A feast for both belly and wallet, the Byward Market in Ottawa, Ontario can take up a few hours, a day or multiple days.
Spanning 4 square blocks, over 260 stands and 500 businesses, and consisting of some glorious heritage buildings (the Byward Market was established in 1826 by Lt-Col. John By, who also built the Rideau Canal), the restaurants and shops are equally popular with locals and travelers. Here are some standouts.
Byward Market Restaurants
- Le Moulin de Provence (55 Byward Market Square, 613-241-9152): A crowd pleaser, this French bakery has beautiful baked goods and treats. It is also the home of the infamous Obama cookies, which United States president Barack Obama came in to buy (photos from his visit run continuously on the bakery TV screens). The cookies are simple maple leaf-shaped shortbread cookies with “Canada” spelled out in the centre.
- Haveli (39 Clarence Street, 613-241-1700): A popular buffet lunch and à la carte dinner (buffet all day Sunday and no lunch on Saturday), Haveli serves delicious Indian food at reasonable prices. The small-ish restaurant is warmly decorated and pleasant to eat in.
- Sushi Fresh (55 York Street, 613-789-5291): A large menu of sushi, noodles, rolls, bento boxes, donburi, sashimi and platters can be ordered in, to go or be delivered. The small space and super casual atmosphere are accompanied by friendly staff.
- Domus Café (87 Murray Street, 613-241-6007): This fresh, casual fine dining restaurant cooks up superb food from coast to coast. The service is impeccable and the wine list long. What's better than that?
Byward Market Stores
- Giraffe African Art (19 Clarence Street, 613-562-0284): Just walk inside this welcoming store to be delighted. Beautiful African art work, carvings, sculptures, baskets and small items will keep you occupied. Best of all, the owner travels to Africa to purchase the inventory directly (and pays upfront, not on consignment) and photos of the artists in Africa are posted near their work.
- Kulu Trading (6 York Street, 613-562-3815): This tiny little shop is a wonderful store to find some unique gifts, jewellery and odd items. Think jewels, stones and beads that look like they’re from medieval times.
- Sunnyside Bookshop (113 Murray Street, 613-241-4422): It’s hard to walk by this red brick building and not be curious to find out what’s inside (it’s a renovated 19th century home). It’s a small bookstore that covers almost everything, with a focus on spirituality, new age and wellness books. Upstairs is a surprise art gallery with interesting jewellery, masks and curios.