This pandemic has been no picnic, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go have one.
With new dining restrictions in place, now’s the time to support our restaurant friends even more over these last hurdles, so we can hopefully see each other soon on the city’s patios.
Get the sunnies on and a blanket ready, here’s a few spots that make picnicking easy with locations close to (or in) public parks and services tailored for an easy outdoor set up.
Roosting near the Corydon Strip & sitting pretty in South Osborne
The Roost is so utterly darling that it was only a matter of time they started doing a picnic-themed bike-delivery service. This new lockdown menu is not only very vegan friendly and brimming with dishes that are perfect for picking up (with your hands), it is also available via bike delivery to both Munson and Peanut Parks, two picturesque locales in River Heights.
The Roost is currently open 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Tuesday to Saturday.
The Oxbow, one of The Roost’s sister restaurants, also has you covered in South Osborne (albeit not with bike delivery). The whole menu is perfect for a picnic, with finger food snacks that include walleye wings, triple-cooked fries with all-dressed aioli (perhaps the best fries in town kids) and kohlrabi dumplings. The made-in-house pastas all travel well too, while the cast-iron chicken comes sliced and ready to serve if you're sitting in nearby Arnold Avenue or Pembina Fisher Parks.
Oxbow’s takeout hours are 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Wednesday to Sunday.
Edging into Kildonan Park
With little foot bridges, Rainbow Stage, stately century-old trees and the coolest light installations you’ve ever seen (they are called Bokeh, by Takashi Iwasaki and Nadi Design), Kildonan Park is already littered in charms. Add the menu from Prairie’s Edge, which features Canadiana versions of European fare (along with an excellent smash burger and Nashville hot chicken sandwich) and you have a peachy little combo.
Prairie’s Edge is located within the park’s Peguis Pavilion, and features a second-floor wrap-around patio that overlooks the duck pond. For quick, super socially distanced takeout, you can use their convenient Park Window, whose menu runs from appetizers to that burger/sandwich section of the main menu.
Prairie’s Edge is open for takeout, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday. They also deliver.
Sage advice for Sage Creek
Sage Creek is in the house and by house we mean under the open skies of Ron Duhamel and Tallgrass Park. Both settings are a very short walk from Block & Blade Restaurant and Bar, a local establishment with a menu featuring shareable flatbreads, classic appetizers like fried cheese curds, lettuce wraps, tacos and onion rings, along with plenty of burgers and bowls. All these things and more can be ordered via this easy online system, while when the time comes again B&B has a nice streetside patio. Curbside pickup is available too.
Block & Blade is currently open 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week.
Chinese cuisine in Kings Park
Kings Park’s amenities include a quaint waterfall, the Carol Shields Memorial Labyrinth and a striking red and green Chinese pagoda, all held within an oxbow in the Red River. It’s a splendid setting while driving south down Pembina to reach it as you’ll pass some of the city’s best Cantonese and Szechuan restaurants.
Fans of hand-pulled noodles and heat will rejoice at the range of dishes from Golden Loong, long a favourite for many Winnipeg chefs on their days off. We’ve always been big on Sun Fortune, particularly for it’s Peking duck, which is great for takeout with its crepes and lettuce wraps. They now have takeout pictures of almost every dish on the 200+ item menu, so you also know what you are into beforehand when it comes to sharing. Another solid choice is North Garden, where the dim sum menu is ready to go for an al fresco brunch featuring barbecue pork buns, pineapple buns, siu mai and har gow.
Globally inspired Patio Packs delivered directly
Just announced by The Merchant Kitchen are these snappy new Patio Packs, featuring dishes inspired by the world’s most popular street foods. This week’s pack features El Salvadorian pupusas; Korean fried chicken; mix, marinate and serve scallop ceviche with watermelon and fried plantains; guac and salsa; and margarita mix (just add tequila). The restaurant also offers numerous themed-dinners for couples and foursomes, while ordering from Academy Hospitality is so efficient using this online system that they deliver themselves.
Savour a sunset in Westview Park
Garbage Hill is of course a great spot to catch a sunset to the west with its 360-degree views of the city and surrounding prairie (and yes, “savour a sunset in Westview Park” sounds better than the alternative – “eat your fill on Garbage Hill” – so we are sticking to that heading).
To service this spot, there are so many little-known gems along Notre Dame that specialize in handheld dishes.
A few picnic-appropriate options include: banh mi from the friendly counter of Khanh Hoa Fresh Meats & Delights (a certified hidden gem with some of the city’s best sandwiches); shawarma joint Altanour Restaurant & Deli – where the meats are shaved right off the spit and the heaping Lebanese platters scream bang-for-your-buck, and newbie Bistro on Notre Dame. We’ve mentioned this eatery does a really nice job with quality renditions on comfort food. (If you click on that link, you can also read about new spots like Modern Electric Lunch and Daanook Restaurant, which have you covered downtown and in the Exchange District.)
Parc Life in Old St. B* (plus serving something good in Norwood)
Old St. Boniface contains gorgeous parks like Provencher, Whittier, Lagimodière-Gaboury and Seine River Parkway, all assembled around the neighbourhood’s central culinary district. For French to accompany your picnic, you really have your pick, from comfort food from Promenade Café and Wine (which has an impressive extended patio for when the time comes) and Resto Gare (whose courtyard patio set against the train car is a peach too), to unbelievably good pastries and sweets from the likes from La Belle Baguette (literally across the street from Provencher Park) and Chocolatier Constance Popp. Plus, there’s Dwarf no Cachette (the cutest Japanese restaurant in the city) if you're craving countless okonomiyaki, ramen, tempura and takoyaki options, along with new crunchy mochi sweets.
Just south in the Norwood hood there’s Coronation and Happyland Parks, which provide a nice place to nibble away an afternoon. These parks are a short jaunt from all manner of good food courtesy of AFV Kitchen (Nigerian cuisine located across the street from Happyland Park), Marion Street Eatery (always well-executed comfort food), The Wood Tavern (for flame-kissed bistro fare), Mrs. Mike’s (for a classic Fat Boy), Pasquale’s (Italian), Le Croissant (bakery) and Dug and Betty’s for ice cream for you and your pooch.
Assiniboine Park? It seemed too obvious, as the Park Café in the Qualico Family Centre is always on our mind with its lovely setting and takeout window that will keep the kids fed fast when hanging around the Riley Family Duck Pond. If you're looking for more options in the area both Capital Grill and Bluestone Cottage have you covered.
Tacos? We have that here, along with imploring you to check out newbies Pancho & Lefty's, JC's Tacos and More, El Izalco and The Beer Can, which is still doing takeout and delivery while the beer garden/patio is closed.
Ice cream? Please.
Is Kosmo's Food Cantina doing picnic things too? Yes, and the KOSMO'S 2 GO BEER FLAT BACKYARD BANGER FOR 2 OR 4 PEOPLE is as enthralling as the all caps name would indicate, with flaming Cheeto grilled corn, "kweemy pasta salad," tots, Hawaiian rolls and the choice of spicii fried chicken, birria-style brisket or Mexi-cola baby back ribs.
Even more picnic packages!
We've seen even more incredible picnic packages since this piece was first published, so here's a few more can't miss ones.
The VG Restaurant at The Fairmont is taking your tastebuds around the world for the month of June every Tuesday and Thursday, with new combos that are available for takeout (or via drive-thru) from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. On top of that, they have this new Limitless Picnic Menu to choose from, with picnics for two going for $60. With numerous parks just steps away downtown, it makes for an easy peasy sunny breezy al fresco lunch.
Thermëa has started to create picnic bundles too, all available for pickup or delivery. These cute packs allow you to choose a selection of charcuterie, cheese, veggie and fruit boxes that you can pair with desserts like mini brownies, cheesecakes, or s'more kits, with drinks (including those cute little cava bottles) available too. All the deets are in the link provided.
*That is an attempt at a clever Blur reference en francais, not a typo