Eat the Strip

Mona’s Café and Restaurant

1325 Humber Pl, Ottawa, ON K1B 5K9

March 31, 2023 3:30 PM

By: Ameya Charnalia


After a later-than-usual Thursday evening out with some old pals from university, I woke up this morning with a hankering for baked beans, sausages and eggs.

It was time for an Eat the Strip adventure but there were just far too many choices swirling in my head. Near our place, for example, is Miss Molly’s Diner, a true Carlington gem serving up excellent eggs benedict for under $20. A short jaunt from of us is Rockin’ Johnny’s Diner—a throwback diner with a range of old-school breakfast items on the menu.

Both were excellent choices, but I wanted to go where not many Carlingtonians have ventured for breakfast before.

One of our readers had recently given us excellent intel that led us to try the Syrian food at Alhalabi, a Bank Street restaurant that we recently gave five stars for their excellent lamb mandi. He had also recommended Mona’s Café and Restaurant in the far southeast of Ottawa.

The restaurant is in an industrial park just off the 417 and Walkley Road exit. One person who left the restaurant a glowing review online ended his review with a warning: “Don’t let the hipster find it.”

Most importantly, they served breakfast.

I hopped in the car to make the 20-minute drive.

I arrived at the restaurant around noon. The immediate surroundings reminded me some of the industrial park hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Edmonton where I spent years working as a reporter. I’d often make the drive to grab a sandwich or pick up some gas station fried chicken—an Edmonton institution—between reporting gigs and quickly discovered that industrial parks restaurants tucked away between factories, businesses and recycling yards serve some of the most delicious food.

Famished, I ordered the two-eggs special. Portraits of hockey players hung on the blue walls, while a television in the corner played highlights from a recent Toronto Raptors game. Customers streamed into the restaurant for lunch, with the solo server jotting down orders between chatting with two regulars who ordered the three-egg ham and cheese omelette and the cheeseburger, priced at $15.95 and $14.95 respectively.

Mona’s Café and Restaurant, located in an industrial park in southeast Ottawa, offers an extensive breakfast and lunch menu
Mona’s Café and Restaurant, located in an industrial park in southeast Ottawa, offers an extensive breakfast and lunch menu

While there was a sizeable lunchtime crowd, the restaurant opens unusually early to feed the breakfast crowd consisting primarily of employees working in the nearby auto shops, warehouses and factories, but also commuters who hop off the nearby 417 to grab a quick bite before continuing their commute into the city for work.

My sunny-side up eggs arrived in less than 10 minutes with a side of sausages, Texas toast home fries and beans. I dug into the fries and eggs, soaking up the runny yolk with the warm Texas bread after each bite to prepare my next. The beans reminded me of those my anglophile grandfather made us eat on Sunday mornings during my childhood in Delhi.

While home fries can tend to be quite salty, the ones serves at Mona’s Café and Restaurant were perfectly seasoned
While home fries can tend to be quite salty, the ones serves at Mona’s Café and Restaurant were perfectly seasoned

Like many restaurants, Monas Café and Restaurant took a hit during the pandemic. They’ve roared back since but are suffering from the same issues many other mom-and-pop food joints are facing—soaring grocery prices and a shortage of staff. Despite this, the restaurant has managed to keep its portions generous and its prices reasonable; my bill came to $16.90 and would’ve been cheaper had I arrived before 11 a.m. (Breakfast is served all day but there is a $2 surcharge if you order items from the breakfast menu after 11 a.m.)

All will appreciate the simple, no-fuss food served by Monas Café and Restaurant. Hipsters and non-hipsters alike.