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The Essential Bars of Ottawa

Where to drink wine, cocktails, and lots of craft beer in the nation’s pub-heavy capital.

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Drinking in Ottawa can be a fraught endeavour — while there’s certainly no shortage of watering holes, it can feel like the options are overwhelmingly dominated by so-so pubs dealing in pints of Molson and soggy nachos.

But there are options — fantastically cozy neighbourhood pubs like the Manx and Irene’s are diamonds in the rough, as are no-fuss dives such as the Dominion Tavern. Then there’s a growing number of craft breweries offering on-site tap rooms like Beyond the Pale or Tooth and Nail.

The city isn’t as strong in the wine and cocktail realm, but spots like the Moonroom for wine or speakeasy-inspired Union Local 613 can easily compete with big-city equivalents over in Montreal or Toronto.

Take note: this map sticks to venues that tilt towards being bars more than restaurants — wine bars like Soif make the cut, but restaurants like Riviera, Fauna, Play Food & Wine, and Bar Laurel have been left out.

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Eater maps are curated by editors and aim to reflect a diversity of neighborhoods, cuisines, and prices. Learn more about our editorial process.

Chez Lucien

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This Lowertown pub walks a tidy line of being rustic but not dingy, and high-quality without being pretentious. If you’re hungry, be sure to buy a burger — the house specialty.

Les Brasseurs du Temps

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It’s worth crossing the river for this craft beer powerhouse, located in a historic building in Hull. With 15-plus beers on tap (not to mention cask ales regularly on offer), BDT skews a little towards hoppy options and classic ales, but there’s enough selection to please everybody.

Dominion Tavern

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The Dominion is the Byward Market’s ever-reliable rock ‘n’ roll dive bar, replete with Pabst on tap (plus a few craft options for the snobs), and multiple pool tables. It regularly hosts shows, too.

Chateau Lafayette (The Laff)

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Older than the country of Canada and the city of Ottawa itself, the Laff has been pulling beers for a cool 170 years and counting under various names. The secret to its success? Consistency, and a lack of pretension.

Top Canadian sommelier Véronique Rivest’s bar is the premier destination for wine around the capital — her flawless selections include some intriguing Quebec wines; a formidable food menu only makes things better, with simple dishes centred around local produce that truly showcase the wines.

Waller Street Brewing

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Big, bold flavours are the name of the game at this Byward Market microbrewery. Beer selections rotate regularly, and the menu features a notable section for “funky” beers such as a barrel-aged sour brown beer, or a mimosa-esque dry-hopped saison. Tucked away in a basement, it feels like a beer-centric take on the classic speakeasy.

Moscow Tea Room

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This Russian-inspired bar on Sussex Drive is indeed a tea room during daylight hours, complete with high tea service — stop by in the evenings for something a little stronger, where a cocktail-heavy menu mixes up classics (Moscow mules, sazeracs), as well as vodka-heavy house creations. It tends to get rather clubby as the night goes on, with bottle service and so forth.

The Chateau Laurier’s in-house cocktail bar is possibly the classiest spot in town — come for classics like a dark and stormy or new creations featuring everything from maple whisky to mezcal. It’s relatively pricey, but the quality is on point.

Union Local 613

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This Southern restaurant has turned its Centretown building into quite the triple threat — head to basement speakeasy (officially named the Staff Room) for a hefty whiskey selection and some of the most creative cocktails in town featuring spirits twisted into new forms like kumquat vodka or lemongrass-lime gin. Now, the second level is home to Jabberwocky, which dishes up vegan and vegetarian bites and truly excellent twists on classic libations — like the breakfast old fashioned with oatmeal whiskey, maple, and coffee, the bubbly “Bullesvardier”, or the mezcal- and tequila-laden Oaxaca Fizz.

The Manx

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This cozy Centretown pub is the epitome of welcoming neighbourhood watering holes — a wide-ranging beer selection will satisfy high and low-end tastes alike, and the Manx offers some of the best pub grub in town.

Bar Robo

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Coffee shop by day and hybrid bar and concert venue by night, Robo is just a really solid neighbourhood bar for Chinatown — nothing wild, just reliable cocktails, local beers, and super-friendly service.

Beyond the Pale Brewing Company

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In a warehouse space wedged between Chinatown and Hintonburg is this great all-rounder craft brewery — its offerings run the gamut from straight-up hoppy IPAs and an oatmeal stout through to Beyond the Pale’s iconic pink fuzz, given some extra zing with citrus zest going into the brewing process.

Bicycle Craft Brewery

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This east-side craft brewery is firmly in the ale game, with all manner of pale ales, but especially IPAs (including the “blackberry raspberry milkshake IPA”). The hops-averse are well-catered to with some lighter, fruitier options, too. Have them in the cozy taproom, or find them at a bunch of bars around the city. 

Tooth and Nail Brewing Company

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Hintonburg’s anchor microbrewery offers up ten of its own brews on tap, checking most boxes from pale ale and IPA to a relatively classic stout and pilsner, plus some out-of-the-box options like a fruity rosé beer, aged in a pinot noir barrel. There’s a solid snack menu of sandwiches and small bites, and Tooth and Nail’s on-site store can ensure that you go home stocked with crowlers. 

The Hintonburg Public House

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This cozy neighbourhood haunt is quite the all-rounder, with a wide range of Canadian craft beers on the menu, and a solid selection of Canadian wines, as well as a few house cocktails. Hearty, filling pub food completes the offerings, and there’s weekend brunch, too. 

Elmdale Tavern

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This historic neighbourhood watering hole got something of a makeover when the owners of prominent seafood restaurant Whalesbone took it over back in 2012. It’s officially the “Elmdale Oyster House & Tavern”, so you can play it off as a restaurant or bar as needed, with oysters (duh) a fixture, alongside other pubby fare. While it might have moved away from its working class origins, it’s still an eminently warm and welcoming spot.

107 Fourth Avenue Wine Bar & Café

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The name might be uninspired (it’s literally the address of the bar), but 107 Fourth Avenue has done a tidy job serving Glebe dwellers affordable and interesting wines without obscene mark-ups for over 15 years — a warm, unpretentious winner with some tasty snacks, too. 

Irene's Pub

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The platonic ideal of a neighbourhood pub, Irene’s is as much a community gathering point as a bar. There’s a great whisky selection, a mix of craft beers and brews from the big companies, and an all-round great vibe. There’s live music relatively frequently, so take note — it can get pretty loud.

The Prescott

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This Little Italy sports bar has been pouring beer and dishing up square pizzas and meatballs for 85 years and counting. No need to dress up — it’s the kind of place to visit when you want “comforting” rather than “classy”. 

The Moonroom

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Splitting its focus between wine and cocktails, Little Italy bar the Moonroom is a charmingly relaxed, lounge-y bar that delivers the goods for anything from a happy hour through to a nightcap. Don’t worry about that laid-back vibe impacting the quality — it’s arguably the best cocktail spot on this side of the city. 

House of TARG

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Ottawa’s very own pinball bar has a seriously large collection of functioning vintage arcade games, making it a solid choice if you’re headed out with friends who aren’t so good at making conversation. Soak up the beer with house pierogies — but if you’re looking for a quiet time, check online before heading here, as it doubles as a live music venue (and sometimes has a cover charge as a result). 

Chez Lucien

This Lowertown pub walks a tidy line of being rustic but not dingy, and high-quality without being pretentious. If you’re hungry, be sure to buy a burger — the house specialty.

Les Brasseurs du Temps

It’s worth crossing the river for this craft beer powerhouse, located in a historic building in Hull. With 15-plus beers on tap (not to mention cask ales regularly on offer), BDT skews a little towards hoppy options and classic ales, but there’s enough selection to please everybody.

Dominion Tavern

The Dominion is the Byward Market’s ever-reliable rock ‘n’ roll dive bar, replete with Pabst on tap (plus a few craft options for the snobs), and multiple pool tables. It regularly hosts shows, too.

Chateau Lafayette (The Laff)

Older than the country of Canada and the city of Ottawa itself, the Laff has been pulling beers for a cool 170 years and counting under various names. The secret to its success? Consistency, and a lack of pretension.

Soif

Top Canadian sommelier Véronique Rivest’s bar is the premier destination for wine around the capital — her flawless selections include some intriguing Quebec wines; a formidable food menu only makes things better, with simple dishes centred around local produce that truly showcase the wines.

Waller Street Brewing

Big, bold flavours are the name of the game at this Byward Market microbrewery. Beer selections rotate regularly, and the menu features a notable section for “funky” beers such as a barrel-aged sour brown beer, or a mimosa-esque dry-hopped saison. Tucked away in a basement, it feels like a beer-centric take on the classic speakeasy.

Moscow Tea Room

This Russian-inspired bar on Sussex Drive is indeed a tea room during daylight hours, complete with high tea service — stop by in the evenings for something a little stronger, where a cocktail-heavy menu mixes up classics (Moscow mules, sazeracs), as well as vodka-heavy house creations. It tends to get rather clubby as the night goes on, with bottle service and so forth.

Zoe's

The Chateau Laurier’s in-house cocktail bar is possibly the classiest spot in town — come for classics like a dark and stormy or new creations featuring everything from maple whisky to mezcal. It’s relatively pricey, but the quality is on point.

Union Local 613

This Southern restaurant has turned its Centretown building into quite the triple threat — head to basement speakeasy (officially named the Staff Room) for a hefty whiskey selection and some of the most creative cocktails in town featuring spirits twisted into new forms like kumquat vodka or lemongrass-lime gin. Now, the second level is home to Jabberwocky, which dishes up vegan and vegetarian bites and truly excellent twists on classic libations — like the breakfast old fashioned with oatmeal whiskey, maple, and coffee, the bubbly “Bullesvardier”, or the mezcal- and tequila-laden Oaxaca Fizz.

The Manx

This cozy Centretown pub is the epitome of welcoming neighbourhood watering holes — a wide-ranging beer selection will satisfy high and low-end tastes alike, and the Manx offers some of the best pub grub in town.

Bar Robo

Coffee shop by day and hybrid bar and concert venue by night, Robo is just a really solid neighbourhood bar for Chinatown — nothing wild, just reliable cocktails, local beers, and super-friendly service.

Beyond the Pale Brewing Company

In a warehouse space wedged between Chinatown and Hintonburg is this great all-rounder craft brewery — its offerings run the gamut from straight-up hoppy IPAs and an oatmeal stout through to Beyond the Pale’s iconic pink fuzz, given some extra zing with citrus zest going into the brewing process.

Bicycle Craft Brewery

This east-side craft brewery is firmly in the ale game, with all manner of pale ales, but especially IPAs (including the “blackberry raspberry milkshake IPA”). The hops-averse are well-catered to with some lighter, fruitier options, too. Have them in the cozy taproom, or find them at a bunch of bars around the city. 

Tooth and Nail Brewing Company

Hintonburg’s anchor microbrewery offers up ten of its own brews on tap, checking most boxes from pale ale and IPA to a relatively classic stout and pilsner, plus some out-of-the-box options like a fruity rosé beer, aged in a pinot noir barrel. There’s a solid snack menu of sandwiches and small bites, and Tooth and Nail’s on-site store can ensure that you go home stocked with crowlers. 

The Hintonburg Public House

This cozy neighbourhood haunt is quite the all-rounder, with a wide range of Canadian craft beers on the menu, and a solid selection of Canadian wines, as well as a few house cocktails. Hearty, filling pub food completes the offerings, and there’s weekend brunch, too. 

Elmdale Tavern

This historic neighbourhood watering hole got something of a makeover when the owners of prominent seafood restaurant Whalesbone took it over back in 2012. It’s officially the “Elmdale Oyster House & Tavern”, so you can play it off as a restaurant or bar as needed, with oysters (duh) a fixture, alongside other pubby fare. While it might have moved away from its working class origins, it’s still an eminently warm and welcoming spot.

107 Fourth Avenue Wine Bar & Café

The name might be uninspired (it’s literally the address of the bar), but 107 Fourth Avenue has done a tidy job serving Glebe dwellers affordable and interesting wines without obscene mark-ups for over 15 years — a warm, unpretentious winner with some tasty snacks, too. 

Irene's Pub

The platonic ideal of a neighbourhood pub, Irene’s is as much a community gathering point as a bar. There’s a great whisky selection, a mix of craft beers and brews from the big companies, and an all-round great vibe. There’s live music relatively frequently, so take note — it can get pretty loud.

The Prescott

This Little Italy sports bar has been pouring beer and dishing up square pizzas and meatballs for 85 years and counting. No need to dress up — it’s the kind of place to visit when you want “comforting” rather than “classy”. 

The Moonroom

Splitting its focus between wine and cocktails, Little Italy bar the Moonroom is a charmingly relaxed, lounge-y bar that delivers the goods for anything from a happy hour through to a nightcap. Don’t worry about that laid-back vibe impacting the quality — it’s arguably the best cocktail spot on this side of the city. 

House of TARG

Ottawa’s very own pinball bar has a seriously large collection of functioning vintage arcade games, making it a solid choice if you’re headed out with friends who aren’t so good at making conversation. Soak up the beer with house pierogies — but if you’re looking for a quiet time, check online before heading here, as it doubles as a live music venue (and sometimes has a cover charge as a result).