Best Kept Takeout Secrets in Ottawa

When I left Ottawa in 2012 to move to Toronto, there was a budding food scene in Ottawa that mostly revolved around a handful of neighbourhoods and touristy landmarks in the city. Returning to the nation’s capital in 2020, I was met by what felt like an entirely new city with a food culture that had undergone a renaissance and flourished during my time away. From new neighbourhoods to cuisines never before seen in Ottawa, I’ve gathered some of Ottawa’s best kept secrets – and trust me when I say, you will love each and every one of them.

When it comes to writing a comprehensive food list like this one, of course it should be taken with a grain of salt (proverbially, and literally) since I haven’t tried every restaurant in the city yet.

Dhruvees (located at 18 Beechwood Ave.) has quickly become one of the best food experiences I have ever had in Ottawa. Classic Indian, Indonesian and Sri Lankan dishes come together in an eclectic meeting of flavours that would have been found along the spice route that linked them together. The restaurant is named after the north star which has great significance in Japanese, Greek, Hawaiian and Indian culture. In Indian mythology, the pole star is called Dhruva and Dhruvees based on the legend of a little prince behind it. My favourite part of the experience is that, even if you have never experienced these styles of cuisine before, the staff are so knowledgeable and welcoming that they can take you on your own journey of the senses, whether you’re a beginner or long time enthusiast.

La Bonnita (located at both 1128 Cadboro Rd and 1079 Wellington Street West) offers some of the most authentic Mexican food I’ve ever enjoyed outside of Mexico. They play the latest Latin music typically heard on the streets of Mexico, black and white movies from the golden age of Mexican film are projected right onto the walls, and all the Mexican beers are available from the bar. A word to the wise that when you ask for hot salsa, they aren’t kidding around with theirs and it is absolutely amazing!

La Bottega Nicastro (located at 64 George St) is not what it first seems. Upon entrance to their bustling shop in the Byward Market, you’ll make your way down aisles of delicious ingredients that you would find in a classic Bottega. If you make your way to the back of the shop, there’s a deli counter where you can order one of the best sandwiches you’ll ever have. They are so delicious, and such a fantastic price, you may even consider going back for seconds.

Union Local 613 is the speakeasy-esque after work hot spot you didn’t know you needed in the heart of Centretown. From their rotating drink specials to the Southern inspired menu items that play beautifully against the eclectic art on the walls. The “secret” speakeasy downstairs offers boiled peanuts to nibble on while sipping cocktails made with spirits you wouldn’t find anywhere else in the city. This is the perfect location for a girls night / gurls night out, and it definitely tops my list of date night spots for food and drink lovers alike!

Sabai Thai (located at 4055 Carling Ave in Kanata) offers a true taste of Thailand, located in the west end of the city and family run. The word “sabai” in Thai means comfortable and relaxed. Be “sabai” while enjoying fine Thai cuisine prepared and cooked with only the freshest and best ingredients. Their lunch menu is one of the best in the city, and I love that their family is supported by a fellow content creator – the fabulously talented @melshangrytable. I encourage anyone looking for amazing food content and restaurant recommendations in Ottawa to give her a follow.

YI RYO pan fried buns (located at 252 Bank Street) offers authentic Shanghai style pan fried buns, and they are addictive! Made by hand in front of your eyes, the restaurant has a modest sized dining space and is always busy, but I promise the food is worth the wait. If you’re unsure where to start, the staff are incredibly kind and will help guide your pan fried bun experience from start to finish.

Wedel – Touch of Europe (located at 300 Richmond Rd) is a taste of Europe right here in Canada with some of the most delicious Eastern Europen products, ready to eat meals, ready to heat meals, a fresh deli and cheese counter, and catering services. Their incredible hot lunches include fan favourites like perogies, sausages, rouladen, schnitzel and so much more.

Bella’s Boys (located at 250 Greenbank Rd Unit 12) is the Italian food destination everyone should know about. The second iteration of the establishment is takeaway only after 23 years of operation as a sit down restaurant, with a new location in the works. For the time being, enjoy the best paninis, pastas, soups and desserts to enjoy at home.

From Orleans to Kanata and everything in between, the culinary world is opening its doors in Ottawa in exciting new ways. These establishments are helping to showcase Ottawa as an up-and-coming culinary tourism capital as well as being the nation’s capital.

I’d love to know if there’s a hidden gem you think we should know about. Make sure to tag @canadatakeout and @dothedaniel to tell us where we should eat next!