Saturday, May 2, 2009

a quick guide to my hometown's best non-touristy spots

the problem with stopping off at your hometown before moving to your new city is that you are reminded of all the things you miss about home. home is kind of like a lake of zombies, arms reaching out to grab you and drag you down with them. okay, so i've been reading World War Z lately so i've been fixated on mismatched zombie metaphors lately.

but i have been spending this week reconnecting with my favourite Ottawa spots and discovering new favourites. this has included:

Bridgehead - the only ottawa-based coffee chain that can feasibly compete with starbucks. up your smug factor with free-trade organic delicious joe.

Pho - especially Pho Bo Ga, especially at midnight, especially special dish B (where else can you eat chicken, pork and tofu in one bowl? it's so awesome, it's pretty much a sin).

Di Rienzo's sandwiches - pretty much Ottawa's equivalent of Montreal's Schwartz's, where even cops have to wait in the lunch time lines that extend out all around the store and out the door into the street. big italian sandwiches, best eaten at the Aboretum nearby.

Kettleman's Bagels - as i've always said, for a city without a lot of jews, they sure do great jew-bagels. best wood-fired breakfast bagels you can have after a hard night of partying. yay latkes.

Chez Lucien`s - because nobody can do french food like ottawa can. except maybe the French. but only Ottawans can do it at such a low low price. the food is french, the food prices are chinese, and the way the bar gets so packed with the after-work crowd that people eat their meals standing is very british or Italian. and the jukebox (free) is just plain awesome.

The Avant-Garde Bar - all the tourists and suburb kids go to Zaphod's to party; the locals go to the Avant-Garde. i hate the name of this russian bar but i absolutely love the place. decorated with Russian constructivist art and Soviet propaganda posters, frequented by the oddest mishmash of characters, including hipster students, man-women with thick eastern european accents, people decked in full military outfits but not the Canadian Forces but rather another country and another era, tables of asian girls (okay so that was us), swing dancers, and so on. full russian menu including borscht, Baltika beer, and other stuff i can't pronounce. never the same live acts twice - last night was a Django Reinhardt style gypsy jazz band; before that, i saw an avant garde improv act involving two drummers, a bass clarinet and a sax. it was also hear that i was introduced to the Leningrad Cowboys. basically, what i'm saying is, you don't need drugs or sleep to dream. you can just head over to the Avant Garde.

BEAVERTAIL - in the Byward Market. 'nuff said.

i also would have liked to have had a chance to eat at the Newport, awesome pizza in Westboro and also home of the World Elvis Sighting Society. and sometime i will make my way to beautiful Wakefield to see a show at the Black Sheep Inn.

yeah, i really like food.

okay time to get ready for the airport. i'm hoping that the folks at Air Canada are feeling generous about weight and size restrictions...