As Canada’s capital city, Ottawa is home to the Federal Government and the intricate iconic buildings of Parliament Hill, where the country’s most important political decisions are made.
These hallowed halls are regularly frequented by Canada’s leaders such as new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the Leader of the Opposition Stephen Harper and Green Party leader Elizabeth May. But as these politicians also call Ottawa home, you can find them relaxing off of Parliament Hill in their downtime if you know where to look.
Some of Ottawa’s many restaurants and pubs are known political “hangout” spots for politicians, parliamentary staff and parliamentary journalists alike. We’ve compiled a list of the top seven establishments often frequented by Ottawa’s politically-affiliated community. Go in to enjoy a drink or a meal and see who stops by!
Located at 700 Sussex Drive, one of Ottawa’s swankiest addresses and just down the street from Parliament Hill, “Métropolitain” as it’s known locally, is host to Hill Hour. Monday to Friday from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., Hill Hour offers specials on oysters, calamari and other appetizers. With its charming 1920’s Parisian brasserie-inspired décor, a great summer patio, French cuisine and an extensive selection of champagne cocktails, Métropolitain is a popular stop for all parliamentary staff members, who often come here to relax and unwind before making their daily commute home.
The Shore Club:
Located just across the street from Métropolitain and attached to the Westin Ottawa hotel at 11 Colonel By Drive, The Shore Club offers steak, seafood and cocktails. With a private dining room and an impressive cocktail bar, this dimly-lit restaurant is reminiscent of art deco ocean liners and is a favourite amongst Conservative Members of Parliament. The Shore Club is known for its seafood, so make sure to try one of its delicious specialities while you keep an eye out for some of Ottawa’s most powerful politicians.
Located inside the historic Fairmont Château Laurier at 1 Rideau Street, just beside Parliament Hill, Zoé’s Lounge is a great spot to relax with a drink. Named one of the best bars in Canada by enRoute magazine, Zoé’s casual and intimate setting often appeals to politicians and parliamentary staff members who like to keep a lower public profile. Try Zoé’s signature “Château Sparkling Cosmo” or choose something from its extensive cocktail and liquor lists. Zoé’s is also THE place to be for afternoon tea in Ottawa! You can choose from three different tea services, but the most popular option amongst tourists and locals alike is the “Canadian” tea service, which features maple tea and delicacies from across the country.
Located at the corner of Sparks and Elgin streets, just around the corner from Parliament Hill, this dark wood, Irish-style pub is a favourite stop for local politicians and parliamentary journalists alike. Offering traditional pub fare, a wide selection of beer and a great summer patio, it’s common to see groups of people from Ottawa’s political and business spheres relaxing here after a busy workday. D’Arcy McGee’s also has a historical connection to Canada’s Capital, as it is named after Thomas D’Arcy McGee, one of Canada’s Fathers of Confederation who was assassinated on Sparks Street in 1868.
Located directly opposite the majestic 92.2-metre (302-foot) Peace Tower, the Parliament Pub is a local favourite. Enjoy this warm and casual politics-themed pub where menu items are named after Canadian Cabinet Ministers, Party Leaders and other Members of Parliament. Enjoy a great selection of beer and menu items such as “Stephen Harper’s Pepperoni Pizza” and the “Jack Layton and Olivia Chow Roasted Eggplant and Brie Panini.” And while enjoying your meal, take in caricatures of Ottawa’s politicians done by the pub’s resident artist Eugene Bellemare. In the warmer months, the pub offers a large patio that is usually packed with Ottawa’s political who’s who. The Parliament Pub can also be accessed from 101 Sparks Street.
Located at 327 Elgin Street, “Al’s” as it is locally known, is an Ottawa restaurant community staple. Regularly frequented by politicians and local Ottawa celebrities, Al’s is known for its excellent service, great steaks, classic garlic house salad dressing and coconut cream pie. Like Hy’s Steakhouse, Al’s dim lighting provides a discreet setting for any meeting. Enjoy your meal in the newly renovated dining room or ask to sit in the area behind the main bar, which features a calming waterfall and a koi pond.