The Most Famous and Must-try Food Items Ottawa has to Offer

The Most Famous and Must-try Food Items Ottawa has to Offer

When it comes to food, Ottawa has no shortage of incredible dishes for you to choose from. Thanks to its diversity, the city boasts all kinds of cuisines that are guaranteed to make your mouth water and your taste buds sing with joy. 

Of course, there are always a few dishes that are bound to stand out. Here are some of Ottawa’s food items that have earned a reputation for being the most famous out of the bunch. 

Beavertails

Beavertails

Where to buy: 

  • BeaverTails Byward Market: 69 George St, Ottawa, ON K1N 1K1, Canada
  • BeaverTails Tanger Outlets: 8555 Campeau Dr, Ottawa, ON K2T 0K5, Canada
  • BeaverTails Winter Store: Ottawa, ON K1P 1J1, Canada

Out of Ottawa’s many delicious food items, the beavertail establishes itself as a favorite among the locals. 

First and foremost, it’s the history and tradition behind beavertails that make them iconic. These pastries have been satisfying the sweet cravings of Ottawans and visitors alike for decades. 

Its origin story is tied to the Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage site right in our backyard. In the winter, when the canal freezes over and becomes the world’s largest skating rink, beavertail stands pop up along its icy banks. 

You will find many Ottawans sharing fond memories of gliding down the canal on skates and then warming up with a piping hot beavertail. And to make things even better, they get to take in the stunning views of Parliament Hill and historic Ottawa landmarks.

Now, let’s talk about the beavertail itself. It’s essentially a flat, fried dough pastry, stretched and shaped to resemble—you guessed it—a beaver’s tail. This simplicity is part of its charm. 

But what truly makes it shine are the toppings. From classic cinnamon sugar to rich chocolate hazelnut spread, and even more extravagant choices like maple or s’mores, beavertails offer a delightful canvas for flavors that cater to everyone’s taste buds.

Poutine

Poutine

Where to buy: 

  • Poutine & Fries | ByWard Market: 8-55 Byward Market Square Units, William St, Ottawa, ON K1N 9C3, Canada
  • Chez Lucien: 137 Murray St, Ottawa, ON K1N 5M7, Canada
  • The Koven: 93 Murray St, Ottawa, ON K1N 5M5, Canada

Poutine’s Ottawa journey starts with its humble roots in Quebec, where it was made with golden fries, fresh cheese curds, and savory gravy. 

It’s easy to make, filling, and hard to turn down. But what really makes poutine stand out in our nation’s capital is the many different ways it can be made and the unique twists that have been added over time.

First, there’s the traditional poutine. It’s a mix of different tastes and textures, like how the fries are crunchy, the curds are squeaky, and the gravy is rich. 

But Ottawa takes it a step further by adding a unique flair that you won’t find anywhere else. Here are a few examples of our unique variations:

  • Butter Chicken Poutine: This Indian-inspired take on poutine shows how diverse Ottawa is. A fusion wonder is made when creamy butter chicken sauce is poured over fries and curds.
  • Duck Confit Poutine: This is a gourmet form of poutine. It has tender duck confit and is often served with a red wine reduction or cranberry compote, which gives it a touch of sophistication.
  • Peameal Bacon Poutine: This version uses peameal bacon instead of regular bacon, which gives it a smoky and slightly sweet taste that goes well with the other poutine ingredients.
  • Wild Mushroom Poutine: This is for vegetarians and people who like mushrooms. Wild mushroom gravy and sautéed mushrooms give the standard dish a rich and earthy twist.

Of course, these aren’t the only variations you can find. If you look hard enough, I’m sure that you will find another interesting take on this beloved dish. 

Now with that being said, poutine’s incredible flavor and crispiness are what make it the perfect snack to help us warm down from the cold and just enjoy Ottawa’s beautiful streets. 

Shawarma

Shawarma

Where to buy: 

  • Shawarma Palace: 464 Rideau St, Ottawa, ON K1N 5Z3, Canada
  • Shawarma Garlic & Onion: 1465 Richmond Rd, Ottawa, ON K2B 6R9, Canada
  • New King Shawarma Plus: 205 Bank St, Ottawa, ON K2P 1W7, Canada

Here’s a fun fact for you. Did you know that Ottawa is called the “Shawarma Capital” of Canada? 

The city’s vibrant multiculturalism is on full display when it comes to this delectable dish. Our city boasts a diverse population, and this is wonderfully reflected in the rich tapestry of shawarma options available. 

From family-run hole-in-the-wall joints to more upscale restaurants, you’ll find shawarma spots in every corner of Ottawa.

What makes Ottawa’s shawarma stand out is the quality and freshness of the ingredients. 

Many establishments here take pride in using top-notch cuts of meat, marinated to perfection with a blend of spices. After that process, they begin the process of roasting the beef or chicken on vertical rotisseries. 

This method not only infuses the meat with incredible flavors but also results in that sought-after juicy and tender texture.

Then you have the toppings and sauces, part of what makes this dish almost magical. Freshly chopped vegetables, including crisp lettuce, ripe tomatoes, and crunchy cucumbers, provide a refreshing contrast to the savory meat. 

And then there’s the sauce – creamy garlic sauce, tahini, or hot sauce, depending on your preference. These sauces add that signature Ottawa shawarma kick, elevating the whole experience to a whole new level of deliciousness.

Whether you opt for chicken, beef, or lamb, that first bite is a burst of flavors that transports you to culinary heaven. The contrast between the tender meat, crisp veggies, and creamy sauce is simply divine.

And let’s not forget about the pita bread or the flatbreads used to encase all that goodness. It’s soft yet sturdy, perfect for holding everything together. 

The first bite is just as good as the last, and you’re left craving more.

Moo Shu Ice Cream

Moo Shu Ice Cream

Where to buy: 

  • Moo Shu Ice Cream & Kitchen: 477 Bank St, Ottawa, ON K2P 1Z2, Canada

Let’s talk about Moo Shu Ice Cream, a delightful and uniquely Ottawa treat that has captured the hearts (and taste buds) of locals and visitors alike. This sugary treat is a perfect reflection of Ottawa’s culinary creativity. 

It’s the brainchild of local ice cream artisans who have taken the classic ice cream experience and given it a delicious Asian-inspired twist. This fusion of flavors and textures is what sets Moo Shu apart.

When you step into one of the charming Moo Shu Ice Cream shops in Ottawa, you’re immediately greeted by a sense of excitement. 

The ice cream is crafted right before your eyes, and you feel your mouth water as you watch the artisans combine your chosen flavors with the toppings. 

What makes it truly unique is the wide range of innovative and exotic flavors and ingredients that you can choose to incorporate into your ice cream creation.

These ingredients can range from fresh fruits to candies, cookies, or even exotic spices, creating a personalized ice cream experience that caters to your taste preferences. 

And let’s not forget about the flavors. Ottawa’s Moo Shu Ice Cream shops offer an enticing range of options, both classic and innovative. 

You can go for a timeless favorite like vanilla and chocolate or opt for something more adventurous like matcha green tea or Thai iced tea. The choice is yours, and the possibilities are endless.

When you take that first bite, you’re greeted with a burst of flavors and a wonderfully creamy texture. It’s like nothing you’ve ever tasted before – a sweet symphony of freshness and creativity that leaves your taste buds dancing with delight.

Maple Bacon Donuts

Maple Bacon Donuts

Where to buy: 

  • SuzyQ Doughnuts (Hintonburg location): 1015 Wellington St W, Ottawa, ON K1Y 2Y2, Canada
  • Maverick’s Donuts: 1500 Bank St, Ottawa, ON K1V 8A1, Canada
  • Hurt’s Donuts: 221 Beechwood Ave, Ottawa, ON K1M 1L9, Canada

Maple bacon donuts are delicious treats that perfectly capture the spirit of Canadian food. First, It’s important to understand that maple syrup is almost like a birthright for Canadians. 

The capital city is in the middle of Ontario, not far from the maple-growing areas of the Ottawa Valley and Quebec.

This close proximity to maple trees results in maple-flavored foods being taken very seriously by the local chefs and bakers. Maple bacon donuts are no exception to this rule.

The taste and appearance of these donuts are what make them stand out. You have a warm, soft, pillowy donut that just came out of the pan and is still a little bit crispy on the outside. 

Now, picture that cake covered in a thick layer of pure, rich maple syrup from Canada. The maple syrup’s sweetness goes well with the delicate sweetness of the donut, making a heavenly contrast of sugary goodness.

But the bacon is where the magic happens. The sweet maple syrup on Ottawa maple bacon donuts is paired with bits of crispy, smoky bacon that are salty and savory. 

It’s a symphony of tastes that dance on your tongue, a wonderful mix of sweet and spicy, soft and crunchy.

As soon as you take your first bite, you get a rush of different feelings: the sweet taste at first, the pleasant crunch of the bacon, and the soft, melt-in-your-mouth donut. 

It’s a taste explosion that makes you think of slow Sunday mornings, campfires in the Canadian woods, and everything else that makes Canada Canada.

What makes these donuts popular in Ottawa is that you can find them in local bakeries and specialty donut shops, especially when maple syrup season is in full swing. 

You can find maple bacon donuts at different times of the year, but there’s something extra special about eating one during the sugaring-off season when maple syrup is being made in large quantities.

Pancake-Battered Bacon

Pancake-Battered Bacon

Where to buy: 

  • Wellington Diner: 1385 Wellington St. W, Ottawa, ON K1Y 2X2, Canada
  • Elgin Street Diner: 374 Elgin St, Ottawa, ON K2P 1N1, Canada
  • Al’s Diner: 834 Clyde Ave N, Ottawa, ON K1Z 5A1, Canada

We Ottawans have a very deep love for bacon. Canadians, in general, have an affinity for this savory delight, and Ottawa is no exception. 

But what makes pancake-battered bacon stand out is the clever way that the pancake and bacon, two beloved breakfast classics, are put together.

The pancake batter is used to heavily cover strips of crispy bacon, making sure that each piece is covered in a layer of fluffy, golden goodness. 

The bacon is then cooked until it is just right, creating a wonderful mix of textures and tastes. You get the crispiness and saltiness of bacon and the sweetness and softness of pancake batter.

The magic of bacon that has been dipped in pancake batter is that it has both sweet and salty flavors and is both crunchy and soft. It’s a perfect mix that makes your taste buds tingle in a way that only creative food combinations can.

In Ottawa, maple syrup is a big deal, and pancake-battered bacon is often served with pure maple syrup from the area. With this addition, the dish gets a whole new level of Canadian-ness.

You can find these tasty bites of bacon dipped in pancake batter at many places to eat in Ottawa, from cozy brunch spots to food events that highlight local cuisine. 

They make a great addition to breakfast menus and are a popular treat for special occasions and holidays.

Tourtière

Tourtière

Where to buy: 

  • ByWard Market Cheese Shop: 76 York St, Ottawa, ON K1N 5T2, Canada
  • Cheshire Cat Bakery: 221 Beechwood Ave, Ottawa, ON K1M 1L9, Canada
  • Gourmet Butcher: 732 Bank St, Ottawa, ON K1S 3V2, Canada

Tourtière is full of history and tradition, not just in Ottawa but all over the province of Quebec. However, Ottawa has fully accepted this culinary masterpiece as a neighbor to Quebec and also has a strong French-Canadian heritage.

No one in Ottawa can understate how important tourtière is during the Christmas season. Without it, Christmas and New Year’s Eve just wouldn’t be the same. 

Families all over the city meet around their dinner tables to enjoy this tasty pie. It is made with minced meats (often a mix of pork and veal) and spices like cloves, cinnamon, and allspice, which have a strong smell. 

It’s a holiday ritual that makes both our hearts and bellies feel warm, one we’ve been enjoying for hundreds of years now.

But what makes Ottawa’s tourtière truly unique are the area differences and family recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation. 

Every family may make this famous dish in their own way, using ingredients from their own area or adding a secret ingredient that makes it their own. 

Some more adventurous people might even choose game foods like venison, which would add a real Canadian touch to the mix.

When winter comes to Ottawa, people want warm, hearty meals, and tourtière fits the bill nicely. Its golden, flaky pastry crust gives way to a delicious, well-seasoned filling. 

It’s a tasty mix that feels even cozier when it’s cold outside.

Local restaurants and shops in Ottawa are very proud to serve real tourtière. There are both classic versions and new takes on the food that will please every taste. 

It’s not just a dish; it’s a way to bring people of different ages and countries together through food.

Also, tourtière is often the main draw at Ottawa’s festivals and events. At winter fairs and cultural events, you’re sure to find vendors selling slices of this popular dish, which makes it even more of a local culinary gem.

Craft Beer

Craft Beer

Where to buy: 

  • Beyond the Pale Brewing Company: 250 City Centre Ave Bay 106, Ottawa, ON K1R 6K7, Canada
  • Dominion City Brewing Co.: 5510 Canotek Rd Unit 15, Ottawa, ON K1J 9J4, Canada
  • Flora Hall Brewing: 37 Flora St, Ottawa, ON K2P 1A7, Canada

The craft beer scene in Ottawa shows how lively and different our city is. I’ve seen how passionate and clever our brewers are because I live here. 

They get ideas from the rich natural resources in our area and the many different cultures that make up Ottawa. As a result, the craft beer scene in the capital city is one of the symbols of its diversity.

What really makes craft beer from Ottawa stand out is its dedication to quality and new ideas. 

Local breweries, both those that have been around for a while and those that are just starting out, are proud to use the best ingredients and try out new taste combinations. 

Craft beer in Ottawa has something for every taste, whether it’s a strong IPA full of hops, a smooth stout, or a delicious sour with a hint of local fruit.

The great thing about craft beer culture in Ottawa is that it’s not just in one place. Craft breweries and taprooms can be found all over Ottawa and the areas around it. 

Each one has its own personality and charm. There’s always a local craft beer to be found, whether you’re having a cold one in the famous ByWard Market, relaxing on a patio by the river, or checking out a small brewery in the country.

Also, the craft beer scene in Ottawa is often open to local partnerships and community involvement. Brewers often work together to make limited-edition beers that honor the history and culture of our city. 

You might find a beer made with locally roasted coffee beans or a beer that was inspired by an important event in Ottawa. These kinds of partnerships give craft beer a unique layer of depth.

I’ve had the pleasure of sharing pints with friends in busy brewery taprooms and trying flights of new beers. These beer events show off the best of Ottawa’s craft beer culture and are also a way for us Ottawans to socialize with one another. 

It’s not just about the beer; it’s also about the friendship, the passion, and the feeling of belonging to a group that appreciates the art of brewing.