I visited Ottawa recently and was dismayed by what has happened to the Sparks Street Mall, which used to be a lively pedestrian area very close to Parliament Hill. Now it reminds me of another pedestrian street, Florida in Buenos Aires, just before the economic crisis of the early 2000s. Boarded up buildings, dumpsters, panhandlers, very little sign of economic activity. Some friends who live in Ottawa said the problem is that the buildings along the mall are owned mainly by the federal government, and for some reason are being neglected. Some of the buildings seemed to be in the process of renovation, so perhaps things will look better by summer.
According to my friends, the restaurant scene has moved mainly to the Byward Market area, but they took me to the very pleasant Ritz Cafe right on the canal in the Glebe for an excellent lunch.
Stayed at the Embassy Hotel and Suites, where a large room with a spacious seating area, a full kitchen and a nice balcony went for $133, including free parking. My only complaint about it was a severe shortage of light for reading.
Had dinner at a good Italian reastaurant nearby, Dantessa, also known as Carmello's, at the corner of Cartier and Cooper Streets. The thin crust pizza was yummy and the wine reasonably priced.