Cover photo by @thecommonwpg
Hi. I’m Joey. I’ve been at Travel Manitoba for a little over six months now, and after getting a few blog posts under my belt, I’ve decided it’s time to finally be real with you all.
I understand this confession’s going to upset some of you. Any “cool” stock that I had is probably going to plummet (both because of my confession, but also because I called it “cool stock”), and any respect or admiration I earned from gushing about my super cute dog for 1,500 words may just go right out the window. But it’s time. I have to put it out there and be the real me. Allow me to re-introduce myself: My name’s Joey, and I’m a picky eater.
Picky eaters get a lot of flack - and probably rightfully so. It’s inconvenient, unadventurous, and quite frankly, it’s lame. I get a lot of people asking “have you at least tried ____?" And the answer is yes, I probably have, and yes, I probably think it’s gross, and yes, I hate that I think it’s gross.
There are two types of picky eaters: those who think you’re weird for eating the food they hate, and those who realize they’re weird for hating the food most people love. I like to think of myself as the latter. And if that’s you, or a loved one you go out to eat with often, keep reading, because I’m here to help.
If you’re like me, going out to eat can be stressful, especially if your friends want to go somewhere cool and interesting. There’s not a lot of things that make me more anxious than leaving an embarrassing amount of food on my plate, ordering something with a secret sauce I didn’t know about, or having to request anything more than one substitution…”So, you just want the meat, cheese, and the bun…?”
I feel your pain and embarrassment, and my goal today is to help my fellow picky eaters experience the hip and electric culinary scene in Winnipeg, without going through the uncomfortable routine of chasing your food down with ice water that is more ice than water.
As the title suggests, I’m going to give you some interesting, popular, innovative and delicious places to go eat, where picky eaters can order something that fits their palate.
Let me be clear: these restaurants in no way cater to picky eaters. In most of these cases, there’s not actually a lot that I’d order, but I write this fully acknowledging that as a picky eater, I’m the one in the wrong, and the menus are actually awesome, and the reason I’m suggesting these restaurants is because they have compelling, creative, and unique food options that satisfy the most refined of palates, while at the same time, contain at least one menu item that might disguise the fact that I’d order chicken fingers and fries at every restaurant every day if I could…because I’m 8.
So, for everyone who has masked their food insecurities by saying things like “a good burger doesn’t need condiments” or “a salad isn’t even healthy if you add dressing” - this is for you…and for those who typically accompany us to go eat, I’m sorry. Hopefully this can help you too.
Ask a picky eater what their favourite letters are, and you’ll get a resounding B-B-Q.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find better barbecue in Winnipeg than Brazen Hall. There’s nothing adventurous about a rack of ribs, and when your friends get one whiff of their Maple Wood Smoked Pork Rib, they’ll have no idea that you partially ordered it because you once had a nightmare about aioli. Brazen Hall’s got a great atmosphere, a great selection and variety of food, and they even brew their own (delicious) beer!
As a picky eater, there are few words more comforting than “all-day breakfast,” and the Tallest Poppy’s got one of the best all-day breakfasts in the game. You won’t regret ordering the Poppy Breakfast, and once you take a bite of the cheese toast that comes with it, you’ll understand why. The Tallest Poppy is a West Broadway staple, offering a relaxed, artistic, and inclusive environment, and a wide-ranging menu that has something for everyone. Editor’s note: The chicken & waffles is also life-changing. Do picky eaters typically appreciate sweet & savoury? This one does, that’s for sure.
Peasant Cookery is one of my favourite restaurants in the city, and I’ve pretty much only ever ordered one dish. My go-to will likely stir up some controversy in the picky eating community, because against all odds, I like seafood. If you’re like me, order the mussels and fries. If you’re traditionally picky, grab a spot in their lounge to order one of the best poutines I’ve ever tasted, and wash it down with my favourite Old Fashioned in Winnipeg. Peasant Cookery’s French cuisine and romantic atmosphere is an excellent place to take a date, and if anyone questions why you ordered a poutine of all things, all you have to do is give them a bite - they’ll understand real quick.
Anything with pizza
No, Anything With Pizza isn’t the hot new pizza joint in the city. “Anything with pizza” refers to the idea that if you’re a picky eater and there’s pizza on the menu, you’re going to be just fine. Realistically, this article could really be called “9 spots where you can create-your-own pizza while your friend orders one that looks like a salad…and has pesto instead of tomato sauce…and is this even pizza anymore?…OK I’m getting distracted.”
There’s a lot of awesome pizza to have in Winnipeg, and a lot of freedom to pick one with toppings that fit your liking. So if you want your picky eating journey to be an easy one, choose pizza. Some of my favourites include: Super Deluxe Pizzeria, Pasquale's, Santa Lucia, and Corrientes Argentine Pizzeria.
You know what I always say, “If it’s just meat, then picky eaters can eat.”
Carnaval’s an excellent option for picky eaters and regular folks alike, with over a dozen options of what they describe as “all you can eat meat.” The flavour of the meat is incredible, as you’re offered various versions of steak, chicken, sausage, and more (barbecued pineapple, anyone?). From a picky eater's perspective, you’re not dealing with secret sauces or substitutions - the meat is meat, and it’s fantastic. There’s nothing else like it in Winnipeg, and it’s one of my favourite places to go to celebrate a special occasion.
Whether you’re looking for a comfortable sit-down lunch, an early dinner, or a night on the town, Le Garage is a jack-of-all trades all the way down to its menu options. While you’re chowing down on their mouth-watering chicken fingers (seriously, they’re “panko crusted” which sounds scary, but I can’t believe how good they taste), your guests can choose from a stacked menu of anything from tourtière to tenderloin.
Editor’s note: Whatever you choose, order a side of poutine. They tout it as some of the best in the country, and we can't argue.
Pro tip: Ordering poutine is one of the best way’s to avoid being exposed as a picky eater. It’s very Canadian, and for whatever reason it’s often even included on the menus of fine-dining restaurants.
With one of the best views in the city, Mon Ami Louis is a must-eat on ambience alone. I’ve been here on many occasions, and while my guests sit satisfied with the authentic French cuisine and delicious sharable options on their appetizer menu, I’m across the table mesmerized by how incredible these french fries are. My recommendation here is the fish and chips, with high emphasis on the chips. And with a name like Mon Ami Louis, and a location looking over St Boniface, you better believe their poutine’s something special as well.
Story time: So Colosseo is great, and for years I only ordered pizza there and was always satisfied - it’s really great stuff. BUT, I was there recently at a private gathering for a friend, and we had a few different menu items served family-style to us. What happened next might scare some of my readers, so brace yourself…I…a picky eater…tried something new…at a restaurant…
I’ll give you a minute…
I was having a fun time with friends, feeling great, so I took a small serving of what I found out later was called fettuccine carbonara. And as much as I love pizza, I’m not sure I’ll ever be ordering it again as long as this carbonara stays on the menu. It was amazing.
Did I include Colosseo only because it was the last restaurant where I actually ate something out of my comfort zone? No. It’s really great, and has a lot of awesome options for picky eaters and real people alike. But to be honest, this has been a very vulnerable blog post for me and I really needed to boost my ego just a bit so I can at least feel a little bit like an adult.
For a lot of these restaurants I’ve said that there’s options for everyone, but at The Common there’s really options for everyone. If you can’t find something you like here, I honestly can’t help you. My favourites will come to the surprise of no one: Fergies Fish N Chips, and Danny’s All Day Breakfast.
And that, is how you survive as a picky eater. Please go easy on me in the comments. Remember when I tried that carbonara?