Hey friends! I’m jumping out of my typical chronologically-based coverage to skip ahead and share my recent trip to Canada. We’ll be back to Thailand soon!
Called Canada’s “most overlooked food destination” by Air Canada, Winnipeg’s food scene is having a moment. Much of it is happening in The Exchange District, home to the city’s highest concentration of independent shops, restaurants, galleries and cafes, and my personal favorite ‘hood in Manitoba’s capital.
With only four days to eat my way through the city I certainly can’t claim this is an exhaustive list — but from breakfast to midnight snack, I did my valiant best to bring you a few top suggestions for where to eat in Winnipeg’s vibrant Exchange District — and a few picks that are on the outskirts a few moments away.
The equal parts adorable and hip Clementine is the newest venture from the team behind Winnipeg institution Segovia Tapas Bar. I started a bustling day in the Exchange District with homemade porridge topped off with coconut dulce de leche, pecans, kiwis, and barberries; a hard choice to make off a menu of both locally and globally inspired breakfast and lunch picks like smoked artic char, chorizo verde tostada, and turkish eggs. Coming for weekend brunch? Arrive early!
Winnipeg’s hipsters gather at Forth, a slightly hidden away Exchange District favorite that roasts coffee onsite and uses fresh local ingredients. While the acai bowl wasn’t my favorite, the avocado smash and home brewed tea I also ordered off the “Early Menu” more than made up for it.
When they swap over to the “Late Menu” and switch from coffee to craft cocktails, Forth becomes a happening nightlife spot. Keep an eye out for cool events like documentary screenings on specialty coffee, and summer bartending classes at Rooftop Pop UP: Mixology Party.
I can’t think of a happier place to start one’s day than at Bronuts, home to both creative doughy inventions and baristas with man buns. Flavors change often, though current stars of the show include Watermelon Mint dip, the perfect compliment to a morning mojito (um, it’s five o’clock somewhere?) or Orange and Cream, my personal favorite. Don’t wait ’till right before posted closing time to show up — they often sell out and shut up shop early.
A short stroll from The Exchange, The Forks features a beautifully renovated food hall featuring The Common, a craft beer and wine kiosk, as well as over a dozen food stalls with offerings from around the world. I settled on empenadas from the Chilean Corner, and felt I’d been ever so briefly beamed from Canada.
Slick and modern lunchtime favorite Chosabi explores what happens when sushi and burritos fall in love and make a baby. Busy during the lunch rush, the menu features poké bowls, fresh smoothies and signature sushi burritos like the King St. Chicken, perfect for non-fish eaters like me, which wraps chicken strips, avocado, asian slaw, wanton chips, Thai sweet chili sauce and spicy aioli into a seaweed-wrapped package.
I arrived at Miss Browns moments after closing, but was made a permanent fan for life by the owner who saw my face pressed against the window and came out to ask if I needed a caffeine fix before they shut down the espresso machines. Talk about Friendly Manitoba! Famous for their coffee and pressed smoke meat sandwiches, I also heard from locals that their shakshuka is the best around.
King + Bannatyne
Another Exchange District purveyor of hand crafted, slow-roasted meat sandwiches, King + Bannatyne, shines at lunchtime. Salt roasted caramel corn is a popular side dish, as are the rotating menu of seasonal sodas and beers.
Mon Ami Louis
While not quite in The Exchang, just a short walk away en route to St. Boniface along the Esplanade Riel sits Mon Ami Louis. While slightly pricier than other Winnipeg eateries due to the water-top location, you can’t beat the views — and the simple soup and salad special I ordered were divine.
Deer + Almond
While it’s almost impossible to nail down a favorite meal from my time in Winnipeg, I will say I think you’d be crazy to pass through and not make a stop at the trendy Deer + Almond. This quirky and colorful Exchange District restaurant serves globally inspired small plates alongside cocktails and craft brews for lunch and dinner. The entire meal was a treat, but my favorite course — no surprise here — was dessert. I ordered buttermilk panna cotta and orange sorbet with puffed rice and bee pollen, but ended up eating most of my dining companion’s peanut, caramel, chocolate cake and sea salt concoction. The strangest sweets order of the night? “Salt of the Earth,” featuring beet ice cream, pickled Manitoba blueberries, feta, mushrooms and cocoa.
And I may have to make a special winter return trip to try RAW: almond, a pop up sister restaurant on open for three weeks every February. Pack your ice skates — it takes place atop the frozen Assiniboine and Red Rivers.
Located on the edge of The Exchange in downtown Winnipeg, Velvet Glove — also known as VG Restaurant — might technically be located in the Fairmont Winnipeg, but it blew away every notion I had of hotel dining. I ate a few meals here during my stay at the Fairmont Winnipeg, and was swept up in the infectious passion of Chef Eraj Jayawickreme (follow his instagram for gorgeous photos of food and life in Manitoba!), whose inspired presentation, penchant for local ingredients, and playful attitude about food comes through in every meal. One example? Our dessert table complete with liquid nitrogen-frozen cake, Star Wars molded jellies, and Jackson Pollack-like strokes of sweet sauces. Talk about edible art!
Also at the Fairmont Winnipeg? The casual VG Lounge and fun pop-up events like Taco Tuesdays and Backdoor Burger Thursdays, where gourmet lunch specials are served up at bargain prices from the back entrance to the hotel.
Missed dessert? Answer all your sugar-seeking prayers at Cake-ology, a charming bakery with creative cupcakes, cookies, cake pops and more. I treated myself to root beer and pear meringues, and would struggle if forced to pick a favorite. Don’t miss the fun signs outside, which seem almost destined for Facebook fame.
Locals, let me know… what did I miss that I have to hit up next time?