Ottawa praised for 'unselfconscious cool'

Move over, Toronto and Montreal: Ottawa is the new home of hip in Central Canada, according to the Washington Post.

Move over, Toronto and Montreal: Ottawa is the new home of hip in Central Canada, according to the Washington Post.

Expat Canadian Michael Kaminer praised Canada's capital for its "unselfconscious cool" in Sunday's edition of the Post, saying the city "felt lively, smart, quirky and confident" during an April visit.

"There's a proudly indie esthetic in its neighbourhoods, but without the hipster posturing of Toronto. Unlike language-obsessed Montreal, the city has a relaxed attitude toward bilingualism — everything here comes in both official languages — that lends Ottawa an easy cosmopolitanism," he writes.

Kaminer, who originally hails from Montreal, said his recent impression was in stark contrast to the parochial and dreary Ottawa of his childhood, once derisively referred to as "The City That Never Wakes."

He said the National Gallery of Canada's decision to host the Tate Modern's blockbuster Pop Life show this year was the most prominent indication that Ottawa had changed.

But the article said while Ottawa's galleries and museums have often been an attraction in the city, it was the city's shopping — and particularly the restaurants — that stood out.

Restaurants have less ego, gentler prices

"Larger cities get the glory, but Ottawa's kitchens might be some of North America's best-kept secrets," wrote Kaminer.

"Locavore-fuelled creativity here arguably rivals that of San Francisco or Chicago, albeit with less ego, zero attitude and gentler prices," he writes.

Kaminer's review focused on the city's core, with few locations mentioned outside downtown, the Glebe, Hintonburg and Westboro.

He said a lack of transportation options forced him to stay close to the city's centre and said that similar issues might keep tourists from finding places to visit off the beaten track.

"If there's not an easy way to get from point A to point B, some travellers won't go beyond a certain area," said Kaminer.

Ottawa Tourism's Jantine Van Kregten said the positive press is good for the city, but said no one article is going to make a big difference to city tourism.

"But every article that is good adds to that pile and adds to the feeling of, 'yeah maybe I should go check out that Ottawa everyone keeps talking about,'" said Van Kregten.

Ottawa welcomes about 7.6 million visitors a year, she said.

With files from the CBC's Robyn Burns