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Rideau Spotlight: EggPops Café and Grill 

August 8, 2023

There’s a chance you might be familiar with Get Cracking, an advertising campaign by Egg Farmers of Canada that has been making headlines across the nation. “Eggs for lunch isn’t weird,” it argues as the sound of jangling spurs on cowboy boots trail off in the distance. “You’re weird for thinking it’s weird!” 

It’s time to put that notion to the test! Suppose you find yourself without a lunch after you forgot yours on your way out the door in the morning. Not a problem; it happens to the best of us – especially if your workplace is just starting to transition back into the office! Lucky for you, EggPops Café and Grill is sitting right on the corner of Rideau and Nelson, ready to show you just how tasty eggs for lunch can truly be! 

EggPops is the brainchild of Youssef Awada, an entrepreneur who finds much of his time split between two separate endeavours: realty and restaurants. The former of the two comprises a large share of his professional experience, having spent 10 years working for various realty groups in the Nation’s Capital. Today, he partners with eXp Realty to help homebuyers find the perfect place for their needs. 

That’s not to say, however, that Youssef is a newcomer to the restaurant business. In fact, his roots in the industry betray his young appearance and go back farther than many may expect. 

Youssef Awada is driven by a passion to deliver a delicious and daring menu to his Rideau Street patrons.

Getting a Feel for the Trade 

Youssef has been active in Ottawa communities throughout his entire life. A graduate of Lester B. Pearson High School in Beacon Hill, he first got his start in the restaurant business while still in high school by working at Ogilvie Pizza, which is owned by members of his family. There, he was able to get an idea of how a restaurant operates and the responsibilities that a restaurant owner assumes. 

At the same time, Youssef began to familiarize himself with the ingredient that would one day become the essential component of his own restaurant’s menu. 

“I used to always make egg sandwiches for myself at breakfast,” he recalls. “I’d make them for my friends as well and they’d always tell me how good they are!” 

Years later, Youssef turned his dream into a reality. He secured a location for himself at 358 Rideau Street that doubles as a base of operations for his realty work as well as his restaurant. Ever the trailblazer, Youssef was not content with simply re-hashing old ideas that other eateries had done and re-done several times over.  

“You don’t see as many people innovating anymore…I wanted to bring something different to Ottawa.” 

Thus began his “egg-centric” quest to bring a unique dining experience to the city. 

EggPops’s menu features enough variety to keep you coming back for more – impressive considering its devotion to a single ingredient! (Image: EggPops Café and Grill)

Culinary Cornerstones and their Challenges 

Of course, there’s a major challenge that comes with crafting a menu that’s entirely centred around a single ingredient. How do you stay true to the foundational idea of your restaurant while offering customers the variety they desire? 

Youssef’s solution to this problem was to enlist the assistance of Khalil Omar, an Ottawa-based chef with decades of experience to his name. Together, Youssef and Khalil began to build the EggPops menu from the ground up. 

This came with its own set of challenges. “We had problems with the yolk at first,” he said. “We didn’t want it to smother the taste of the burger and prevent everything else from coming through.” 

“We also started out super gourmet and healthy at first. But that was becoming a little too pricey for our clientele, so we needed to switch things up a bit.” 

That said, healthiness remains a key concern of the restaurant. Every dish served at EggPops uses ingredients sourced from local and organic producers that are committed to operating in an environmentally sustainable manner.  

The eggs are delivered from Beking’s Poultry Farm in Oxford Station, Ontario – the only certified organic egg farm in the province. Bread and buns are made fresh by Art-Is-In Bakery, an award-winning establishment located near Ottawa’s Little Italy neighbourhood. And Youssef has leveraged personal connections in order to source his meats and vegetables from private organic farms in Québec.  

All of this contributes to a menu packed to the brim with an extensive selection of succulent burgers and sandwiches. If you’re craving a burger, try the Bacon Egg N Cheese Burger topped with EggPops’ signature dijonnaise sauce. For a sandwich, consider ordering the Smoked Sal which contains salmon, cream cheese, dill and fresh red onions. And of course, all of these items incorporate eggs in one way or another! 

What’s more, the menu items are so densely packed with flavour and delicious ingredients, there’s even a proper technique for eating them! “You have to squish the sandwiches beforehand,” Youssef advises, “so that you can marry the yolk with the rest of the ingredients.” 

All of EggPops’ irresistible offerings are lovingly crafted using fresh, organically sourced ingredients from local vendors. (Image: EggPops Café & Grill)

Collect Lunch As You Pass “Go” 

Patrons of EggPops will be treated to a unique and memorable dining experience from the moment they walk through the door.  

Immediately, one can’t help but notice the hand-painted mural that spans the entire length of one of the restaurant’s walls. This striking piece of artwork was meticulously designed and painted by local artist Robbie Lariviere, who also goes by the moniker “falldowng” on Instagram. Have a seat while you enjoy a sandwich with some freshly brewed coffee and see how many of the local Ottawa neighbourhoods you recognize in the Monopoly squares! 

Speaking of Monopoly, be sure to “take a chance” and ring the bell mounted on the wall next to the entrance. What happens when you ring it? Only in-person visitors get to find out! 

The restaurant sports a stylish, Monopoly-inspired mural painted by Ottawa artist Robbie Lariviere.

And if you’re fortunate enough to encounter Youssef when you visit his restaurant, you’ll be taken in by his friendly and upbeat demeanor as he works behind the counter to prepare your order.  

From his humble start working in a family-owned pizza shop in Montreal Road to opening his own restaurant in Ottawa’s Original Downtown, Youssef’s story is that of a dream many years in the making finally coming to fruition. He looks forward to a long and successful career serving customers on Rideau Street and getting to know the community even better. Stop by EggPops and try one of their burgers or sandwiches today! 

To the left of EggPops’s coffee bar is their mysterious bell which invites customers to “take a chance…or lose the chance.”

📍 358 Rideau Street 

🌿 Dietary Accommodations: Vegetarian options available 

Monday: 4 p.m. – 12 a.m. 

Tuesday – Sunday: 8 a.m. – 12 a.m. 

📞 (613) 695-9066