If you’re looking for an authentic Canadian experience on the go, Ottawa’s ByWard Market neighbourhood is not to be missed. The ByWard Market is one of the oldest and largest farmers’ markets in Canada, but it is also the name of the eclectic area that surrounds it. Head into this bustling area of Ottawa’s downtown core to discover unique Ottawa culinary delights, beloved by locals and tourists alike. From a BeaverTails pastry, to poutine, to maple syrup, pieces of must-try and affordable Canadiana are easily found!
Commonly referred to as a ‘BeaverTail’ by locals, this Canadian delicacy has nothing to do with Canada’s national animal, the industrious beaver. Rather, this delicious, doughy, golden, beaver tail-shaped pastry is an Ottawa staple and the ByWard Market is where it was born in 1978. Make sure to stop by the original BeaverTails stand on William Street at George Street, where you can choose from flavours such as Cinnamon and Sugar, Choco Banana and Oreo, among several others. These whole-wheat pastries are enjoyed year-round in the ByWard Market neighbourhood, but there is nothing more Canadian than enjoying one on skates on the frozen Rideau Canal Skateway in the winter.
Though Ottawa is home to many award-winning international cuisine restaurants and a thriving gourmet culinary scene, it is also home to a basic Canadian comfort dish called poutine. Traditional poutine began just across the Ottawa River in the nearby province of Québec and consists of a mountain of golden French fries topped with cheese curds and hearty gravy. Poutine is available at many establishments throughout the ByWard Market neighbourhood, which have now personalized the traditional recipe to offer Montréal-style smoked meat poutine, pulled pork poutine, duck confit poutine and many other variations. This delicious dish is not to be missed!
Maple syrup is a Canadian product that dates back to the country’s earliest days, as it was discovered and made by Aboriginal people, who were Canada’s first inhabitants. Every year in the spring, sap is harvested from sugar, red and black maple trees. The clear sugary sap is then heated, leaving behind sweet syrup that can be enjoyed in many ways. If you’ve never tried maple syrup, it is easily found in the ByWard Market, where many local retailers and producers sell it in various forms. From the traditional maple syrup, to hard and soft maple candies, to thick maple butter, there is something for every visitor’s taste. On weekends in March and April, head to the urban Vanier Museopark Sugar Shack just east of downtown Ottawa! Located in Richelieu Park, this small sugar shack carries on the tradition of the maple sugar season by tapping 1,000 trees and producing 400 litres (106 gallons) of maple syrup each year. The sugar shack is open to visitors looking for a traditional pancake meal each maple season. And don’t forget to try a Canadian favourite—maple taffy on snow!
The Cupcake Lounge, located just off of Clarence Street in the ByWard Market neighbourhood, offers handmade cupcakes with no artificial colours or preservatives in a variety of flavours. Try a cupcake in fun Canadian tastes such as Maple Cinnamon and Maple Bacon, which features Canadian maple cake and frosting with bacon bits. The Maple Bacon cupcake is a weekend treat, only available on Saturdays and Sundays.
This maple leaf-shaped “Obama” cookie is a ByWard Market staple item! Found at the Moulin de Provence Bakery located in the ByWard Market Square building, this red and white shortbread cookie is perfect as a dessert or as a souvenir. During his visit to Ottawa in February 2009, President Barack Obama made an impromptu stop at Moulin de Provence for a couple of these Canadian cookies, which became an instant hit. You can take one to eat on the go or bring one home in a commemorative Ottawa tin box!
Following on the success of the "Obama" cookie, the "Trudeau" cookie is one of the Moulin de Provence Bakery's newest creations! Similar to the already famous Obama cookie, this treat is also maple leaf-shaped and covered in red and white icing. But in the middle of this cookie, you'll find an edible photo of a waving Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. You can also take this one to enjoy on the go or bring one home in a commemorative Ottawa tin box!
Afternoon Canadian Tea
If you’re looking for a more sophisticated Canadian snack, be sure to stop by Zoe’s Lounge at the historic Fairmont Château Laurier hotel for afternoon tea. Zoe’s was named one of the best bars in Canada by enRoute magazine and offers a Canadian tea service, featuring delicious maple tea as well as delicacies from across the country!