everything cycling in ottawa and beyond

Shared by Anita Ruivo + Dwayne Brown

Cool Communicator, Zara Ansar photographed in Confederation Park.

As summer unfolds and we get anxious to enjoy Ottawa’s great outdoors and summer festivals, we’re very excited to share this post, highlighting our city’s preeminent bicycle/fashion blogger, Zara Ansar. Zara curates a very cool blog that features stylish cyclists riding the streets of Ottawa. The blog will be turning 4 this summer and is slowly expanding with a re-brand and a new name, XO VELO, which will enable her to feature people in other cities. Zara’s great answers to our loveOttawa questions have inspired Anita and I to change our format slightly, to allow for more of Zara’s voice to come through. Thanks, Zara for sharing so many great reasons why you loveOttawa!

© dwayne brown studio – the loveOttawa project

What do you love about the Ottawa region?

“I love Ottawa because it’s a great city for focusing on creative endeavours, it has a great cycling scene and we are very close to beautiful parks. We’ve got some great restaurants some of which I frequent a little too often. There is also a major creative movement happening in Ottawa right now, so that’s also nice.”

What do you love to do in Ottawa?

“My main love is cycling. There are so many great paths and quiet streets. I also love to just wander around Ottawa looking for bright coloured buildings (this is hard to find) or objects and take photos. I also really love scoping out and taking photos of people dressed really well on their bicycles. I enjoy attending local art shows and going to the ballet/musicals at the NAC.”

Do you have any favourite restaurants, bars and/or cafés in Ottawa?

“I have a few favourites!”

Oz Kafe – I love eating at Oz because the menu is small, creative and seasonal but packed full of options. Staff is like family – caring, accommodating and welcoming. Best Martinis and Caesars in town.

El Camino – Best fish tacos and guacamole to die for.  Also, I can eat dozens of those tasty scallops in a day.

Café My House – The menu here changes seasonally as well. Great drinks, very creative and a well curated menu incorporating fresh, local organic and seasonal ingredients. They even offer a bicycle discount :D

Whalesbone – The oysters…holy moly!

town & fauna – I love the atmosphere and the food!

Ben Ben – have the hot and sour soup…it’s probably the best one in Ottawa.

Dolsot Café – Great Bimbimbap, and probably the best kimchee I’ve ever had.

Chahaya Malaysia – Located on Montreal Rd., this family run business has been around for quite some time. They have the best spring rolls in the WORLD. Try their bali beef and chili chicken too.

Mercury Lounge – Best curated house music in Ottawa. Every time I go to the Merc, I feel at home.

Babylon – Great theme nights.

Raw Sugar Café – The kitschy atmosphere.

Ministry of Coffee, on Elgin and Bridgehead, on Preston.

House of Targ – Perogies and pinball.

Do you have any favourite music venues or local musicians you really love?

“I enjoy Mercury Lounge and I really love the Souljazz Orchestra and NOAH. I also am proud of my friend Tariq Anwar for challenging the music scene in Ottawa. Found out about some new artists that don’t get much exposure through him. He rocks!”

How do you see Ottawa progressing as a city, and/or what are the region’s qualities that you feel are evolving, bike and/or fashion related?

“There is so much stuff happening in Ottawa right now that I am having trouble keeping track. While social media has helped to spread the word about various events happening in the community, I just can’t seem to keep up. There are times where I have to flutter from one event to the other. Who says Ottawa is boring? The arts and culture scene is emerging and more people are aware of it and are embracing it. I’m enjoying seeing new artists, musicians and other creative folks pop up that don’t get the attention they deserve in Ottawa.”

“Fashion-wise, Ottawa has its pockets of stylish individuals. It’s great that we are seeing more unique stores popping up and online shopping has really helped to style some of the city’s best dressed. I am also enjoying more people embracing vintage fashion. Great way to look good, save money and change your wardrobe often!”

“Cycling-wise, there is a huge cycling scene which has been increasing every year. I’ve seen a surge in winter cyclists too. People are realizing that cars are expensive and owning a bike is much cheaper, healthier, and better for the environment. Ottawa definitely needs protected and extensive bike lanes to encourage more cycling. I know a lot of people that would love to bike in from outside the downtown core but are unable to do so because of a lack of protected lanes. The more we can protect cyclists, the more cyclists we will see on the road.”

Are there any special things about Ottawa and the region you’d like to share (hidden gems)?

“There is a really great trampoline school called Spring Action and everyone should have their birthday party there, or at least join a class. It’s too much fun! Artengine is a great collective where artists and technologists intersect. Foobz is a bubble soccer organization that holds private and public games. It’s a great way to show your friends how much you love them by bumping them and watching them roll in what looks like a hamster ball, across the field. Across the bridge in Hull you should check out Axneo 7. A friend of mine, Sasha Vreca (a very talented artist), produced a brilliant installation that still resonates with me. Honestly, some cool art coming out of there and some cool artists I’ve never heard of, but who are very talented and humble.”

Do you have a special non-profit or initiative that’s close to your heart right now in Ottawa? 

“I have a few… I’m really loving the 1 square foot project and all the events they are running to help build Ottawa’s only downtown skateboard park. I also love Bicycles for Humanity and Trips for Kids.”

Thanks so much to Zara for sharing so many cool things she loves about Ottawa! For more information about XO VELO:

Categorised as: Dwayne Brown Studio, loveOttawa

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