Places to See, Places to Go: A Student's Guide to Ottawa

Whether you’re new to town or lived here for many years, you might be looking for something new and exciting to do in your free time between your classes at the University of Ottawa.  If so, I’d like to introduce you to some of my favourite places to visit in our beautiful capital.

If you’re looking for something to do on campus, you can find various cafés such as the brand-new Café Nostalgica - home of the UESA’s Blue Monday’s poetry series every third Monday of the month - and Café Alternatif - a tasty, organic food venue in the basement of Simard Hall on Campus.  The baristas, male and female, are not only very good looking, but have great taste in music.  Café Alt is known for hosting a variety of live music, poetry shows and movie nights, and for having the most delicious menu selection on campus—you can even bring your own mug, sit down and work away on that paper you have due tomorrow.

When you’ve finished writing that paper, you should reward yourself with a fun Friday night out on the town.  A great night out can be accomplished by following these simple steps: go to La Maison for cheap drinks, make your way to a bar or club in the market then grab some food at Zak’s Diner before heading back home.

La Maison Acadienne, more commonly known as La Maison, is situated on the corner of Somerset Street East and King Edward Avenue and is just a hop and skip away from campus.  This bar is well known for its cheap pitchers of beer and sangria (only $10), and its tasty poutine.  The bartenders are friendly and all have a great taste in music ranging from rock to indie and everything in between.  The food is delicious and affordable and is perfect for both before and after a night out on the town.  After your drinks at Maison, you can make your way to the market where you will find a variety of bars and clubs.  However, if you’re like me and don’t really like the clubbing scene, you should check out Zaphod Beeblebrox.

Zaphod Beeblebrox (yes, just like the from Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,) also known as Zaphod’s or Phod’s is a dancing bar located smack-dab in the middle of the Byward Market.  This dance bar is famous for three things: first, the filming of a Rolling Stones’ music video, Streets of Love, second, the Pangalactic Garggleblaster, a mixed drink featured in Adams’ novel, and last but not least, Zaphod’s has $5 Jaeger Bombs!  They also play a wide variety of great music that aren’t on the top 40’s charts and have amazing live music shows-- they recently hosted Aaron Carter.  Do you remember him?

Once you’re tired of dancing or if they’ve closed up for the night and have nowhere else to go, you should head over to Zak’s Diner.  Located just around the corner from Zaphod’s in the Byward Market Square, Zak’s is a 24-hour 50’s style diner with great food at great prices. If you aren’t in the mood for pancakes and sweet potato fries at 2 o’clock in the morning, you can always check out 3 Brother’s Shawarma on Rideau Street.  This particular shawarma restaurant is the best in town. One customer has even gone as far as saying they have “better shawarmas than Lebanon!”  The staff is very friendly, the prices are great and don’t be afraid to ask for more garlic sauce or extra filling—they’ll do it for no extra charge!

If you aren’t one to go out and drink and prefer a more quiet night out, then I suggest Ottawa’s one and only board game café, Monopolatte!  Found on Somerset West, this café has late hours, usually opening its doors at noon and closing up around 3 am on weekends.  Their staff includes cooks, waiters and board game teachers.  Yes!  That means if you don’t know how to play a game, someone is there to help you.  Monopolatte has a $5 cover fee and over 700 board games to choose from, so get your game on!

Remember, Ottawa is a large city with plenty of things to do.  If you’ve lived here your whole life like me and think this is a boring city, give it a chance and try something new! It’s not as bad as you think!  Check out some of these places and maybe one day, they will become your new favourite spots to visit too.


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