The Byward Market is near the top of the list of food destinations in Canada, and a definite must when you visit Canada's capital. But how does Byward Market stack up against some great Canadian food destinations?
Byward Market, the building, is a lot smaller than you would imagine. You realize that Byward Market is more than just a building. The shops on either side tie into the market in a similar fashion to Montréal's Marche Jean-Talon. Seafood, meats, cheese, fruit and vegetable stands, and lots of bakeries surround the building.
Add in the shops, cafes, and restaurants in the area and you have a wonderful neighborhood worth walking around.
For example, I scored 50g of a marvelous roquefort société that made for a nice protein snack before hitting the museum.
You can also find lots of restaurants and cafes in the surrounding neighbourhood. Focus on just the Marche By building and you will miss most of the "market."
As an example, there is an Italian grocery store called La Bottega. Unless you go inside and check the place out, you wouldn't know that you can get freshly made sandwiches with an amazing array of condiments options.
You might remember when President Barack Obama made his first foreign trip to Canada (per tradition), he got some maple leaf cookies from a bakery in Byward Market. Well, Moulin de Provence will never let us forget that moment.
Since most of the fresh food is outside, the enjoyment of the market depends on the weather. Marche Jean-Talon has more covering for the seasonal stands. The market at Granville Island is completely covered, protecting you from the many rainstorms out west.
Unlike the St. Lawrence Market, which closes Sundays and Mondays, the Byward Market is open for business. Individual stores have their own policies. But you don't have to go elsewhere for a couple of days.
Byward Market is close enough for politicians and government workers to enjoy a long lunch. The market is more for people to find food to take home with them, perhaps after a long day of Question Period or legislative meetings.
At night, the scene is more about partying than shopping. Several establishments cater to that audience (there is a "gentleman's club" in the middle of the market area). But there are a few surprises in the area, like a great jerk place on the way back to where I was staying.
The jerk pulled chicken was true to form as was the jerk seasoned fries. I needed more water than usual, but in a good way.
I strategically stayed in the Byward Market area and didn't regret that for a second. Great walking and eating and strategically close by to Parliament and the rest of downtown.
You can't approach Byward Market like Granville Island in Vancouver or St. Lawrence Market in Toronto. The neighborhood is the destination. And I would definitely go back.
photos credit: me