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Downtown Pre-game Eats

Published: 07/13/2011

When it comes to hockey, scouting is important. Equally important is off-ice scouting, namely, looking for good eats before or after the puck drops at the MTS Centre, home of the new Winnipeg Jets NHL franchise.

Stella's at Plug In
460 Portage Ave., (204) 772-1556
You want breakfast anytime of the day? Head to Stella's. The latest addition to Stella's family of restaurants sits at the corner of Portage Ave. and Colony St. in the sleek Bulher Centre, home of Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art.

Breakfast is ready whenever the mood strikes (in addition to lots of other great plates). If you're famished, opt for the Mexican breakfast ($8.95) that starts with corn tortillas piled high with refried beans, eggs, cheddar, green onions and tomato. The real kick comes in the sides-salsa, guacamole, cilantro sauce and Stella's irresistible hash browns.

VJ's Drive -In
170 Main St., (204) 943-2655
You want carbs, VJ's has carbs. Locals know that if you want a sloppy, chili-spiked burger and fries that you just can't stop eating, VJ's is the place. Line up at this strictly take-out joint for a VJ Special, a burger loaded with cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles, onions, mayo and of course, chili.

In winter, you'll be dining in your car or in the cab (making your driver very, very hungry); there are no indoor seats. It's a great way to carb up before the game, giving you lots of energy to chant Go Jets Go!

Lobby on York
295 York Ave., (204) 896-7275
You want swanky, Lobby on York has swanky. Low lights, lush furnishing and a menu featuring prime beef tataki set the mood. Get comfy in the lounge where a selection of small plates offers a sampling of what you might order in the formal dining room if you had a couple of hours to kill. But you don't. You need to get to the game.

Order the poutine, but don't expect just any poutine. This one comes with cambozola cheese, pear, demi glace, chicken livers and a poached egg. For one of the prettiest plates in town, go for the tuna tartare with avocado, sesame oil and chili tobiko aioli. Fancy, eh? Oysters, duck quesadillas and pickerel burgers round out the menu.

4Play Sports Bar & Grill
323 Portage Ave., (204) 221-4583
You want sports, 4Play has sports. And you can watch all those sports on more than 50 screens, including one that measures 24 feet high with Hi Definition, Surround Sound and deluxe theatre seats. Spread out over two floors of this former nightclub is couches, cocktail tables, a cozy gambling lounge, pool tables and booths.

They say location is everything, and 4Play's spot directly across from MTS Centre, where the Winnipeg Jets play, is prime. Even if you can't get a seat at one of the sold out games, the vibe is sure to drift over Portage Avenue. Like the bar itself, the menu is huge with pastas, pizzas, burgers, salads, ribs, chicken and wraps. Order the Grand Slam Nachos with roasted veggies, tomatoes, green onions, jalapenos and lots of cheeses tucked throughout the stack, not just on top. 

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