Beechwood Avenue, Montreal Road and McArthur Avenue each offer unique flavours
Where in Ottawa can chefs find a full-sized octopus, the perfect cut of locally sourced meat, authentic Mexican food and dozens of other dishes and ingredients from around the world?
The answer is simple – come to Vanier.
“I get a kick out of being able to have the products for everyone.” – Filipe Correia, Mario’s Food Centre
“Whether it’s Norwegian Cod, Portuguese sausage, pastries, olive oil – I try to have everything that someone might be looking for,” Filipe Correia says about his store, Mario’s Food Centre, located at 381 McArthur Ave.
Mario’s Food Centre opened its doors in 1964. While many things along McArthur may have changed over the years, Correia says one thing remains the same: The selection of food carried in his store.
The shop sells Portuguese, Brazilian and Spanish food and attracts customers from across Ottawa and as far away as Montreal, Correia says. Once, he even received a call from a woman overseas who was about to fly into Ottawa and wanted to stop by the shop for groceries.
“She wanted to make sure I had what she was looking for,” he says. “People come from all over and I get a kick out of being able to have the products for everyone.”
Mario’s Food Centre isn’t the only unique stop along McArthur – the street is peppered with businesses offering delicious options.
One is a personal favourite of Correia’s – YKO BBQ Chicken, located a few doors down from his own store. Correia admits he eats there more than a few times a week.
McArthur Avenue is a bit of an international food quarter of Vanier, he says.
From Indian cuisine, Greek food, pizza, ice cream, Middle Eastern products and the All Africa Market – a trip down McArthur Avenue gives visitors a chance to taste food and ingredients from around the world.
“We all complement each other,” Correia says.
MONTREAL ROAD AND BEECHWOOD AVENUE
However delectable the wares offered by McArthur Avenue’s merchants might be, Correia notes that there are many other mouthwatering temptations in other corners of Vanier.
Mainstay dishes on Montreal Road include pho, pizza, shawarma, smoked meat and authentic Mexican food.
But the experiences are not limited to simply tasting the neighbourhood’s delicious food. There is also an opportunity to learn how to make it yourself.
Macaroon shop Quelque Chose Pâtisserie hosts French macaroon classes at its flagship shop at 274 Montreal Rd., offering aspiring bakers the chance to learn from the pros.
Meanwhile, Andrew Muckleston – the proprietor of Beechwood Avenue butcher Muckleston and Brockwell – says he offers classes at his shop to help people learn more about what they are eating, where it comes from and hopefully gain a new respect for butchery.
The hands-on experience helps individuals learn about the cuts and how the meat can be used.
“It’s a great experience for all skill levels,” Muckleston says.
Muckleston’s shop sources its meat from small-scale, local producers. Understanding the origins of his products helps him easily answer his customers’ questions.
“People want to know more about what they’re eating and where it came from,” he says. “That the food you are eating is top quality, ethically sourced, local, hormone and antibiotic free – something that you really can’t put a price tag on.”