Cheap Eats in Ottawa’s Byward Market area!
Eating out can be pricey but if there’s anyone that knows where to get good cheap food in any given city, it’s students. Cheap Eats in Ottawa is important when you have to deal with expensive rent, university tuition and groceries eating away at our pay check, students are quick to find the best eats for reasonable prices and with a huge student population, Ottawa is no stranger to diners, bars and cafes for folks with lower budgets. Easily accessible in the centrally located Byward Market, you won’t have to travel too far for a some good food for cheap. You’ll find that these restaurants often accommodate a younger crowd and budget travellers and will be blasting music louder than your average family joint but they never fail to satisfy our sweet and salty cravings without breaking the bank.
1. Zaks -Diner food
Probably one of the most popular eats in Ottawa, Zaks is located in the heart of Byward Market and is open 24/7. Perfect for all those hoping to get some tasty diner food after a night out at the club or bar-hopping (you’ll usually see a line start to form out the door around 2am when everything else starts to close). The bright 1950’s diner décor and well-worn dining booths offer a friendly environment for family and friends alike.
The menu offers burgers, sandwiches, nachos, wings, milkshakes and all-day breakfast to name a few. Its perfect feel good food for anyone who spent the day touring around the city or who spent the night hitting up Bey Bey all night at Babylon Night Club.
Recommendations: Milkshakes are a must-have. Try the banana/chocolate and the mint chocolate chip. They’re big enough to share and perfect with a basket of fries. Calvin Nachos and the Bistro Burger are also personal favourites.
2. My Sweet Tea – Bubble Tea/café
A popular bubble tea joint, there are two locations in Ottawa; one in Chinatown and a newer location in Byward Market. A great hangout for friends, especially on a sweltering Ottawa summer day. The staff are kind and lots of fun on a weekend night when they’ll turn up the music and dance along. If you’re a local and a bubble tea enthusiast, I would definitely recommend getting a points card. They offer frequent deals and a free drink on your birthday!
Recommendations: If you prefer something sweet, try one of their specialty sherberts; my favourite is the Taro Oreo one. For something on the more subtle side, try a rose or peach sweet tea. There are dozens of options to choose from but if you can’t choose, ask the staff what they recommend and it is almost certain to be good.
3. Castle Shawarma – Shawarma
Situated on Rideau street just outside of Byward Market, this place is one of the best in a city plagued with Shawarma joints (apparently Ottawa is the Shawarma capital of Canada, did you know?). The staff are friendly at anytime of day (or night) and students are always dropping by for a late night, post-clubbing meal. They also offer a student discount which doesn’t hurt.
Recommendations: Chicken shawarma sandwich, roasted potatoes with spicy garlic sauce and baklava. Don’t skimp on your shawarma toppings.
4. Blue Cactus -Bar and Grill
A popular spot for casual eating, Blue Cactus has a large selection of pasta, sandwiches, salads and more for the middle price range. A perfect eat-out for celebrating the end of a semester of completing that final project! Like many other restaurants in the market, they open up their large windows onto the street to let the warm summer air circulate around.
Recommendations: Seafood Paella, Southern Burger, Fish Tacos.
5. Warehouse- $5 Eats
One of a few $5 eateries in the area, Warehouse is an incredibly popular restaurant/bar any day of the week. Everything on the menu is $4.95 plus tax: appetizers, burgers, tacos, desserts, everything but the drinks! Though the food is delicious and certainly worth the money, the atmosphere is what has most coming back. The staff are an absolute blast! The restaurant has TVs that are visible from every angle playing non-stop music videos and staff will often burst into song and dance when a hit comes on. It’s incredibly entertaining and never fails to make the crowd smile.
Recommendations: Smokey Barbeque Burger, Works Burger, Warehouse Crispy Mac and Cheese
Lauren Ibbott is a second year University of Ottawa student, blogger and freelance writer. She frequently writes for DownshiftingPRO. Please follow her on Instagram @Lauren_Patii All opinions are her own. You can read more of her post below: