OTTAWA: The culinary scene in Canada’s capital is as diverse as its population, which means delicious international cuisine and specialty options such as halal food. Muslim residents and visitors to the city can easily find food prepared to meet Islamic dietary standards—as well as their budgets. We’ve gathered some suggestions of Ottawa-area eateries that offer either full halal menus or halal options, including burgers, pastas, curries and kebabs.
Mid to high end
Located in the ByWard Market neighbourhood, Fairouz Café offers bright, flavourful Middle Eastern dishes for lunch and dinner, including a wide selection of mezze, small plates ideal for sharing, or small snacks with a glass of wine or a cocktail. You can also enjoy manakeesh (flatbread with a variety of tasty toppings) or larger meat and vegetarian main dishes. The lamb and sausage on their menu are halal, as is most of their beef.
Inside an old brick house on Nepean Street in Centretown, Mediterranean restaurant Aroma Meze offers a wide selection of vegetarian, seafood, and meat small plates, mostly halal, and all intended to be shared at the table. It’s a great way to try many different flavours in one meal! Don’t forget to try some of their fresh dips and order plenty of pita bread to ensure you don’t miss a drop.
This cozy restaurant in the ByWard Market neighbourhood serves food from the coastal state of Kerala in southwestern India, featuring the flavours of coconut, tamarind, and curry leaves, with special emphasis on fish and seafood dishes such as shrimp or lobster masala and kingfish curry. Plenty of vegetarian options are also available.
While Sri Lankan cuisine shares some similarities with south Indian food (the two countries are neighbours), it also boasts its own unique flavours and traditions, which are on display at Ceylonta, just off Bank Street in Centretown. Large, crispy lentil and rice flour crepes called dosa are a specialty, served alongside curries or vegetable stews. Also try the string hoppers, thin noodles stir-fried with meat or vegetables, or kothu rotti, curried meat and chopped flatbread cooked together so the bread soaks up the sauce.
If you’re craving Italian-inspired food, head to Kara Mia, an elegant dining room tucked into a strip mall in Elmvale Acres near the Canada Science and Technology Museum, southeast of downtown. Their fully halal menu boasts a wide range of pasta, chicken and steak dishes, as well as burgers, barbecued ribs, and a unique version of poutine featuring fries and peppercorn or saffron sauce topped with melted mozzarella cheese. Keep in mind they’re closed for lunch on weekdays and open at 2:00pm on weekends.
East India Company
East India Company on Somerset Street West in Centretown is known for its varied buffet of Indian classics, including many vegetarian options, seafood, halal meats, and of course biryani, an impressive layered baked rice dish with meat and vegetables. If you’re in the west end of Ottawa and craving Indian food, East India Company also has a second location in suburban Bells Corners, close to several hotels.
Burgers n’ Fries Forever
Modern burger joint Burgers n’ Fries Forever is not your average fast-food place: The menu is entirely halal at both of their Ottawa locations (Bank Street in Centretown and Dalhousie Street in the ByWard Market neighbourhood). That includes halal beef bacon to dress up your patty! Their many other toppings ensure you can have your burger just the way you like it, with Beyond Meat patties available for vegetarians. Whatever you do, don’t skip the sweet potato fries and the tasty dipping sauces.
South Africa-based grilled chicken chain Nando’s has two restaurants in Ottawa. The downtown Elgin Street location is just across from the National Arts Centre and Confederation Park, making it convenient for pre-event meals. (The other is on Merivale Road in southwest Ottawa.) Nando’s spicy piri-piri-marinated chicken is all halal, as are the marinades and sauces they use. When ordering, you choose which chicken pieces you prefer and your desired level of spice (we recommend the lemon-herb or mango-lime sauces if you’re not a fan of heat).
German Doner Kebab
While shopping on Elgin Street in the Centretown neighbourhood, you might want to grab a tasty quick lunch. German Doner Kebab offers halal meats slow-cooked on vertical spits, sliced thin and stuffed into a bun or wrap with fresh vegetables and secret-recipe sauces. Their menu also includes doner quesadillas and nachos, as well as veggie burgers and kebabs for those who don’t eat meat.
Cumin and Pepper
Cumin and Pepper, an Asian kitchen and grill located between Elgin Street and the Rideau Canal in the city centre, offers a varied halal menu of primarily Chinese food with nods to Turkish, Japanese, and Indian flavours. They have lots of chicken, beef, lamb, and seafood options (mostly on skewers) accompanied by rice, noodles, flatbread or potato wedges. Curries, soups, appetizers and desserts are also available.
Bonus: Shawarma across Ottawa
Ottawa is known for having the most shawarma restaurants of anywhere in Canada (unsurprising given the large Lebanese community located here). At all of them, seasoned meats are cooked on vertical spits, then shaved into thin slices and served on a platter with rice or wrapped in pita bread, accompanied by fresh and pickled vegetables and sauces, garlicky potatoes and salads. Many of Ottawa’s shawarma spots serve halal food. Here is just a small selection:
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