An Alternative Ottawa Tour Guide (Or Some Things That Don’t Suck Here, from YOW! Zine)

Ottawa zine YOW!

YOW! Zine (Ed. Lily Pepper)

Local zine linchpin Lily Pepper recently put together a compilation zine of writing by Ottawa writers about this selectively remarkable town; it’s called YOW! There’s a bitter/sober bit calling Ottawa a third-place city and comparing it to winning a set of steak knives (I like this one); a fascinating piece on the history of the Byward Market from a draft dodger-cum-fishmonger who worked there in the ’70s; a sappy lil bit by me; and lots of other stuff. There are also some fun lists of recommended places and eats by cool locals, so I’m excerpting some of those below as a teaser/SEO bayte.

Five Places to Get a Vegan Burrito in Ottawa: The Good, the Bad and the Taco Bell (Ratings + Research by Sadboy)

Burrito Gringo, 9/10 (566 Bronson)
Burrito Borracho, 10/10 (105 Clarence Street)
Bar Burrito, 0/10 (176 Rideau Street)
Ahora, 3/10* (307 Dalhousie)
Taco Bell, 5/10 (who cares)

* I think this is totally off, by the way. Ahora inspires a sombrero full of drool in all right-thinking peoples of Earth. 😉

"Broom, Broom" by Brecken Hancock (Coach House:

“Broom, Broom” by Brecken Hancock (Coach House:

5 Ottawa Poets to Read (according to me, if you are a person into zines)

Jeff Blackman
jwcurry (fascinating flickr account)
Brecken Hancock
Jenna Jarvis
Shane Rhodes

Several Cool Ottawa Events and Cultural Things (me again)

Ottawa Explosion Weekend – 60 punk/garage/power-pop/lo-fi/hardcore/thrash metal/everything bands destroy downtown one weekend a year for cheap.
VERSeFest – Drop a little money down and marathon through some of the world’s best poets each winter/spring. Some of my favourite days of the year.
Ottawa Zine Off! – People make zines on a thirty day deadline and trade ’em. Save your own life, not paper. Quarterly.
Arboretum Fest – Good bands, good vibes, good food.
In/Words Reading Series – Carleton-based poetry n’ prose reading series. Most fun poetry events in town, for my meager money.
Fryquency (FREE-quency) – Cool regular indie/punk/experimental concert series at Mugshots Jail Bar.
Small Talk mag – Free events calendar/alt. monthly run by the Bruised Tongue tape label. Find at cool places around the city, but not at uncool places.
Kid-Scissor Hybrid – Weird online zine where meat machines meet machines that talk in beams of light.


Good Places to Be Alone in Ottawa (List by Brittany N.)


Saigon Pho (232 Bank) – pho (obv.)
Govinda’s (212 Somerset E) – $5 all-you-can-eat veg Indian buffet
Wei’s Noodle House (726 Somerset W) – pho
Horn of Africa (364 Rideau) – Ethiopian

Coffee Shops

Bridgehead (various), Raw Sugar (Cambridge N & Somerset), Pressed (Gladstone & Bell), Ministry of Coffee (Elgin)

Movie Theatres

These are obvious right? Bytowne and Mayfair.

Book Shops

Black Squirrel Books (1073 Bank) and All Books (327 Rideau)

Parks/Green Space

Strathcona Park, McNabb Park, Canal Locks near Parliament

Not pictured: people being the hell alone. Photo by Maurice Li.

Not pictured: people capable of being the hell alone.
Photo by Maurice Li.

Five Dollar Stores of Ottawa (by Alanna Why)

Dollarama – 183 Rideau

Verdict: Commercial, out-of-season, but good selection of cheapie junk. Infested with parrots.

Dollar It – 297 Bank

Verdict: The best one, it sounds like. Go buy the sad Diana Krall memoir.

Dollar It – 1090 Bank

Verdict: Used to have Slushpuppies. Now expensive and shitty.

Dollar Tree – 3732 Innes

Verdict: Haunted by the ghosts of managers past, or their shrill voices on walkee-talkees. Deeply, deeply depressing.

*     *     *     *     *

Oh, and if you gotta half-hour, check this documentary, The City That Fun Forgot? Its director is also interviewed in YOW!, which you should buy on Lily Pepper’s etsy, or at one of the zine racks she curates at Pressed or Gabba Hey! here in Ottawa.

JM’s JaM: Bonnie Doon – Pizza Shark

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