Proudly holding the title of ‘Ottawa’s oldest tavern,’ Chateau Lafayette, also affectionately known as The Laff, technically pre-dates the confederation of Canada itself, having first opened its doors in 1849. During this time, it has unsurprisingly changed hands and names many times, and the current owners proudly mark its role in the city’s rich history through the multitude of historic objects displayed on its walls. The atmosphere is relaxed, with a good range of drinks on offer and various forms of entertainment throughout the week, including Tuesdays’ open mic night.
Tucked away in the city’s Little Italy neighborhood, The Moonroom should be your first pick for evening cocktails in a fun, lively atmosphere. The softly lit interior has a cozy, intimate feel thanks to the strings of lights hanging from the ceiling and authentic chalkboard menus. The drinks list is extensive and the food is tapas-style, perfect for sharing.
The Black Thorn is an up-scale cafe/bar with a proud historical past. It has made its home in the National Capital Commission Building, once the home of 19th entury carriage master Albert Thibert. Original photographs are proudly displayed in the main bar area, to help bring the history of this beautiful building alive. It is a large space, with room for over 200 diners, consisting of four main sections: the front patio, main bar area, dining room and courtyard patio. Serving an impressive collection of draught beers, wines and dishes, including the excellent gourmet pizzas, The Black Thorn is the perfect first-stop on your Ottawa bar crawl.
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At the Hintonburg Public House, the friendly atmosphere and up beat music choices will soon have you feeling like you have found your new local drinking spot. The pub specializes in craft beers, many of which are sourced from the popular Muskoka breweries, although they also offer a small wine and cocktail list. The rustic furniture and quirky décor also contribute towards this place’s artsy, laid back vibe.
Restaurant, Bar, Italian, Canadian, Vegetarian, $$$
At the Canal Ritz, you can enjoy your drink while making the most of the bar’s central location, overlooking the beautiful Rideau Canal. Located right by the water, this snazzy bar has large glass windows and a pretty outdoor terrace for the warmer months. There’s a broad selection of Italian food on offer, and the drink list is extensive and tastes even better in combination with the amazing view.
With three popular locations across the city, The Clocktower Brew Pub is a great place to try for those with an interest in more unusual craft beers. With five main varieties on offer, there is something to suit all palates and the knowledgable staff are happy to share extra information with those looking to increase their repertoire. The venue often hosts beer-themed events, such as the Beer Barley and Food Festival, which draws local chefs and brewers from the surrounding area.
As its name suggest, Hooch Bourbon House is truly a must visit for Bourbon lovers. With over 20 different varieties to sample, there are a good number of more unusual bourbons, alongside amusingly named and delicious cocktails, such as The Ugly Sweater (Buffalo Trace bourbon, maple, bitters and lemon zest). Staff are knowledgable and are happy to offer recommendations for drinks or from the small but eclectic food menu.
Attracting a young crowd not dissimilar to that found in some of Toronto’s trendiest haunts, The Belmont is a casual bar serving well made drinks and small plates of delicious food. The minimalist interior reflects its simple menu, but there is a good selection of drinks available. Fun, attentive staff contribute to the energetic atmosphere and make this a great place to head for a night out with friends.
A ByWard Market favorite is The Rainbow, a blues bar. The place has grown a strong national and international reputation as the home of many travelling music acts. The acoustics here are perfect for a live music gig and although its main attraction is blues acts, you can also often enjoy pop, alt, jazz, rock or soul music along with your drink.
Despite being open for over 20 years, the Manx Pub remains a well kept secret, tucked away in a basement on Elgin Street. The dimly lit interior appears relatively unassuming, but the place has a great relaxed atmosphere, fostered by its arts pub heritage. True to form, the walls are decorated with local art, rotated on a monthly basis and the place often hosts jazz and DJ nights on Sunday and Monday evenings.