Though it may have taken a tad longer than many of us would have liked, now that the first full-length album from Winnipeg-based singer Ila Barker has arrived, we can safely say that it was well worth the wait. To write Fool Under Water, Barker spent seven years reflecting on her own survival as well that of the women around her.
What resulted is a wonderfully-introspective 11-track album that showcases Barker’s metamorphosis into the rugged yet refined storyteller she is today, while also inviting listeners to connect with her lyrics through their own experiences and emotions.
When she’s not busy making music or advocating for gender equity and Indigenous representation in the music industry, you can likely find Barker enjoying the vibrant food scene in her hometown of Winnipeg. We recently had a chance to ask the talented Anishinaabe and Settler folk-soul musician for a few recommendations, and trust us when we say the singer did not disappoint.
Tallest Poppy serves their menu all day which is actually my favourite thing. Sometimes I want dinner at 10 a.m. and sometimes I want breakfast at 5 p.m., ya know? Located on West Broadway, they are a hub for community, art, good people and great eats.
They have a super deadly chicken and waffles served with this insane berry syrup. I’m also in love with their potato latkes. Salty, crispy, and served with sour cream, apple sauce, poached eggs and kale so it feels healthy but also satisfies a craving for a nice and dirty breakfast.
Phở Hoang is literally the best Vietnamese in the city, and they have the awards and accolades to back it. This is a special place, and I think it's actually my favourite restaurant ever. I pretty much only get three things on the menu (but I can guarantee everything is good here).
I love the Beef Brisket Phở, the Deluxe Vermicelli and the Asian Chicken Wings. They are always busy, and have grown to have a few spots across the city in the last couple years. Bonus, if you order delivery or takeout the quality is maintained as they package it with care!
You can often find me on a Wednesday night at Peasant Cookery, an awesome local spot in the Exchange District in Winnipeg. Wednesday is their famous buck-a-shuck oyster night, and they don’t disappoint!
My go-to is to order a couple dozen oysters and their charcuterie board with a few ounces of cheese. They cure their own meats in house and pickle their own vegetables and you can absolutely taste the love. Great for a hot date or casual catch up with my friends.
Harrisons Coffee House is a proper specialty coffee and tea spot! No matter what temperature it is outside you can often find me with a London Fog Tea Latte in hand, a combo of Earl Grey tea, steamed milk (oat milk for me), and vanilla syrup. I started drinking these in high school and never looked back.
Harrisons has grown to have a few spots in the city, but I love going to their location in The Johnston Terminal at The Forks. The Forks is a traditional meeting and trading place of Indigenous peoples since time immemorial where the Red River and the Assiniboine River meet. There are also some super good eats all throughout The Forks too!
Because I actually just love food I’m going to share my favourite desserts too. This one is too tough to narrow down to just one! This is a hard tie between Goodies on Ellice and Baked Expectations in Osborne Village. Goodies has the most incredible cakes and pastries. My go-to is to order the individual sized desserts (mini Tia Marias, Schmoos, Cheesecakes etcetera) and get multiple so I can eat a bunch of different things.
Baked Expectations is also an awesome cake place that you can get by the slice. The Carrot Cake is the best in the city here. Super fluffy moist cake with a creamy delicious buttercream frosting, and best of all not a raisin in sight. If you know you know!