What to do in Ottawa's Byward Market
The Byward Market refers to one of Canada’s largest outdoor markets hosting a farmer’s market and artisans. The market is generally open until 5pm every day, with the selection of goods changing by the season. The area itself is much more than a market, it’s a popular tourist attraction full of dining options, shops and entertainment.
Located downtown Ottawa, close to both Parliament and the Alexandra Bridge to Quebec, Byward market is a must-see for tourists, and a fun area for locals.
Here is a list of our top stops!
THE OTTAWA SIGN
The Ottawa sign is a destination in itself, and a must stop for that perfect tourist Instagram pic! This past August students from Art Canada decorated the sign so each letter has a creative design. The cooler weather is a perfect time to explore! It is less busy and therefore you are more likely to get your perfect Instagram pic.
It is a larger and newer location in the heart of the Byward Market. They have food and drink specials throughout the week, as well as weekly bingo and live music! They have a delicious looking menu which contrasts the typical pub style food. They even pair beers on tap with some appetizer options. Cocktails and wine also available. Check out their spacious patio while the weather still allows it.
As sneaky as the name suggests, you may be tempted to look around the corner for an alternative entrance. Once you’re inside this restaurant feels classy but not pretentious, and it has good food to back it up! Inspired by Asian street food, the menu is mainly tapas style with food continuously arriving throughout your meal. With cocktail menu in hand, Sidedoor is also a great stop for a drink and app before your next Byward stop!
An institution for the locals, often enjoyed after hours, they’re “locally world famous”. Byward Market hosts one of the two locations for this old school diner. It has a welcoming feel as soon as you walk in, with dependably yummy meals; all day breakfasts, burgers and wraps. Grab one of their famous milk shakes, vegan options also available! Open 24 hours!!
PLAY FOOD AND WINE
A dining experience, this restaurant pairs wine with various tapa style plates. Make a reservation for a night out, and order at least three plates for yourself as a meal. It’s fun to share though! The perfect spot for a date night, Play feels like a relaxed version of fine dining. They typically have different hours for lunch and dinner when the kitchen is open, in between those times the bar is still open and charcuterie available.
OH SO GOOD DESSERTS
With a simple and relaxed vibe, this dessert bar keeps their front door (cough,wall) open in the nicer weather. They have such a large selection of cakes and pies, prepare for some indecision. Open until 11:00pm, midnight on the weekend, it’s the perfect place for a late night snack or meeting a friend if you need an alternative to drinks.
A Canadian favourite – a Beavertail is a must have if you’re visiting, or in the mood for a treat. It is truly an iconic dessert, each bite like a childhood memory. A warm pastry both crispy and soft at the same time, there are many toppings to choose from for the perfectly sweet experience. Look for the red booth!
A beautiful place to stay no doubt, but the main reason for a visit is to experience the tallest rooftop patio in Ottawa. The bar, Copper Spirits and Sights, is on the 16thfloor of this hotel, with an amazing view of parliament and downtown. Grab a sharing plate at one of the tables or stand by the glass wall with a cocktail to gaze across Byward Market at the Parliament building.
CHATEAU LAFAYETTE (THE LAFF)
“The Laff” is a dive bar, where you can feel the stories and history of the city. No one is trying too hard, it doesn’t matter what you’re wearing or what kind of night you’re having. Opened in 1849, as Ottawa’s oldest bar it’s held a variety of different names as well as rumours. They carry a variety of local beers, as well as some standard global ones. Order a quart of beer; a unique size (large) bottle of beer for this area in Ontario.
MAVERICK'S DONUT COMPANY
A quaint local donut shop, selling donuts both beautiful and delicious! Part of their mission is to deliver fresh, traditional donuts with their own twist. There is much debate in Ottawa, amongst both tourists and locals alike, whether Maverick's donuts or SuzyQ Doughnuts are the best in the city. You'll have to try both to see for yourself!
FAIRMONT CHATEAU LAURIER
This building is technically not in the Byward Market area, but a must-see since you’ll be close by! A castle in the city, it is within walking distance of all the major attractions including Parliament Hill, the Rideau Canal and the National Arts Gallery. They have three dining options inside. Even if you don’t go inside, you’ll want to get a glimpse of this landmark!
Other great spots in the Byward Market; Waller Street Brewing, Cacao 70 Eatery, Heart and Crown, Blue Cactus, Aulde Dubliner & Pour House, Smoque Shack, The Lookout Bar… we could go on.
If you’re looking for something familiar (or are travelling with someone picky) there is a Tim Hortons in the area, as well as McDonald’s, Starbuck’s, Lone Star bar & Grill, Cora’s and Keg Steakhouse.
Head over to see Parliament if you have not already, or tour the Royal Canadian Mint, which are both also nearby.