Ottawa Music Guide: Top Ottawa Venues For Live Music

Mugshots Jail Bar offers daring patrons a comfy, unique atmosphere. (Photo: David Kawai)

Here’s a revised and updated version of the writeup I did for WHEREOttawa when I was an intern there in late 2012. Now that 2015 is upon us, here’s what you need to know about the best music venues in Ottawa.

By Matías Muñoz
Featured photo by David Kawai 

Babylon Nightclub

This Ottawa music venue in the city’s Centretown neighbourhood is home to artists of all kinds, showcasing hip hop groups one night and indie rockers the next. There’s plenty of room for dancing, but also lots of comfy seating for those who enjoy catching up with friends. See what’s on this week by clicking here.

• Babylon Nightclub, 317 Bank St., 613-594-0003,

• Map and Reviews


The Blacksheep Inn

Nestled in the beautiful town of Wakefield, Quebec, just a 25-minute drive from Ottawa, this historic music venue is a must-visit. Some of Canada’s best musicians have graced The Blacksheep’s stage, making it a prime stop for many notable bands passing through Quebec and Eastern Ontario. It has become legend in Canada’s music folklore history. See what’s on this week by clicking here.

• The Black Sheep Inn, 753 Riverside Dr., 819-459-3228,

Map and Reviews


Ottawa Music Venues: Rich Aucoin gets up close with the crowd at Café Dekcuf (Photo: Ming Wu)

Café Dekcuf

Located directly above Mavericks (see below), this music venue is known for profiling local bands, making it a great place to take some local culture. With a capacity of around 150, it is a small space filled with energy. It is not uncommon to see bands come off the stage and play songs amongst the crowd. See what’s on this week by clicking here.

• Café Dekcuf, 221 Rideau St., 613-244-5000,

Map and Reviews

Music venue, perogie house, arcade and pinball spot – House of Targ is the mecca of fun in Ottawa. (Photo:
Music venue, pierogi house, arcade and pinball spot – House of Targ is the mecca of fun in Ottawa. (Photo:

House of Targ

House of Targ is one of the newest and most exciting additions to the Ottawa music scene. This place isn’t only a music venue – it is also offers a selection of delicious handmade pierogies cooked in front of your eyes, an entire wall full of your favourite pinball games, and nostalgic arcade games such as Area 51, NBA Jam, Pac Man, and Mortal Kombat. This place exploded out of the city’s underground music crevasses to become one of the most talked about spots in town. They also offer up a monthly zine/newsletter and weekly freeplay for all pinball and arcade games on Sunday nights, with DJ KJ MAXX spinning vinyl while you get your game on.

• House Of Targ, 1077 Bank St, (613) 730-5748,

Map and Reviews


Mavericks Bar

This venue is a staple in Ottawa’s music scene, providing a good mix of smaller, local acts and more well-known ones. Located just down the street from the Rideau Centre, it is accessible and provides a little more space for patrons than other places around the city. See what’s on this week by clicking here.

• Mavericks Bar, 221 Rideau St., 613-562-3941,

Map and Reviews


Delta Will, Pat Bolduc
Delta Will gracing the stage at The Mercury Lounge located in the Byward Market. (Photo: Pat Bolduc)

Mercury Lounge

The lounge-style ambiance here makes for a more mature, relaxed vibe. Dim lighting and smooth live music make this Ottawa venue an ideal hangout for adults of all ages. Mercury Lounge is the middle of the ByWard Market, close to other fine restaurants and nightlife spots. See what’s on this week by clicking here.

• Mercury Lounge, 56 ByWard Market Square., 613-789-5324,

Map and Reviews


National Arts Centre

This beautiful, multi-purpose performing arts centre sits along the Rideau Canal in Ottawa’s downtown core. With several stages of varying size, this arts venue is capable of holding larger crowds with rowed seating in Southam Hall, or more intimate concerts at the Theatre, Studio or Fourth Stage.

• National Arts Centre, 53 Elgin St., 613-947-7000,

Map and Reviews



This quiet gourmet sandwich bar on Gladstone is bursting with all kinds of events. There is an aura of creativity that resonates from this place—and is showcased by the variety of acts that perform, from poets to live bands. This Ottawa venue uses its spaces to its full potential. See what’s on this week by clicking here.

• Pressed, 750 Gladstone Ave., 613-680-9294,

Map and Reviews


Silkken Laumann, Ming Wu, Raw Sugar Cafe
Ottawa dance-punk phenoms Silkken Laumann heat up Raw Sugar Cafe. (Photo: Ming Wu)


Raw Sugar Café

This quaint little café at the edge of Ottawa’s Chinatown is the definition of independent. Some of the best indie bands from Ottawa and around the country love the comfy living room-style atmosphere, which almost feels like a house show at times. There is a sense of warmth to this venue like no other in Ottawa. See what’s on this week by clicking here.

• Raw Sugar Café, 692 Somerset St. W., 613-216-2850,

Map and Reviews


Ritual Nightclub

Known to throw some wild events, Ritual is the natural home for electronic, hip hop and DJ sets. With big sound and a long bar, this venue is a favourite amongst experienced partygoers. It is also conveniently located adjacent to the Rideau Centre in downtown Ottawa. See what’s on this week by clicking here.

• Ritual Nightclub, 137 Besserer St., 613-680-7661, Facebook page

Map and Reviews


Le Troquet

Located in downtown Hull, just across the Ottawa River, Le Troquet has proven itself to be a cultural hub since 1997. With a lively crowd of regulars and a particularly strong folk scene surrounding the venue. More and more, Le Troquet is emerging as a spot where both sides of the river can unite and enjoy a comfortable atmosphere with character.

• Le Troquet, 41 Rue Laval (Hull, QC), (819) 205-9060,


Zaphod Beeblebrox

Located in the heart of the Ottawa’s ByWard Market, Zaphod Beeblebrox—simply known as Zaphod’s to locals—is a prime stop for touring musicians and is probably the most well-known in Ottawa. The Rolling Stones shot their 2005 video for “Streets of Love” here! See what’s on this week by clicking here.

• Zaphod Beeblebrox, 27 York St., (613) 652-1010,

Map and Reviews


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LIVE! on Elgin

This brand new music venue couldn’t be in a better place. Located on Elgin St., one of Ottawa’s busiest core streets, LIVE! on Elgin has already begun to turn heads by booking great bands from all backgrounds and genres. From loud rock shows to quiet sit down serenades, find what you’re looking for here.

• LIVE! on Elgin, 2-220 Elgin St, (613) 695-5483