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The Best Cheap Eats in Ottawa

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Despite a large population of comfortably-paid government bureaucrats (and a decent selection of mid-range restaurants to serve them), Ottawa is a fine city to dine on a dime. Shawarma and pho are two of the city’s most prominent cheap options, but you’ll find affordable tacos, Cantonese, poutine, and much more, without much trouble — here are some of the best picks, with a focus on the inner city.

For this guide, “cheap” means being able to get a meal-sized quantity of food for under $10, or under $15 for evening places and some of the absolute best options out there. Looking for some more general restaurant tips in Ottawa? They’re over here.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Aladdin Convenience & Bakery

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With this location and another in Vanier, Lebanese bakery Aladdin focuses on no-nonsense savoury baked goods — pies and flatbreads topped or filled with herby zaatar, cheese, or kefte-adjacent meat.

Marysol Foucault’s Gatineau nook draws the Ottawa masses over to Gatineau for homey baked goods, creative sandwiches (on weekdays) and hearty brunches including a much-loved Dutch baby on weekends. Brunch in particular pushes the limits of the cheap eats category, but it’s worth it.

La Pataterie Hulloise

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Various chip trucks around Ottawa offer serviceable poutines, but arguably the best in the area requires a provincial border crossing to the home province of the fries-curds-and-gravy dish. Expect a classic Québécois casse-croûte with squeaky cheese curds, fresh gravy that isn’t from a box, and piping hot fries.

Pho Bac Oriental Cuisine

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Late-night pho is somewhat of an Ottawa institution (although the Vietnamese beef soup is available almost around the clock), and with a hefty nuber of places doing good versions of it, picking the best is a fraught process. In any case, here’s one very solid option for flavourful broth, noodles with structural integrity, and beef. Rice paper rolls are a good non-soup option too.

Di Rienzo's

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This deli-grocery store near Little Italy is a favourite for bulky Italian sandwiches laden with prosciutto, soppressata, spicy capicollo, and the odd not-so-Italian filling like marbled cheese. A few baked treats like filled cannolis are on hand too.

Pho Thu Do

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In the heart of Chinatown is this temple to Vietnamese soup, offering warming broths and a veritable rainbow of beef cuts to put in that liquid. Even the biggest soups barely scrape over the $10 mark, and those ones are too big for the average appetite.

Co Cham

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While Co Cham offers Vietnamese standards from pho to vermicelli or rice bowls, it fares best for banh mi sandwiches stuffed with marinated pork or meatballs, lubricated with deliciously fatty pâté, and given a fresh chile kick, all for small change.

A post shared by Christine (@teafortwo.c) on

Harmony Restaurant

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Ottawa’s Chinatown is actually better for Vietnamese food, but just five minutes over, Harmony does sweet and spicy Cantonese and Szechuan dishes with flair, around the $10 to $12 mark. Southern Chinese classics like chile oil beef or cumin lamb are the go-to items, but the menu is helpfully divided into “traditional Chinese” and “Canadian Chinese” for those in need of General Tao chicken and wonton soup.

A post shared by Adam Waito (@adamwaito) on

Good Eats

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The name may be a little silly, but it’s not wrong: this daytime-only spot downtown does creative breakfasts, sandwiches, and salads. The menu shuffles frequently but has included herby mushroom melts, spicy peanut beef sandwiches, and a vegan Buffalo cauliflower sandwich.

Table 85

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Tucked in a discreet basement is this excellent Korean nook — fried chicken (with sweet/spicy or soy glazes) is the go-to item (but the portion is enough for two, and is priced for a pair too), although there are solid noodle and rice dishes.

Bread & Sons

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Lunch on pizza and sandwiches at this downtown bakery, and grab some doughnuts, buns, or croissants for a snack later on. The coffee is well-rated, too.

Corazon De Maiz

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Right in the middle of the ByWard Market is this tasty spot for Mexican(-ish) food — Ottawa is hardly a taco city, but Corazon’s soft tortillas with tangy pico and cheesy quesadillas hit the spot at around $10 for a meal-sized serve.

La Bottega Nicastro

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Sometimes referred to as just “Bottega” or “Nicastro’s” is this Italian grocery store with a deli sandwich counter at the back. Pick a meat, bread, and cheese, and load it up with spicy eggplant, peppers, olives, and more, for mere dollars. There’s also an eat-in lunch counter with pizza and pasta for a little bit more.

Kothu Rotti Restaurant

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This Lowertown Sri Lankan and south Indian restaurant does dosai pancakes, roti, and curry plates — get your money’s worth of spice for under ten bucks, or maybe a fraction more for a larger dinner.

The Horn of Africa

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This Rideau Street Ethiopian spot does saucy meat or lentil plates, best eaten and soaked up with spongy injera bread, the vast majority of which come in under ten dollars. Go for the vegetarian options if you’re feeling especially broke.

Shawarma Palace

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While picking Ottawa’s best pho place is a tricky endeavour, it’s much easier for the city’s other go-to cheap eat, shawarma. Most agree that Shawarma Palace is the go-to — get chicken or beef shawarma or kafta kababs, wrapped up in pita sandwiches or on piled-high platters with rice, hummus, and potatoes.

Govindas Vegetarian Buffet

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This Hare Krishna-run buffet is a go-to for money-starved University of Ottawa students — load a plate up with warming daal or curry — there’s usually six to eight options, and the buffet costs seven dollars; note that you’ll need to take your shoes off and not be too loud.

Aladdin Convenience & Bakery

With this location and another in Vanier, Lebanese bakery Aladdin focuses on no-nonsense savoury baked goods — pies and flatbreads topped or filled with herby zaatar, cheese, or kefte-adjacent meat.

Edgar

Marysol Foucault’s Gatineau nook draws the Ottawa masses over to Gatineau for homey baked goods, creative sandwiches (on weekdays) and hearty brunches including a much-loved Dutch baby on weekends. Brunch in particular pushes the limits of the cheap eats category, but it’s worth it.

La Pataterie Hulloise

Various chip trucks around Ottawa offer serviceable poutines, but arguably the best in the area requires a provincial border crossing to the home province of the fries-curds-and-gravy dish. Expect a classic Québécois casse-croûte with squeaky cheese curds, fresh gravy that isn’t from a box, and piping hot fries.

Pho Bac Oriental Cuisine

Late-night pho is somewhat of an Ottawa institution (although the Vietnamese beef soup is available almost around the clock), and with a hefty nuber of places doing good versions of it, picking the best is a fraught process. In any case, here’s one very solid option for flavourful broth, noodles with structural integrity, and beef. Rice paper rolls are a good non-soup option too.

Di Rienzo's

This deli-grocery store near Little Italy is a favourite for bulky Italian sandwiches laden with prosciutto, soppressata, spicy capicollo, and the odd not-so-Italian filling like marbled cheese. A few baked treats like filled cannolis are on hand too.

Pho Thu Do

In the heart of Chinatown is this temple to Vietnamese soup, offering warming broths and a veritable rainbow of beef cuts to put in that liquid. Even the biggest soups barely scrape over the $10 mark, and those ones are too big for the average appetite.

Co Cham

While Co Cham offers Vietnamese standards from pho to vermicelli or rice bowls, it fares best for banh mi sandwiches stuffed with marinated pork or meatballs, lubricated with deliciously fatty pâté, and given a fresh chile kick, all for small change.

A post shared by Christine (@teafortwo.c) on

Harmony Restaurant

Ottawa’s Chinatown is actually better for Vietnamese food, but just five minutes over, Harmony does sweet and spicy Cantonese and Szechuan dishes with flair, around the $10 to $12 mark. Southern Chinese classics like chile oil beef or cumin lamb are the go-to items, but the menu is helpfully divided into “traditional Chinese” and “Canadian Chinese” for those in need of General Tao chicken and wonton soup.

A post shared by Adam Waito (@adamwaito) on

Good Eats

The name may be a little silly, but it’s not wrong: this daytime-only spot downtown does creative breakfasts, sandwiches, and salads. The menu shuffles frequently but has included herby mushroom melts, spicy peanut beef sandwiches, and a vegan Buffalo cauliflower sandwich.

Table 85

Tucked in a discreet basement is this excellent Korean nook — fried chicken (with sweet/spicy or soy glazes) is the go-to item (but the portion is enough for two, and is priced for a pair too), although there are solid noodle and rice dishes.

Bread & Sons

Lunch on pizza and sandwiches at this downtown bakery, and grab some doughnuts, buns, or croissants for a snack later on. The coffee is well-rated, too.

Corazon De Maiz

Right in the middle of the ByWard Market is this tasty spot for Mexican(-ish) food — Ottawa is hardly a taco city, but Corazon’s soft tortillas with tangy pico and cheesy quesadillas hit the spot at around $10 for a meal-sized serve.

La Bottega Nicastro

Sometimes referred to as just “Bottega” or “Nicastro’s” is this Italian grocery store with a deli sandwich counter at the back. Pick a meat, bread, and cheese, and load it up with spicy eggplant, peppers, olives, and more, for mere dollars. There’s also an eat-in lunch counter with pizza and pasta for a little bit more.

Kothu Rotti Restaurant

This Lowertown Sri Lankan and south Indian restaurant does dosai pancakes, roti, and curry plates — get your money’s worth of spice for under ten bucks, or maybe a fraction more for a larger dinner.

The Horn of Africa

This Rideau Street Ethiopian spot does saucy meat or lentil plates, best eaten and soaked up with spongy injera bread, the vast majority of which come in under ten dollars. Go for the vegetarian options if you’re feeling especially broke.

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Shawarma Palace

While picking Ottawa’s best pho place is a tricky endeavour, it’s much easier for the city’s other go-to cheap eat, shawarma. Most agree that Shawarma Palace is the go-to — get chicken or beef shawarma or kafta kababs, wrapped up in pita sandwiches or on piled-high platters with rice, hummus, and potatoes.

Govindas Vegetarian Buffet

This Hare Krishna-run buffet is a go-to for money-starved University of Ottawa students — load a plate up with warming daal or curry — there’s usually six to eight options, and the buffet costs seven dollars; note that you’ll need to take your shoes off and not be too loud.

Related Maps