Ottawa: An Unexpected Foodie Heaven

In the past few years, Ottawa has transformed its adequate culinary scene into a foodie's heaven. Locals and visitors to Canada's capital are now spoiled with an abundance of choices that will leave your tastebuds begging for more. From Middle-Eastern to Japanese to Mexican, there's a place that will satisfy any of your cravings.

The icing on the cake is that good food here doesn't need to come with a hefty price tag. Here are four delicious yet affordable restaurants you need to dine at.

El Camino 

Location: 380 Elgin Street (Golden Triangle) 
Type of cuisine: Mexican
Why I love it: El Camino is one of the busiest restaurants in town, and for good reason. This place serves up the most unbelievable tacos! You can choose from seven types of tacos which include pork, beef, Japanese eggplant, lamb, crispy fish, ox tongue (if you're feeling adventurous), and tuna tartare. Each taco is made with the freshest ingredients and come in an satisfying portion size. After three tacos, I am good and full!

Featuring a minimalist design, the restaurant decor is simple yet trendy and provides an enjoyable dining atmosphere. The tacos range in price from $4.50 to $10, making El Camino an affordable place to grab dinner. Heads up, El Camino usually has a line out the door everyday of the week and they don't do reservations. If you're planning to visit, make sure to arrive early or opt for a late meal. 

Bite Burger House

Location: 108 Murray Street (Byward Market)
Type of cuisine: Burgers 
Why I love it: Every city has their go-to burger joint. In Ottawa, that's Bite Burger House. Nestled in the heart of the Byward Market, Bite Burger House serves up an extensive selection of mouthwatering burgers and a mean poutine. Want something out of the ordinary? Take a bite out of the Louie Luau (pork belly burger topped with jalapeƱo cream cheese, cayenne grilled pineapple and BBQ sauce) or the Mac Daddy (beef chuck, panko encrusted mac and cheese, cheddar, smoked bacon, and mornay sauce). Craving a classic?  I guarantee you'll be satisfied with the Bite Me (beef chuck, cheddar, double smoked bacon, and brioche bun) or the grilled chicken burger (lemon thyme marinated chicken, swiss cheese, portobello mushroom, and aioli sauce).

The secret to Bite Burger House's tasty dishes? The restaurant uses local meats and cheeses, and makes all their sauces in house from scratch. They also offer plenty of craft beers on tap for all you beer enthusiasts out there. 

Shawarma Palace 

Three Locations: 2440 Bank Street (South Keys), 464 Rideau Street (Lowertown), 2949 Carling Avenue
Type of cuisine: Middle-Eastern 
Why I love it: When I think of Ottawa, shawarma is one of the first things that come to mind. If you've never tasted shawarma, you are missing out big time.

Originating from the Middle-East, shawarma is when lamb, chicken, beef, or veal are placed on a spit and slowly grilled to perfection. Shawarma can be served in a wrap or on a plate, and is usually eaten with tabbouleh, fattoush (salad), pita bread, hummus, rice, pickled turnips, tahini, and a large dollop of mindblowingly delicious garlic sauce.

The best shawarma place in Ottawa is without a doubt Shawarma Palace. They offer three convenient locations and are open late to satisfy your spur of the moment shawarma cravings. Their meat is always packed with flavour and extremely tender, while their side items are fresh and tasty. Their hummus and garlic sauce are to die for, and are the perfect accompaniment for your meal.

Ginza Ramen

Two Locations: 832 Somerset Street West (Chinatown), 280 Elgin Street (Golden Triangle) 
Type of cuisine: Japanese, Ramen 
Why I love it: Japanese ramen is one of my favourite things in the entire world! I am a self obsessed ramen addict and in love with the thriving ramen scene in Vancouver. So when I arrived in Ottawa and discovered they finally had a ramen joint open, I jumped for joy and headed straight to Chinatown to try out Ginza Ramen.

I ordered the tonkotsu miso ramen which consisted of soybean paste in pork bone broth, corn, pork belly, shitake mushrooms, bamboo shoots, scallion nori, bean sprouts, green onions and a soft-boiled egg.

The broth was full of flavour! Steaming and savoury, the soup was a satisfying solution to a cold winter day. I'm not used to having mushrooms in my ramen, but they made an excellent addition to the dish. The pork belly melted in my mouth and the noodles had a great texture.

I wolfed down my entire bowl in a heartbeat and was impressed that Ottawa's ramen could rival those in Vancouver. My only critique is that the portions could be a bit bigger considering a bowl is priced at $11.95. Other than that, Ginza Ramen is a place you should definitely check out if you love noodles and want to try something else other than pho.

What are your favourite cheap eats in Ottawa? Leave me a comment below and let me know. 


I’m a Canadian girl on a quest to step foot in every continent before I’m 30. You’ll most likely find me chowing down on Japanese ramen, partying at a music festival, hiking to the top of a scenic lookout, cuddling with cats, or chilling out at the beach. I’ve visited over 60 countries so far and hope to inspire you to do the same.

1 comment:

  1. The food in those photos looks amazing, I am literally getting hungry right now.