Take this tasty tour of Manitoba regional cuisine served in fine dining rooms, diners and hopping hot spots around the province’s capital city.
Ask a Winnipegger where to get the best home-grown eats and you won’t get the same answer twice. That’s because the definition of Manitoba regional cuisine doesn’t fit into one tidy sentence. Pickerel, bison, wild berries and wild rice are local favourites found on menus across the city. But that’s just the beginning. From ethnic eateries to greasy spoons, from food co-operatives to upscale dining rooms high above city streets, chefs have their own takes on the food found in Manitoba’s prairies, lakes, forests and wetlands. On this tasty trek across Winnipeg, you’ll sample some of the province’s staples in their traditional and modernized forms. You’ll taste our past and our present, created by some of the city’s most talented cooks.
Academy Road’s fusion grill is the definition of Manitoba regional cuisine. Manitoba-raised lamb, pickerel cheeks, beet-stained local Arctic char, Northern pike caviar and grass-fed beef dumplings epitomize local eating. It’s near impossible to pick just one dish from the menu at this intimate dining room on Academy Road. Daily specials are show stoppers too.
Owner/waiter and wine expert Scot McTaggart and chef Lorna Murdoch are partners in super cuisine. And only Canadian wines are served here, making fusion grill a patriotic experience from first bite to last sip.
Perfectly seared then baked Scallops Rockefeller
Beet salad with ripened goats cheese and pumpkin croutons
Panko-crusted pickerel cheeks with yam frites
Neighbourhood: Corydon 645 Corydon Avenue
Take one look at the chalkboard inside Market Burger and you know you’re in for truly local eats. The rootsy restaurant (which also boasts a fantastic roof-top patio and tables and decor made from repurposed barn wood) lists all the Manitoba food purveyors and the local ingredients used on the menu. The chalkboard is full. The humble burger gets the Manitoba treatment at Market Burger. Chef Alex Svenne of Bistro 7 1/4 was the hired gun who created the Market Burger menu. A devotee of the locavore movement, Svenne designed the dishes with that mantra in mind.
Order the Slider Platter with the Bahn Mi (ground pork), Desi (spiced Pakistani-style beef) and the Mac n’ Cheese (beef topped with creamy pasta). Or make your own burger. Pick from beef, bison, pork, chicken breast, black bean or the Sun (veggie). Then pick your favourite bun and choose from 11 cheeses and a host of condiments and additional toppings like banana peppers, a fried egg or sautéed onions, among others.)
And don’t forget the chipotle ketchup: it’s made on site and delivers sweet tomatoey zing.
Build your own decadent burger.
Take a seat at the bar and meet your neighbours.
Prairie 360 Skyline Restaurant & Lounge
High above downtown streets, Prairie 360 Skyline Restaurant and Lounge lives up to its name. Located on the 28th to 31st floors of Fort Garry Place downtown, Winnipeg’s revolving restaurant is unmatched for its view of the city. The dining room makes a revolution every 70 minutes or so. And the menu is a love letter to Prairie cuisine and the original immigrants who homesteaded in the country. Roasting, grilling and stewing is a big theme here. So is meat. Manitoba beef is the star here. A climate-controlled, dry aging, walk-in cooler tenderizes and matures beef. Steaks of all description load the menu. Argentina-born executive chef Alphonso Maury is a master of meat. He insists on perfectly grilled prime cuts every time.
Any made-in-Manitoba meal isn’t complete without perogies—a staple dish in the province. At Prairie 360, the tender pockets are stuffed with bison and prosciutto and dressed with a luscious garlic cream sauce, house- brined peppers, and a side of green onion sour cream. This dish is a delight in every bite.
Panoramic view from Prairie 360°.
Dry-aged 3lb. plowman bone-in ribeye.
Just off Old Market Square, the district’s hub, Peasant Cookery serves “real food from the land.” Simple ingredients are elevated through ace preparation and sophisticated sauces on this rustic-yet-refined menu. Chef & partner Tristan Foucault’s passion is charcuterie. The plate changes frequently with dry-cured sausages, patés, terrines and pickled vegetables, all of which are made in house using locally sourced proteins. A smoker also earns its keep at Peasant Cookery.
For real local flair, order the beet salad. Sweet, juicy slices of beets dance with crunchy toasted seeds, goat cheese and arugula. A caramelized honey vinaigrette dresses this fresh and fantastic starter. Farm food like tourtière, lamb meatballs and short ribs cure cravings for meat.
Piggy-shaped shortbread with Lemon Cheesecake and berry sherbert toppings.
Tall Grass Prairie Bread Company
Neighbourhood: The Forks
1 Forks Market Road
At Tall Grass Prairie Bread Company, organic, home grown berries, seeds, grain and fruit rule the bakeshop. An in-house mill all grinds many grains used in their recipes. Healthy Breads, pies, cookies and the bakery’s signature whole wheat cinnamon bun are made using local ingredients. The bakery actually started as the Grain of Wheat Church Community in 1981. Over the years, the multi-denominational group morphed into business-co-operative built around baking bread and working together as a community. Today owners Tabitha and Paul Langel and Lyle and Kathy Barkman uphold the values that brought everyone together more than 30 years ago.
Fresh made bread.
Whole-wheat cinnamon buns.
190 Henderson Highway
Take a booth at Sonya’s for some authentic home-sweet-home cooking. Cabbage rolls, an eastern European favourite and a Manitoba must-eat, are served at this kitschy diner. Beef and rice stewed in tomato sauce are the stuffing inside traditional cabbage rolls.
Tuck into a plate of house-made cheddar and potato perogies served with grilled onions and crispy bites of bacon. Slather them in full-fat sour cream and you’ll be transported to your (Ukrainian) grandma’s house. (The double cheeseburger with bacon is also legendary here.) While you’re polishing off your perogies peruse the wall of photos—all scenic shots of Czechoslovakia, owner Steve Vodradka’s homeland. He is an ever-present fixture at Sonya’s, serving tables and stopping for quick chats as he works the room.
Sonya's, for home-sweet-home cooking.
Potato and Cheddar Perogies.