Ottawa Citizen Dining Guide 2009 – Part 3 – The Western Front

Dining Guide #3 West of the Rideau

Part Three of the Dining Guide focuses on the restaurant-rich neighbourhoods of Ottawa’s western front, from Chinatown and Preston Street, to Westboro, down to Centrepointe, and as far west as Bells Corners.

As for every entry in this year’s guide, these are restaurants I recommend, some unequivocally, others with reservations, but, for whatever mood you’re in, budget that fits you or demographic you fit into, you should be able to find something that suits.

Please keep in mind: this list is a guide only, based on my experiences; there’s no guarantee of what you will find.


Loosely based on a three-course dinner for two, with taxes, but before drinks or gratuity.

$: Under $40

$$: $40 to $70

$$$: $70 to $100

$$$$: Over $100



726 Somerset St W., 613-230-6815 $

Cuisine: Asian

Fresh, hot, fast and a very good blend of Vietnamese and Chinese cuisines, run by very fine people. Fish is a strength, so are salad rolls and lemongrass chicken.

Hot Peppers

495 Somerset St. W., 613-233-4687 $$


They call themselves an “expressive Thai restaurant” with an upstairs wine bar. Fried oysters, curried mussels, spicy crab cakes with mango sauce, steamed salmon with plum and ginger.


625 Somerset St. W., 613-233-0204 $

Cuisine: Chinese

It’s not the decor that has folks lined up out its door. Maybe it’s the food: pickerel with chili and garlic, squid with snow pea tips, bitter melon and beef in black bean sauce.

Jo Moon Ting

832 Somerset St. W., 613-237-8887 $

Cuisine: Chinese

Ten tables in a pokey little room, or take away counter with its window-view of BBQ treats. Either way, in-house or to-go, the house chicken, roast pork and BBQ duck are the way-to-go.


637 Somerset St. W., 613-237-7717 $

Cuisine: Asian

Vietnamese, Chinese and Thai dishes on the menu. Seafood is treated well. Good too are the soups, pot stickers, shrimp dumplings, crispy beef, braised duck.

New Mee Fung

350 Booth St., 613-567-8228 $

Cuisine: Vietnamese

Large dining room with a large menu. Order by number. Try No. 223 lemongrass chicken, or No. 136 spicy satay with rice noodle.

New Pho Bo Ga La

761-763 Somerset St. W., 613-233-2222 $

Cuisine: Vietnamese

Pho is noodle soup. Bo is beef, Ga is chicken and La is the large, extended family that runs this place and a few others on the strip.

Pho Thu Do

765 Somerset St. W., 613-235-7116 $

Cuisine: Vietnamese

One of the originals and as plain-Jane as they come. Chipped formica and permanently scarred linoleum. But the sweetly scented noodle soups are wonderful.


651 Somerset St. W., 613-233-4001 $

Cuisine: Asian

Mandarin martinis, Brazilian rhythms, Disco bingo, Karaoke Saturdays … this isn’t your typical Chinese restaurant, though it is the region’s oldest. Food’s all over the place too – North American Cantonese to Thai curries to Malaysian calamari.

Sushi 88

690B Somerset St. W., 613-233-3288 $

Cuisine: Sushi

For the sushi-novice? Try the “I Like My Sushi Cooked” combo; for the well initiated? “Sashimi Surprise.” Dining alone? “Sashimi Just For Me.”

Vietnam Palace

819 Somerset St. W., 613-238-6758 $

Cuisine: Vietnamese

First-rate seafood: scallops with lemongrass and chilies, shrimp with fresh pineapple, sea bass in black bean sauce. Sizable vegetarian section.


Allegro Ristorante

422 Preston St., 613-235-7454 $$$

Cuisine: Italian

A traditional restaurant comfortably settled into its way of doing things, with a familiar menu and reliable food. Count on a good Caesar, homey soups, fresh, well prepared fish and seafood, and fine pasta dishes.


540 Rochester St., 613-321-3537 $$$$

Cuisine: Modern

Chef Marc Lepine’s new avant garde, tasting-menu-only restaurant, based on the Barcelona model of the kitchen-as-laboratory. Twelve courses, served blind, of mostly extraordinary food. Reservations required.

Big Easy’s

228 Preston St., 613-565-3279 $$$

Cuisine: Southern seafood

A new New Orleans-style seafood and steak house in the middle of Little Italy, with a long bar and oyster bed, good gumbo, excellent crab cakes, fat ribeyes, and an excellent pecan-sweet potato pie.

Black Cat Bistro

428 Preston St., 613-569-9998 $$$

Cuisine: Comfort Canadian

A new home for the old BC, born 30 years ago on Echo Drive, recently relocated from Murray Street, and now purring along nicely on Preston. Venison carpaccio with aged cheddar, fennel-seeded sweetbreads, duck with figs, lemon tart.

DiVino Wine Studio

225 Preston St., 613-221-9760 $$$

Cuisine: Small plates

Ottawa’s first enoteca of exclusively Italian wines, the collection constantly changing. The food menu relies on small plates designed for sharing – polenta ragu, mushroom risotto, pappardelle in a leek and walnut sauce.


484 Preston St., 613-230-8828 $

Cuisine: Turkish

Rib-sticking Turkish food in Little Italy. The meze platter could make a light supper on its own — and don’t miss the doner kebab when it’s available.


362 Preston St., 613-234-3156 $$$$

Cuisine: Italian

Often busy, often loud, but service is top-notch, the food is flavourful, northern Italian fare and the wine list is superior.

Green Papaya on Preston

256 Preston St., 613-231-8424 $$


The first Thai restaurant to immigrate to Little Italy. The pasta strip has made room for kwaytiaw, classic Thai soups and searing salads.

Il Piccolino

449 Preston St., 613-236-8158 $$

Cuisine: Italian

Comfortable, homey decor in a quirky house where pasta and pizza dominate the menu. Pretty summer patio framed with grape vines.

Il Primo

371 Preston St., 613-234-6858 $$$

Cuisine: Italian

Il Piccolino’s sister restaurant, this one is more formal, more contemporary. No pizza, lots of pasta, tender veal, inventive antipasti.

Stoneface Dolly’s

416 Preston St., 613-564-2222 $$

Cuisine: Eclectic

Thai soup, tarragon chicken, Mussels, jerk chicken, Thai red curry mussels, jambalaya, and wacky pasta dishes, in modern surroundings in Little Italy.

Trattoria Caffé Italia

254 Preston St., 613-236-1081 $$$

Cuisine: Italian

Recently renovated, but still the red-and-white-check cloths cover the busy tables. On the plate: kind portions of fresh, carefully made, affordably priced, traditional northern Italian food.


Absinthe Café

1208 Wellington St., 613-761-1138 $$$

Cuisine: Bistro

Patrick Garland’s food is seasonally sound, locally sourced, and big on assertive flavours. Warm tomato salad, bacon wrapped quail, red snapper, steak frites, profiteroles.

Agave Grill

1331 Wellington St., 613-728-5588 $$

Cuisine: Mexican

Go for the margaritas. Stay for the guacamole, burritos, tender steak bathed in a chipotle chili sauce, and anything with salsa verde on top.


87 Holland Ave., 613-792-1313 $$$

Cuisine: Contemporary

Monday night tapas at allium make Monday nights palatable. Other days, chef-owner Arup Jana dishes up big flavoured food, with particular pleasure found in game dishes and vegetarian arrangements.


91 Holland Ave., 613-759-8472 $$

Cuisine: Thai

Traditional Thai vestiges mingle with contemporary décor. Good satay, ginger-steamed duck, prawn curry, mango ice cream with mango sauce.

Bella’s Bistro

1445 Wellington St. W., 613-724-6439 $$$

Cuisine: Italian

Bella Milito prepares Italian comfort food, specializing in pasta fatta a casa, along with the usual vitello, pollo and pesci, all of it pretty primo.

Caffé Mio

1379 Wellington St. W., 613-761-5510 $$

Cuisine: Italian

A soup and panini on a sunny afternoon on the Mio patio is pretty hard to beat. This little neighbourhood restaurant satisfies with good service, fair prices and decent food.

Caffé Ventuno

1355 Wellington St., 613-729-9121 $$

Cuisine: Italian

A modern-looking café attached to an upscale Italian food and cheese shop. The menu offers pasta, risotto, thin-crust pizza.


65 Holland Ave., 613-729-1991 $$$

Cuisine: Bistro

A petite space with a petite menu of bistro dishes – scallops, steak frites, short ribs, gnocchi, daily fish – named in honour of the galleries and theatre that surround it.


1087 Wellington St. W., 613-761-6120 $

Cuisine: Ehiopian

Short menu, cheap prices, plain room, and on the menu, ten fragrant and sometimes searing stews – beef, lamb, chicken, pulses, vegetables – served with injera.

Juniper Kitchen and Wine Bar

245 Richmond Rd., 613-728-0220 $$$$

Cuisine: Modern Canadian

A kitchen that looks locally for quality ingredients and then casts its net widely for inspiration. One of the neighbourhood’s finest.

Les Grillades

85 Holland Ave., 613-792-3224 $$

Cuisine: Lebanese grill

Re-opened after a fire and as good as ever. Fabulous flame-grilled chicken, hummus, roasted eggplant dips, grilled lamb, either for sit-down on take-out.

MHK Sushi

429 Richmond Rd., 613-798-0800 $$

Cuisine: Sushi

Fish swim in the walls and on the menu of this small, chic sushi restaurant. Seaweed salad to start, then a la carte treats, or one of the MHK maki platters.

Milagro Grill

357 Richmond Rd., 613-722-8011 $$

Cuisine: Mexican

With an upscale decor and a drinks menu that offers tequila by the “flight,” Milagro is Tex Mex for grownups. Food can be uneven. Upstairs patio is a treat.

Petit Bill’s Bistro

1293 Wellington St. W., 613-729-2500 $$$

Unpretentious restaurant offers small and large plates of eclectic dishes – from curry chicken to maple scallops to eggplant cannelloni.

Phnom Penh

1100 Wellington Street W., 613-722-8588 $

Cuisine: Cambodian and Chinese

The food is tasty, there’s lots of it, the price is reasonable, the service is fast and friendly, and the place has an engaging family-run feel.

Siam Bistro

1268 Wellington St. W., 613-728-3111 $$

Cuisine: Thai

A handsome new interior and the same familiar line-up of standard Thai dishes. Among its talents are its generous servings and pretty arrangements.

The Diner

1385 Wellington St. W., 613-798-7800  $$

Cuisine: Diner grub

An agreeably grown-up sort of diner, where parents as well as their issue, can feel at home. Hearty breakfasts, good pot roast, homemade soups, chicken pot pie, burgers.

The Foolish Chicken

79 Holland Ave., 613-321-4715 $$

Cuisine: Chicken and ribs

Rotisserie chicken, gooey ribs and homemade desserts are the strengths at this affordable family restaurant.

The Local Bar

Irving Greenberg Theatre Centre, 1227 Wellington St. W., 613-236-5196 #315 $$

Cuisine: Canadian

Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, pre- and post-theatre nibbling, with a short, straightforward menu of well-flavoured dishes at fair prices.

The Table

1230 Wellington St. W., 613-729-5973 $$

Cuisine: Vegetarian

Bright, utilitarian space for the orthodox vegetarian to feast on all-day, every-day, pay-by-weight-of-loaded-plate buffet.

The Village Café

295 Richmond Rd., 613-728-2162 $$

Cuisine: Café

A casual restaurant with an eclectic menu — tandoori salmon, Moroccan-style crab cakes, Thai-style prawns. A soup and sandwich lunch remains a draw.

The Wellington Gastropub

1325 Wellington St. W., 613-729-1315 $$$

Cuisine: Canadian Gastropub

Fine dining in a relaxed venue: Ottawa’s first gastropub offers a short daily menu of seasonal treats, many options for artisan beer and an international wine list.

The Works

326 Richmond Rd., 613-564-0406 $

Cuisine: Burgers

Seven patties, 62 toppings, 12 upgrades… makes for innumerable options and permutations for burgers and fries at this busy, high-octane, family-friendly joint.


307-D Richmond Rd., 613-722-3887 $$

Cuisine: Small plates, lounge food.

A teeny neighbourhood eatery that’s breezy, quirky, affordable and allows you to drop in at midnight for paté and pears, pasta or pizza.


Amber Garden and Dalmacia Restaurant

1702 Carling Ave., 613-728-0000 $$

Cuisine: European

Traditional Eastern European dishes from the Baltic to the Black Seas – cabbage rolls, pierogies, schnitzels, goulash, Kulebiaka, chicken Paprikash, apple fritters.

Caribbean Flavours

1659 Carling Ave., 613-237-9981 $$$

Cuisine: Caribbean

In a plain-Jane location on Carling. Nothing plain about the food: cod cakes, jerk chicken, goat curry, rotis, saltfish and ackee, washed down with homemade ginger beer.

Golden Palace

2195 Carling Ave., 613-820-8444 $

Cuisine: Chinese

This is the sweet-and-sour, battered-and-fried, red-dyed Cantonese treat food of the 1960s, with legendary egg rolls. Now in its 50th year of service.

Ho Ho

875 Richmond Rd., 613-722-9200 $

Cuisine: Chinese

“Dine-in, take-out, we-deliver” restaurant with strong west-end following. Locals come for the fresh food and for the gracious family that serves it.

Merivale Seafood Grill

1480 Merivale Rd., 613-723-2476 $

Cuisine: Seafood

Fish from the adjoining market is plucked off the ice, steamed, grilled, battered, breaded, brochetted — your choice.

Mrs. Le

1766 Carling Ave., 613-798-5697 $

Cuisine: Vietnamese

All the crunch-soft-pungent-fresh of Vietnamese cuisine is here, in a homey space on busy Carling Avenue. Lunch specials are popular.

Nokham Thai

747 Richmond Rd., 613-724-6620 $$

Cuisine: Thai

Pay attention to the house specials at this popular place. Stuffed chicken wings, tilapia in a red curry sauce, delicious mango and shrimp salad.


911 Richmond Rd., 613-728-0909 $$$

Cuisine: Greek

Hellenic music, columns, frescoes, the works. Terrific things done with eggplant and lamb. Servings are enormous.



2920 Carling Ave, 613-828-7812 $

Cuisine: Sri Lankan/ Indian

A second home for this popular Sri Lankan restaurant, you find the same curry-leaved, coconut-sweetened, tamarind-tanged, chilli-fired food of Sri Lanka here in the west as you do downtown.

Little India Café

66 Wylie Ave., 613-828-2696 $

Cuisine: Indian

Hole in the wall (under renovation) offers Indian cooking from the north and mystic south — silky butter chicken, complex lamb bhuna and admirable vegetarian dishes. To reopen March 25.


69 Kempster Ave., 613-820-4119 $

Cuisine: Asian

Mostly Malaysian fare, with some Chinese, Indian and Thai influences. Curry puffs are must-eats. So are satays, Singapore noodles, coriander chicken and tamarind shrimp.


3009 Carling Ave., 613-726-6955 $

Cuisine: Indian

Typical north Indian fare that distinguishes itself through the lustiness of its spicing, the long drenching marinades and the expertise with the tandoor.


365 Forest St., 613-725-3481 $$

Cuisine: European

On the menu, wiener schnitzel, ham hock, sauerbraten, bratwurst, apple fritters. On the plate, lots. On the bill, not much. On the floor, nice people.


Baan Thai

261 Centrepointe Drive, 613-226-7604 $

Cuisine: Thai

The soups are full bodied, lip tingling, sinus clearing brews, the salads have some attitude, the stir-fries are perked with generous amounts of basil and garlic, and the curries have heat and perfume.


A Taste of Japan

3710 Richmond Rd., 613-721-7675 $$

Cuisine: Japanese

In the suburban sprawl, Japanese food that is a cut above. Miso marinated mackerel, scallops flamed in wine, beef katsu, along with all the raw snacks.


39 Robertson Rd., 613-721-0510 $$

Cuisine: Mediterranean

A long-running Bells Corners restaurant. Strengths are in homemade breads, pastas and pizzas, fresh seafood and luscious desserts.

Lapointe Seafood Grill

194 Robertson Rd., 613-596-9655 $$

Cuisine: Seafood

One of a half dozen Lapointes, these are fish cafés attached to fish markets, each with similar menus. Beer-batter fish and chips, grilled swordfish with a lime caper sauce, fresh mussels.


134 Robertson Rd., 613-829-1010 $$

Cuisine: Thai

I am told Sukhothai has expanded into a KFC next door, and is no longer a little bright light in a dim mall, but rather a large one. Dishes are the predictable ones. Highlights include beef with basil and chili and green curry of chicken.

The West End Station Bistro

3659 Richmond Rd., 613-721-9639 $$$$

Cuisine: International

Nicely refurbished Bells Corners restaurant offers a fine dining option in a part of town in need of it. Good soup, mussels, crème brulée.






4 responses to “Ottawa Citizen Dining Guide 2009 – Part 3 – The Western Front”

  1. Mark W Avatar

    What a fantastic list! Your highly useful and accurate restaurant summaries are excellent.

    One small update: Sukhothai moved to the former KFC next door (134 vs. 130 Robertson Rd) so your “dated and dimly lit restaurant set back in a strip mall” comment is hopefully no longer applicable.

  2. Anne Avatar

    I am most grateful to you. Do hope there isn’t any lingering KFC aroma in the air. Thanks, Mark.

  3. Ivan Avatar

    Thanks for a great guide!!

    However, I do have a reservation. How the list chosen. The New Dubrovnik has not been included for the past couple years. It has been in business for 30 years and recently was a two star winner at the 2008 Epicurean Awards for best restaurants. I know it is family restaurant serving simple old world comfort food, however, it has been a staple of Eastern European Cuisine in Ottawa.

    Just my two cents!!

  4. Neil White Avatar
    Neil White

    I am not sure if this is the place to make these comments if not please let me know or redirect them to the proper person. Thank You.

    I eat out often and at places like “The Social” The Black Cat” “Lux Cafe” “Junipers” and more. I find all these places have great food. But in your comments on various restaurants you could (should) include noise level. I have found at all of the above restaurants the noise level so high that even a table of four had to speak very loudly to be heard which of course has a ripple effect (others speak louder to be heard and so so on) I don’t mind the rumble of conversation for athmosphere but I visit these restaurants less and less because of just that. Decore is great but when it is all hard surfaces or high ceiling and no soft surfaces or half walls or baffles to absobe the NOISE one’s dining experience is cut short. I do like a long diner evening and atmosphere. Also music is another problem. Either it is too loud, bad placement of speakers or just bad selection of (background music) I sat a Junipers listening to a back to back cd of the Rolling Stones Jumping Jack Flash!!!!

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