The second part of our best dishes and dining experiences 2022 is all about staff picks, take out, and new trends we want to continue seeing.
If you’re looking for more guaranteed great eating experiences, check out our new Best Eats website, that lays out all our favourite spots (and spots that have been noted by travel media and/or received national acclaim) in easy to navigate categories.
Here's Part 1.
Mike’s picks, continued
Unexpected mind-blowing experience: Hoagie Boyz. Look, we knew Hoagie Boyz was going to be great, because Kosmo’s Space Cowboy Food Cantina was such gem and it’s by the same owners. But after one bite of the Young Turk my wife said, “tThis is the best &$#*@ sub I’ve ever had,” and I was too busy basking in my Adam Sandoozle sandwich to add anything to that description. After finishing and debriefing on the profound sub experience we just had, we began to text other sandwich enthusiasts, and soon, in a matter of days, we were reading messages like, “Best sandwich I’ve ever had” and “How is this sub this good!?!” and “I wish Gary Ghostman was my dad.”
Indeed, the hoagies here are works of art. All the ingredients work together to achieve sandwich bliss on that Gunn’s Bakery 10-inch sesame bun via creamy elements like Caesar dressing, bomba mayo, or pesto; painstakingly prepared meats; a solid amount of shredduce; and all manner of accoutrement like pickled veg, shaved raw onion for a bit of bite and usually some cheese too. Our two-year-old, as you can see in the headline image agrees, as he took half a hoagie to the dome in like five minutes, which is quite the feat for a little dude.
…And speaking of kids: I also have a five-year-old who is really into food, and he insists on being heard. His favourite Winnipeg eats are gyoza from Yujiro (he’ll pound six, it’s wild; they really are unsung on chef Ed Lam’s always incredible menu), popcorn shrimp from chef Wayne at Capital Grill and “Everything from Clementine, especially the Belgian waffle and chia pudding.”
Best takeout: Enoteca and Máqùe. The takeout game at these two Scott Bagshaw restaurants is a class above. All of the high-end share plates travel so well, particularly the prawn cake, crunchy salad and wild mushroom with egg noodle noodles in white truffle cream from Maque, and the fried chicken, ricotta gnocchi, and whatever the yellowfin of choice dish is from Enoteca. Sure, it seems strange to have pricey fare that is always so artfully plated in the dining room deposited in a little takeout container, but there’s something to be said about getting to enjoy such luxuries at home in your sweatpants once the kids are in bed (plus, you’re saving on the sitter).
The best dish I had this spring was a takeout container holding large, perfectly toothy asparagus (I can’t stress enough how perfect the cook on the asparagus was) with white truffle soubise and morels that were masquerading as bacon bits from Enoteca. That creamy onion sauce will take you to places, and we took turns using spoons to get it from every corner of the takeout container, while the crispy, nutty morels complimented the sweet, grassy asparagus. Enoteca, Maque and Passero (Bagshaw’s other restaurant) also get the “guaranteed an outstanding meal” nod too, as they just don’t stop when it comes to plating, execution from the kitchen and service.
Best grilled bread: What sort of niche category is this? It’s one we’ve made up to point you to One Sixteen, another one of the best places to open in the past year. Everything about this concept is great—from the front taproom for Good Neighbour’s beers to the Two Hands dining room in the back where you can currently experience one of the city’s best culinary experiences under chef Kurt Kolbe. We filmed a segment here this past summer, and while every dish had its moments, it was chef Keegan Misanchuk’s grilled bread (a mix of white, whole wheat and rye flours, all from Manitoba) that is cooked over wood charcoal that you can’t get enough of. They recommend you put in an order for every two people (as you’ll just order another one for a table of four), as that charred chewy texture and flavour—not to mention the accompanying whipped onion butter and dill oil–is so immensely satisfying.
Best olives: Again, what kind of category is this? It’s a competitive one, that’s what kind it is! There are so many great olive snacks right now in the city, particularly if you are looking for smoked or stuffed. For starters, The Roost serves warm blue cheese olives with fig balsamic, walnuts, raisins and honey that are out of control. The other ones we are always thinking about are the Persian olives from Bonnie Day (which also gets the award for “most charming new neighbourhood restaurant”). You must start your Bonnie experience with these (okay, and the whipped feta too) because they are addictive, with the Castelvetrano olives (a great olive if there ever was one) being treated to a citrusy pomegranate molasses glaze that holds all the chopped walnuts and mint. I could eat the whole jar, which my five-year-old tried to do.
Favourite new hidden gem: Beshiestakoyumms at 1437 Arlington. Osaka’s signature street food dish is getting the star treatment at this tiny, take-out only spot in the North End. Beshie is by Winnipeg Filipino entrepreneur Atheena Martinez, who has developed a deft hand at creating takoyaki (those creamy balls of wheat batter with octopus tentacle in the centre, all topped with sweet/salty sauce and dried bonito) after multiple trips to Japan, including living there for a year in 2019. At her shop, she uses a takoyaki pan to great effect (check the video) ensuring each ball gets a nice brown crust before being gently flipped to maintain that airy-yet-gooey interior. She also does Osaka-style okonomiyaki too.
Favourite trend: Chips and dip. We’ve been sitting on the outline of a guide called “When they chip you dip” or “When they dip you dip” seemingly all year, as everywhere you look there are some incredible chips and dips out there. Of the classic caramelized onion variety check out Khao House, which are served simply with Old Dutch; Made by Paste's "A Very Good Dip" uses Black Market Crunch and is available at Black Market Provisions right now; Nonsuch Brewing Co's house chips are fermented for 48 hours before being fried and served with a smoked onion and leek dip; SMITH’s version is always a good call with its craft cocktails; as is Langside Grocery’s decadent version that features mozzarella and cream cheese, with a focaccia crostini for all that heavy lifting.
Peking Duck from Ken’s Restaurant - When I think of Peking Duck, I think of family gatherings and togetherness—aspects of life that feel even more important in a ‘post-pandemic’ world. Peking Duck is considered the national dish of China. The great thing about this dish is when you order it, you are served three different dishes made from the one duck. So, it’s definitely a shared communal eating experience with close family and friends. Over the years, my family and I have tried it at different restaurants across Winnipeg, and we agree that it’s prepared best at Ken’s Restaurant. We certainly recommend calling in to notify the chefs in advance to make table reservations and to avoid disappointment.
When you order Peking Duck, it will be presented to you in three progressive dishes–utilizing all components of the roasted duck (skin, meat, carcass/bones). The first dish’s key component is duck skin. Everyone DIY’s their own wraps–a couple slices of duck skin, celery, green onions and hoisin sauce into a crepe. The second dish’s key component is duck meat, and you place the stir-fried duck meat and crispy noodles into a lettuce wrap. The third dish is all about the duck carcass and bones, as everyone is given a bowl of soup. Once it’s all on the table, it’s kind of a free for all–everyone is welcomed to eat more of whatever dish they like until everything is done.
- Wynne Au, the Talent Program Manager at YES! Winnipeg,Au is a gourmand with plenty of culinary chops (you should have tried her japchae at the last staff potluck) and has become a great culinary resource in our office.
The whole experience at Tabula Rasa. It’s cozy, the décor is eclectic, plus the service is incredible. Bring a friend to fully indulge in as many dishes as possible. I’m a huge fan of the albondigas, the beef and wild boar meatballs with tomato sauce, pistachios and Manchego. They have an extensive wine list with unique options so there's something for everyone, including those who have a more adventurous palate.
– Abby Matheson, Digital & Content Marketing Coordinator at Tourism Winnipeg
Maddy Reico, our Digital & Content Marketing Manager, who makes so many of our fun videos you see, has a few dishes–and drinks–she can’t get out of her head from 2023:
In no order I’ll say the chicken liver brûlée from The Oval Room Brasserie, Next Friend cider's "press on, Enoteca's "mac n cheese”, Cake-ology's "smoked cinnamon and eggnog supreme, Parcel Pizza's "The Cheeseburger" pizza, and Kilter’s "Mai Tai beer slushie."
As to Parcel Pizza: Pickles on pizza isn’t preposterous and Parcel Pizza knows it’s no big dill. While the rotating discs are always out of this world, the saucer we stuck with over and over again was The Cheeseburger. Thick crumbles of fennel sausage, pickled onions and dill pickles covering it all. Plus, that tangy Big-Mac-style sauce is a treat for your taste buds.