Ciao! visits hundreds of restaurants and shops every year hunting out Winnipeg’s best places. To celebrate our 100th issue, the editors share the best of the best that prove we’re living in One Great City.
Get It (Hand) Made
Hand-painted tees from Lennard Taylor are the ultimate one-of-a-kind item. Hilary Druxman’s philanthropic jewellery provides funds to local charities in style. Hand-thrown pottery at Stoneware Gallery turns our kitchen cupboards into an art exhibit. Watching glass-blowers in action at Bayshore Gifts in Glass is as fun as picking out colourful glass sushi sets. Painted truffles at Decadence Chocolates are almost too pretty to eat. We’re obsessed with Coal & Canary candles for their sweet scents and fun names. About 800 pounds of Mordens’ signature Russian Mints are sold over the holidays, but this family business still cuts its minty centers by hand. Artists like George Shannon, whose stunning fused glass pieces decorate the Buhler Gallery, beautify unexpected spaces. The WAG Gallery Shop turns shopping into an art form with a beautiful selection of jewellery and homeware.
Sweet and savoury chicken and waffles at The Tallest Poppy brings soul food to the Great White North. Coal fired crusts had us at hello; Carbone’s new white pizza, with its creamy-salty blend of ricotta and parmigiano, keeps us from saying goodbye. Unbelievable warm knishes at Sherbrook St Deli are best chased down with a housemade soda. Calories don’t count at brunch, especially if your morning meal is a stack of pancakes and bacon doused in apple whiskey caramel sauce at Marion Street Eatery. The pressure-fried chicken at Red Top Drive-Inn is definitely the star here. Promenade Café’s bison tourtière smothered with gravy has us feeling like voyageurs. Homey dishes at The Oakwood include indulgences like alfredo fries. The setting is refined, but appetizers like the McDuckettes at Sydney’s show the restaurant’s playful side.
Bailey’s stately dining room is an ode to the British empire. 529 Wellington’s white-jacketed servers offering a platter of beef for our perusal is perfect pampering. Timeless vitello alla parmigiana at Amici has us swooning.
A number of new boutique coffee shops have put extra pep in our step. Pick me ups at Caked With Love Co. even come with inspirational quotes written on top in chocolate syrup.
Winnipeg’s diverse cocktail culture has us loving libations like the complex syrup and bitters-infused creations at The Roost Social House, ultra-refreshing authentic margaritas at La Roca, and Bond-style martinis at Rae & Jerry’s while lounging on red leather seats.
A Well-Stocked Pantry
From old favourites like Bothwell Cheese, Nature’s Farm pasta and La Cocina chips to new finds like Dr. Beetroot beet ketchup and Smak Dab mustard, made in Manitoba food products are keeping us well fed.
Decor That Makes Us Smile
Wall-length photos and a high-tech tap/dryer combo make the bathroom at BerMax Caffé the classiest in the city. Sous Sol’s walls, papered with vintage cookbooks, provide some dinnertime reading. Quirky murals at the Underground Café liven up lunchtime. Rudy’s retro-glam décor incorporates new digital technology to show old school ads. Canadiana cool at Smith includes Hudson’s Bay stripes and antler chandeliers that have us feeling patriotic.
Shareable Plates To Hoard
Delicate slices of tuna crudo at The Blue Marble are complemented with a grassy pea purée. Patatas bravas at Segovia are an irresistible tapas classic. Café La Scala’s dumplings in ginger garlic cream sauce are a longtime signature that never gets old. Sumptuous beef tartare at Enoteca is topped with a delicate raw quail yolk. deer + almond’s baby potatoes topped with Japanese mayo, tobiko, and togarashi are the hip answer to potato salad.
Globe-hopping local retailers make it easy to find items from afar at shops like Global Connections and Brave New World.
From Greek-style, chili-smothered patties at VJ’s to gourmet creations at Nuburger, connoisseur-worthy burgers are all over this town.
Whether at Sargent Sundae or BDI, nothing beats enjoying ice cream while strolling across a footbridge.
What’s Good In The ‘Hood
Saturday morning wanders through the Wolseley elms//Shop hopping at hip fashion spots in The Exchange//Watching characters, hipsters, and fashionistas on the scene in Osborne Village//Getting a birds’ eye view on Corydon from rooftop patios//Perusing Academy‘s sleek shops for the well-heeled crowd
Cibo’s location within a former pumphouse gives it a beautiful view looking out over the water. Grabbing a snack at the Assiniboine Park Zoo means watching polar bears play from a seat at the Tundra Grill. The rotating dining room at Prairie 360 is the perfect place to watch the sun set. Spending a restful day at Thermëa includes donning a robe for dinner at Restö. The beautiful food at Era Bistro is equalled by the Canadian Museum for Human Rights’ stunning architecture. Dining in Resto Gare’s refurbished train car is a step back in time. Peaceful views of the lake make Buffalo Stone Café at FortWhyte Alive feel like a wilderness retreat inside city limits. Lunching at Table at the Winnipeg Art Gallery offers a view of the rooftop sculpture garden alongside exhibit-inspired edible art. Gates on Roblin’s bucolic setting turns this former country estate into one of the city’s most sophisticated dining rooms. Pineridge Hollow’s rustic style and natural setting makes the perfect backdrop for fresh regional ingredients. River views are best paired with a giant apple pancake from The Pancake House at The Forks.
Loads Of Loaves
Living in a bread basket province means an abundance of multiculti local loaves. Slices made with fresh ground flour from Tall Grass Prairie Bakery, City Bread rye, and Lisbon Bakery‘s Portuguese water bread are all winners.
Whether it’s bison sausage or kielbassa, this city is rich with stellar sausages. We hit up favourite spots like Piazza Di Nardi, M & S Meat Market and Miller’s Meats to score hot links and the best wurst.
We can’t get enough of the Brussels sprouts at The Mitchell Block, and our mothers are so proud … no need to tell them that this version involves a quick deep fry and charred lemon aioli. Fruit smoothies at Prairie Ink leave us happy and healthy with a quick fix of fruit and yogurt. Fast food feels guilt free when burgers are crafted out of a vegan bean, grain, and veggie blend at Boon Burger (pictured above). Post-yoga health sprees are made complete by Green Carrot Juice Co’s cold pressed wonders.
It’s easy to eat local when great markets are within easy reach. We love connecting with farmers at St Norbert Farmers’ Market, Jardins St Léon, Alleyways pop up market, and more.
Winnipeg becomes festival central in the summer, and there are no shortage of culinary events all year round. From perogies to poutine, big fests like Folklorama and Festival du Voyageur roll out a cultural spread.
Buds And Suds
Changing liquor laws and the trendy clout of craft beer have led to the influx of brewpubs and local brewers in the city. New brews from Barnhammer and Torque are making waves, while spots like The Common at The Forks and Barley Brothers offer tasting flights for hop-heads.
Stand Out Shops
The luxe loft shopping experience at bellaBALAS lets us feel like celebs. Shopping in De Luca’s Specialty Foods’ convivial atmosphere is an instant mood boost. The impressive magazine section at McNally Robinson Booksellers is our happy place. Taste testing oils and vinegars at Frescolio is the ultimate try-before-you-buy. Field trips to the North End to visit Wonderful World of Sheepskin have us in fuzzy sheepskin merch from head to toe. Nosing the huge selection of teas at Cornelia Bean is like taking a world tour. The packed shelves at Humboldt’s Legacy hold gifts for all—and eco-conscious ones, to boot. Flipping through records at Into the Music is an ideal lazy Saturday in the Exchange. Toad Hall Toys has treats for girls and boys (and maybe some fun-loving adults, too). Wandering in Osborne Village warrants a stop at Silver Lotus, where a well-curated mix of hip, fashion forward, and globally inspired accessories adds up to the perfect fashion cocktail.
Julia Child once said, “with enough butter, everything is good”, so we’re sure she’d approve of our addiction to almond croissants from La Belle Baguette. Mere months after opening, Oh Doughnuts’ lemon meringue pie donuts are ruining diets across the city. We’re hooked on Baked Expectations’ salted caramel chocolate cheesecake, the ultimate sweet and salty treat. Siam Thai’s surprisingly long dessert menu includes warm, slightly sweet yellow bean pie. Forget lemonade—when life gives you lemons, have the lemon lemon torte at Dessert Sinsations instead. Eating Kawaii Crepe’s tiramisu crepe is almost as fun as watching it cooked with a round grill and wooden crepe spreader. The death by chocolate at Café Ce Soir is the city’s richest dessert, with chocolate mousse, crème brûlée, and cake covered in chocolate ganache.
Food farmed and raised with love just plain tastes better, and our small-farm province results in pork with bold flavour. Bacon empañadas at Corrientes balance the salty meat with sweet dried prunes. The impossibly crisp and luscious pork belly at Cornerstone needs little more adornment than some veg and a runny egg to keep us dreaming about it. Charcuterie has become the It menu item, and Peasant Cookery’s housemade sausages, terrines, and pâtés with Berkshire pork are a cut above. Lovey’s low and slow smoked barbeque ribs are so good, you won’t care about the mess.
Icing On The Cake
Stylish and sweet boutique bakeries like Lilac Bakery, High Tea Bakery, Sweet Impressions, and Pinky’s Bakeshop put a trendy spin on our afternoon sugar fix with everything from cute cupcakes to favourite cookies.
Richly spiced Ethiopian food is a match made in heaven with Winnipeg winters, like savoury doro wat at Gohe. East India Company’s Indian buffet is the city’s most expansive, but who can get past the rich, creamy butter chicken without overloading the plate? North Garden’s authentic Chinese cooking has us scoping out neighbours’ tables for what looks good. Meaty spaghetti bolognese at Pasquales is a tried and true classic. Edward Lam blends palate-pushing flavours with time-honoured techniques at Yujiro. Until Hermanos came along, we never knew the joys of dunking steak into a saucer of fresh, verdant chimichurri. Catching pop flies at Shaw Park becomes a uniquely Manitoban experience with vendors selling everything from kielbassa to curry.
20 years of local cuisine at Fusion Grill and we still can’t get enough of chef Lorna’s imaginative renditions of prairie proteins like Arctic char, bison, and elk. The pow wow taco at Feast puts an Indigenous spin on the Mexican specialty with local bison and a bannock “tortilla”. Wasabi’s sweety beety roll creates Japanese and Canadian fusion with shiso and pickled ginger giving our favourite root veggie a boost.
Oodles Of Noodles
The mee kha tee at Bangkok Thai pairs broad rice noodles with sweet coconut broth and punchy chiles. Steaming bowls of pho at Mama’s Noodle House reach the table so fast, you may still have your coat on. We can’t get enough of the chili cream prawns at Nicolino’s, with linguine tossed in a sweet and kicky sauce that gets a hit of crunch from cashews. Hand pulled noodles at Dancing Noodle elevate a simple chile oil soup.