Carrot Cake at Planet Coffee

There is no shortage of coffee shops in Ottawa but most are chains like Starbucks, Second Cup, Timothy’s or the ubiquitous Tim Horton’s. Independent coffee shops are rarer and that’s why I’d like to start this new section, Foodies Corner, with one of my favourite places in Ottawa—Planet Coffee.

Planet Coffee is nested in the courtyard of York Street’s Clarendon Lanes condominium, in the Byward Market. If you are on George Street, turn at the Librarie du Soleil. In the summer, there is plenty of outdoor seating—and if it’s full, you can always sit on one of the benches in the courtyard.

Most places in the Byward Market are overpriced and cater to tourists. Planet Coffee is one of the exceptions. The courtyard is quiet and the atmosphere is very relaxed. While there seems to be a big turnover of staff (that or I really don’t have a good memory for faces!) it still feels like a neighbourhood coffee shop.

So, what’s the deal? Well, drinks for a start. Coffee, lattes, chai tea and the like are available and are reasonably priced, although don’t expect them to be much cheaper than at the franchised coffee joints. There are also cheap cold drinks including most soft drinks, juice and iced tea.

But the real perk of the place is the bakery. Even if you are extremely self-disciplined and really only want a drink, it’s hard to resist the display of cakes. Even worse (for your willpower, I mean), they are baked on-site, right behind the counter, and it just smells so good! I’m a huge fan of their chocolate chips banana bread and lemon square—although come to think of it, their cream cheese brownie is also to die for. Yes, I did taste a lot of these treats—for review purposes, of course.

Service is quick and efficient and even though the place is often very busy, there’s gotta be a chair and a little bit of room for you. Otherwise, you can always share a seat at the long bar at the side of the room. Like the stickers above ironically says, “avoid eye contact at all cost”. Look for other hidden messages around… including on the ceiling!

I haven’t tried the lunch but I’ve heard great things about their paninis and soup. Unfortunately, they don’t offer lunch on Saturdays.

The good

  • Cheap and delicious treats
  • Free newspapers and magazines to read
  • Relaxed atmosphere full of locals

The bad

  • Only takes cash
  • No wi-fi
  • The steel chairs feel cold in the winter and the seating isn’t too cozy (think modern rather than your folk’s comfy couch)

At a glance

24 York St. (Byward Market)
(613) 789-6261
Lunch: $3.95-$8.30
Baked goods: $1.25-$3.73

Cake Display
Lemon Bar
Carrot Cake

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  1. Nigel November 5, 2011 at 8:23 am

    Looks tempting! 🙂

    1. Zhu November 8, 2011 at 10:39 am

      Yeah, good place… love their cakes!

  2. Jeruen November 5, 2011 at 11:02 am

    Wow, you have a new series in your blog! Great!

    I personally prefer stand-alone coffee shops to chains, if I have the option. However, a higher-raking constraint perhaps is that it should have free wi-fi, which allows me to work while in the premises.

    1. Zhu November 8, 2011 at 10:41 am

      I love working in coffee shops using the free wi-fi, it’s so convenient! And it’s good to change atmosphere a bit too sometimes. It’s too bad Planet Coffee doesn’t have wi-fi available for customers but on the other side, you see people actually talking to each other’s instead of staring at their computers.

  3. Margaret November 6, 2011 at 10:07 am

    I was just told by my Ottawa family yesterday : don’t go to Starbuck’s! Go to Planet coffee! Next time I’m there, I certainly will. : )

    1. Zhu November 8, 2011 at 10:42 am

      Aw, Starbucks is fine too! I like Starbucks actually. But Planet Coffee is a cool little place.

  4. Elisabeth Stewart November 6, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    I have a wonderful coffee place like that near me – it’s also famous for its chocolate offerings! I do my very best to avoid it… 😉

    1. Zhu November 8, 2011 at 10:47 am

      😆 Planet Coffee is still far enough from my place that I don’t go too often… which is probably a good thing!

  5. kyh November 7, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    Oh gosh those look sooooooooooo yummy! I wanted to get a slice of cheesecake from a bakery the other day – but they aren’t really cheap here and I had to suck back my craving till now. :S

    1. Zhu November 8, 2011 at 10:50 am

      I can’t find good cheesecake in Ottawa, which is a shame. Now there are some good cream cheese brownie… I love these too!

  6. Stephanie March 24, 2012 at 10:46 am

    I really love this place always stop by when I’m in downtown. I would recommend the desserts for sure they are delish. But especially would recommend their chickpea salad, it’s one of the best salads I’ve ever had!

    1. Zhu March 25, 2012 at 12:35 pm

      I’ve never tried it but I will next time! Thanks for the tip.


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