Congrès. Simple scale issues, here.

It takes effort to find the good places. But that's why this website was started, to make the effort easier.

But because of the smaller scale, I don't know how easy it is to get cheap great food in all corners, the way you have in many major metropolitan centres with a good population density.

We do have top-notch restaurants. Again, not as many, because of scale, but we have them. And their future is never certain. Would that I could afford some of them to encourage them.

I can understand the frustration. But not the pigheadedness.

2012 Jan 24
One thing I'll note, as a Quebec expat, is that moving to Ottawa required a shift in my expectations. There is plenty of great food in Ottawa, though a lot of it is concentrated in upscale kinds of places, as Pork Belly Pete listed. Specifically, there is a sore lack of comfort food options, and far too many unscrupulous &@^#$holes charging $25 for cardboard pizza and frozen food.

I'm a fussy eater, but I like simple things, and a cornerstone of my youth was the local mom'n'pop diner. There'd be only one in the neighbourhood, but it was always good. You ate the daily special everyday, and you didn't need a description under each menu item: Hamburger steak, Chicken a la king, Club sandwich, spaghetti with meatballs, cheesy salty lasagna. It was basic homestyle food, but lovingly prepared by the owner and tailored to your whims. Everywhere I've lived on the Quebec side, I've had something like that, and since I'm a horrible cook, I'd eat there 4-5 nights a week. Of course, it was very inexpensive.

In Ottawa, I've found none of that. We have great food, but it's out of the way, costs way too much, or is overly specific (e.g. Phò). There isn't much for the everyday restaurant eater like me, other than pubs and junk food. I love the Works, Clocktower, Smoque Shack and Shawarma's King, but I wouldn't eat there 5 days a week.

2012 Jan 26
I'd agree with most of what Billco says.

Every second weekend in Montreal, I would order szechuan (hunan dumplings, chow mein and some other thing) and they would deliver. Here it's almost impossible to find anything from delivery other than pizza joints.

And the delivery was quite a ways. I think however this may change in Ottawa as the population grows.

Ottawa became a city about 10 years ago, but many residents haven't caught on to the idea :)

I am wondering though if delivery joints are reducing due to economical reasons?

2012 Jan 26
75-plus posts later, finally I get passionate enough about something to open my big fat mouth.

You guys are so right: I've found it a challenge to find delivery in my neck of the woods that isn't pizza, Chinese, or shawarma. I suspect it is for economical reasons, which is sad because it would be so awesome to have tacos delivered to my door.

2012 Jan 26
Momomoto - I think you live in my area - Little Italy. Hintonburger delivers for those nights you want/need comfort food. They charge me either $4 or $5 delivery. Ordered from them a week ago and with taxes & delivery our bill was $40 for 4 people and we couldn't finish everything.

2012 Jan 26
Jeez, that's right! I forgot that they deliver out our way now! Thanks so much!

And you're right about not being able to finish everything. My wife and I will split a value fries between the two of us and still feel uggy afterwards.

2012 Jan 27
I think what's also important is pure city size, and population density (higher means delivery gets to be cost-effective enough to be feasible). Montreal has roughly 3 times Ottawa's population, Toronto roughly 5 - but I bet both have significantly higher density. Although a poor source, Wikipedia lists 2006 census density figures as 3972/km2 for Toronto, 4439 for Montreal and... 292 for Ottawa.

The same 2 square mile area covers, for each city, using a fairly high local density:
Toronto: Dundas-Queen and Landsdowne-Spadina
Montreal: Rosemont-Ste-Catherine and du Parc-d'Iberville
Ottawa: Wellington-Baseline and Churchill-Booth (Or downtown: Laurier-Rideau River and Booth-Rideau River)

Obviously Ottawa's official density figure is misleading as the areas above are denser than the average, but not by a factor of 13 to 15. Considering how only a certain percentage of the population eats out of home, this sheer lack of numbers may well explain the paucity of good-cheap restaurants and the styles of delivery in Ottawa. To cover enough people-eating-out numbers to sustain the practice, the area becomes unmanageably large if it's not a popular food.

Solution, of course: make more types of food popular. :)

2012 Feb 2
I originally found after moving back to Ottawa from Toronto, and having ordered delivery every couple of weeks while down there, that the options in my area now (Ottawa south) weren't good at all for Chinese delivery. Back in Ottawa, I tried 3 of the places that I read about online, but all were disappointing (like their combo meals just offered chicken balls, rice, and chow mein, or something totally generic like that, and it wasn't even a very good version of any of these). So, I originally concluded that there were no good options here for delivery Chinese food in my area. (In Toronto, most of the places were good.)

However, then a different place was advertised in my building elevator (I saw the ad in Dec.). Their menu sounded good (I like chicken guy ding), so I gave them a try. Finally I had discovered a really good place, that was like what I had had in Toronto. They are called Chopstick Tale, and I think they are near Carleton University. What I have liked to get is their dinner for 2 and swap out the ribs for beef and broccoli, so their beef and broccoli and chicken guy ding are the only main dishes that they have that I am really familiar with. They give large servings of each main dish (and of rice), so I get the dinner for 2 combo and it lasts me for several days for dinners and/or lunches.
They aren't totally perfect, in that their "egg rolls" are kind of odd and taste more like sausage rolls (but are still quite tasty). Also, their food is rather salty, but I have had worse salted Chinese food. Here's their site:

Furthermore on the topic of recommending places, the first time I had pho was in Ottawa, new guy pho la or something over in Chinatown (it's the place that has 1 restaurant named guy pho la or something down the street, and then new guy pho la like a block away). It was really good. In my experience, the pho restaurants in Chinatown (well, the couple I have tried) here are even better than the one place I tried for pho in Toronto (although that place was pretty good, too).

Another good restaurant in Ottawa is Mother Tucker's down in the Market. They have lots of different things that are sure to appeal to just about anyone. My favourite things there are the onion strings, make your own stirfry at the grill, and the chocolate mousse. Also, it's free, no strings attached, on your birthday, which is a nice touch.

I have had shawarma downtown here a time or 2 at 1 of the places down on Rideau Street. It was pretty good, although the 1 I tried in downtown Toronto might have been a little bit better (probably just statistical randomness). I've been to the Works once before, and I wasn't hugely fond of the burger I had (but I'm not a huge burger fan, anyway; it wasn't my idea to go); however, their sweet potato french fries were very food.

2012 Feb 3
Population can be a factor but money is another factor you can have a big population but with alot that don't have a ton of money so as a rule then you could have a smaller pop but alot with a good amount of money so there going to eat out more.

2013 Feb 7
Chez Lucien - best burgers period. Traveled in more than 25 countries and lived in 5 countries. Chez Lucien offers up the best burger I've ever had outside of my own kitchen.

2013 Feb 8
@BM - I agree that Chopstick Tale is the best CanChinese takeaway in the city,. Their peanutbutter dumplings are glorious. In fact i think i'll get some for dinner.

2013 Feb 13
A few years back, I spent the better part of a year in southern Mexico. I ate a lot of meat and fruit-stuff that was either cooked or that I could peel. I ate regularly at little roadside taco stands (specialty: Los tacos de la muerte lento-the tacos of slow death!) and shacks that would not be permitted to operate in our country and I never got sick. Despite the fact that I drank a lot of beer, and more than my share of tequila and mescal, I dropped about 10 kilos, and felt great. When I got back to Canada, food had no flavour for me, because compared to Chiapas, NOTHING WAS REALLY FRESH!!! Consider what happens when we go shopping here, especially in the winter. All our produce (Unless you can afford to buy Suntech) comes from thousands of miles away and is off the plant for weeks before we buy it. It's engineered for shipping and shelf life, NOT for taste. Now Ottawa is a small market and we don't even get the selection/variety that they get in TO, or the frequency of shipments(and don't get me started on how much more expensive food is here than in TO), so our 'fresh' food is probably even less fresh than in southern ON, whether you're buying it at Farm Boy, or eating it in a restaurant.
Here's a couple of Mexico food stories:
I'm sitting on a patio at a restaurant, I order a glass of lemonade. A woman comes out of the kitchen, walks over to a tree and picks some lemons. She goes back into the kitchen, and 5 minutes later comes out with a glass of lemonade.
I had a friend in Chiapas who had been to Canada, and one day he told me that he had enjoyed his trip immensely, but then he asked me, with a straight face, "Why do you eat all that frozen food?" Of course he didn't come here in the winter.

2013 Feb 13
But isn't the point that many Ottawa restaus do manage to do great things even within the limitations of the climate?

Sure we'd all love lemon trees in our backyard but we're in Eastern Canada so instead we get sno cones for six months and snow and ice the rest of the time. :)

A fairer equivalent would be whipping up some pancakes here and putting real maple syrup on them, then asking your friend in chaipas why they use all that corn-syrup crap. With a straight face.

2013 Feb 13
Osolo: I totally agree! I guess the point of my comments is that taste/flavour issue is a highly relative and subjective one, and that my experiences in other climates/cultures have made me more aware of it. People on this site are ALWAYS comparing something they ate here with something they had somewhere else.
The difference between your comparison and mine is that my friend in Mexico really had no idea why we eat frozen food. No idea that the ONLY choice we might have might be to freeze something to eat it later. Honest, I wasn't trying to be a smartass!

2013 Feb 15
Why you no die, forum thread?

2013 Feb 19
I must confess I agree with the original poster. Having lived in Ottawa for the past four years I must say that this town has the culinary instincts of England in the 1930s. It's such a shame since Montreal is only two hours away you would expect Ottawa could import some culinary savoir faire, but no. Ottawa is doomed. God only knows where the ambassadors dine.

2013 Feb 19
If Ottawa's current best offerings really do taste like crap to you, then I sincerely pity you.

If the bar of acceptability is set too high, the pleasure of food disappears. Time for a new hobby?

2013 Feb 19

2013 Feb 19
Congrats to Jamie Stunt of OZ Kafe for winning silver medal at this years Canadian Culinary Championships. Last year Marc Lepine won the whole thing.

Just saying! they must not have been serving "crap" those days.

2013 Feb 19
Seven years ago, when I had just moved to Centretown, I would have been in agreement with the OP. There is fantastic food to be found, *if* you know where to go, but there is also a glut of shameful restaurants that do not try at all. A lot of them seem to thrive on our never-ending stream of tourist suckers, or captive office workers who simply don't have time to go somewhere nicer. Again, there are some real gems in our city, and not just at the upper range of dining, but when you're new to the city, you might hit 10 bad ones before randomly lucking upon good food. That's true of any big city though. The last time I was in TO, I had the worst dinner ever; I'm pretty sure I could have had a better meal from a freezer at 7/11. It was bad luck, because we were surrounded by good restos and just happened to pick a nasty one.

One thing that I remember being annoyed by, in the first years, was all the pseudo-gastro fusion crap - things that were more weird than inventive, as if the chef pulled ingredient names out of a hat. I'd like to think the fad has passed, though it's more likely that I simply don't visit those establishments anymore.