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 didn’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. You’ll appreciate this fact when you’ve eaten your body weight in food.
Wellington West is just west of downtown, and includes the Hintonburg and Wellington Village neighbourhoods (it’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. It’s all pretty fantastic.
Coffee & Breakfast
Art Is In Bakery (GET IT?!) has the best bread in Ottawa. I can confirm, not that I’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 in a rock music themed setting, 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, I’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 wasn’t my favourite meal, but the atmosphere was cozy and friendly. I wasn’t even the only person dining alone! Go me!
I’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 Bill’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 Jigg’s Dinner (a Newfoundland classic). So awesome.
For the sweet tooth: homemade ice-cream or a mini-cake at Holland’s Cake & Shake. I mean, you’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, I’ve used the word “bacon” 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 & Nail’s brewpub is that you can purchase cans to take home with you, and they’re only about $2.50 each.
I made the mistake of walking into Beyond the Pale like it was a brewpub, but really it’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 didn’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. I’ll take five. 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. There’s nothing special about the interior, but the coffee is fantastic. It’s fair trade, and it’s roasted every week.
There’s also a Bridgehead nearby, which is part of a popular chain in Ottawa. 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. I’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 I’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 Fratelli’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. I’m incapable of turning down creme brûlée or tiramisu if it’s on the menu, and so I didn’t. It was divine.
Gezellig is another popular option, with an epic wine list.
I didn’t spend much time gettin’ boozy in Westboro. Things are super quiet here in the evenings, and if you’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.
I’m also a fan of Clocktower Brewpub–there’s one in Westboro, but I’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 I’d know. #foreveralone