Dining al Fresco in Ottawa

I don’t know about you, but there is something special, about dining outside and if you attach the words ‘al fresco’ to the activity, it becomes almost romantic.  Let us not confuse having a picnic with dining al fresco.  In my experience, having a picnic always encourages yellow jackets and pesky flies to land on your food, not to mention an entire ant hill population showing up as though they have received a personal invitation to join you.

Dining al fresco, which also involves consuming food outside, is much more sophisticated.  Of course dining al fresco is not necessarily about the food, drink and others sharing your table.  It is about the atmosphere … normal street activities, folks walking by, the non AC’d environment, perhaps the cacophony of any or all outside noises.  Sometimes dining al fresco can be a quiet, private affair.  Other times your dining table might be up against a bustling city sidewalk, in the town square, by the ocean, high in the mountain top clouds.  OYE!…I’m getting away with myself, but only because I have been very fortunate to dine al fresco in Paris, Rome, Greece, Spain, Portugal and NYC.  Those dining al fresco occasions elicited ‘pinch me’ cries of delight.

Perhaps those far away dining experiences have encouraged me to explore dining patios closer to home.  The three local Ottawa patios I’ve written about below, are all very different in atmosphere and menu selection, but equally enjoyable for al fresco dining.

One of my favourite local restaurants to dine al fresco is le café overlooking a small portion of the Rideau Canal, a historical landmark in Ottawa.  Not only does the menu boast ‘Canadian classic cuisine’ made with fresh, seasonal ingredients but the view is spectacular.  We dined on the patio with out of town visitors who were completely enamoured with their meal and the view.  There is something enchanting about enjoying a meal while watching gleaming yachts sail past.  If you are a native Ottawan or a visitor to Ottawa in the summer, I highly recommend dining at le café on the patio.

The TBBs recently dined in The Byward Market at The Black Thorn  in downtown Ottawa.  Another restaurant whose menu is derived from locally sourced ingredients, The Black Thorn has two al fresco dining areas, one facing the street, which is enjoyable if you are interested in the sights and sounds of The Market, while the other is situated in the courtyard at the back of the restaurant which was unfortunately under construction when we dined there.  One of the reasons the TBBs chose to dine at The Black Thorn, was because of their famous gourmet pizza and the pleasure of choosing from an extensive wine and draft selection.

You like Italian food and dining al fresco?  Little Italy is where you want to dine.  There are several restaurants in Little Italy that have patios.  Ciccio, has been located at 330 Preston for over 40 years.  Having just gone through a renovation, they pride themselves on being ‘the best and well known Italian Restaurant in Ottawa’.  In fact we enjoyed a fabulous bottle of Amarone there, which I raved about on the TBB Friday Night Wine Pick.   The hustle and bustle in the heart of Little Italy was quite evident on a recent Friday night when we dined al fresco at Ciccio.  We met several people we knew, while enjoying our meal next to the sidewalk.

Remember, dining al fresco means immersing yourself in the culture of the area you are dining in.

Enjoy more dining al fresco restaurants in Ottawa 

 Maureen thumbnailMaureen

Donna says: “I love al fresco dining and these are wonderful options Maureen!  We also spend many summer evenings dining al fresco on our outdoor patio at home, which allows us to make the most of our short summers here in Ottawa.”

Mmmmm al fresco……makes me think of a light breeze in my hair, the smell of crisp fresh wine…..and a gorgeous man running his fingers through my hair….Oh sorry, what were we talking about?


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Inspire Me Heather - August 13, 2013 - 8:19 am

I love eating outdoors too, you really get a taste of your surroundings!

Dani @ lifeovereasy - August 14, 2013 - 2:15 am

The words “al fresco” make everything sound more delicious!

Tia - August 16, 2013 - 10:39 pm

It’s not fancy, but you can get beer and wine (and pub-type foods) right on the Ottawa river at the Rockcliffe boat house. You have to take a very steep hill down to the water, but it’s a great place to have an outdoor drink (especially while fireworks are going off at the Casino). Definitely miss Preston street now that I don’t live in Ottawa anymore.

Anne@DesignDreams - August 17, 2013 - 9:04 am

Looks like a fabulous place to eat.

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