Whether you want to taste the harvest of the prairies, go for glutton and attempt over 120 burgers in a week or over 50 food trucks in three days, veg(gie) out, or attend a seafood boil in a brewery, Winnipeg has an event for you this September.
Yes, sadly summer will be over soon, but that just means you get to wear more layers, which you just may need if you attend all of these.
ManyFest Food Truck Wars
Three days, 53 food trucks. That’s how Winnipeg kicks off the back-to-school season (we dare not say fall, as surely there is plenty of summer left).
ManyFest, downtown’s biggest street festival, regularly sees upwards of 40,000 people descend onto Memorial Boulevard in front of the Manitoba Legislative Building for all manner of merriment, which includes live music; the MiniFest Family Zone; an urban market full of swish, stylish locally made goods from Third+Bird; fun races; and a jazzy little midway replete with a Ferris wheel so you can take photos from above of all the excitement.
On the food side of things, the big draw is Food Truck Wars, where the city’s best food trucks compete for the Peoples’ Choice trophy (you’ll be given a voting card at the tables where all the trucks are located along Memorial), along with three judges’ awards for Best Presentation, Best Bang for Your Buck, and Most Original. Having been a judge in 2015, when we ate from 39 trucks in two days, I can verify that trying them all can equal more pain than pleasure. So on that note, please use of our 2019 Winnipeg Food Truck Guide, which contains detailed descriptions of over 60 trucks and must-try dishes, to help narrow down your selection of street eats.
This being a street festival, you best believe there will also be beer gardens. Lake of the Woods Brewing Co. is back for 2019 to sponsor said gardens with their Lakeside Lounge, which will feature live music, a big screen playing the Banjo Bowl on the 7th, beers from the brewery (which you’ll soon get to experience in Winnipeg when it opens its third location in True North Square) including the Lakeside Kolsch – which pairs perfectly with street food, wines and El Jimador Margarita coolers.
Friday, September 6 to Sunday, September 8, (11 p.m. to midnight on Friday-Saturday; 11 a.m. to 6 p.m on Sunday; Lakeside Lounge opens at noon). Memorial Boulevard at Broadway. Here’s the website.
Winnipeg VegFest 2019
It’s easy being green and eating clean when you head to Winnipeg’s now fourth-annual VegFest, which has been growing strong since 2016. This full-day event features plenty of non-food things like speakers, yoga, a kids’ zone, and plenty of planet-friendly products.
On top of that, the event also features an all-vegan food court where you can get dishes from some of the city’s top vegan/vegetarian restaurants and vendors, including Affinity Vegetarian Garden – home to the legendary crispy black mushroom; Le Monkey Bar; Roughage Eatery; Acorn Café – whose story you’ll find here; Cocoabeans Bakeshop; and Amanda Lynn – whose gluten-free perogies we’ve been devouring all summer (the sweet potato jalapeño variety are sensational).
Plus, there will be plenty of chefs and restaurants that make plant-based plates sing, including chef Ben Kramer (who you’ll find more of on this listicle), Chew, Charisma of India, Harman’s Cafe and so much more. Here’s a full list of vendors.
Saturday, September 21, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. University of Winnipeg, Axworthy Health & RecPlex, 350 Spence Street.
Le Burger Week
Tipping the scales in the opposite direction of VegFest is Le Burger Week, which is arguably the meatiest week of eating this city – and 17 other Canadian cities, along with Haiti – offers. Winnipeg’s Le Burger Week continues to be biggest of the lot, with 124 restaurants in the city and surrounding area competing this year for your votes.
Offerings range from the outrageous that will dislocate your jaw – we’re looking at you Hub Social House and King + Bannatyne, to ones that flaunt all that fromage – like Mon Ami Louis, Promenade Café and Wine, and Sous Sol (whose burger this year, “Mo Mornay, Mo Problems” is dipped in mornay sauce and already wins best name on our unofficial scorecard).
Brazen Hall – which always makes a mean burger – has taken the people’s choice title for the past two years, while NuBurger had a bit of a stranglehold on the title in years past. Last year, Clementine (which we’d argue has the best burger in the city, followed closely by Mrs. Browns, deer + almond, and VJ’s Drive Inn – yup, we said it) took the unanimous Judges’ Choice trophy.
This year, which is the sixth time the city has participated (it started in Montreal in 2012), the good people behind Le Burger Week have formatted the website to allow you to look through each burger categorically, that being beef, chicken, seafood, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan (that’s right: not to mislead you in that lede; there are vegan burgers too).
Le Burger week runs from September 1-7. Here’s all the participating restaurants along with voting information.
Farmers’ Feast at St. Norbert Farmers’ Market
For something further afield from burgers, how about one of the city’s best chefs fielding a five-course meal utilizing farm fresh ingredients at the region’s largest farmers’ market?
September indeed marks the start of fall supper season, and some of the very best are put on by Ben Kramer (who has a ridiculous amount of experience at these things, including this being the ninth year for this particular Farmers’ Feast). It all goes down within St. Norbert Farmers’ Market, where you’ll get to eat an excellent dinner while sharing company with like-minded local eaters and many of the people who grew the food too – some of whom will give talks between courses.
Thursday, September 5, 2019 at 6 p.m. Le Marché St Norbert Farmers' Market, 3514 Pembina Highway. Tickets available here.
Harvest Supper at FortWhyte Alive
More farm-fawning fare comes courtesy of FortWhyte Alive (and we’re not talking venison!).
Winnipeg’s lovely nature reserve is always a good choice for eating local as its Buffalo Stone Café utilizes a great deal of ingredients grown onsite at FortWhyte Farms. Plus, FortWhyte Alive always throws a good party, adding live music, animal encounters (did someone say petting cute pigs!?!) and glasses of wine by bonfires into the mix.
All of this can be yours at this 6th Annual Harvest Supper, where dinner will be served lakeside in a large tent with communal seating, while proceeds go toward youth training at FortWhyte Farms, where they’ll learn about sustainable agriculture and how to create healthy food. Win-win!
Thursday, September 12 at 5:30 p.m. at FortWhyte Alive, 1961 McCreary Road. Tickets available here.
Eat North’s Prairie Grid Dinner Series
If you are looking for a collection of all the prairie’s bounty, along with a bounty of chef talent from across the prairies, then get your tickets today for the Prairie Grid Dinner Series.
A handful of the best chefs, artisans/artists, distilleries and breweries from Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba will be taking part in the third installment of this series, which sees collaborative pop-up dinners taking place in Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon and finally Winnipeg this September.
Having attended before, we can assure you it’s a lovely evening whereby guests get a five-course meal (with almost everything coming from the Prairies) which is accompanied with wine pairings. There’s also a cocktail hour to start, featuring beers from Calgary’s Village Brewery and cocktails by Turner Valley Alberta’s Eau Claire Distillery.
Past years have utilized prairie-based artisans for the plateware, while this year they are going one step further by collaborating with Winnipeg’s Synonym Art Consultation, Saskatoon designer Laurie Brown, Alberta-based quilt maker Cheryl Arkison and Canadian designer Caitlin Power to create an all-encompassing artistic environment, which includes a travelling art exhibit.
This year’s lineup of chefs is nothing short of spectacular. Here from Winnipeg you have Chris Gama of Clementine – reviewed by the Globe and Mail as being one of Canada’s best brunches; baker extraordinaire Bryn Rawlyk of The Night Oven and Darkside Donuts in Saskatoon; Katelin Bland of the new, stylish and highly rated Lulu Bar in Calgary; Scott Redekopp of Yellow Door Bistro in Calgary; and Christine Sanford of Edmonton’s Biera, which Avenue Magazine Edmonton had as their Best New restaurant in 2018, followed by their Best Overall restaurant for 2019, and whose dinner at this past winter’s RAW:almond was just incredible (I may have licked a plate or two because her sauces were that good!).
Thursday, September 26, 6:30 p.m. Historic J.R. Watkins Company building, 90 Annabella Street. Tickets available here.
Torque's Seafood Boil
In contrast to the last three events is Torque’s second-annual seafood boil, where chef Claire Snowball will be marrying Maritime lobster with southern numbers like crab, crawfish, and shrimp (along with local corn, potatoes and sausage) into a proper seafood boil which will spill out on to the tables of Torque Brewery.
You can pair this with Torque’s award-winning beers, while the opening hour also includes two-buck-a-shuck oysters (for purchase - cash only) and savoury beignets. Plus, chef Pam Kirkpatrick of Forth will also be there making east coast lobster rolls, which are guaranteed to rock.
Sunday, September 8 at 6 p.m. Torque Brewing, 330-830 King Edward Street. Tickets available here.