There is great budget grub in Canada's Captial
Everytime I've had a great sandwich while travelling I remember every detail. Like the cranberry and Brie on herb bread that I devoured in Bath. Or the sliced chicken donair on white baguette with seasoned cabbage and onion in Instanbul - a delight after hours of walking. Or the hot, fluffy bread pockets at Paris' Cosi, a cross between pita and focaccia. And there's my absolute favourite: some kind of chicken salad with tomatoes done in a panini press in Lilongwe. I wasn't sure the mayonnaise wouldn't kill me, but it was heaven after months of fish and rice.
Sandwiches are really the perfect food, for travelling and at home. They're quick, easy, affordable, filling, and (if you're lucky!) absolutely delicious! I'm happy to share with you my 5 favourite sandwich shops in Ottawa. These are the places I'm constantly popping into and always urging visitors to try out. Whether you're a local, a backpacker, or a business traveler, I think you'll find something on this list you'll love.
Di Rienzo versus Nicastro's La Botegga
Large Italian buns, heaped with high quality deli meat, topped with cheese, veggies, and mayo or mustard – all for about $5. DiRienzo’s (111 Beach Street) and LaBotegga (64 George St) are just about even in the race for what could just be the best sandwich in Ottawa – the portions are massive, the prices are small, and it all tastes delicious. I’m rather boring and I always go for turkey and provolone but you could also grab something like pork, Swiss, and eggplant or Hungarian salami, mozzarella, and hot peppers.
So who is ultimately better? LaBotegga wins by a hair. They have 4 different kinds of bread to choose from and, sadly, the bread at DiRienzo’s is a bit too crusty for my liking - beware of scraping your mouth!
With all due respect to New Yorkers, you really haven’t lived until you've tried a Montreal bagel. They are absolutely divine and will forever change the way you've thought about bread. And Ottawa is one of the few places you can get fresh, authentic, Montreal-style bagels outside of Quebec thanks to Bagel Run.
Bagel Run Bagels
Your sandwich options range from the humble bagel and cream cheese (I highly recommend an onion bagel and garlic cream cheese) to over a dozen options for much heartier fare. There are incredible combos not found at any other sandwich shop and most are priced around the $5 mark.
Morning Owl (Featuring Art Is In Bakery Bread)
I am in love with Art Is In Bakery and their incredible breads make for unbelievable sandwiches. But I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the best place to enjoy a sandwich made with Art Is In bread is actually at the Morning Owl Coffeeshop (538 Rochester). Here, you can pick up mango chicken curry on 12 grain fennel bread, or bacon, lettuce, tomato, and guacamole on jalapeno cheddar bread. You can also custom order your own creation and enjoy it cold or on the panini grill. Morning Owl does some of the very best coffee in Ottawa and they are one of the very few places in town where you can get an Australia flat white. Morning Owl has limited hours (Monday to Friday, 7-3) and their location is smack in the middle of large government office complexes – it’s best to go at the start of lunch, not the end, to grab your sandwich fix.
People who love shawarma will rightly say that Ottawa serves the best shawarma in North America. For those who haven’t tried this savory delight, shawarma refers to a vertical spit of meat, slow roasted for hours until it’s perfect to shave off slices for an incredible sandwich made with pita, fresh and pickled vegetables, and succulent sauces. There are hundreds of shawarma shops in Ottawa, but I contend that the best of the best is Shawarma Chef in Orleans (2012 Tenth Line). The little shop is sparkling clean, the food is all fresh, and the staff are friendly and down to earth. A small vegetarian sandwich will run about $5, while a large meat sandwich is about $9. I take mine with chicken, garlic sauce, lettuce, spice-dusted onions, tomatoes, and a touch of pickled turnip and I can never finish a large.
The Scone Witch
If you want to feel just a little bit fancy when you eat your sandwich, grab one from the Scone Witch. Their fresh baked scones are buttery, fluffy, ridiculously delicious, and make the perfect base for unique sandwiches. My favourite combination is an herb scone topped with bacon, lettuce, tomato, and pesto. The Scone Witch is such a friendly, casual environment but you can’t help but feel elegant when you eat your sconewich with a knife and fork. Be sure to pick up a dozen scones with you when you go - a box from the Scone Witch is the easiest way make new friends!
I'm ready now for some controversy! Ottawa folks - do you agree with my choices? Where would you send a traveler for a great sandwich?
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