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15 Best Ottawa Restaurants Byward Market Not to Miss

Ottawa restaurants Byward Market side are a foodie highlight of any trip to Canada’s capital. Bytown was Ottawa’s name before it became the capital of Canada in 1857. Byward Market was home to many of the laborers who built the Rideau Canal as well as an open-air market since the 1840s.

The commercial barges used to travel right through the market using the Bywash, an overflow stream from the canal. The Bywash is now Dalhousie, George and York streets – the heart of the Byward Market Ottawa area. Visiting this area is one of the most fun things to do in Ottawa.

Inside Byward Market

But that’s enough about barges and washing – let’s get onto the food. Byward Market Restaurants are some of the best that Ottawa City in Canada has on offer. This pulsing area is still home to produce markets, bars, street art, hotels and so much more.

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Byward Cafe

The Byward Market area is a grid, like most of downtown Ottawa. While there are plenty of tours in Ottawa, exploring the area for yourself can be a real delight. Let’s move through some of the key restaurant streets in the Byward Market Area.

I managed to visit several Byward market restaurants during my trip. The rest of the Ottawa Byward Market restaurants on this list came recommended by locals I met and from where I explored.

See this as a curated list of restaurants downtown Ottawa has on offer rather than an exhaustive one.

If you do want a complete list of all Ottawa restaurants Byward Market click here to get through to the main Byward Market website restaurant list.

Best Restaurants Byward Market – Sussex Street

1. Social

The focus at Social Restaurant is progressive Canadian cuisine and it is known as one of the best restaurants in Ottawa Byward Market. Social Restaurant Ottawa kicks off the day with brunch then fit in some lunch and a cocktail hour before dinner.

The dinner menu at Social Ottawa has a nice range of starters and then some socials which are easy to share. These include oysters, charcuterie, cheeses, and seafood. It’s the perfect way to end off your day before heading to a sunset watching spot in Ottawa.

Social, one of the best restaurants in the Byward Market Ottawa

The main meal choices at Social are a classic mix of red meat, fish, burger, and pasta – easily something to make everyone happy. It has both indoor and outdoor seating and is known for having a great atmosphere.

Here’s a fun fact about Canada! Social Restaurant is probably the best of the Byward Market restaurants patio options.

Make a booking at Social Restaurant

2. Joy on Sussex

Joy on Sussex is one of the City of Ottawa’s top bars/restaurants. It started life as a nightclub five years ago but is now the Ottawa version of the famous Russian Tea Room – one of New York’s attractions. The Joy on Sussex Ottawa used to be named the Moscow Tea Room but has since changed its name. It is housed in a heritage building and the interiors are deep, rich, and opulent!

Joy on Sussex serves tea in the afternoon. But it is known as an Ottawa hot spot all day long. I loved the menu as it is more towards the snack end than a fine restaurant end but due to the fantastic atmosphere, it is easy to spend an entire evening here.

Joy on Sussex, one of the most popular Byward Market Restaurants Ottawa

Joy on Sussex dinner menu starts with Russian Borscht of course! This is the classic Russian beetroot soup. Next up are some salads and then pierogis which are delicious Russian dumplings.

Joy on Sussex sharing plates cover oysters, cheeses, and charcuterie options. Then a range of flatbreads followed by a small number of classic mains – including of course Beef Stroganoff.

Ottawa’s Joy on Sussex is a place where locals come for a fun night out or a special drink and one of the highly-rated places to eat in Byward Market. I would highly recommend adding it to your Ottawa restaurant itinerary.

York Street

York Street in Byward Market Ottawa is another great place to find restaurants. The following are a couple of the local favourites.

3. Play Food and Wine

Play Food and Wine Restaurant Ottawa was created by Stephen Beckta and chef Michael Moffatt who previously ran a very successful restaurant and bar called Beckta. The focus at Play Byward Market is on a changing menu of small plates and a great range of wines by the glass.

The Play menu is divided into Charcuterie, Savour (where the majority of the small plates are), snacks, cheese, chocolate and sweet.

Play, one of the best restaurants in Byward Market Ottawa

I really enjoyed the wine list at Play Restaurant Ottawa. I started my meal with a glass of Cave Spring Blanc de Beckta – sparkling wine from around Niagra Falls which was recommended by my waiter – and excellent. I then moved onto some white wine from Oregon in the US – a fantastic state for great white wines.

A damn good sparkling![

The menu at this restaurant in Byward Market changes with the season but some items have earnt their place on an ongoing basis. I asked the waiter to bring me the items for which Ottawa’s Play Restaurant is best known.

I started with a snack of tempura Cauliflower with hot sauce. It was good but I have had better when it comes to this type of dish.

Tempura cauliflower at Play Ottawa

Next up was the tuna crudo which is served with cucumber, honeydew, tomatillo, and basil. This was absolutely delicious and wonderfully light after the tempura cauliflower.

However, the highlight of my Play Ottawa dinner was the Ricotta gnocchi. This was amazing. So light and fluffy. It was served with delicious sweet pea pesto, asparagus, and basil. Absolutely delicious.

Amazing gnocchi at Play, one of Byward Market Restaurants best options

Book Play Food and Wine – which I would recommend doing as it gets busy.

Inside Play Food and Wine

4. Restaurant e18hteen

Restaurant 18 is a modern take on a steakhouse. It is a fine dining restaurant with white plates and a french-inspired menu – this is an Ottawa restaurant for a night out. The Restaurant 18 Ottawa starters include a range of raw options – focussed around seafood – and a range of salads.

Mains at this Ottawa restaurant are broken into seafood and steak and chops – with almost all of the red meat coming from Canada – and of course a range of side options.

E18hteen, one of the top Byward Market Ottawa Restaurants

Restaurant e18hteen has been around for 18 years so this is a safe choice for a tasty night out if you are after a fine dining experience.

Book Restaurant e18hteen

5. Sidedoor

Sidedoor opened in Byward Market just over 10 years ago. It is known for its tacos and Asian dishes – but it isn’t a Mexican restaurant nor an Asian restaurant.

It is much more a fusion restaurant. I visited Sidedoor Restaurant Ottawa for lunch. The Sidedoor Ottawa dining room has a nice open ambiance and it is possible to sit in a glassed-in conservatory or under full cover.

Sidedoor Sign

I enjoyed some dumplings and a crispy fish taco. The fish taco at Sidedoor Ottawa was good but not amazing. I preferred the pork and chicken dumplings.

I saw quite a bit of coverage stating that the Sidedoor Japanese ramen soup is fantastic but I visited on a very warm day so soup wasn’t an option. Sidedoor is also known for its donuts but alas I was too full.

Inside Sidedoor restaurant

Sidedoor Byward Market also offers a dim sum brunch.

Sidedoor Restaurant Taco

Book Sidedoor Restuarant

Dumplings at Sidedoor Restaurant Byward Market

The Actual Byward Market

The actual Byward Market is an undercover structure on Byward street. Many of the restaurants in this area are more casual and about getting a quick bite to eat rather than spending an entire evening having a dining experience.

Byward Market

I had a delicious pork taco with some fantastic salsa and guacamole at Corazon de Maiz. The queue was seriously long and the smell oh so good. Corazon de Maiz Ottawa is a great place for lunch or a snack – and it was number 15 on Tripadvisor Ottawa restaurants which is a pretty impressive achievement!

6. Beaver Tails

Don’t come to Ottawa and not try at least one Beaver Tail. These are genuinely loved by locals and it is easy to see why. I would describe a Beaver Tail as what would happen if a donut met a rolling pin. It has a classic donut exterior and a fluffy inside.

The BeaverTails stand at Byward Market, one of the popular Ottawa attractions

There are many options available when it comes to choosing your Beaver Tail. The classic option is cinnamon and sugar – I had a Killaloe Sunrise which adds a touch of lemon as my beaver tail and gosh it was rather delicious.

There is a lengthy list of Beaver Tail options at this Ottawa branch – add cookies and vanilla icing for a Coco Vanil or cream cheese and strawberry jam for a Strawberry Cheesecake or try a Bananarama which has chocolate hazelnut spread and bananas. Helpfully Beaver Tails supplies the calories for all of its different combinations.

A delicious Beaver Tail

7. Oz Kafé

Oz Kafé is a European style café with quaint outdoor dining. They serve a delicious selection of locally sourced food and have a veg-forward mindset, catering to all types of vegetarian and vegan diets.
They have an extensive dinner menu and beer list, so it makes for a great place to sit back and relax at the end of a long day.

8. Heart & Crown Byward Market

The Heart & Crown is an Irish style pub that prides itself in being fun, warm, and friendly. They serve up hearty meals that are perfect for hungry tummies. Their live music also sets the perfect atmosphere for pre-drinks before a night out on the town. Located on Clarence Street, it’s the perfect location to set the stage for a night in the town.

9. JOEY Rideau

JOEY Rideau is an upmarket restaurant in the historic downtown area of Ottawa. If you enjoy transparency, then this just might be the perfect place for you as their theatre kitchen provides you with the opportunity to watch your meal being made. 

They also offer chefs’ table seating so you can enjoy a front row seat. Just be aware that booking is essential if you’re hoping to land one of these sought after seats. If you’re in the mood for a mouth-watering meal, you can’t go wrong with what could easily be the best restaurant Byward Market has to offer.

So what are the best restaurants Byward Market has on offer? For me, that depends on what you’re after. For a snack, the best restaurants in Byward Market for me would be Corazon de Maiz and Beaver Tail. For a full meal then the best Byward Market Restaurants would be Play Food and Wine and the Joy on Sussex.

Dalhousie Street

Good wine and a view – one of my favourite combinations. The Coppers Spirits and Sights bar is on the 16th floor of the Andaz Hotel in the Byward Market area.

The bar is both indoor and outdoor and has the title of Ottawa’s tallest rooftop bar. This makes for some fantastic views and photos! There is food at the Copper bar Ottawa but the focus is on drinks and the wonderful view.

Pili Pili only uses hardwood charcoal to bring a unique flavor to its very well known and appreciated grilled chicken. Pili Pili Ottawa is more for casual dining than a night out.

Ahora Mexican is a casual restaurant featuring fresh ingredients in their Mexican food and a salsa bar! Plus lots of margaritas.

Burgers n Fries Forever

There are quite a few more gourmet hamburger joints in the Byward market area. Burgers n Fries Forever “smash” their handcrafted burgers to perfection. And double fry their fries for a crispier fluffier chip. Das Lokal kitchen and bar offers European food with a German bent.

Bite Burger House

Benny’s Bistro is at 119 Murray Street. It’s 30 seats can be found at the back of The French Baker. This is Canadian-french fusion cuisine with daily specials which comes highly recommended.

Benny’s Bistro Ottawa does breakfast and lunch on weekdays and brunch on the weekend eg it isn’t open for dinner.

The King Eddy

The Grand Pizzeria came highly recommended by locals. The SmoQue Shack features Ontario craft beers and amazing pulled port, brisket, ribs and wings and is at 89 Clarence Street.

Beyond the Byward Market for Ottawa Restaurants

I had some other great meals in Ottawa outside the Byward Market area.

Lobster Roll at La Terrasse

Reputed to be the most beautiful patio in Ottawa, La Terrasse has fabulous views of the Parliament Buildings and the Rideau Canal. It is also a symphony of colors and part of the Fairmont Chateau Laurier hotel.


La Terrasse Ottawa itself is gorgeous. It was overflowing with red flowers when I visited. But it is best known as being a fantastic and photogenic spot to watch the Ottawa sunset so you can combine a major Ottawa tourism attraction with your dinner. The food at La Terrasse is also pretty good. I had a delicious lobster roll.

Sitting outside on La Terrasse, one of the good restaurants near Byward Market Ottawa

I had a fantastic meal at Le Baccara restaurant at Casino Lac-Leamy which has earned the CAA – AAA’s five-diamond rating for years and years. Le Baccara Ottawa has a fantastic open kitchen so you will see the experts in the kitchen during preparation.

It is rather shocking how reasonably priced this extremely awarded restaurant is! A 5-course Le Baccara tasting menu is only Canadian 105 dollars – very cheap for such a prestigious restaurant.

My five courses at Le Baccara included scallops ceviche, foie gras croquette style (a highlight), beef, a small chocolate souffle and granite with coconut and passion fruit. And some fantastic chocolates which required a doggy bag.

Open kitchen at La Baccara

When it comes to downtown restaurants Ottawa, I had a fantastic meal at Riviera on Sparks Street on my last night in Ottawa. I was dining solo so took a seat at the bar/open kitchen which I really enjoyed.

The focus at Riviera Ottawa is on seafood. The Riviera menu is split into raw, starters, pasta and mains – most with a seafood twist.

I started my meal at Riviera with some amazing raw oysters and then followed with the lobster spaghetti. As you can see in my photos it was a generous serve of a tender lobster tail on perfectly cooked pasta. Delicious!

Brasserie du Temps was the first microbrewery in Ottawa and opened nearly 10 years ago. And it is located on brewery lake. Brasserie du Temps Ottawa has a huge patio – it is a great outdoor space.

I enjoyed a delicious lobster salad. The Brasserie du Temps brewery has a beer museum and is very popular with local government workers.

Where the Ottawa Foodies Go

Isn’t it always the way that once you have been somewhere for a few days you meet someone how gives you all the restaurants the locals love but you have run out of time to visit them?

This is what happened to me when I quizzed my guide from the brilliant C’est Bon food tours (which you should definitely do) on the best places to eat in Ottawa.

So here’s what she told me about her favourite restaurants in Ottawa – hopefully you will be able to get to some of them. Email me if you do and tell me what they’re like.


The Rowan gets rave reviews and its menu is inspired by Scotland.

Eldon’s is about simple amazing ingredients and a short menu.

Garlic scape at the Ottawa Farmers Market

In Hintonburg, go to Art Is In Bakery for almond croissants in the morning and amazing bread and pizza in the evening. And wash it down with a craft beer from the Beyond the Pale microbrewery and finish off with a Susie Q donut.

How to get to Ottawa & Get Around

Ottawa has an international airport. If you are flying to Ottawa from the UK only Air Canada flies direct. However, there are many airlines, including Westjet with whom I flew, that have one connection. If you are coming from within Canada or the US there are loads of flights.

The Ottawa Letters

Flights to Ottawa

Downtown Ottawa is very walkable. Parliament Hill, Byward Market, and the Rideau Canal are all within walking distance of each other. If you want to explore a little farther bike hire is very easy – and this is a very bike-friendly town. 

Amazing grilled cheese at the Ottawa Farmers Market

Who Paid for What with this Post

The lovely team at the Ottawa & Outaouais tourism boards covered all of my costs eg hotels, car hire and most meals whilst I was in the area and they covered my flight from Ottawa to New York. I paid for my inbound flight to Ottawa and a few meals and wine – but not really that much if I’m honest.

This post contains affiliate links. That means that if you click through on them and make a purchase I may well receive a small commission. I just wanted to make sure that you knew.

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There has been a huge growth in restaurants in Ottawa in recent years. There are some great Mexican restaurants, steak restaurants, burger restaurants and so much more in the food focussed Byward Market area of Ottawa #bestrestaurantsinottawa #restaurantsinottawa

Looking for some of the best Ottawa restaurants? Some of the best places to eat in Ottawa are in the Byward Market area. From Mexican food to steak to burgers to dim sims – and of course beaver trails! #restaurantottawa #bestottawarestaurants
Looking to explore the restaurants of Byward Market? Here is my post on 15 of the best places to eat in Byward Market Ottawa for Mexican food, steak, dim sum, burgers and of course beaver tails! #bywardmarketottawa #bywardmarketrestaurants
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Monday 3rd of February 2020

Did the author try any of these hidden gems? Most of them are not gems!

The Boutique Adventurer

Tuesday 4th of February 2020

Hi Hal. I did try most of the restaurants in this post when I visited Ottawa last year. The ones I wasn't able to get to were recommended by those I met on my trip. I guess everyone has different views on what constitutes a good restaurant or a gem.


Tuesday 8th of October 2019

Nice spots. I love your top view photo of the Byward Market but of course, the food is always the winner for this post hehe


Monday 7th of October 2019

I must do Ottawa. I always thought it wasn't as sexy as Montreal or as modern as Toronto or Vancouver. I think I'll love it...and beavertails too. Lo..

Dalene Ekirapa

Monday 7th of October 2019

The TeaRoom, Cafe and SideDoor would be my favorite restaurants to visit in Byward market just because I love anything tea or coffee; and those tacos at SideDoor would really suit my preference. Yummy!

Liz Bayardelle

Saturday 5th of October 2019

I've never been to Ottawa, but this makes me really want to visit! I especially love that market. So unique!

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