We love Happy Goat at the U of O! Photo: Charley Dutil/Fulcrum
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From a quick bite to a midterm feast, here’s your guide to on-campus cuisine

While the University of Ottawa is known for many things — its globally competitive academic programs, its range of architecture, and its award-winning English student newspaper, for instance — most people don’t tend to consider the university a go-to spot for foodies.

This summer, the University of Ottawa published a (since-deleted) blog post listing their top five places to grab a snack on campus, and it was… grim. Highlights included a now-closed Tim Hortons, another now-closed café in the basement of Simard, and, seriously, the on-campus convenience store.

Not to worry: we’re here to save the day.

We’ve got a culinary guide to the University of Ottawa — you may need to walk a few blocks, but there’s tons of great options just steps from the university (that aren’t just the Timmy’s in SITE).

  1. Coffee

Here at the Fulcrum, this is the most important food group. Ottawa is rife with independent coffee shops and small franchises — a U of O favourite is Happy Goat, which has nearby locations on Rideau St. and, even closer, on Wilbrod near the theatre department. If you venture a little further towards Elgin Street, you can find tons of hidden gems: Equator Coffee in the lobby of the NAC is a great study spot, and the Ministry of Coffee and Social Affairs does a mean iced Nutella latte.

Don’t go: to the Starbucks in Desmarais or the Tim Hortons in CRX. You can do better (and much faster) if you head a few blocks off-campus. If you’re really craving that Frappuccino, you’re better off heading towards the Starbucks on Elgin Street or to the Rideau Centre.

  1. Pizza

If you live in the Annex Residence, you already know you have a Domino’s in your lobby. But, if you go just a little beyond U of O property, you can find amazing pizza in the heart of downtown Ottawa. 1 For 1 on Rideau Street does quick, cheap slices, and Colonnade on Elgin is often regarded as some of the best pizza in the city.

Don’t go: to the Pizza Pizza on Rideau. It can get a little sketchy at night, and the quality isn’t great. If you really want fast-food style pizza, try ordering from a location on Bank or even in Vanier — those locations get way less overrun by students on busy nights, and aren’t much more expensive for delivery. We advise you avoid the “pizza” in the 24/7 Caf as well — its main tasting note is grease.

  1. Ice Cream

Ottawa is ice cream and gelato haven for anyone looking for a sweet treat or date spot. Piccolo Grande in the ByWard Market serves amazing gelato in a comfy, café-style atmosphere, or, if you’re willing to travel a little, Moo Shu on Bank St does fantastic, small-batch ice cream. We really like the Merry Dairy in Hintonburg, too, and they even do occasional ice cream trucks that travel the city to the further postal codes. A brief stroll through the ByWard Market will have you screaming for ice cream in no time.

Don’t go: to Dairy Queen. Unless you have a car, there isn’t one anywhere near campus, tragically, and the soft-serve in the Caf (when the machine isn’t broken) just doesn’t hit.

  1. Groceries

Look: we’re not your mom, but we’re going to suggest you don’t eat takeout for every meal. Learning how to grocery shop is a vital part of the living-away-from-home experience, and since the U of O is right in the middle of the city, the nearby grocery stores aren’t exactly cheap. We recommend heading out to the suburbs to get the better deals: a quick O-Train ride to Blair will land you directly at both a Loblaws and a Walmart. If you head across the river to Quebec, you can also find a wide array of foods not usually found in Ontario — that’s where we go for kangaroo meat and cheese curds for hot pot nights at the Fulcrum!

Don’t go: to the Loblaws on Rideau. It’s crowded, expensive, and again, a little sketch at night. If you’re really in a pinch for something closer to downtown, try the Independent on Bank Street.

  1. Drunk Food

We were young once, too, and we know you’re going to have a few late nights during your hybrid frosh. And, speaking from experience, nothing tastes better than a big, greasy pile of food when you’re (responsibly) intoxicated. We do weekly poutine reviews that you can check out here, and so far our favourites have been the Great Canadian Poutinerie on Bank St. If you want more than just poutine, try Elgin Street Diner on, obviously, Elgin Street, or try a shawarma wrap from any of the numerous shawarma places in the heart of Ottawa. Fun fact: Ottawa actually has more shawarma places per capita than anywhere else in the world!


  • Aly Murphy was the Fulcrum's managing editor for the 2021-22 publishing year, and arts editor in the 2020-21 publishing year.