2020: At least the food was good.
That’s our motto for this year where things were not ideal for anyone, particularly the local restaurant biz. And yet, we discovered that so many of the city’s best restaurants and chefs were perfectly capable at perfecting takeout while going above and beyond feeding healthcare workers and those in need.
From noodles, to pastries, to rice dishes, waffles, kimchi and tacos, these are some of the best things we ate (along with some other fun things too) in Winnipeg in 2020.
Shanghai noodles from Lucky Koi. Who doesn’t love fat udon noodles? Particularly ones that are dressed with an umami-bomby semi-sweet dark soy that are peppered with thickly sliced pork, cabbage and carrots, all of which get plenty of char from that hot wok. Great dish for kids too. My three-year-old literally moans while he slurps these noodles, plus they do their own delivery and the food comes piping hot.
Onion ring tower from 529 Wellington. Onion rings aren’t supposed to travel, and yet these huge classics in their thick-yet-crispy cake-like batter hold up for the whole ride home. Combine with that classic sweet chili mayo and a ridiculously good burger and you are going to have a good time. As the wise three-year-old has previously stated on this website, “This is the best onion of my entire life!”
Tall Grass Prairie for smoked Bothwell cheese croissants, the legendary cinnamon buns (we like to cut ours in half, toast them, then top with Notre Dame Creamery butter) and for 30 years of being amazing. Tabitha you are our hero!
Signature Tripe Soup from Soufen Noodles. That broth is about as much spice as we can take, with over 50 spices – including lots of anise – hitting you in waves. The tripe and housemade noodles both provide a nice soft chew. Total hidden gem hidden behind a Domo on Academy and the first review we did in 2020 back when you could eat carefree in a tiny restaurant.
For a Persian twist on Western favourites, Next Stop Café checks off all the boxes. But our favourite part of the meal was the massive Pistachio milkshake. Trust us, it was thicker than a bowl of oatmeal. Ground nuts throughout and sweet vanilla notes make it a must-try for 2021.
Ice cream sandwiches from Fête Ice Cream and Coffee. Our jam at the Wolseley Farmers’ market, with new flavours/cookie combos each week. The meringue cookie version was out of control—so crunchy on the outside, yet so chewy in the middle. The strawberry rhubarb crumble version was the perfect start to a sunny afternoon. Check out their online system to see this week’s flavours.
Tzatziki from the Greek Market. It’s the thickest tzatziki around and is smash-the-plates, break-out-that-bouzouki delicious. We put it on everything, but if you want to celebrate its garlicky goodness, try it simply on toasted pita first. Love the service at this place and the moussaka too.
The butternut squash pizza from Feast Café Bistro. Roasted butternut squash, Bothwell cheddar, mozza, toasted pine nuts and that maple chipotle sour cream top this bannock pizza from the celebrated spot in Winnipeg's West End. The bannock crust has just the right level of saltiness that pairs perfectly with the spicy sour cream drizzled on every bite, where you'll enjoy many because this pizza is massive and great for leftovers.
The bento box bagel sandwich from Bagelsmith. If these bagels weren’t already perfect enough, they’ve gone and added near-translucent lox, sweet Japanese-style cucumbers and pickled ginger.
Almond croissants from S Squared Pâtisserie. Everything owner/head pastry chef Sophon Chihin makes is pretty magical, but those almond croissants might take the cake. Order now as they will soon be closed for a large holiday break while this Charleswood shop is currently only open on weekends.
Mar’s Sisig for yes, sisig. So many textures, love squeezing all that calamnsi on it, and so good with a cold beer.
Fried chicken sandwich with zucchini pickles and ranch on that perfect little bun from deer + almond. When the restaurant reopened it was the first thing we ordered for takeout at lunch. With a side salad it is just dandy.
Baos from Yujiro and Saburo Kitchen. Between all the ramens and that oh-so-creamy takoyaki, you’d think lunch at both spots couldn’t get any better. Then, you add all the various baos: chicken kaarage, dan dan pork (that ginger pork is out of control) and chashu—and you'll find yourself dancing in your seat.
The best combo from Nonsuch Brewing Co. The Lunch for Two gets you two of chef Tyrone's outrageously good cheese burgers (perhaps the best burger in the city; the celebration of beef is ever-present in every bite) two doughnuts, two cans of beer (473 ml at that) and chips with this smoky, black garlic-spiked versions of onion dip that is just in it to win it -- all for just $36!
And speaking of burgers, there have been so many this year that could also have been on these lists, from staples like Miss Browns (where the sandwiches are so good they can bring a tear to an eye), Brazen Hall, both The Cornerstone and The Grove (all hail the Harvard), Capital Grill and of course all the Fat Boys out there, particularly VJ's.