|Winnipeg, capital of the province of Manitoba, is a city in central Canada. Often referred to in the past as the Chicago of the north, Winnipeg is a place of extreme climate. While during the winter it is often one of the coldest large cities in the world, summers can bring scorching temperatures at the other end of the dial. Winnipeggers show a healthy disdain for those in warmer climates when they arrive shivering or sweating in the city.
Home to a diverse population of immigrants since its earliest days, the city boasts one of the highest restaurant to population ratios in the world. Many of these are small ethnic eateries that can absolutely knock your socks off with cheap fantastic food. In early years these immigrants were mostly ukranian and german, but that flow has slowly changed over the years with many asian (Indian, Vietnamese/Thai, Hong Kong Chinese) and more recently African newcomers arriving. The city also has the largest French Canadian population in western Canada and one area of the city (Saint-Boniface) is full of restaurants that reflect both classic French as well as French Canadian cuisine.
As a result of this abundance of great local cuisine, many large food chains have either abandoned or never expanded their initial forays into the city. Fast food being the exception.
Contributors residing here:
- 7 1/4:
- Located just north of Jubilee on Osborne (near Montichio and Lux Solé). Fairly small, reserve ahead, especially if you want to sit at the counter to watch them cook.
- Seasonal Menu Changes, fairly wide variety and always seems to contain some game.
- Of Note:
- Considered by many to have the best mussels in the city, served as a giant bowl with a variety of sauce pairing choices. (Among friends who enjoy mussels it's about a 70/30 split between them and Fude)
- Generally has a wonderful selection of cheeses with a pick 3,5 or 7 (if memory serves) cheese plate that is excellently paired with one of the great wines as an appetizer or pre/post show nibble.
- Heavily seafood menu, shrimp dishes in particular are fantastic.
- Great food is supplemented by a fantastic wine list. If you like Australian wine (like yours truly) you'll be in heaven.
- They've recently expanded and added a more substantial dining room.
- There is also a new chef who has revamped the menu while keeping it quite good.
- Falafel Place:
- Located at 1101 Corydon, arrive early as its very busy for breakfast, larger than the old location though.
- The regular fare could be considered 'Middle Eastern,' but the focus is on breakfast.
- Highlights include the Corned Beef Hash, Israeli Falafel, Falafel Breakfast, fresh-squeezed orange and grapefruit juice, and homemade jams, jellies, and sauces
Burgers and Fries
- Unburger: corner of Stradbrook and Osborne
- Great Gourmet Burgers and Fries from the basic to the fancypants. Everything from a basic burger (beef, chicken or veggie) to fancy concoctions with truffle oil.
- Daly Burger
- Corydon @ Daly or location 2-Pembina between Jubilee/McGillivray
- Greasy Diner with hefty portions of tasty burgers, dogs and fries. Tasty, especially when hungover.
- Will add bacon to anything... I once stood in line between two stoners who got a 3xBacon deep fried with their onion rings.
- Winnipeg's version of Original famous rays etc... these are a series of (generally) Greek owned burger and sub joints. Grease is the main ingredient here, but there are also a few greek delicacies on the menu.
- A Winnipeg institution since the early 1900's this tiny eatery is justifiably famous for their shoestring fries as well as the photos of the many celebs that eat there on Winnipeg trips.
- Kelekis only looks tiny; there is a large dining room behind the grill area that many miss on first glance. (ed: It's still tiny when the weekend crowd is in there)
- A Winnipeg institution since the early 1900's this tiny eatery is justifiably famous for their shoestring fries as well as the photos of the many celebs that eat there on Winnipeg trips.
- Mrs. Mike's
- Summertime only snackbar style eatery that serves old fashioned dripping hamburgers, crisp fries and great shakes
- Ham & Eggs Grill
- Only open from 10am - 3pm, M-F, this place has the best burgers in the city. Approved by the fire department as good eats. Fries are ok, coleslaw is good, and the burgers are amazing. Of note is the Terminator burger, with 5 quarter pound patties, 5 slices of cheese, and 5 slices of bacon. Located on Princess near Logan.
- North Main, just North of Liela. A small dated restaurant that is worth the trip.
- These are the best burgers I have discovered in Winnipeg. Available in sizes from 1/8 to a 5 Pound monster burger. The 1/4 Pounder is a true quarter-pounder that you will not likely finish of you have fries or onion rings with it.
- Hours are limited, service is "take-it or leave-it" (owner operated), but the food is outstanding and the prices are cheap.
- Located on Corydon (around 800ish I believe)
- Large "wild" dogs, personal favorite being the Canadian with chili, special sauce, bacon and crumbled old dutch chips. Other highlights are the Baba (with fried onions and perogies), the samurai (with daikon, ginger and wasabi mayo) and chicago style.
- Massive (at least 200+) varieties of bottled soda from all over plus the classic Pic a Pop (at conventional stupidly expensive prices for what used to be cheap)
- Carribean Spice (CLOSED :( someone told me they were planning to reopen somewhere else but I don't think they have)
- Located on Sargeant between Maryland and Stafford across from Safeway.
- Small, easy to miss eatery with great curry and jerk and excellent Roti.
- In the past they've had live music once a month or so, I'm not sure if that's still the case.
- Rotis are much better than Deen's these days but hours can be somewhat limited.
- St. Boniface (Marion near Des Meurons)
- Small restaurant but a MASSIVE patio in the summer months with live music on occasion.
- Tasty Carribean flavours. Seems to have changed hands a few times in recent years and has a tendency to go in cycles of quality. At the moment things are good and except for odd service at times (not bad, just... odd) I've enjoyed my last few visits.
- Of Note: Doubles (chickpea curry patties) and Roti
- China Garden
- South Pembina near Dalhousie
- Westernized for the most part but tasty, service is slow and the place is packed weekends so expect to wait a bit. Takeout is usually ready about 5-10 mins after they say it will be.
- Empress of China
- 2165 Henderson Hwy
- This place was a frequent booth at the much mourned Taste of Manitoba festival and first really came on my personal radar because they don't use MSG (a family member was allergic). The food is tasty though fairly standard.
- Their strawberry sweet and sour sauce is a standout however, if you go get at least one dish with it.
- The New Hong Kong Snackhouse
- A tiny almost invisible little place open only for lunch, the NHKS is packed every day of the week with hungry office workers. Cheap, shareable dishes make up for the complete lack of atmosphere. (My coworker and I share a large lunch here every two weeks, usually under 15 dollars for both of us) They also recently received a federal grant for development of their chinese/ukranian fusion food "the peking perogi".
- Four Seasons
- Located in the Southdale stripmall on Fermor/#1 just west of Lagimodiere. TAKEOUT ONLY
- Westernized (and some traditional) chinese fare that is nonetheless incredibly good if you're in the mood for it. The special thing about the place is the heavy polynesian influence including a number of dishes.
- The world's best deep fried Wontons, Beef Mokuaweoweo and pretty much anything else.
- Note: This place has a hard core following and can be really backed up. Thankfully if you call early you can specify a time for things to be ready which eliminates the problem if you plan ahead.
- North Garden
- Excellent northern chinese cuisine. Has gone slightly downhill during their recent expansion, much like its nearby neighbour the Oceana.
- Dishes of note, Crispy Ginger Beef, Shanghai Fat Noodle in Satay Sauce.
- Has now closed, owner has no plans to reopen but has not ruled it out.
- Located where Oceana once was at the corner of Bishop Grandin and Pembina, haven't tried it yet but I have heard good things.
- Sun Fortune
- West Side of Pembina in the mall just south of Bishop Grandin
- South Pembina is a region a lot of asian families have moved to in recent years and it shows in this place. Tons of traditional dishes, lots of dishes only advertised in Mandarin on the walls and (not so ideal for the western types) a glass window into the butchery area of the kitchen. Generally packed to the gills with asian families on the weekend.
- They do Chinese Fondue/Hot Pot on the weekend evenings and you can get a pretty amazing meat or seafood sampler at a good price. They overcharge for noodles for the hot pot(and I haven't been since the current rise in flour prices (2008) so this may be worse now)
- Kum Koon Garden
- Located downtown in Winnipeg's small chinatown area, Kum Koon Garden is quite possibly the largest eatery in the city with several massive dividable rooms and a very popular Dim Sum service. Served from large carts by Waitresses only about 50% likely to speak ANY english, you often have to gamble on what you're getting. Fortunately almost everything is tasty. Unless you go absolutely crazy on the dishes lunch for 3-6 will run you about 8-12 bucks per person. Personal favorites include the pan fried pork dumplings, spring rolls (either the chinese or the vietnamese style) and the elusive coconut shrimp ball. For those who enjoy it, their Sticky Rice is judged to be fantastic by several friends of mine.
- Baked Expectations
- Located in trendy osborne village, B-E has been around forever, offering ubersweet confections in a diner/ice cream shoppe atmosphere. They make delicious tortes, cheese cakes and other ways to increase your waistline within walking distance of some of the city's trendier restaurants and pubs. Always pricey, their prices are now in the stratosphere and most people go in to share a slice of something.
- Leo's Gelati
- Located at the foot of the newly completed Esplanade Riel (Bridge) and at the historic gateway to the french quarter of the city, Leo's opened not long ago without much fanfare. Crowds have steadily increased and it's no surprise. Their Gelati (Gelato) is freshly made almost constantly using fresh fruit and other ingredients and even their smallest serving will give you two scoops of any mix and match flavour you like. For the lactose intolerant out there, 90% of their product is dairy free and they are quick to let you know which to avoid. Specialty coffees and sandwiches are also served, but that's not what you should be going for.
- Restaurant Dubrovnik: Pricey Pricey but fantastic food in an old house on the river, one should eat there at least once. (Middle European cuisine)
- Something a little different. Eastern european food (primarily romanian/balkan) heavy use of garlic in most dishes. Chicken Dracule (garlic and white wine creamy sauce) and little sausage appetizers that I forget the name of are personal favorites.
- Chez Sophie (formerly Aladin's pizza)
- Located at the corner of De la Cathedrale and Langevin in St. Boniface
- Tiny hole in the wall former pizza place, now a tiny french bistro since being taken over by a couple from france. Literally has 6 tables (more in the summer when the patio is open) so reserve if you plan to go. Service is not always speedy but always smiling and Anglo-friendly.
- Of note: Quiches and French Style pizza with white sauce and local artisan cheeses.
- Tasty greek cuisine, fairly pricey compared to some. Of particular note are the Avgolemono (egg-lemon soup) and Lemon roasted potatoes. Their Patio is open in the summer and offers a great way to get some sun and some good food, hardly scenic though.
- Primarily Vegetarian cuisine, this little place doesn't look like much on the outside, but if you like vegetarian samosas they offer good cheap greasy indian delights.
- The East India Company
- Downtown near the convention center in the building behind the Crowne Plaza on York Ave.
- Known for the buffet. The last time I went 4 years or so ago I was really disappointed, underspiced food at rather high prices. I went back for a family dinner recently and was pleasantly surprised. The buffet has a vast array of dishes with tons of options for the Vegetarians in your group as well as tasty chicken and beef. Price tag is still high in my opinion ($24.95 for Buffet and one piece of Naan which can buy you a lot at other Winnipeg indian places) but if you're hungry enough for the buffet it's tasty.
- The Chana Masala was particularly good.
- King's Head Pub
- Anglo/Indian food is on the menu here with a good selection of Brit beers on tap. Fries with Curry sauce and a Scotch egg is a personal favorite, especially during the city's fringe festival
- Great neo-indian cuisine with a fantastic buffet. Very pricey however and one of the few indian restaurants that will charge you for nan bread (though it is made specially for each customer)
- The Old Spaghetti Factory
- A minor chain across apparently random cities, nonetheless a good family restaurant. Cheap generous portions and their new location at the forks overlooking the historic site makes for a pleasant dining experience. Offers free birthday dishes. One endearing aspect of this restaurant is the likelihood of being hit by bread (servers throw free rolls to hungry customers). Dishes of note: Spaghetti with Browned Butter, Mizithra Cheese (Salty and delicious, but not for everyone. If you're a fan of feta, go for this), and Spaghetti Pie.
- Located at the edge of the french quarter on Marion
- A friend once described this restaurant as Olive Garden with flavour. I certainly wouldn't lower it to Olive Garden's level, but it does have a similiar mix of pasta and meat dishes.
- A few people I know swear by the pizza but I have yet to sample it.
- Casa Grande
- Located on Wall near the Sargent Park Arena
- Excellent thick doughy pizza and old italian grandma style pastas.
- Of Note: Pizza with spinach, spicy sausage and feta.
- Diana's Gourmet Pizzaria (TAKEOUT ONLY)
- Recently moved to a new location way south on St. Anne's near the new Extra Foods
- A bewildering array of options in crust, sauce, cheese blend and toppings.
- Very tasty, but over-priced
Mexican and Central/South American
Winnipeg's culinary achilles heel. Suddenly every second restaurant opening seems to be mexican.
- St. Mary's just north of Fermor. (Former Bobbie's Restaurant)
- As I write this they're planning to open next week I believe, trip report later
- Mom and Pop type place on Sargent (or Ellice?) with varied hours but great food.
- Great Margaritas, home made chips and a variety of pure mex and tex mex dishes.
- Pretty nice value for money
- El Amigo
- South St. Mary's at River Road/Vista (Vista Place shopping mall opposite corner from 7-eleven slurpee champ location)
- Another mom and pop place with highly variable hours
- Great slightly different mexican food but I never seen anyone else in here, amazed it's still open.
- Los Chicos
- In Kenaston Cdn Tire retail block (Former Daquisto's/Brannigans site)
- a WOW venture but surprisingly affordable given their rep
- Great tex-mex that's more authentic than most (sad to say that for mexican people here expect Tex-Mex.) Excellent refried beans, probably the best I've ever had outside of California/Mexico.
- Carlos and Murphy's
- Tex-Mex bar/restaurant in Upper Osborne Village
- While not horrible, C&M's is by no means good either with barely a trace of authentic mexican flavours. It is however one of the few places in town you can go for a mexican spice level (though you'll generally have to ask for it)
- Of note: The curiously not entirely horrible Ham and Pineapple Nachos and a decent selection of imported beer past the usual Corona/Sol tandem.
- La Fiesta
- Cuisine from El Salvador
- Locations downtown (on Ellice?) and a new location in the same south St. Anne's Road strip mall as Diana's pizza.
- Strange hours and VERY slow service. Do not be in a hurry and call ahead for a reservation and to confirm hours. The south end location is also very small.
- While a few mexican items make their way onto the menu the general feeling is Salvadorean. Most dishes are not at all spicy focusing more on the flavour combinations (hot sauce is provided on the table.) The Pupusa's and Burritos are very good. Tamales at the table next door also looked good.
- Portions are very healthy for the entrees (the "large" nachos we ordered as an appetizer last time not so much)
- Of Note: More or less everything, but the fresh blended fruit juices (flavours change with the seasons and availability) are perfect accompaniment for almost any meal here. Mexican/South American beers are also available.
- Falafel Place
- Everyone's favorite tax evader :)
- New Location at 1101 Corydon in the former Belgian Bakery
- As noted in the breakfast section it has great breakfasts but also makes great falafel.
- I recommend the big bowl that's essentially a pita filled with Falafel and Tahini and peppers... yum!
- Pyramid Falafel
- Sargeant Ave. near Isobel in the same strip mall as India Palace (Across the street from Viva)
- Tasty enough falafel, however I always get the impression that they load mine down with onions so they have to put less falafel in.
- Thida's Thai
- Located in a former "Salisbury House", this restaurant is rather easy to miss. Good thai curry and excellent stuffed chicken wings and dumplings make it worth the trip.
- Word of warning to the occidental types, if you want spicy, make sure you insist on it, 8 for a caucasian is very different than an 8 for an asian person depending on your waitress. If you're a mee krab fan, you might want to ask for lots of sauce, they often make it very dry. Avoid the matsuman, they chronically undercook the potato.
- Dishes of Note: Pad Phet, Stuffed Chicken Wings
- Vientiane (Lao-Thai)
- Marion between Kenny and Traverse (Across from Deen's )
- Another Strip-mall style restaurant, I have yet to have anything off their menu that wasn't fantastic. Spicy succulent dishes or the more subtle flavours all come through perfectly. They recently received a glowing recommendation from the local paper's food nazi and have become far busier as a result. Hopefully this causes them to hire more staff, because even before the upturn in business the only knock against them was chronically slow service.
- Dishes of Note: Everything!
- four doors down from Vientiane
- One of the founders of Vientiane has left them and opened this small place in the same strip mall. Very similar food but he makes the better Matsuman/Mussaman curry if that's your thing.
- Magic Thailand
- Located on Logan near Arlington, tiny restaurant in a former bungalow or storefront, it's hard to tell.
- Great well spiced food at cheap cheap prices.
- Dishes of Note: Stuffed Chicken Wings, Crab Rangoon, Pad Thai, Mee Krab
- Vanxai's Lao Thai
- Formerly located on Selkirk, this eatery has now moved to St. Anne's about halfway between Fermor and the St.Mary's/St. Anne's intersection. A slightly different taste than some thai restaurants and a few dishes you won't see some places. Excellent Crab Rangoon on my visit though the Mee Krob was far too salty. The soups are infamous.
- Lao Thai
- The older generation of the above owners were bought out by the (son/nephew?) and have since reopened the original on selkirk. Same as above really.
- One Night in Bangkok
- Located on Edmonton St just North of the Convention Centre, this is a dining experience you will not soon forget.
- Great dishes, great prices, outstanding service and a noon buffet.
- Massaman is delicous, Lettuce Wraps are wonderful.
- Pad Thai
- Portage Avenue West, next door to Perkins.
- Wonderful menu, good service and great food.
- Hu's on First
- Located at Canwest Park, across the bridge from the Forks. (Second location in Leon's Center on Route 90, may have different menu)
- Diverse Asian menu, heavy Thai and Chinese themes. Prices are on the low side, especially considering the portion sizing.
- Incongrous decor is a feature of this restaurant located in a former Dunkin' Donuts location. The original owner's wife worked at Boeing in some capacity and for the longest time most of the decor was stock photos of fighter jets. Some of this remains and the cooler by the door is still covered in Pratt and Whitney stickers. The food itself is great, flavours come through with a lot of intensity. It was sold to a new owner several years ago and prices have increased as a result.
Dishes of Note: Cheap flavour packed spring rolls bursting with pork (My favorites in town), Fried Shrimp (Massive plate for $8.95) and Chicken with Lemon Grass and Hot Pepper
- Just down the street from the aforementioned Vietnam, Viva is a much classier looking place, with slightly higher prices to match. The food is tasty, moderate portions of dishes with powerful flavour combined with great service make this place a popular place for dinner for two. Dishes of Note: Chicken or Beef with lemon grass and hot pepper, Beef Satay soup and a lovely noodle soup with a crispy shrimp crepe whose name I can never remember.
Eateries that pride themselves on being totally or at least mostly vegetarian focused go here. While many Indian places could fit as well they should stay in Indian.
- The Underground Cafe
- Located in the Exchange in (GASP!) an underground location.
- Open breakfast through late afternoon (7-3:30 I believe)
- Meat is served but the menu is very veggie focused including their famous sunburger, pita pizzas and other tasty snacks.
- A completely vegan cafe/bookshop also in the Exchange (91 Albert Street)
- Excellent veggie burger and assorted veggie bowls.
- Portions tend to be on the small size, and priced high due to co-op nature and use of vegan cheese and other products.
- Interesting atmosphere and crowd.