Getting to the heart of Ottawa’s ByWard Market

Contrary to popular belief, Ottawa is not the same boring city you suffered through on your Grade 6 field trip. In fact, all the recent uproar on Parliament Hill just goes to show that our capital city is anything but dull.

It’s Ottawa’s historic ByWard Market that has really become one of the city’s hottest attractions. Considered one of the oldest farmers’ markets in Canada, ByWard Market was first established in 1826 by Colonel John By, builder of the Rideau Canal. A recent revitalization within the past decade has produced an influx of independent art galleries, eco-friendly stores, cafes, restaurants, bakeries and one-of-a-kind designer clothing shops that attracts an average of 50,000 visitors on a summer weekend, and more than six million per year.

So if you’re planning a visit to Ottawa this spring or summer, here are some tried-and-true suggestions for the best food experiences in ByWard Market.

Take advantage of the fresh, local, and seasonal produce from late spring through fall, and visit one of the 260 farmer’s market and artisan stands at ByWard Market Square for fresh fruits, vegetables, or maple syrup. While you’re at the square, be sure to visit Le Moulin de Provence bakery where you can pick up an “Obama Cookie,” made famous by the U.S. president’s visit in February 2009.

Named one of Canada’s 10 Best New Restaurants of 2009, Murray Street Kitchen Wine Charcuterie offers upper Canadian farmhouse cooking with a nose-to-tail philosophy. Local cheeses, house-made charcuterie, $13 weekend brunch, and plates like “head & shoulders, knees & toes” just goes to show that Murray Street Kitchen is the whole package (and then some).

For something a little more rowdy and prone to singalongs, don’t miss Friday and Saturday nights at Fat Tuesday’s, where you can enjoy some good ‘ol fashioned duelling pianos while noshing on typical Louisiana fare like jambalaya, crab cakes or blackened chicken.

Whether it’s a giant stack of banana pancakes for breakfast, four-cheese poutine or one of their 12 burger options for dinner, Zak’s Diner serves up diner-sized portions of comfort food 24 hours a day, seven days a week — a favourite amongst University of Ottawa students and those reeling after a wild night at ByWard Market’s clubs, pubs and bars.

Last but not least, a trip to ByWard isn’t complete without a stop at the world’s very first BeaverTails stand, for one of their fried, doughnut–like treats, traditionally topped with cinnamon and sugar.

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