Osborne Village is so hip that if you were to tell it that it was a cool neighbourhood, it would be all like, “I know, check out my sweet new tattoo. It’s the Golden Boy skating down the Assiniboine River. I got it yesterday morning after embarking on a host of artisanal and sundry endeavours.”
In 2012 the Canadian Institute of Planners named it Canada’s Greatest Neighbourhood – and for good reason.
The Village permeates an artsy vibe and features some of the city’s best live music dive bars and watering holes, along with more restaurants than one can imagine. All along the main strip you’ll find swish and bohemian shopping, jewellers, cooking supply stores, a record store with a sweet collection of vinyl, yoga studios, and a gem of a theatre that is known for comedy.
Where to eat (a sampling, as restaurants are abundant in the Village)
Segovia Tapas Bar is frequently cited by both locals and national media alike as Winnipeg’s best restaurant. Chef Adam Donnelly’s tight, often-changing menu brings huge flavours with items like lamb dumplings, croquetas, and tuna tostadas, while mainstays like the jamón Ibérico and the tres leches cake for dessert are always killer. The cocktails are also great, including a gin and tonic made with lime sorbet that is ideal for summer sipping on their gorgeous little patio.
Word to the wise, Segovia does not take reservations so get there for 5 p.m. (when it opens) if you want to get in right away. It is one of a handful of Winnipeg restaurants open late; 11 p.m. weekdays and Sunday (but closed Tuesdays) and midnight Friday and Saturday. This is nice as once the restaurant is full you can leave your name and number at the door then go wait at a handful of local bars for them to call when your table is ready.
Speaking of Osborne Village bars, The Toad in the Hole Pub and Eatery just may be the pick of the pool. It features a whisky bar – which is exclusive to a crowd 25 years old and up – that features over 160 whiskies from around the globe, a main pub area that is always hopping with locals, while downstairs The Cavern frequently hosts great bands in an intimate (and a touch loud) environment. It’s pub grub is pretty good too.
The other brunch spot of note in the Village is Stella’s Café & Bakery, a tested and true nouveau Winnipeg institution. There are now eight Stella’s located across the city, but this location on Osborne is the original, having started the empire in 1999. Stella’s locations are always busy, as people of every stripe come in for homemade everything served casually in a cozy environment. Their jam, which you can buy, has almost become a thing of legend.
One particular building (on the 100 block) provides a cornucopia of dining options. In the basement is Spicy Noodle House, where fast, good value northern Chinese cuisine is the name of the game. Their spicy peanut noodle soup is always a crowd favourite, as is the honey spicy chicken. Pretty much right above is Kawaii Crepe, which, as its name indicates, is a super cute Japanese-style crepe place where you can go sweet or savoury (and also gluten-free).
Other casual spots of note are Nuburger where you can some all-natural Manitoban beef (or chicken or veggie burgers) topped with fun things like grilled pineapple and a sunny side up egg, A Little Pizza Heaven (#lovethatname) which does a pretty splendid slice (especially late at night after a pint if you catch me), while next door you can treat your body to some nourishment courtesy of a cold-pressed, never pasteurized, drink from Green Carrot Juice Company.
The Village is also swimming with sushi joints, from Naru Sushi, where the selection of fun and inventive rolls are served in an attractive wood covered room; to Meiji Sushi and G. Martini Bar where rolls, udon and teriyaki are served along colourful martinis; while Winnipeg’s venerable sushi chain Wasabi (they have three locations across the city) has their Wasabi Sushi Bistro on Osborne featuring a mammoth menu that will cover almost all of your Japanese cravings.
Another Village staple is Massawa where you can dig in with your hands and use your injera to sop up some excellent Ethiopian cuisine. It should be noted that despite being notoriously slow, this friendly, family-run restaurant is always worth the wait.
Two of the newest nosh spots in the Village are also pretty great. The Cornerstone Bar & Restaurant sits on the bustling corner of River at Osborne and boasts a varied menu featuring items like the KFC Bánh mì and regular oyster specials.
Finally, you can’t do Osborne Village without some sweets from the iconic Baked Expectations. Their shmoo torte – a Winnipeg specialty that involves angel food cake layered with pecans and a ridiculous amount of whip cream and caramel sauce – is a thing of legend, and a must for any visiting culinary tourist.
Where to shop
Shopping is all the rage in the Village, with Out of the Blue being a real standout. This place has grown from a vintage clothing shop in the early 90s into one of the top spots for fun, fashion-forward looks and accessories. Another mainstay is Rooster Shoes, where the cool kids find fine fashions for their feet.
Newer to the Vil’ (no one actually calls the Village the Vil…. yet, but it would be cool #trendstarter) is TharNzie, which features contemporary men’s and women’s fashions that are super dope, along with charming accessories. The other new kid on the block is Style Bar where hip young professionals can find the latest piece for their wardrobe from a selection of curated, quality brand names. Of particular note is their fine selection of sweaters.
Music Trader, with its vast selection of vinyl and CDs, has been a Village mainstay for years. The same can be said of Gag’s Unlimited, the novelty store of all novelty stores in Winnipeg where, aside from incredible Halloween costumes, you can find all manner of out-there things.
Jewellery is also abundant in the Village. Silver Lotus is flowering with sterling silver, gold and retro resin looks ranging from rings, to necklaces, to earrings while the showroom inside family-owned business Roger Watson Jewellers sparkles with dazzling fine jewellery. They also do repairs, custom design and manufacturing in their on-site factory.
Chefs and gourmands alike go gaga at the selection of hardware on offer at The Happy Cooker. Since 1973 this place has been hooking up cooks with their array of knives, cookware, gadgetry and stylish accessories from all the best brands like Le Creuset, Global, Vitamix, bodum, and Emily Henry.
Things to See and Do
Professional theatre and dance companies, the Winnipeg Comedy Festival and community-based organizations light up the stage at Gas Station Arts Centre. Catch a play, fashion show, music concert, lecture, film or video presentation and more at this intimate theatre.
If you are looking for an excellent espresso and to do a little people watching, do as the locals do and go take in the Village’s vibe at Little Sister Coffee Maker (which is the second venture by the Exchange District’s Parlour Coffee).
For bar stars looking to go clubbing The Green Room is the place to be. Located right above American Apparel, is the place to see some fresh faces on the dance floor while they also have booths available for bottle service.
If you are looking to work on your flexibility, sculpt some muscles and find some tranquility, well the Village has that too with some of the city’s best yoga studios. Peg City Yoga is a great studio for more advanced practitioners to drop in at (they also have beginner classes too); Moksha Yoga offers a wide range of classes, the majority of which take place in a hot, 36 °C room; even hotter is Bikram Hot Yoga where you will be guided through the same 26 postures over 90 min in 40 °C room.
Finally, Osborne Village’s Canada Day Celebrations are always epic, as the street is closed down to cars for one massive street party brimming with music, food and various vendors.