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Hood Wars 2013 Round One: Best Restaurant Row

By Katie Marsh on September 18, 2013

Hood Wars is Apt613’s annual neighbourhood contest where we ask our readers to choose what area deserves the title of best in the city. The Ottawa Open edition of Hood Wars will take place over five rounds: Best Restaurant Row (September 18); Best Public Art and Architecture (September 21); Best Green Space (September 25); Best Neighbourhood Party (September 28); Best Je-ne-sais-quoi (October 2). In each round readers will vote for the neighbourhood that they think has the best in that round’s category.  The top neighbourhood will get 10 points, the runner-up 9 points, third place 8 points and so on. The neighbourhood that rakes up the most points after all five rounds will be announced on the blog Saturday, October 5 and declared the best Ottawa neighbourhood of all time (for one year) and get a t-shirt designed in its honour.

In round one of Hood Wars 2013 we are asking you to vote for your favourite restaurant row in the city. Where do you go to kick back and soak in the ambiance over a pint of beer and a delicious plate of food? We’re looking for more than one or two good places to eat; a city-beating restaurant row should be a place with a cornucopia of options and its own special vibe.

We’ve listed some of our favourite restaurant rows below to get the discussions going, but do not feel limited to these choices. Vote for your favourite restaurant row at the bottom of this post, and feel free to try and sway your fellow Ottawans to your side in the comments.

NEW EDINBURGH – Beechwood Avenue Restaurants and Eateries

Fraser Cafe, Farbs Kitchen & Wine Bar, Arturo’s Market, Scone Witch, Zazaza, Arturo’s, El Meson

It’s a mere twenty minute walk to the Market, there are loads of tasty treats to be found, even the obligatory Bridgehead. No, it’s not the Glebe or even Hintonburg… welcome to Beechwood! Just east of downtown, this fantastic strip is bordered by green parks and peppered with great little food shops like Nature’s Buzz, Jacobsons and Da Bomb. Some of the fabulous restaurants you can find here include Farbs, Fraser Cafe, Arturo’s, Scone Witch and El Meson. With lots of new development currently underway, this often overlooked neighbourhood is moving on up!

HINTONBURG – Wellington Street West Street Restaurants 

Suzy Q’s, Hintonburger, Hintonburg Public House, Ten Fourteen, Tennessy Willems, The Backlane Cafe, ZaZaZa, Taco Lot, Isobel’s Cupcakes

There is no Westburrito or Glebewhich, but there is a Hintonburger. That’s because Hintonburg is a neighbourhood that deserves to be closely associated with deliciousness. Aside from the beloved burger joint, Wellington Street West is home to a number of low key establishments that are short on the decor but long on taste. Suzy Q doughnuts fits that description (if you haven’t made the trip down for a Mango Lassi doughnut, you haven’t lived) as does the Taco Lot, it’s Mexican inspired next door neighbour. There’s also Ottawa’s version of Pizza Corner (the Haligonians in the crowd know what I’m talking about) with Tennessy Willems facing off against the newest ZaZaZa and Backlane Cafe.

The Manx. Photo courtesy of fieldtripp on flickr GOLDEN TRIANGLE – Elgin Street Restaurants

The Manx Pub, Oz Cafe, The Lieutenant’s Pump, Elgin Street Diner, The Standard, Town, Pancho Villa, Elgin Street Diner, Mayflower Diner and Pub Mayfair Pub

The Elgin Street Restaurant row has a feeling of inevitability about it; spend enough time in Ottawa, and you will end up grabbing a pint or two somewhere along the strip. With a few notable exceptions (Oz and Town come to mind), the Elgin Street Eateries tends towards pub fare and pints. In the right hands that’s not a bad thing at all, as evidence by perennial favourite Manx Pub’s menu (have the huevos rancheros for brunch). There’s also the guilty pleasure (or danger, depending on your perspective) of poutine, be it onion ring poutine at the Elgin Street Diner, gravy pizza at House of Georgie, or plane old poutine at the Standard. Plus there is the pleasure of drinking a glass of something cold on a patio on one of the liveliest streets in the city.

The Byward Market. Photo courtesy of  J B Hildebrand on flickr THE MARKET Chez Lucien, Ahora, La Bottega Nicastro, The Smoque Shack, Play Food & Wine, Murray Street, the French Baker, Corazón De Maíz, The Black Tomato, The Black Thorn, Domus Cafe, Sidedoor Contemporary, Mellos Restaurant

If you judge your restaurant rows by quantity alone, then the Byward Market definitely takes top prize. The Ottawa Neighbourhood Study states that the neighbourhood has 105 restaurants, which works out to about 22 restaurants for 1000 residents. Of course, the appeal of the city’s preeminent tourist district isn’t just about the numbers; some of the best eateries in the city can be found in the area surrounding the market stalls. There’s a little something for everyone one here, be it the cozy comforts of a burger and beer at Chez Lucien, down-home Mexican at Corazón De Maíz or elegant small plates at Play.

Remember, this is only a small sample. We encourage you to vote for any neighbourhood and to share your favourites in the comments section. Voting ends when the next round of the contest is launched on September 21. Let the voting begin!