Ottawa’s sports bars — how they’ve adapted to the pandemic

Ottawa is a city that is famous for its status as the hub of government in Canada. In a pre-COVID-19 climate, the country’s capital would typically thrive in the winter months. Residents would take to the ice rinks and some would even pay a visit to their local casino to try their luck on the roulette or poker tables — although today, the best option would be at an online casino.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact and limited social activity, usually Ottawa is buzzing. For those who love live sport, whether it be NFL, Premier League soccer or ice hockey, there are still a plethora of sports bars operating to a certain capacity. Read on as we look at four of the city’s most prominent sports bars and explain why they were treasured by the locals and how they are coping during the pandemic.

Hometown Grill

Proudly presenting itself as Ottawa’s biggest sports bar, Hometown is sleek and modern, and caters for all sports fans. Currently open Tuesday–Saturday from 4pm–9pm, during the lockdown, Hometown has been able to reopen as it has complied with the government guidance to make it safe for customers.

Aside from having a social media presence on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, Hometown Grill is known for its private function room and semi-private section. In the private room, named the Penalty Box, customers were able to use it for meetings, parties or private gatherings. Included is free Wifi and an 80 inch LED TV, used for presentations or to watch live Premier League soccer. However, owing to COVID restrictions, and weather permitting, the venue has opened its doors to the public in its outdoor patio area.

Despite restrictions, Hometown’s menu is very extensive. This includes vegan takeout specials incorporating pizza and cauliflower wings. Takeout specials also include further wing options, zucchini sticks, cheese sticks and free hometown delivery for residents who fulfil the bar’s criteria.

The Wood on Wellington

This sports bar has also been a victim of the COVID pandemic, forcing it to be open for just takeaways. The Wood on Wellington offers takeout and delivery every day from 4pm–9pm.

Typically a go-to favourite for those living in Ottawa, in normal times, the bar offered a wide selection of beers on tap and a fine range of wines too. At present, customers are provided with a bar to go, supplying beverages ranging from margaritas, a selection of canned beers and bottled wine. The menu is also quite diverse as it ranges from Caesar salad to pizza and calzones as well as burgers.

In pre-COVID times, the bar provided drinks deals during the week, however, during the pandemic the bar has been keen to promote a range of local ales and craft beers.

With multiple screens plastered across the wall at the front of the bar as well as in the main restaurant, in lesser restricted days, customers could view live sport from every possible angle. No stone was unturned and fans were able can watch everything from Superbowl to Europa League soccer. As COVID continues to make its presence known, our fingers are crossed for a return to those sporting days!

The Senate Tavern on Clarence

A quintessential sports bar with two venues in the city, The Senate Tavern on Clarence averages 4.5 stars out of 5 on Trip Advisor and there have been close to 150 reviews of the establishment. Among the comments provided by customers who visited, they were very complimentary with one describing it as the “best sports bar in Canada”.

There is an authentic feel about the place. Behind the bar is a wealth of sporting memorabilia including helmets from NFL teams the Kansas City Chiefs and in the seating area, you can find signed and framed hockey shirts.

However, like others in the capital, it too has been impacted by COVID-19.

Providing its customers with a curbside take out, The Senate Tavern on Clarence and its second location on Bank Street, have adopted an online order system whereby customers can conveniently choose the sports game that they wish to pick their order for. With pick up available on a Saturday and Sunday 30 minutes before each game, sports fans can rest assured of returning to their homes in time for the game.

Pre-COVID, the Senate Tavern on Clarence ran a shuttle to bus on Senator hockey game days. There was usually a vibrant atmosphere in the bar, particularly on Saturday nights when the venue showed the NHL and NFL on multiple screens.

St. Louis Bar & Grill

Part of a large chain in Canada, you can find St. Louis Bar & Grill on Clyde Avenue in Ottawa. During the pandemic, the branch is open seven days a week from 4pm–10pm — this esteemed bar rarely misses a beat and has been a must for fans of the Toronto Raptors.

COVID measures are strictly adhered to as customers have to order all food and drink for takeout and delivery via the bar’s app. Upon entering the restaurant, you will have to scan a QR code to check-in.

Pre-virus regulations, sports fans could enjoy many screens to catch the live sports action and an outdoor patio, which, during the summer months, makes for a great drinking spot. St Louis Bar and Grill is famed for its chicken wings, which it continues to promote on its takeout menu, alongside alcohol, which can only be purchased with a food order.

Food for thought

Despite virus restrictions, Ottawa continues to be awash with some fabulous sports bars. While it was tricky trying to shorten our list of recommendations to a mere four, there are plenty of others to explore in the city — COVID restrictions-permitting.

The above bars were judged on a wide range of criteria, including food, and the measures in place, in order to continue to serve the public in these uncertain times. If you want to find a great sports bar that goes the extra mile for its customers during this pandemic, then you won’t go far wrong in opting for the ones we have suggested here.