Ask any Ottawan...? Ottawatonian...? Ask anyone from Ottawa where the trendiest neighbourhood is and chances are you’ll hear “Westboro”.
Although there’s confusion among exactly where the Westboro, Wellington West, and Hintonburg areas start and end, I think we can agree on the fact that it’s just a jumbled bunch of trendy neighbourhoods mushed onto one long road.
I’ve lived in Westboro for a year now but before this, I was born and raised in Barrhaven (or Far-haven as most people prefer to call it) - a now over-crowded suburban neighbourhood crawling with families, both new and old. Having lived in Barrhaven for 26 years, I’ve gotten used to having to get in my car for a 5 to 10 minute drive just to get a coffee. Or to pick up milk. Or to do anything, really. The drive isn’t so long, but it’s not really an area you can walk to anything. But living in Westboro is like a breath of fresh air. And I mean that in the figurative sense, because I live on the sketchiest corner of the trendiest neighbourhood - between a gas station and a not-so-trendy motel where confused, dazed (not to mention smelly) people roam around aimlessly. It’s a breath of fresh air in the sense that I’m able to walk out the door, take a couple steps across the street and grab a coffee in the morning. Or a slice of cheesecake after dinner. Or some fine pasta for dins. My point is, everything here is in walking distance and it’s such a nice change.
Although everything is within reach, the trendy shops, restaurants, and cafes of Westboro like to open late and close early - something to watch out for when you’re planning an outing around here. There’s an Italian cafe down the street that displays its store hours on their front door that actually says “open until late” for some days of the week. What does that even mean? 7PM? 11PM? When it gets dark? Whenever you feel like it?
And quite frankly, it’s hard to find a place to grab drinks “late” at night, because most chic little restaurants close at around 10PM. I’ve found that it’s more of a daytime and early evening neighbourhood. Regardless, I’ve loved living here. And since I do, I often get asked about cool places to go hang, so I’ve put together a small list of my fave spots. And again, since there’s a foggy line between Westboro, Wellington West and Hintonburg, the places I’ve listed may border outside of the Westboro neighb - don’t freak out.
Savoy: Savoy sits in what I've heard to be an old fire station, but you wouldn’t be able to tell at first glance. Their enormously high ceilings, pewter ceiling tiles and mirrored walls pull together really nicely and makes for an interesting, but stunning setting. Savoy is great for breakfast and we’ve gone a countless number of times since we moved in, but our first visit to Savoy was for dinner, which I wouldn’t recommend. It was busy when we were there, and that could be the reason for the poor food, but still, it was poor food. We wouldn’t return there for dinner, but their breakfast is fantastic.
Baker Street Cafe: Baker Street is one of the few places that actually open early, but no matter the time of day, there’s always a lineup out the door. It’s THE place to be for breakfast (or brunch) and you’ll realize why when you first walk in. It’s a small cozy setting, filled with British decor and a menu that will have you drooling.
Wellington Diner: Cheeky signs and non-matching mugs are this joint’s style. I always get the standard bacon, eggs and home fries breakfast here and it never disappoints.
Chesterfield’s: This gastro diner is simple and homey. They’re big on being healthy (as in they source locally and don’t cook in grease), but they certainly make sure not to sacrifice flavour.
Pietro’s: That place that opens “until late”? SURPRISE. It’s Pietro’s. But what’s actually quite the surprise is how delicious their lunches are. It’s a bright, clean, minimalist little corner cafe that doesn’t really stand out in the neighbourhood. It’s like the storefront that everyone passes by all the time but they don’t actually realize it’s there. Once you’ve tried it just one time though, you’ll be back again- I guarantee it. During the several times I’ve been there, people are always telling the staff how great the food is on their way out the door - as if it’s such a shock. Go ahead, go be shocked. Try their Italian sandwiches and made-from-scratch pastas - they’re are a killer.
Nicastro’s: Again with the Italian, but I just can’t help it. Their sandwiches are drool-worthy, but make sure you get the spicy eggplant on top, you’ll thank me later.
Freshii: Rice and quinoa bowls (side note - I used to pronounce ‘quinoa’ as kee-noh-ah before I actually knew how to say it). Freshii has pre-crafted bowls you can pick from or you can customize your own. A good place to go for a quick, healthy lunch.
Elmdale: Said to be THE place for oysters in the neighb. But for all you gramps and grannies (you know who you are - you homebodies who can’t stay out past your bedtime of 9PM), be warned - it turns into the loudest establishment in Westboro come 10PM.
Anthony’s: Real. Italian. Pizza. That is all.
Wellington Gastropub: Kev’s fave. It’s a romantic, dimly lit, intimate atmosphere and their food has been consistently great every time. It’s one of those places that serve tiny amounts of food on huge plates, but somehow it still fills you up. Oh - and they sell gelato to-go. ‘Nuff said.
Afternoon with the Girls
Quelque Chose Patisserie: I’m not gonna lie - Quelque Chose, I was one of those annoying fans who nagged at you once every 2 days, asking you when your Westboro location was going to open, until you actually did open #sorrynotsorry. Their insides are TO DIE FOR. I mean the interior of the patisserie AND the inside of the macarons. Their walls are covered in a pink that isn’t an annoying, yell-at-you kind of pink, but the kind of pink that makes you just happy. It forces happiness onto you. And their glass display is taken over by pops of colour, lined with macarons of all flavours. This is the perfect place to spend an afternoon with your girls, and to top it all off, you can book a tea time with QQC - they serve you a delicious tower of treats and finger foods along with your tea.
RAW: Your BF probably won’t think fruit soup is as exciting as you, so perhaps drag your BFFs there instead. Then you can snap cute pics of each other and your colourful bowls for the gram without having a judgy BF lurking around.
Barley Mow: Westboro is for the most part, filled with little privately owned shops. But the odd business here and there are chains - Barley Mow being one of them. Regardless, they have THE BEST nachos in the city. And don’t even get me started on their Somersby Sangria. Yes, you heard me - cider AND sangria. Pair the two together, and your taste buds have got a pretty good night ahead.
Churchill’s: I like the vibes here - it’s a small, dark, super pub-y feel. It’s easy. Laid back and just easy. Throw on your ball cap and head to Churchill’s for some beer.
Whisper’s: It’s been there since the beginning of time and for some reason, it’s always ALWAYS packed. They’ve got like 3 outdoor patios, some inside space, but they’re definitely nothing fancy. And they’re not priced on the super cheap spectrum either. It’s like a watering hole venue without the watering hole prices. Beats me.
Westboro Beach Cafe: A patio perched right ON the Westboro Beach, with a spectacular view and often live entertainment in the evening, you can't go wrong with this choice.
Chocolaterie: I like to think that gelato is a healthier form of ice cream, am I wrong? Don’t tell me. I don’t wanna know. I’m a big fan of gelato and it seems like more and more places are popping up to serve it. Not complaining. Stella Luna just opened up on Wellington and their gelato is world famous - they’ve even won awards. But we’ve tried both the gelato there and at Chocolaterie on Richmond and we found the quality to be pretty equal, however there's always a lineup at Stella Luna. So if you don’t want to wait in the ridiculously long lineups at Stella Luna, try Chocolaterie instead. And get the small, it looks tiny but somehow it feels like too much gelato when you’re actually eating it, if that’s even possible.
Stella Luna: Despite what I said above, Stella Luna is super chic-looking. It’s Insta worthy, so you should probably just suck it up, deal with the long lineups and check it out anyway. Yes, I’m suggesting you go to 2 gelato places.
The Cupcake Lounge: I don't think this requires much of an explanation, but they've got cupcakes of all sizes and flavours here.
Oh So Good: Don’t try their cheesecake, you won’t like it. Muahaha, more for meeee. JK, you MUST try their cheesecake. It’s like $52 for once slice, but it’s worth it. JK again, it’s like $8 for a slice (still absurd), but treat yourself once in awhile, their desserts are YUM. Don’t try their breakfasts though - for real. We made the mistake of grabbing breakfast here - coffee and a breakfast sandwich - and it was less than satisfactory. Even the girl serving us said they’re more of an evening place than a breakfast place. We should have listened.
Not so fave places
Pure Kitchen: Don’t get me wrong, the food here is decent. And I know I’m going to get some backlash from you trendy Yogis for putting this on my not-so-fave list, but there’s only so much tofu I can eat. If you’ve never been here before, I definitely suggest giving it a shot. I quite enjoyed it my first time around and was taken by surprise by the flavour of food. But the 2nd and 3rd time around, I found that it had the same taste. Like when you go to Subway - it’s tasty and all but Subway just has this taste and smell about it that’s the same across all their food. Same thing here IMO.
Trio: If you’ve never been here, you probably won’t find it. Their black sign is hidden behind a tree and the bar is a slim, narrow shop in a long stretch of stores. When we first moved to Westboro, we were so excited to make this “our place” - the bar we’d go hang out at every night after a long day at work, considering it’s a 30 second walk from our condo. But after really trying to give it a chance (more like 3 chances to be exact), we concluded that the drinks are bad and the food equally.
Got anything to add? I’d love to hear about your fave places - add them in the comments below!
Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any of the locations listed above. This information is provided to you strictly based on my own opinions, and in no way am I receiving compensation from these companies.