Warm, comforting, and above all new is the name of the food game for this winter culinary guide. Here’s some of the best rooms to open in the past year, whether you are looking for casual counter service, bold brunch dishes, or a sophisticated evening at a wine bar.
Bold and beautiful new rooms
Chef Emily Butcher has had a banner few years, having finished third at the Canadian Culinary Championships and sixth on Top Chef Canada. This past year she teamed up with Mike Del Buono (Burnley Hospitality Group) to open up Nola, a small plates restaurant in Saint Boniface. It made the enRoute best new restaurant long list along with receiving a rave-review in The Globe and Mail that singled out her “scallops + lo bak go” and parsnip and black sesame cheesecake as two of the best dishes you can get in Canada at the moment.
Having taken the pandemic off to bake bread for several Winnipeg restaurants, chef Adam Donnelly (formerly of Segovia, which always made the Canada’s 100 best list) had a triumphant return to the restaurant scene with Petit Socco. At this tiny reservations-only spot (it has seating for just 12!) the chef and his partner Courtney Molaro present six-to-seven nightly dishes that celebrate the chef’s love of Mediterranean cuisine, particularly North African.
Two of the city’s hottest new openings this past year were One Sixteen and Parcel Pizza–both from noted industry veterans. Parcel is by the same crew behind Oxbow Natural Wine Bar and The Roost and since day one it has been crazy busy with takeout orders for the airy pizza, along with a bustling and beautiful dining room and bar where the craft cocktails and the “not pizza” dishes are equally as impressive. One Sixteen is a co-creation from The Beer Can boys (a popular outdoor beer garden pop-up) and the Good Neighbour Brewing girls. The space works as a taproom in tandem with the Two Hands dining room, where divine items from the grill and small plates can be paired with beers and the expertly curated wine list. The room is a real stunner too.
Don’t let the name fool you, because Low Life Barrel House is yet another très chic spot to wet your whistle that opened in 2022. The room features a wall of fancy looking foeders (that’s the high-brow name for oak barrels) that contain beers that are aging with house cultures to create truly unique and ever-evolving profiles. Along with these beers, Low Life also makes wines using organic grapes from southern Ontario and Piquettes that are all the rage in the Pét-Nat (pétillant naturel' meaning natural sparkling) world right now. Low Life’s winemaker, Jesse Oberman, also makes hyper-local ciders onsite using “orphaned” apples and fruit under the label Next Friend Cider that are also super fun.
One more enchanting room can be found within the city’s newest world-class attraction. The culinary program at The Leaf in Assiniboine Park is serviced by Gather Craft Kitchen & Bar, which has already become wildly popular as its December reservations (the month it opened) were booked in a matter of days. The dining room looks out onto lush biomes brimming with tropical trees while the global and garden-inspired menu features share plates, large mains and tantalizing tropical craft cocktails too.
As to neighbourhood gems, Bonnie Day opened in Wolseley in late 2021, and has since gone on to become a local favourite for its cozy dining room, luxurious comfort food and friendly staff. It has warm winter vibes down to a science, plus during the day it’s home to Never Better Coffee, whose drinks you can get alongside chef Pam Kirkpatrick’s delightful pastries.
Casual new affairs for brunch, lunch and beyond
Looking for a life-affirming Italian sub? Sure, this might not be a questioned you’ve been asked before, but Hoagie Boyz is the answer. Run by four fellas with plenty of fancy dining experience (particularly at deer + almond), the subs slung at this small South Osborne joint have everyone we know losing their minds. The work that goes into these creations is something to behold (the turkey on the Young Turk, Gary Ghostman, and Adam Sandoozle for instance is days of prep) while the flavours will leave you flabbergasted as you grab napkins to wipe off all that sub sauce, dressing and shredduce from your face.
The city’s newest small-but-mighty brunch/lunch spot is Buvette in the Village, run by the Svenne family (formerly of Bistro 7 ¾ and Little Goat). The menu changes daily with plenty of Benny options, lots of baking from daughter Ursula Svenne (who runs the joint), while dad, chef Alex, frequently hosts dinners often inspired by his Latvian heritage. Another new joint that runs from breakfast into the evenings is Tito Boy, the first Filipino restaurant to open in St. Vital. It’s also a family affair, with daughter/owner Jackie Wild running the dining room with dad, Agustin “Tito Boy” Doming, in the kitchen.
There’s also a brand-new Indigenous restaurant that has you covered for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Manoomin Restaurant (wild rice in Ojibway) is located inside the striking new Wyndham Garden Winnipeg Airport hotel (which is owned by Long Plain First Nation and operated by Sparrow Hotels). It features numerous dishes highlighting bison, berries, grains, seeds, pickerel and plenty of bannock, and is run by chef Jennifer Ballantyne, a member of the Opaskwayak Cree Nation.
Another new spot operating morning through night is Jamaican joint D&M Caribbean Flava. Located in Kildonan Crossing, it serves up a variety of jerk while breakfast dishes include ackee and salt fish with fried dumpling and plantain. If you’re looking for authentic, gluten-free buckwheat Breton crêpes, La Crêperie Ker Breizh has you covered. Owners Yvonnick le Lorec and Ketty Pichaud are from Brittany, France, and have made a name for themselves here while running a kiosk on the Esplande Riel and doing pop-ups at the St. Norbert Farmers’ Market. Their new permanent location features an impressive selection of sweet and savoury crepe options–all of which highlight local suppliers–plus, it is licensed, so you can enjoy beer, wine, cocktails, apéritifs and digestifs with your meal.
And finally, the strip malls of River Heights received two unique numbers this year too. Crust Top Pizza serves 15’ rectangular pizzas from Wendy Xu, who came to the city from Beijing, China, where she worked as a feature editor for several magazines. While on assignment, she learned the trick to making an excellent dough that she’s now sharing just off Corydon Avenue on both savoury and sweet pies. A few blocks away is where you’ll find Winnipeg’s first Egyptian restaurant, House of Taste. The menu is 100 per cent halal featuring kababs, shawarma and Egypt’s national dish–the carb-heavy koshary–plus pastries too.