Ottawans love their patios. Whenever we can sit outside, we do. Here’s a short guide to some of the most unique patios in town, listed by neighbourhood.
The restaurants and bars of the ByWard Market neighbourhood are experts at maximizing sidewalk dining space. But some of the nicest patios aren’t on the sidewalk at all!
Visit the courtyards behind the shops on Sussex Drive for cobblestoned bliss! The Clarendon Courtyard (between George and York Streets) is home to no less than 5 restaurants: Social, Black Tomato, the Clarendon, Mamma Grazzi’s Kitchen and the aptly named Courtyard Restaurant (which is due to reopen in September after a small fire in its kitchen area in July 2010). Two blocks north, you’ll find the Tin House Courtyard and its greenspace, fountain and tin façade of a house mounted on a huge stone wall. The Black Thorn Café has a great view of it all, making it one of Ottawa’s most romantic patios.
The Grand Pizzeria & Bar at the corner of William and George Streets is probably the largest patio in town and offers some of the best people-watching opportunities in town (plus it’s near the original BeaverTails pastry stand — that’s handy for dessert!). The Hard Rock Café at 73 York Street is also a huge space, with rockin’ good tunes (check out the upstairs patio, too!). Both are family-friendly.
More intimate options include the hidden gem behind Murray Street (110 Murray Street), with its romantic grape vines, fountains and various representations of pigs! Neighbouring Sweetgrass Aboriginal Bistro (108 Murary Street) has a similar off-the-street space that will delight.
Another great people-watching corner is Clarence Street at Parent Avenue and you can go upscale outside at Empire Grill and watch the action over steak, or enjoy a pint and a pie at the Heart & Crown pub (frankly you’ll be amazed at all the nooks and crannies — inside and out — at the whole Irish Village complex, not to mention the live music every night).
It can be romantic to dine overlooking the beautiful Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that winds its way through downtown. One
option is to dine within another impressive national institution, the National Arts Centre, Canada’s premier performing arts venue. Le Café is located at the level of the Rideau Canal, very close to where Paul’s Boat Lines offers Rideau Canal cruises, and you’ll find delicious offerings from across Canada, including an impressive Sunday brunch (reservations recommended).
Farther down the Canal, on Queen Elizabeth Drive at Fifth Avenue, is the Canal Ritz, a casual Italian restaurant that juts out into the waters of the Canal. Very picturesque!
There are also three restaurants — all with patios — overlooking Dows Lake and the floral beds and arboretum that surround it: the casual pub Malone’s Lakeside Grill, the fun Tex-Mex cantina Mexicali Rosa’s and the beautiful Lago Bar / Grill / View, with the most impressive wrap-around patio overlooking the lake.
Don’t miss the beautifully decorated patio at D’Arcy McGee’s Irish Pub on the Sparks Street Mall at Elgin Street. There’s always a good time brewing at this lively pub!n Farther down Elgin Street, at #283, you’ll find the Fox & the Feather, another great pub with a second-floor patio overlooking the action on the street.
In Chinatown (Somerset Street West), it can be rare to find an outdoor patio, but ZenKitchen doesn’t disappoint, either with its comfy front porch or its tasty morsels. This gourmet vegan restaurant sports a varied clientele that more often than not includes serious carnivores who are drawn by the kitchen’s dedication to presenting flavourful food!
Great Tex Mex can be found at various Lone Star Texas Grill restaurants around town, many of which have patios. They’re a great option for celebrations, teams and other large groups with large appetites!
You can explore Ottawa’s fascination with pubs in Little Italy (Preston Street), too. Pub Italia has a great patio space overlooking the street and features Italian comfort food with an extensive beer list (both draught and bottles).
New Edinburgh (the neighbourhood of Rideau Hall, home and workplace of Canada’s Governor General) has some gems including the tiny Zazaza pizza place with same-size patio (143 Putman at Beechwood, no website), the delicious Fraser Café (technically no patio but the windows open wide — it’s just too good to leave off the list!), and the casual rooftop pub at the New Edinburgh Pub.