The exterior of Zak’s Diner, in the heart of the ByWard market. Photo: Angjelos Fero.
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Ottawa restaurants to experience before you graduate

If there’s one thing everyone can agree on, it’s that food is awesome. But it’s hard not to get bored of the same old things that the university’s Food Services offers day after day. Luckily for you, Ottawa has a great variety of food choices right in the heart of campus and the surrounding areas. So whether you’re a froshie, or a seasoned Gee-Gee, check out these local favorites!

Café Alt

Looking for some caffeine to help pump you up for your next class? Look no further than Café Alternatif, University of Ottawa’s on-campus coffee hot spot. Located in the basement of Simard, this student-run café offers a gentle environment for studying, or the quick fix you crave to get you through that boring assignment. Caffeinated options aside, the food selection is great! Whether it be a dessert or a sandwich, you know you can count on quality, and with gluten free and vegan options it’s accessible to all. That said, it’s not the ideal place for a real meal, and you might want to get there before the evening rush to make sure you get a table.

Overall rating: 3 fries out of 5

Father and Sons

Can you say “$5 dollar breakfast?” Undoubtedly the best place to cure a hangover, F&S will grow to be your best friend. Don’t forget that it’s a pub by night, and a convenient 30-second walk away from campus!

Overall rating: 3 fries out of 5

Zak’s Diner

The appeal of this joint can be summed up in one word—milkshakes. If you haven’t had a milkshake from Zak’s, you haven’t lived… at least not as a U of O student. This charming little diner in the centre of the ByWard Market is as quirky as its food is good. With servers that look like they could be named Zak, and a plethora of classic diner food, this is the place to be. The best part? It’s open 24/7. So whether you’re craving deep fried pickles, grilled cheese, or just need a walk into town, Zak’s is where it’s at. But don’t forget to carry cash. If you don’t order a specific amount, they can be a little sketchy with their debit dealings.

Overall rating: 4 fries out of 5

Burgers n’ Fries Forever

An Ottawa specialty and just a short walk to Bank street, this place will make you believe in the words “meant to be”. With vegan and gluten free options, halal meat, and vegetarian gravy, it’s a restaurant that offers something to satisfy cravings of all kinds. Don’t be fooled though. Burgers n’ Fries Forever doesn’t just sell burgers. They have hot dogs, poutine, salads, and of course milkshakes. The friendly vibe, and the fresh food is a great reason to walk into this fun burger joint, but the cramped seating space inside can be a deterrent to stay.

Overall rating: 4 fries out of 5

Pub 101

The intro course to bar-hopping you didn’t know you needed. But don’t expect any fine cuisine. Pub food like wings, burgers, and nachos are the name of the game here. Still need convincing? Try the fact that the bar advertises “student pricing,” which everyone knows is code for cheap. Another ByWard Market favourite, this local pub boasts five dollar drinks and food everyday. Restaurant by day and pub by night, the vintage aesthetic can be appreciated at all hours. For the price, the food is good and the atmosphere is bumpin’.

Overall rating: 5 fries out of 5