I discovered Arlington Five a couple years ago. I was walking down Bank Street when I glanced over to the side street next to me; I noticed that there was a little café, almost like a house, with the word “COFFEE” painted across the front and “SANDWICHES” spelled vertically down the side.

Arlington Five Cafe from the outside

I was immediately intrigued by this small, inconspicuous place, just a stone’s throw away from bustling Bank Street. So I made my way over, and it has since become one of my favourite cafés in Ottawa. I actually live a couple streets down from it now, so I often come here to enjoy a hot cup of coffee or tea and to read a book. The café is very well-attended; you’ll see families getting breakfast or lunch, friends chatting, and individuals reading or writing. It is open every day from 8am until 6pm.

Cafe exterior


Arlington Five appears small from the outside, though the inside stretches further back than one would guess, and the seating is set up in such a way that it can fit many people quite spaciously. I particularly like the long, wide table which comfortably seats many people at once, while also serving as a work space for the baristas to bake. It makes the perfect spot for working, because there is ample room to lay out your papers, books, or your laptop. When the weather is nice, you will also see customers sipping and eating on the tables outside.

Arlington Five Cafe interior and seating

The wall behind the counter is a beautiful white and copper-coloured brick; the rest of the walls are a light cream colour lined with sage green wainscoting. The colours are at once airy and cosy. The music played is quiet and chill.

Behind the counter at Arlington Five

The feeling I get from this place is almost like being in someone’s home kitchen. There are jars of spices and teas behind the counter and potted plants sit in every window sill. The stairs that lead downstairs are lined with shelves holding old books and trinkets, adding to the homey atmosphere. On warm, sunny days, the back door is kept wide open, showing a small, green yard outside. Being in here almost calls forth nostalgic childhood memories that I’m not even sure I’ve had; this is the best way I can describe the feeling of this place.

Counter at Arlington Five

Potted plants on window sill


Arlington Five serves coffee, tea, and a variety of other hot and cold drinks such as apple cider, hot chocolate, espressos and lattes. The London Fog was reviewed by a customer as being “spot-on”.

It’s not exactly the cheapest cup of coffee around ($2.85 for a medium) but it definitely is good coffee, and if you plan to sit and enjoy the atmosphere with your drink, the price becomes worth it. You will find yourself wanting to stay; not only is the environment quaint, but the place also smells amazing. The combined scents of muffins and cookies baking in the oven, sandwiches grilling, and coffee brewing will surround you should you choose to sit a while.

Cups of hot chocolate


There are always delicious, freshly baked goods at Arlington Five. You can even watch the baked goods being prepared; in fact, as I write this, a barista is brushing egg wash over a batch of pastries ready for the oven. The café sells muffins, scones, cookies, squares, and assorted pastries. Regarding the banana loaf, a customer told me it had “big, generous chunks of dark chocolate unlike I’ve ever experienced before”.

There are, of course, sandwiches too, made on fresh bread. The selection changes from day to day. They also serve a soup of the day and a salad of the day.


Overall, Arlington Five is a welcoming, homey café. I think it makes a lovely work environment as well as a fun spot to go with friends. The drinks and food are well-prepared. It is a quaint little gem here in Ottawa.

Window from outside cafe

michelle brooke bio


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