I recently took a mini-holiday to visit friends in Ottawa and Montreal (it’s been a long overdue visit). Taking the train (VIA Rail) was super relaxing and didn’t require all the hassle that comes with taking a flight – trekking out to the airport and having to arrive early. I got to Union Station, found the boarding gate and lined-up. Tickets get scanned and then you board, super simple. I would definitely recommend taking the train if you have the time for it (took 4.5 hours to get to Ottawa). Also, you can take in the scenery without having to fuss with traffic.
Every trip that I had taken to Ottawa consisted of going to the Winterlude, skating on the Rideau Canal (the world’s largest skating rink), eating Beavertails and lots of drinking and birthday shenanigans. However, I have never actually explored Canada’s capital city so with this short trip, I decided I would do just that! The original plan was to spend time with my friends but they actually were driving back to Toronto on my second day so instead of cancelling my trip, I found an AirBnB place and spent the next two days seeing what Ottawa had to offer. I visited the Canadian Museum of Nature for free (they have free admissions every Thursday evening, 5:00-8:00pm), went up the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill (saw some great views of the city), walked to Byward Market and tried a lot of great food! It was very refreshing to be travelling by myself and being on my own. I talked with strangers and had a great time despite the heaps and heaps of snow that wouldn’t stop falling.
I love food so here is a list of all the places I tried:
- Wilf and Ada’s (510 Bank Street) – the eggs in purgatory are a must-try!! Perfect blend of spicy and tomato goodness. I met to older gentlemen while having brunch by myself. One wanted to know if and what kind of phone he would need to get if he wanted to just access the Internet while he was hiking through northern Spain.
- Arlington Five (5 Arlington Street) – same owners as Wilf and Ada’s and around the corner. Cute coffee shop and delicious muffins. I got one with pineapple and coconut, basically a Piña colada in muffin form. Super moist and filling.
- Elgin Street Diner (374 Eligin Street) – a staple and must visit when in Ottawa. The burger was decent but the desserts were so good – we tried the peanut butter chocolate pie and apple crumble with vanilla ice cream.
- Manx Pub (370 Elgin Street) – according to their website, they are “a social hub for Ottawa’s arts scene and those who cherish good food, beverages and even better conversation”. It definitely was a place of that since I met a Mexican artist there and talked a lot about food, especially tacos and Mexican foods. The bartenders are friendly and really know their beers. I tried two local beers: the Kichesippi seasonal (didn’t get the name of the brew) and from the Cassel Brewery, Lil’ Red Steamer (a delicious Irish red ale). Also ended up chatting with a Rhode Islander who’s daughter was working in Ottawa. She was a graphic designer and we talked about the printing industry (since it was her specialty). The description on the website is very true, for me anyways.
- El Camino (380 Elgin Street) – This was a really hard place to get a seat at, even if you are by yourself. The wait was over an hour and I ended up getting take out instead. They don’t take reservations either, so if you want to go, get there early or put your name on the waiting list and then go to the Manx Pub for a couple of brews until they call you. I ordered the beef taco, ox tongue taco and Crispy Prawn Betel Leaf (these were my favourite!!). Everything was tasty but I could have gotten more of the prawns in betel leaf – something about the crunchiness on the outside and the sweetness of the prawns really worked. This was recommended to me from a Manx Pub bartender.
- The Whalesbone Oyster House (430 Bank Street) – Oh man, this place had such a good vibe – super chill and relaxed place. I got a half dozen of oysters and a Kichesippi 1855 (recommended by the guy sitting next to me at the bar). There was homemade bread and whipped butter. The oysters were served with homemade sauces – Mignonette sauce, hot sauce and a third one I don’t remember. The hot sauce was made from a mix of ghost peppers and chilies that had a kick to it but didn’t linger too much. Oysters were super fresh. It was on the pricey side so I decided that the beer and oysters would be my appetizer.
- Bramasole Diner (428 Bank Street, next door to The Whalesbone) – This was recommended by my AirBnB host (it was also down the street from where I was staying so didn’t need to go too far). Decent diner food. I got eggs, sausage, home fries, toast and coffee. There was a constant stream of people coming and going and the staff were friendly and service was fast.
Next time, I want to venture further out into the suburbs, such as Hintonburg (there’s a place called Hintonburger, with a name like that – I need to try it!!).
More to come on my trip couple days in Montreal 🙂