Canada’s capital awakens when the sun goes down! If you’re looking to go out in downtown Ottawa, the ByWard Market neighbourhood is where you want to be. Home to local farmers, artisans and boutiques during the day, this area becomes the epicenter of Ottawa’s nightlife after dark.
Whether you’re into country, Latin music, house or Jazz, one of “the Market’s” countless bars and clubs will have a scene for you. Dance the night away to tunes spun by a DJ or catch live entertainment in local hotspots such as The Mercury Lounge and The 27 Club (formerly Zaphod Beeblebrox) – the very club used to shoot the Rolling Stones’ Streets of Love video!
Here are some of the venues locals and tourists alike frequent in “The Market”:
Pub 101 (101 York Street)
Housed in a three-storey red brick building, Pub 101 is casual and friendly. This is a great place to relax with food and a beer, while you watch the big game. And during the summer, Pub 101 also has a large outdoor terrace, which is a great spot to people watch! Enjoy a relaxed pub atmosphere on the building’s first two floors. And if you want to kick your night up a notch, head to the third floor where you will find a small bar, a bustling dance floor and a DJ spinning Top 40 hits!
The 27 Club (27 York Street)
The 27 Club opened in late summer 2017 in the former home of the legendary Zaphod Beeblebrox – an important player in Ottawa’s live music scene for over 25 years. The interior space has undergone a major remodel, providing a fresh look and a new experience. The club presents an eclectic variety of great local and touring live bands and DJs.
The Lookout Bar (41 York Street, 2nd floor)
Ottawa’s most popular gay bar has been operating for 20 years, and has one of the best views in the city, with a licenced balcony that overlooks the Byward Market area. At The Lookout Bar, every Tuesday and Wednesday is Karaoke night, Thursday is VOD night (you request songs through a phone app and the DJ plays them along with their music videos on multiple screens), and every Saturday is Drag night, featuring Ottawa’s sassiest drag queens!
The Whiskey Bar (112 York Street)
The Whiskey Bar’s décor is a blend of Tex Mex and ski chalet. Geared towards the older 21 to 30-something crowd, this bar is the perfect place to sit and enjoy a drink or to find your groove on the dance floor. Open Friday to Saturday nights, Whiskey offers a great casual atmosphere as well as mainstream and Top 40 beats. And if you really want to heat up your night, be sure to be by the main bar when Whiskey’s expert bartenders pour liquor on it and set it on fire!
Vineyard’s Wine Bar Bistro (54 York Street)
If you’re looking for a relaxing place to enjoy a drink, Vineyards’ candlelit cellar will not disappoint. This bistro has been honoured every year since 1989 by the Wine Spectator with the ‘Award of Excellence’ for having one of the most outstanding wine lists in the world. Select a glass of wine from more than 80 bottles or choose a drink from Vineyards’ delectable malt whiskey, cognac and imported beer lists. On Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday nights, enjoy live Jazz music starting at 7:00 p.m.!
The Mercury Lounge (56 ByWard Market Square – between York and George Streets)
The Mercury Lounge has been a staple for the Ottawa music scene sine 1996. From Wednesday through Sunday, the space hosts music events featuring electronic, house, soul, Jazz, funk as well as live art and poetry performances. On Wednesdays, you’ll find HUMP – an LGBTTQ dance party!
El Furniture Warehouse (77 Clarence Street)
This unique dive bar is a unique and popular nightlife spot! Enjoy a casual, warehouse-style décor and various menu items for $4.95 CDN. El Furniture Warehouse is a great place to go for a drink and catch up with a group of friends any day of the week!
Heart and Crown Irish Pubs (67 Clarence Street)
Affectionately known by locals as the “Irish Village,” this is a nighttime spot you don’t want to miss! Originally known as the Heart & Crown, this small pub has grown into a grouping of different venues, which is THE place to be on weekends in Ottawa. Enjoy the quiet vibe of the dark Snug Pub or listen to smaller bands on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights in the original Heart & Crown. If you continue walking past the kitchen at the back, you’ll find Mother McGintey’s – where larger bands play and weekend revelers gather. And if you need to get away from the crowd, sneak down the stairs to the small, cozy Black Rose.
Patty Boland’s (101 Clarence Street)
Patty Boland’s is a two-storey pub that offers live music, with DJs on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights. Patty Boland’s has a warm and welcoming atmosphere, great for after work pints and appetizers with co-workers, listening to live music with your buddies, and dancing the night away with friends.
Copper Spirits and Sights (325 Dalhousie Street)
If you’re looking for a bar with a view, head up to the city’s tallest rooftop bar and lounge on the 16th floor of the Andaz Ottawa ByWard Market hotel. Check out the chic but relaxed vibe in the indoor lounge or out on the outdoor terrace – the panoramic views are gorgeous from every vantage point! And Thursday through Saturday evenings, you can groove to live DJs.
Atari (297 Dalhousie Street)
Atari has a distinctive and unique vibe. Their food menu is small but impressive and their drink menu has fun pop-culture-inspired cocktails like “Hasta La Vista, Baby” or “30 Likes, 9 Comments”. Weekly events include ladies eat free on Tuesday nights, and live painting performances by local muralists Dems and Doll every Wednesday evening, including a raffle for that night’s creation!
The Bourbon Room (400A Dalhousie Street)
The Bourbon Room, which was once the Rideau Theatre, is a grand space that can hold almost 500 people. Much of the decor has stayed the same, giving the club a mixed vintage and modern feel. The first level has a huge dance floor and a stage where many live shows, bands, and DJs preform, including a Burlesque show every Wednesday. The second level has two bars, a seating area, and a balcony that looks down over the stage.
Rainbow Bistro (76 Murray Street)
Known as Ottawa’s legendary Blues venue since 1984, Rainbow Bistro hosts national and international Blues acts as well as other music genres such as Pop, Reggae, Rock and Ska. The famous Blues Brother Dan Aykroyd, an Ottawa native, has performance here!
Chez Lucien (137 Murray Street)
Chez Lucien is a small, cozy and relaxed pub with French flair tucked away on Murray Street, just off of Dalhousie Street. Locals love the food menu which includes escargot, cheese plates, burgers and fries (which many Ottawans feel are the best in the city), and even chocolate fondue. Catch live jazz very Sunday afternoon, or play whatever tunes your heart desires on the free jukebox.
There are many other great places to hang out in the evenings throughout Canada’s capital. Check out some highlights of Ottawa’s vibrant neighbourhoods!
Note: The legal drinking age in the province of Ontario is 19. But though 19 is the minimal age in Ottawa by law, some privately-owned establishments in the ByWard Market area reserve the right to refuse entry to patrons who are under 21 or 25 years of age. Be sure to check on these restrictions before you head out. Alcohol is served in Ottawa until 2:00 a.m.