LIVING

Best Restaurants In Winnipeg: Where To Eat In The Peg

07/11/2014 05:59 EDT | Updated 04/08/2015 04:59 EDT
morrismulvey via Getty Images

Winnipeg might just be Canada's best-kept food secret.

The Manitoba city, with a population just hovering around 700,000, has been making leaps and bounds in their restaurant scene over the past few years, and it's time everyone else learned about it.

"Especially in the last five years, I’ve just noticed a jump in people really trying to put new food on the scene and trying new restaurant concepts too," says Robin Summerfield, a journalist and writer behind Peg City Grub, a Tourism Winnipeg-sponsored food blog.

She notes trends like secret dinners and pop-up restaurants set on frozen rivers are on the rise, with chefs pushing boundaries all over the city.

"Everybody just counts us out," Summerfield tells the Huffington Post Canada. "But this is a great place to start a business. You can afford to live here and you can afford to take a chance and maybe explore the dream that you have." She points to the many coffee houses that have opened up in various neighbourhoods, creating hubs that offer a real sense of community.

Food trucks are also very hot right now, including Pimp My Rice, a Filipino food truck that helps represents the massive population from that country in the city.

And though Winnipeg may best be known as the Slurpee capital of Canada, the real local food is pickerel.

"It's a gentle, lovely fish," explains Summerfield. "You can do anything with it. It's a clean slate, an empty canvas."

Check out these 23 best restaurants Winnipeg has to offer, and add your picks in the comments below.

Best Restaurants In Winnipeg

Segovia Tapas

Where: 484 Stradbrook Ave.

Type of food: Modern Spanish

Menu highlight: Fried Brussel sprouts, Feta mousse, baba ganoush and pomegranate dressing

Bonfire Bistro

Where: 1433 Corydon Ave.

Type of food: Wood-fired creations, including pizza, paella and fish

Menu highlight: Paella with chicken, chorizo, clams, prawns, mussels, sea scallops, green onions, tomatoes and peas baked with saffron rice

Deseo Bistro

Where: 696 Osborne Street

Type of food: Comfort food elevated to gourmet levels. "His quality is really there," says journalist and food blogger Robin Summerfield.

Menu highlight: Lobster-stuffed, serrano-wrapped half young chicken with Brussels, pancetta, truffles and pan jus

Wasabi on Broadway

Where: 588 Broadway Ave.

Type of food: Sushi and Japanese dishes

Menu highlight: Tongarashi calamari — grilled whole Japanese squid marinated with ginger soy and Asian pineapple salsa

In Ferno's Bistro

Where: 414 Academy Rd. and 312 Rue Des Meurons Street

Type of food: Continental cuisine with a focus on French preparations

Menu highlight: Arctic char stuffed with a lobster gruyère, potato mousseline over a lemon verbena sauce

Purple Hibiscus

Where: 171 Dumoulin St.

Type of food: Caribbean-style fusion dishes

Menu highlight: Bacchanal shrimp served with a choice of guava coconut glaze, curry, honey jerk, or roasted pepper rum sauce

Chew

Where: 532 Waterloo St.

Type of food: Local, Canadian food — though as they put it, "not exclusively, truffles and octopus are too good to pass up and don't grow here"

Menu highlight: Stinging nettle ravioli with braised rabbit and ricotta salata

529 Wellington

Where: 529 Wellington Cr.

Type of food: Steakhouse

Menu highlight: 22-oz. peppered ribsteak with cognac peppercorn cream sauce

V.J.'s Drive Inn

Where: 170 Main St.

Type of food: Burgers

Menu highlight: V.J.'s special burger with cheese, mustard, chili sauce, onions, pickles, mayonnaise, lettuce and tomato

Boon Burger Cafe

Where: 141 Bannatyne Ave. and 79 Sherbrook St.

Type of food: Vegan burgers

Menu highlight: Grilled Buddha patty with chickpeas, brown rice, curry, onion, fresh ginger, garlic, fresh cilantro, and lemon juice

Deer and Almond

Where: 85 Princess St.

Type of food: Small innovative plates, the chef is also behind many of the exciting food events in Winnipeg (pop-up river meals, food festivals, etc.)

Menu highlight: #humblepie with bison and bone marrow

Simon's Cuisine

Where: 513-B St. Mary’s Rd.

Type of food: Argentinian

Menu highlight: Breaded beef topped with tomato sauce, ham, mozzarella cheese, roasted red bell peppers and fried eggs

Bistro 7 ¼

Where: 725 Osborne St.

Type of food: Comfort food with a beer-loving, gourmet twist

Menu highlight: Chicken livers with Fort Garry dark ale, bacon and caramelized onions

The Velvet Glove

Where: 2 Lombard Pl. (in the Fairmont)

Type of food: Upscale, classic hotel food with local elements

Menu highlight: Veal cheek boubourguignon with truffle pommes puree, Harbourside bacon lardons, "mini" king oyster mushrooms, braised cipollini onions, natural jus

Stella’s Cafe

Where: Seven locations across the city

Type of food: Home-cooked food "if your mom had a serious spice rack," explains Summerfield

Menu highlight: Thai yellow curry made with fresh pineapple, grapes and red pepper in a sweet yellow curry and coconut sauce, served over basmati rice with Stella’s peach chutney

Kum Koon Garden

Where: 257 King St.

Type of food: Dim sum

Menu highlight: Shrimp dumplings

Hermanos

Where: 179 Bannatyne Ave.

Type of food: South American with a local slant

Menu highlight: House-breaded Manitoba pickerel topped with tartar and served with house chips

Cafe Dario

Where: 1390 Erin St.

Type of food: Latin American prix fixe menu

Menu highlight: Corn flour crusted frog legs, fried crispy and placed on a warm bed of Colombian hogao sauce

Fusion Grill

Where: 550 Academy Rd.

Type of food: Fresh, local, organic dishes — with an all-Canadian wine list

Menu highlight: Panko-crusted pickerel cheeks with local fennel bulb and orange salad, creme fraiche and Northern Pike caviar

Pizzeria Gusto

Where: 404 Academy Rd.

Type of food: Italian

Menu highlight: The Lucia, with caramelized onions, fig jam, calabrese salami, cambozola, citrus tossed arugula and pecorino

Clay Oven

Where: Three locations

Type of food: East Indian

Menu highlight: Tandoor salmon tikka with bite-sized pieces of salmon marinated in special spices

East India Company

Where: 349 York Ave. and 210 Somerset St. W.

Type of food: East Indian

Menu highlight: The 40 to 50-item lunchtime buffet

Peasant Cookery

Where: 100-283 Bannatyne

Type of food: Healthy, local food

Menu highlight: Persillade-crusted Mahi Mahi with Nantes carrot stew, asparagus coins and tips with parsley water

CORRECTION: The article previously started Bistro 7 ¼ was closed as of July 11. That information was inaccurate, and reflected business dealings with the previous owners.