It’s no secret to Winnipeggers that we’ve got a pretty special food scene here. Beyond interesting restaurants with innovative chefs and one-of-a-kind breweries, bakeries and ice cream makers, the city also puts its best foot forward when it comes to food-and-drink-minded festivals.
2022 marked the return of so many beloved Winnipeg events and did we ever miss you dearly, ManyFest, VegFest, Winnipeg Wine Festival (et al.)! Of course, the year also introduced some buzzworthy new eateries, bars, and more.
From the first craft whisky released in Winnipeg in over 142 years to a fabulous new Filipino restaurant as well as breweries and ghost kitchens galore, the past 12 months have been truly fantastic for locals and visitors alike.
Let's take a look at some of this year's highlights—and a few things to look forward to in 2023 too.
The Winnipeg craft beer scene continues to boom
Winnipeg's brewery count is now pushing 30, which means there's really no excuse to leave any beer store or restaurant without trying something local.
Bookstore Brewing (currently producing out of Oxus Brewing’s Sandford St. space) made some of Winnipeg's tastiest beers this year, including a coffee cream ale and a black New England IPA. The brewery's concept is a neat one too, with each can inspired by a mid-century pulp paperback novel.
Low Life Barrel House opened its taproom doors on Daly Street in May 2002 and very quickly became one of the city's chicest spots with beautiful lime plaster walls and minimalist, modern decor that relies largely on, well, barrels. Outside of its unique lineup of beers, it's the first place in the Prairies to make piquette, a low-alcohol wine made from leftover grape skins and pulp.
Devil May Care officially opened its downtown space in December with more than a dozen delicious beers on tap and a crowd of excited longtime customers. This place will be hugely popular before Jets games, Goldeyes games, and after-work beers in 2023.
During the warmer months of 2022, there was nothing better than sipping Kilter's tropical beer slushies on their tiki-themed patio—complete with a bubble machine and an inflatable pool).
Speaking of favourable weather, few stadiums in North America do what Shaw Park does during a baseball season by opting to sell 100 per cent local beer at their baseball games. The best part? You can drink yours out of a beer bat if you're extra thirsty!
A burgeoning distilling scene
While there’s still plenty of room for Winnipeg’s distilling scene to grow, the notable Patent 5 Distillery made history with its release of a small-batch, barrel-aged whisky, the first to debut in Winnipeg since 1880.
New and notable Winnipeg restaurants and bars
This year saw the much-awaited return of Adam Donnelly (of Segovia fame, a restaurant which most Winnipeggers still claim as their favourite eatery despite its closure in 2020). Donnelly and his partner Courtney Molaro took over the former Close Co. space and opened Petit Socco, a very cozy eatery with ever-changing, always-shareable dishes. The restaurant has just four tables, but service doubles in the summer when the patio is in operation.
With size in mind, making a reservation is always highly recommended.
Here, opening chefs Michael Robins (the former head chef of Sydney’s at The Forks and Sous Sol) and Keegan Misanchuck (Segovia) offered a selection of small plates and shareables with seasonal vegetables and sustainable ingredients. The eatery also offers a chef's table experiences for groups of 8 to 10.
Both Robins and Misanchuk have both returned to Europe (for the time being anyway!), so expect some changes to the menu, but trust that things were left in good hands.
If you ask me, one of the most exciting spots that opened in 2022 is Tito Boy Restaurant, a Filipino eatery in Winnipeg’s south end serving family recipes from owner Jackie Wild and her father, Agustin Doming. The Philippine spaghetti, Shanghai lumpia, and sweet BBQ skewers are all must-tries.
It would be wrong not to mention the contemporary Chinese-Canadian eatery Nola in a year-end roundup as chef Emily Butcher's black sesame and parsnip cheesecake lives rent-free in the minds (and stomachs) of virtually everyone who has tried it.
Buzzworthy new pizza makers aim to live up to their hype
2022 brought pizza aplenty with two tasty new spots to order pies from.
First up, the team behind The Roost and Oxbow debuted Parcel Pizza, whose cozy interior feels like an upscale take on an old-school pizza parlour. The space was brought to life by Fireside Design Build, so naturally each detail is purposeful and perfect.
Order the Bovine and Wine with red wine caramelized onions and don't shy away from the delicious house-made vegan “mozzarella” either.
CrusTop Pizza Project serves (typically) oval-shaped pizzas from its Corydon Ave location with often unconventional topping combinations on their signature pies.
The Kimchi Chicken Bacon (kimchi tomato sauce, roast chicken, bacon, kimchi, green onion, nori flakes and sesame seeds) is just one funky option you can sink your teeth into here. For anyone with a sweet tooth, CrusTop also offers a dessert pizza inspired by tiramisu.
Sandwiches, bagels and sweet treats, oh my!
The number of Winnipeg bakeries, bagel, sandwich, and donut shops that came to life this year was significant and welcomed.
Winnipeg sandwich endgame can now be deliciously found at Hoagie Boyz, a South Osborne sub shop that is equal parts fun and delicious (just check out their website if you don’t believe me). Here you'll find a dozen different subs, all served on Gunn's Italian sesame rolls, with clever names like Adam Sandoozle, Gary Ghostman, and Bingo Bronson.
Hoagie Boyz is a new concept from the team behind Kosmo's Space Cowboy Food Cantina, so you can guarantee it's going to be a great time. Be sure to read the letterboard menu for a good laugh when you visit too.
Bagelsmith's delicious Montreal-style bagels are now available at three locations with the opening of its Taylor Ave. and University of Manitoba locations. Be sure to try the Chip ‘n Dip sandwich: schmear, ripple chips and green onion smushed between a perfectly chewy everything bagel.
For mochi doughnuts in flavours like white chocolate pistachio and cookie butter lava, you can visit Umaido, or instead opt for gourmet stuffed cookies at Sugar Mama Cookie Co. in St. Boniface or sweet and savoury crepes at La Crêperie Ker Briezh’s new storefront on Sherbook St.
Ghost kitchens offer new, crave-worthy food options
Ghost kitchens are still going strong in Winnipeg with two new notable spots throwing their hats in the takeout ring earlier this year.
Bang Bang Sushi offers elevated rice bowls, udon dishes, and decorated sushi rolls drizzled in their signature 'TNT' sauce while Bertos Taqueria will satisfy all birria taco cravings alongside carne asada fries and four different types of burritos.
Food festivals and events are back in action and Winnipeggers rejoice!
Winnipeg is very well-known for its festivals, food-focused or otherwise, so it felt both fitting and exhilarating to see the return of so many events throughout the year.
Table for 1200 More returned with chefs Ben Kramer and Christa Bruneau-Guenther (of Feast Café Bistro and Food Network Canada's Wall of Chefs) leading the charge. This year's table was located in Assiniboine Park and featured some incredible local dishes: bannock and bison sausage, brisket with sweetgrass oil, and squash puree with spruce tip vinegar.
Please take the above as your reminder to stop by Bruneau-Guenther’s community-minded Feast Café for dinner if you haven't been yet.
ManyFest returned after a two-year hiatus to bring the biggest street festival back to downtown Winnipeg with its food truck wars, artisan market, and live entertainment. Kyu Grill took the crown for Peoples Choice and Champs Food Truck won the Judges Choice category.
Is there anything better than sipping beer in the sunshine? Surely not.
A Winnipeg food security initiative to be VERY proud of
91,002 meals have been delivered to some of Winnipeg's most vulnerable since 2019 thanks to Made with Love, a community initiative led by chef Ben Kramer.
But food insecurity is more prevalent than ever before (a staggering 57% of Canadians struggle to put food on the table) with rising food costs and the lingering, devastating effects of the pandemic.
Next year, Ben Kramer will be donating 10% from each of his catering jobs to Made with Love in place of gratuity. He'll use these proceeds to create nutritious meals to be distributed by Main Street Project.
Learn how you can get involved with Made with Love. It takes just $10 to provide a single meal to someone in need.
Looking ahead to 2023
Beyond city limits, Interlake Brewing's long-awaited taproom is set to open beachside in Gimli, Manitoba this spring. Rumour has it there will be a rooftop patio with stunning lake views.
This is a road trip you should start planning for now.
As most of us know, RAW:almond returns on January 26 after a four-year hiatus. Its roster of talented chefs from across Canada and the United States includes the Michelin-starred Gus Stieffenhofer-Brandson (Published on Main), a Winnipeg-born chef who’s eatery also topped Canada's 100 Best Restaurants list earlier this year.
The iconic dinner-on-ice event sold out quickly, proving that Winnipeggers missed this celebration of food and cross-country (and beyond) culinary talent.