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Where to Eat Ottawa

The Sweet Stuff: Holland’s Cake and Shake

(Photo: Erica Filippelli)

Holland’s Cake and Shake specializes in artisanal mini cakes, delightful pastries, and hearty themed sandwiches. (Photo: Erica Filippelli)

Dessert lovers will feel right at home at Holland’s Cake and Shake. Although the menu changes weekly, you can expect to see cakes inspired by such culinary delights as cinnamon buns and popcorn. For a few bucks extra, you can have a cake of your choice blended into a milkshake; those with formidable stomachs may be tempted by the Overlord, a 16-ounce shake topped with a cake, a cookie, and a brownie. Brown bag lunches are also available; they include a hot or cold sandwich, a drink, and a treat.
•229 Armstrong St., 613-695-3311, cakeandshake.ca

Fresco Bistro Italiano on Elgin Street

Fresco Bistro Italiano on Elgin Street serves up scrumptious Italian fare.

Fresco Bistro Italiano on Elgin Street serves up scrumptious Italian fare.

On what is arguably one of Ottawa’s most popular dining strips, Fresco Bistro Italiano brings jazzed up Italian cuisine to the table. Their food — including their popular veal meatballs — is made fresh in-house, and served in a chic, cozy dining room. Another plus: they serve brunch complete with traditional breakfast items, sandwiches, pizzas, and pastas.
•354 Elgin St., 613-235-7541, frescobistro.ca
Map and reviews

Wholesome Cuisine: Clover in Ottawa

Clover serves up light and wholesome fare for lunch and dinner.

Clover serves up light and wholesome fare for lunch and dinner.

Clover is a quaint little spot in the heart of Centretown that serves up light, refreshing lunch fare. The menu has broad appeal — from soups to salads to wraps packed with protein, vegetarians and omnivores alike will find themselves satisfied here. Dinner service is offered on Friday and Saturday evenings only.
•155 Bank St., 613-680-8803, cloverottawa.ca

Old World Italian: Allegro Ristorante

Allegro Ristorante in the heart of Little Italy

Allegro Ristorante in the heart of Little Italy serves up classic Italian fare.

Allegro Ristorante is a long-running Ottawa establishment that recently changed ownership. One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is its chef, which means you too can sample the hearty Italian food Ottawans have been enjoying for 20 years. They offer all your Italian favourites: fettuccine in pesto alfredo, linguine with shrimp, tortellini and prosciutto in a mushroom sauce, and good old spaghetti carbonara. The service is exceptional, too. —Amy Allen
•422 Preston St., 613-235-7454, allegroristorante.ca

A Craving for Cocoa

New in town, Purdys Chocolatier makes delicious chocolates, truffles, and other sweet treats.

New in town, Purdys makes delicious chocolates, truffles, and other sweet treats.

You can’t go wrong with chocolate. A box of bonbons makes a perfect Valentine’s Day treat, be it for yourself or someone special. And what better way to dispel those winter chills than with a cup of hot cocoa made with fresh, high quality Belgian chocolate? Here, we highlight some of the best places to satisfy your sweet tooth.

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Starting From Scratch: Wilf & Ada’s

At Wilf and Ada's, delicious diner fare is made in-house from scratch.

At Wilf and Ada’s, delicious diner fare is made in-house from scratch.

After 20 years in business, the owners of Ada’s Diner, a beloved greasy spoon in Centretown, retired and sold the property to a new generation of restaurateurs. The location was reborn as Wilf & Ada’s and has been serving breakfast, brunch, and lunch ever since. Dishes are lovingly prepared from scratch wherever possible, using high quality products sourced from local suppliers. Popular choices include the hot chicken sandwich and the house-made sugar pie.
•510 Bank St., 613-231-7959. wilfandadas.com

Artisanal Flavour at Art Is In Bakery

At Art Is In Bakery, you'll find delicious artisan breads in a variety of flavours, including Dynamie cheddar jalapeño. (Photo: Kim Shumsky)

At Art Is In Bakery, you’ll find delicious artisan breads in a variety of flavours, including Dynamite cheddar jalapeño. (Photo: Kim Shumsky)

Bread is a staple of virtually every culture on earth, but Art Is In — as its name implies — makes it an art form.  Try the Dynamite cheddar jalapeno bread and their almond croissants. For a real treat sit in their casual restaurant and order one of the rich sandwiches on their menu. Built on a foundation of house-made bread, they’re packed with such luscious ingredients as slow roasted chicken, angus striploin, white truffle mayo, and Gruyère cheese. —Amy Allen
•250 City Centre Ave., Unit 112, 613-695-1226 ext. 801, artisinbakery.com

Contemporary Cuisine at Courtyard Restaurant

Situated in a historic building in the heart of the ByWard Market, Courtyard Restaurant serves up contemporary Canadian cuisine with international flavours.

Situated in a historic building in the heart of the ByWard Market, Courtyard Restaurant serves up contemporary Canadian cuisine with international flavours.

In the heart of the ByWard Market, the Courtyard Restaurant has been serving fine contemporary cuisine for over 30 years. Housed in a handsome limestone building that dates back to 1837, the restaurant exudes a comfortable, yet refined, ambience that is matched by chef Ian Reed’s menu. Here, you’ll find beautifully plated wild boar, pan roasted Pacific halibut, and bacon-wrapped elk striploin. —Amy Allen
•21 George St., 613-241-1516, courtyardrestaurant.com 
Map and reviews

5 Vegetarian Restaurants in Ottawa

BY AMY ALLEN

This hearty chili is just one of many tasty vegan dishes on offer at SimplyRaw Express. (Photo: Courtesy of SimplyRaw Express)

This hearty chili is just one of many tasty vegan dishes on offer at SimplyRaw Express. (Photo: Courtesy of SimplyRaw Express)

In this day and age, plenty of restaurants include at least one vegetarian item on the menu. But wouldn’t it be nice to sit down at a place where the entire menu caters to those who have foregone meat altogether? Well, never fear — the Ottawa region has plenty of delicious options for vegans and vegetarians.

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Rustic Charm at MeNa

MeNa serves up elegant, French-inspired cuisine in a cozy, rustic setting.

MeNa serves up elegant, French-inspired cuisine in a cozy, rustic setting.

Named for owner Bryan Livingston’s wife, MēNa serves French-inspired cuisine in a cozy setting. With an emphasis on small menus and portions, the restaurant delivers such delicious options as lamb leg, arctic char, pork shoulder, beef flank, and corn flan with gnocchi. They also have a sommelier on hand to explain the wine menu and make pairing suggestions. —Amy Allen
•276 Preston St., 613-233-6462, menarestaurant.com

Game, Set, Match: Real Sports Bar and Grill

Real Sports is a great place to take in the big game, or just kick back and relax with friends.

Real Sports is a great place to take in the big game, or just kick back and relax with friends.

Take in the big game at Real Sports Bar & Grill, where sporting events are displayed on a 27-foot big screen and 99 additional HD televisions. Part sports bar, part lounge, it’s the perfect place to not only catch the game on the big screen, but also catch up with friends. The extensive menu boasts traditional and upscale bar fare, and the patio and second floor terrace offer the opportunity to kick back and relax. —Amy Allen
•90 George St., 613-680-7325, realsports.ca/barandgrill
Map and reviews

Pizza on the Go: Fiazza Fresh Fired

(Photo: David Irvine)

Fiazza specializes in fresh, custom-made pizzas. (Photo: David Irvine)

Fiazza Fresh Fired is one of the newest restaurants in town. Start by choosing your sauce (red san marzano and alfredo are among the options), then pile it up with cheese (offerings range from blue to goat to vegan). After that, select your toppings, which run the gamut from traditional (pineapple, naturally smoked bacon) to unusual (truffle oil, arugula). —Amy Allen
•86 Murray St., 613-562-2000, fiazza.ca