Food, glorious food. This season, eat right through the menu at a unique culinary event, hip coffee spot, sweet sweet shop or fabulous food truck. Make sure you bring a hearty appetite, because Manitoba is rich with magical food, wonderful food, marvelous food, fabulous food. Here are 14 ways to leap into our fun dining scene this spring…
Table for 1200 More
May 28 | Surprise location
How many of you can say you shared a table with 1,999 friends? The top culinary event of spring is, by far, the extremely long and extremely cool pop-up dining experience Table for 1200 More. Each year, this event takes place in an amazing urban space in Winnipeg, announced to guests one-hour prior to the occasion. Exciting! This year’s event has a lot to live up to since it’s going against two stellar years in a row: the first being along the Esplanade Riel bridge, the second encircling the Manitoba Legislative grounds.
Meals are provided by local chefs Mandel Hitzer and Ben Kramer. The dress code is a “Winnipeg White Out,” wear all white to give a crisp backdrop to all the vibrant table designs.
There’s just something about Thom Bargen. This lovely Winnipeg café has been whipping up a terrific cup of coffee since 2012 and they just opened a second location downtown on the corner of Kennedy and Graham. It’s a bright, welcoming space featuring geometric shapes in its decor, minimalistic art on the walls (and cups), and a gigantic pop of lush green colour on its living wall. You really need to see that wall. It’s a thing of beauty. Just like their lattes.
Fraser Sneath Coffee
Another great new coffee shop to check out is Fraser Sneath located in a heritage building in downtown Brandon. A perfect spot, with great atmosphere, to share moments with your friends. And if you’re a tea lover, make sure you try their Rooibos tea latte, it’s heaven in a Jadeite cup. They even have their own locally made Sneath Chocolate Bars. The Dark Chocolate Sea Salt one looks amazing. Because anything made with dark chocolate and sea salt IS amazing.
Constance Popp Chocolates
Using Manitoba-produced ingredients and exotic single-origin chocolate, Chocolatier Constance Popp produces fresh premium artisan chocolate. The shop’s avant-garde creations make for a unique gift-giving choice for that special loved one in your life. And just wait until Constance brings out the frozen treats! She churns out some wonderful frosty delicacies, like creamsicles, gelato and ice cream cookie sandwiches. 🍦🍧
Shown treats: The Manitobar (a fave), caramel nougat bar with sea salt (divine), birch syrup and milk chocolate ice cream (delightful), chocolate ice cream (decadent), and pistachio lemon white chocolate ice cream (dreamy).
Half Moon Drive In
Springtime is a great time to hit the road. One of my favourite road trips is to follow alongside the Red River on Henderson Hwy (#204) as it snakes north towards the locks of Lockport. And the best place for a pit spot is the retro Half Moon Drive In, which has been around since 1938! Order their Famous Foot Long, add some fresh cut fries, then find a seat at a formica table and listen to yesterday’s hits on the jukebox. It’s the bees knees, daddy-o.
Winnipeg Taste of the Nation
April 25 | The Fairmont Winnipeg
Schmooze, eat, sip, repeat. For one night only, Winnipeg Taste of the Nation is an absolute culinary crush. It’s probably because it’s a foodie lovers dream where many of the city’s top chefs pull out all the stops to create the most delectable bites. To compliment all those delicious morsels, there’s an abundance of fine wines, crafty beers and spirited spirits. It’s $100 bucks a ticket, but believe me, it’s worth every penny. You will leave so full you will have to roll yourself out.
Cibo Waterfront Cafe
I’m a bruschetta girl. You can generally put anything on toasted bread and I’m all in. But I find many restaurants’ bruschetta is lacking in uniqueness. Not at Cibo though, they take their bruschetta seriously. As in it is seriously tasty. Plus, they offer six varieties to choose from and I really can’t pick a favourite. I ❤️ them all!
Other indulgences to try at Cibo include the Beef Bourguignon Poutine, a rich stew-like poutine served over matchstick fries, the Arancini, risotto balls stuffed with herbs and bocconcini, and the CBC, a flourless yet absolutely decadent chocolate cake.
The Lake House Ice Cream Shop
I have yet to get to the Lake House Ice Cream Shop in Riding Mountain National Park, but it’s definitely on the list. My colleague Tamara did make the trip last summer and tried one of their famous homemade ice cream sandwiches (lemon-ginger to be exact) and had this to say: “So delectable they don’t stand a chance of melting into a puddle at your feet.” So yeah, it’s on the list. It should go on yours too.
Pop Cart’s gourmet popsicles are my jam. I first came across them last year at the Third + Bird spring market, but you’ll find they pop up (pun intended) at all the cool places. I’ve seen them at the Forks Farmers’ Market, Ballet in the Park and the Fringe Festival. I’ve tried the Raspberry Basil and Blackberry Mojito and both packed a flavour punch. When you come across their black carts this season, make sure you stop and get a pop! They even make Pup Pops for your four-legged friends. 🐶
Re-opens May 13.
Last summer, after working up an appetite paddling the Pinawa channel with Max Muench, our guides told us that we really needed to try Jennifer’s Picnic. Located minutes away in Seven Sisters Falls, Jennifer’s Picnic is a lovely food truck that has a cozy patio for lunch and the best home cooking by Chef Jozef. Max ordered the Wiener Schnitzel, I tried the Lemon Pepper Chicken. We both “oohed” and “ahhed” over how delish it was. They also serve up exotic fare here and there. Kangaroo borscht or cream of alligator asparagus, anyone?
So thankful my good friend @ChefBenKramer texted me about Xiaofel, a kind hearted guy who studied the ancient, honest art of hand pulling noodles in China before opening up his little shop at 1393 Pembina. He took time to explain to me that each of the 10 fingers has its own function in pulling noodles from hand mixed dough – how they run over the smooth texture before dancing into action. Don't ask to see a menu, just get the beef bowl (with extra beef). That broth tho, that broth.
A few months ago, radio host Chrissy Troy, shared this video of a new place that uses the ancient art of hand pulling noodles. Dancing Noodle is a small joint (4 tables and a counter) and it’s continuously busy. You order, you slurp, you smile — because your palate is experiencing a flavour explosion it’s never had before — then you scram. Then you obsessively dream about dancing noodles until your next visit, which may or may not be the very next day.
Order the beef bowl (with extra beef), because as Chrissy states above, it comes with “that broth tho, that broth.“
The Red Ember
Hand crafted wood fired pizza from a food truck? Umm, yes, please. From their bright red double-decker kitchen on wheels, The Red Ember cooks to perfection pizzas made from locally sourced organic ingredients. This behemoth of a food truck has a few regular menu items, which are delish, but I usually go for their unique specials. I once had one made with Korean BBQ sauce, pulled pork and cucumber kimchi. *Drooling*
Mill Street Beer Dinner
April 14 | The Velvet Glove
An exclusive beer dinner you say? Oh yes, yes, yes! In the latest Eat Local; Drink Global series, sample some of Mill Street Brewery’s finest beers while you enjoy a five course dinner prepared by one of Winnipeg’s hottest chefs, Eraj Jayawickreme! Both Eraj and Mill Street Brewery’s Thomas Harty will be on hand to discuss each pairing and tell you why they work so well together. Cheers!
Spring showers bring May flowers, fresh produce and farmers’ markets! Around every corner is a community market to fill up on fresh food and handmade fare. In Winnipeg, check out Downtown Farmers’ Market, St. Norbert Farmers’ Market and The Forks Farmers’ Market. And if you haven’t been out to the Arnes Farmers’ Market in the Interlake, you really need to get on that. It’s a passion project developed by cattle farmer Dennis Bobrovich and it’s the most charming market. There’s even critters to pet and ducks in a pond.
Do you have a favourite place that should be on a future best eats list? Tell us in the comments! And for more great places to eat, check out Peg City Grub.