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6 Restaurants University Foodies Need to Try

Say you’re a new student in Ottawa planning to go out one night after classes with your friends/roommate/date, and the age-old question pops up: “Where should we eat tonight?” Obviously, if you’re new to the city, you may not know many of the restaurants and eateries that Ottawa has to offer.

As someone who grew up here, I have tried many different restaurants in the nation’s capital – ranging from small, local bakeries to popular bars and grills that find themselves packed every weekend. Luckily, I have some great recommendations for Ottawa newcomers who want to grab a bite to eat (and bonus, some of these places aren’t too far from campus!).

So without further ado, here are some of my favourite restaurants in Ottawa that I believe every university student should try at least once while they’re here.

1. Art-Is-In Bakery

This bakery/café located in City Centre crafts homemade sourdough loaves and “Dynamite” baguettes, as well as other pastries and baked goods daily. They also offer a variety of tasty breakfast and lunch sandwiches, in addition to soups, quiches, and more. Of course, you can’t forget to pair your sandwich without a beverage of some sort, which they luckily come in clutch with their coffee bar!

They also have a patio situated right outside near their parking lot and are also open for take-out. Be sure to take a loaf of their bread home with you, as it’ll come in handy when it comes to making a quick sandwich or two during your lunch breaks.

Location: 250 City Centre Ave #112

Price: $

My favourite menu items: Olive Dynamite bread and the Squash caponata sandwich

2. Dreamland Cafe

If you have ever gone by Ottawa’s Little Italy and wondered what that huge pink building was, it is home to Dreamland Cafe, where hearty and homemade pasta dishes are crafted. Owned by sisters Marlo and Coco De Leo, Dreamland Cafe serves a variety of Italian family recipes, ranging from different Mac n’ Cheese dishes, Alfredo pasta, Spaghetti and Meatballs, and much more!

Don’t forget to snag a couple of their garlic breadsticks to go on the side, it’ll make all the difference. Their outdoor patio is open for dine-in (featuring a beautiful mural), and they also allow you to make take-out orders online. If you’re a die-hard pasta lover, you’ll definitely be coming back here for more.

Location: 262 Preston St

Price: $$

My favourite menu items: Pesto Mac n’ Cheese paired with their cheesy garlic bread

3. Sula Wok

This family-owned business located on Main St. near Saint Paul University is the stop for whenever you’re craving Asian food, with a kick! Sula Wok’s menu has a variety of Asian-fusion dishes packed with home-grown veggies, savoury and spicy sauces, and Sula’s signature flair.

With numerous types of rice dishes, noodle dishes, salads, rolls, dumplings, and their specialty, Asian tacos (yes, that is a thing!), there’s something for everyone to try based on what their taste buds prefer. And for all you vegans out there, many of their dishes are vegan-friendly or offer vegan alternatives.

As of now, they’re only open for take-out. Be sure to phone in your order or order online early on Fridays and the weekends!

Location: 184 Main St

Price: $

My favourite menu items: Yangshuo eggplant rice bowl and the Vegan Summer Rolls with peanut sauce

4. LOCAL Public Eatery

If you’re looking for a good old classic bar and grill to watch sports, grab brunch, or go to dinner on a Saturday night, Local’s has got you covered. Located in the middle of Lansdowne Park and right beside the TD Stadium, Local’s is one of the best restaurants you can find yourself at whether it’s for a casual get together with friends or for a bite to eat before a sports game (with Panda Game coming up, you should definitely try to grab a seat here).

With a wide selection of classic appetizers and entrees ranging from chicken wings, burgers, sandwiches, nachos, and much more, there’s something for everyone. Plus they have a wide selection of craft beers, wines, and other beverages. They are currently offering indoor dining or outdoor dining on their patio.

Location: 825 Exhibition Way #107

Price: $$

My favourite menu items: The Breakfast Sandwich, House-Made Veggie Burger, and Nachos

5. Crust & Crate

Now I couldn’t make this list and not include one of my go-to pizza joints. Crust & Crate offers a wide selection of wood-fire oven pizzas with many interesting topping combinations, like figs and sliced pears (which might sound weird at first but trust me, it’s a life changer). Each of their signature pizzas is original, so there’s a pizza for everyone to try. No matter what kind of pizza you choose to order, they will not disappoint. They are currently open for indoor dining and outdoor dining on their patio.

Location: 325 Marché Way #105 (Lansdowne location) and 2018 Ogilvie Rd #1 (East Ogilvie location)

Price: $$

My favourite menu items: Mario’s Shopping Cart Pizza and the Chicken Parmesan

6. Stella Luna Gelato Cafe

Ending this list off on a sweet note is one of Ottawa’s top spots for delicious and creamy gelato. Stella Luna offers a crazy amount of different gelato flavours in addition to other sweet treats and lunch menu items.

Ranging from many sweet, salty, fruity, and sour flavours, we won’t judge you for taking a while to decide what you want in your ice cream cone or bowl. Also, seeing as they were awarded the “Best Gelato in Canada” at the 2016 Gelato World Tour in Chicago, you need to definitely taste their winning flavours.

Whether you’re looking for somewhere to cool off on a hot sunny day or to even grab a cup of coffee and a quick treat, Stella Luna offers plenty of options.

Locations: 1103 Bank St (Glebe location) and 1130 Wellington St W (Hintonburg location)

Price: $

My favourite menu items: Rich Chocolate and Salted Caramel gelato

I hope that the next time you get asked “Where should we eat tonight?” you’ll think back to this list of Ottawa restaurant suggestions and consider either take out or dine-in services at any of my favourite establishments!

Audrey Pridham

Carleton '25

Audrey is a first-year student studying Journalism at Carleton! Aside from writing, she also loves musical theatre, enjoys reading the latest trending books on #BookTok, and has a bit of an obsession with boba tea.
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