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 Zaphod Beeblebrox –the very club used to shoot the Rolling Stones’ Streets of Love video!
Most of the popular bars and clubs can be found in the ByWard Market’s North end along York, Clarence and Dalhousie Streets. York Street offers several bars and busy clubs that cater to a variety of ages. From 19+ to 25+ hotspots, York Street is a great place to start your night.
For the younger crowd:
Liquor Store Party Bar (130 York Street)
Known locally as “Liquor Store,” this warehouse-style club plays Top 40 hits. Every Tuesday, Liquor Store hosts its “Keg Nights” and Fridays are “Flashback Fridays,” featuring music from the ‘80s and ‘90s. Sundays are also home to Liquor Store’s “Dimanche We Party” events. Enjoy a casual-chic dress code and different music genres at this expansive club!
The Great Canadian Cabin (95 York Street)
If you like country music, The Cabin is where you want to be every Thursday night, as it is home to downtown Ottawa’s original “country night.” Wear your cowboy boots and rock out to all the latest country hits… Yeehaw! And make sure to get there early as it’s common for a line-up to form around the building.
The casual and rustic cabin-style bar has been a staple of Ottawa’s entertainment scene for well over 10 years. With its come-as-you-are attitude, it’s a great place to hang out with friends or to meet new ones!
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!
Zaphod Beeblebrox (27 York Street)
Zaphod’s is known as “the nightclub at the end of the universe!” Often showcasing up-and-coming bands and established acts from across the music spectrum, Zaphod’s is THE place to hear live music in Ottawa. This cosmic-themed venue is open every night of the week and offers special themed nights such as Electronic Mondays, punk and hardcore-focused “Breakdown Wednesdayz” and Trailer Park Bingo Sundays!
For the more experienced:
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 Thursday 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!
Velvet Room (62 York Street)
If you’re looking for a different evening experience, you’ll want to visit Velvet Room. Catering to Ottawa’s 25+ crowd, Velvet Room resembles a 1920’s speakeasy lounge with the plush style and grandeur of an old time movie house. Music begins after the “supper club,” which features dinner theatre by Ottawa’s own Scarlett Dinner Theatre Group!
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 1988 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. And on Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday nights, enjoy live Jazz music starting at 7:00 p.m.!
The Mercury Lounge (56 ByWard Market Square)
Located just off of York Street, The Mercury Lounge specializes in music genres like electronic, house, soul, Jazz, funk as well as live art, poetry and music performance. They are open every day of the week and feature special weekly events such as Manicure Mondays!
Clarence and Dalhousie
If you’ve had enough of York Street, take a short walk over to Clarence Street or Dalhousie Street to explore a few different Ottawa venues and nightlife scenes. Generally catering to Ottawa’s 20 to 30-somethings, you will find diverse crowds made up of university students as well as career professionals at the Clarence Street and Dalhousie Street bars and clubs!
Kavali Nightclub (34 Clarence Street)
This sophisticated nightclub offers house music and flair bartending over its two floors. Head out for a night on the town and enjoy state of the art sound and lighting, live entertainment, four bars and VIP bottle service. There’s also a rooftop patio available during the summer months, where you can have a drink and enjoy the sights and sounds of the ByWard Market neighbourhood below. Kavali is a stylish and energetic place to dance the night away!
El Furniture Warehouse (77 Clarence Street)
This unique dive bar is one of Ottawa’s newest and most popular nightlife spots! Enjoy a casual, warehouse-style décor and various menu items for $4.95 CDN. This 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. Head in to 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. It gets packed! And if you need to get away from the crowd, sneak down the stairs to the small, cozy Black Rose. With several choices, the Irish Village is sure to have a scene that will suit your mood!
Tequila Jack’s And Dodge City (104 Clarence Street)
Tequila Jack’s finds its inspiration in anything that is trending and fun. From multiple risers for dancing, to a pole on a platform for people to hang off of, to VIP bottle service, this club screams party time on Friday and Saturday nights! Enjoy a mix of music including classic rock, Top 40 hits, country and mainstream house as you find your groove on this club’s large dance floor. Patrons’ ages range from the 19-year-old university/college students to tourists and business people in their thirties. And Tequila Jack’s offers a two for one cover deal, as it is also home to up-and-coming country bar Dodge City! If you get tired of the mainstream beats at Tequila Jack’s, wander through a doorway to find country music, a different crowd and a different scene. From a buffalo head behind the bar, to wagon wheel chandeliers, to distressed hardwood floors and a whiskey barrel-style bar, this smaller venue screams country.
Patty Boland’s (101 Clarence Street)
Patty Boland’s is a two-storey pub that offers live music during the week, with DJs on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights. Similarly to the Irish Village, Patty Boland’s has a warm and welcoming atmosphere, great for the after work pint and appetizers with co-workers, listening to live music with your buddies, and dancing the night away with friends.
Atari (297 Dalhousie Street)
Looking for something small and simple, but still exciting? New to the ByWard Market area, Atari is gaining more and more popularity with their distinctive and unique vibe. Their food menu is small, but still sure to impress and their drink menu is certain to catch your eye with cocktails such as “Text me Maybe” or “Zelda”. If that’s not enough to pique your interest, Atari also has live on site painting on every Wednesday night at 7:00 p.m. by Dems and Doll that is raffled off, and ladies eat free on Tuesday nights!
Other Unique Places to Check Out
The Bier Markt (156 Sparks Street)
If you’re a beer lover and are looking for somewhere unique to go, The Bier Markt is the place for you! With over 150 different types of beer from 30 different countries, you’re bound to find something you love -after all, their slogan is “Bier is Beautiful!” The food at the Markt is designed to be some of the finest European brasserie-inspired food in Canada. If that’s not enough to convince you to check this unique place out, there is also live music on Friday and Saturday nights. The music ranges from rock, soul, funk, or even top 40 depending on the night, so there’s always something for everybody.
Union Local 613 (315 Somerset Street West)
If you’re looking for something with a more laid back and cozy atmosphere, Union Local 613 is just that. From the vintage menu items, to the secret bar downstairs, Union Local is sure to deliver.
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.