Make fun of hipsters all you want, they usually know how to throw together a good meal or brew a good cup of coffee. I didnâ€™t know Ottawa even had a hipster scene until this visit. Apparently a good chunk of them hang out in Westboro and West Wellington.
I rented out an Airbnb apartment for a few nights in Westboro so that I could explore the area on foot. Thanks to its flatness, Ottawa makes a pretty nifty, walkable city. Youâ€™ll appreciate this fact when youâ€™ve eaten your body weight in food.
Wellington West is just west of downtown, and includes the Hintonburg and Wellington Village neighbourhoods (itâ€™s about a 10-15 minute bus ride from downtown, depending on where you end up). The main drag is lined with shops, bars, and restaurants. Take your pick, really. Itâ€™s all pretty fantastic.
Coffee & Breakfast
Art Is In Bakery (GET IT?!) has the best bread in Ottawa. I can confirm, not that Iâ€™ve had all the bread in the entire city. Their Sunday brunches are legendary, apparently.
I spent an entire day at the Ministry of Coffee and Social Affairs and would possibly have stayed forever, if it were allowed. Such a fun, laid back, quirky place inÂ a rockÂ music themed setting,Â with plenty of people working away on their laptops. And dogs are allowed inside! Am I in Berlin?! The grilled cheese was decent, BUT MY FAVOURITE: you can order beer on tap. I mean, if every cafe had beer on tap, Iâ€™d be sooo much more productive. Anyway, at some point the lights dim and the cafe turns into more of a low-key bar.
Lunch & Dinner
I stopped at the Hintonburg Public House one evening for a quick bowl of soup, a small plate of cheese curds (delicious), and, of course, a beer. Admittedly this wasnâ€™t my favourite meal, but the atmosphere was cozy and friendly. I wasnâ€™t even the only person dining alone! Go me!
Iâ€™m told that the Welington Gastropub has better grub and an extensive drink menu, though.
Tacos at TacoLot.
Naturally, I had to go to Petit Billâ€™s Bistro to see what Newfoundland-inspired dishes they had on the menu. It was bit out of my price range so I just stayed for an appy — a cabbage roll stuffed with Jiggâ€™s Dinner (a Newfoundland classic). So awesome.
For the sweet tooth: homemade ice-cream or a mini-cake at Hollandâ€™s Cake & Shake. I mean, youâ€™ll want the Instagram photo alone. The Elvis Truffle is made of peanut butter, banana, and BACON.
Otherwise, a maple bacon donut at Suzy Q Doughnuts.
Wow, Iâ€™ve used the word â€œbaconâ€ like 10 times in this piece so far.
I bloody LOVE The Tooth & Nail Brewing Company. Their beer is delicious — I enjoyed the Bravado Pale Ale the most. I made a habit of trying the Saison at every brewpub I went to, if there was one on the menu (pale ale with spicy flavours). The best thing about Tooth & Nailâ€™s brewpub is that you can purchase cans to take home with you, and theyâ€™re only about $2.50 each.
I made the mistake of walking into Beyond the Pale like it was a brewpub, but really itâ€™s more like a storefront where you can sample beers and then buy growlers or cans. So basically I got drunk off of samplers and then headed home with four cans of IPA. Their most popular beer is the Pink Fuzz — a grapefruit flavoured beer. I preferred the IPA, personally.
I didnâ€™t know anything about Westboro before I booked my apartment, but I was trying to find a place close into to Wellington West. As it turns out, Westboro has some awesome surprises of its own. There’s even a riverfront beach, but temperatures were a bit too cool for dipping my toes in the water. If I ever move to Ottawa, it’ll be to live in this neighbourhood.
Coffee and Breakfast
Baker Street Cafe does an insanely large breakfast. Eggs Benedict on Canadian bacon? Yes. Please. Iâ€™ll take five.Â This cafe is enormously popular, and even at 11 AM on a Tuesday, I had to wait for a table. I enjoyed the boisterous wait staff (and the mimosa).
Equator Coffee is where I set-up shop for a full day to work on some writing. Thereâ€™s nothing special about the interior, but the coffee is fantastic. Itâ€™s fair trade, and itâ€™s roasted every week.
There’s also a Bridgehead nearby, which is part of a popular chain in Ottawa.Â Even if you’re a snob about chains, this place is worth checking out.
Lunch & Dinner
My cousin April is vegan, so we decided to hit up Pure Kitchen on my final day in Westboro. Iâ€™m not vegan, and I love meat, but when vegan restaurants get their food right, they REALLY get it right. This place was incredible. There were cauliflower bites sauced like chicken wings, and Iâ€™m pretty sure I saw god. I had the Mystical bowl–a filling meal of avocado, tofu, beans, pico de gallo, and brown rice.
Hungover after my Beyond the Pale samplers, I sought Italian food at Fratelliâ€™s. I saw gnocchi on the menu, and given my track record with good gnocchi, I had to order it. Service was slow as hell, but the food was good, and so was the atmosphere. Iâ€™m incapable of turning down creme brÃ»lÃ©e or tiramisu if itâ€™s on the menu, and so I didnâ€™t. It was divine.
Gezellig is another popular option, with an epic wine list.
I didnâ€™t spend much time gettinâ€™ boozy in Westboro. Things are super quiet here in the evenings, and if youâ€™re into the nightlife, the Byward Market is probably more your scene. But if you want a late night drink somewhere chill? Whispers is totally trashy and awesome. Plus they have nightly specials, including ridiculously cheap wings on Thursday night. Getcha some.
Iâ€™m also a fan of Clocktower Brewpub–thereâ€™s one in Westboro, but Iâ€™ve only been to the one in the Byward Market. Good vibes, good beer, and decent prices.
Otherwise, a fancy cocktail in Trio Lounge is a nice spot to hang out, especially with a date. Not that Iâ€™d know. #foreveralone