Everywhere you look in the city more and more restaurant patios are popping up — especially on to already established restaurants — which is really rad.
If you’re not a patio kind of person, if you’re not into sipping and nibbling away during a sunny afternoon while doing some people watching, we’re sorry, we have nothing for you, because today is all about going al fresco.
So without further ado, here’s our new, “new neighbourhood patio guide,” which you can use along with last summer’s Best Hidden Gem Patios, to plot your next patio moves.
West Broadway – A total gem of a neighbourhood that has become a culinary destination, West Broadway already has some perfect people watching patios byway of Cousin’s Deli and its neighbour The Nook, while Stella’s Cafe Bakery has that great little alleyway patio that they fill to the gills with plants.
Joining this lineup is one of the hippest cats on the Sherbrook strip, that being The Tallest Poppy (103 Sherbrook Street).
Tallest Poppy’s 13-seat patio (which just opened) gets our nod for best urban design, in that its central feature is a stunning mural by Sierra Leone-turned Winnipeg-based artist Gibril Bangura (this guy’s art is amazing, check this CBC story) along with a snazzy little blue pipe fence. It’s a great spot to watch what Wolseley people are up to while enjoying a delicious drink from The Tallest’s cocktail menu and eating a cobb salad or fried chicken and waffles.
Downtown – there are so many patios downtown now that we can’t mention all the established ones, but you should note that Downtown Winnipeg Biz (those blessed souls, they even give patio tours) have helped install 20 patios for restaurants since they started the program in 2007. The new ones from last summer include Fools & Horses – that gorgeous cafe-come wine and beer bar, and Clay Oven, while they’ve also created casual seating along Portage Avenue, Graham Avenue and Broadway so you can sit and enjoy lunch from one of the food trucks.
Anyway, the newest patio in the city can be found at Merchant Kitchen (314 Donald Street), where little red bistro tables for two are waiting for you surrounded by a wall of dwarf cyprus trees. It’s a peach of a spot to take in that sunshine while sipping tequila (of which they have a fine selection) along with a super food salad and some Korean fried chicken.
Just around the corner at 285 Portage Avenue is where you’ll find the patio for The Planit Restaurant and Lounge, a nice little al fresco area where you can get a really good burger or beef dip along with a roasted Brussel sprout salad.
The other new downtown patio entry is at La Roca (155 Smith Street), whose rooftop patio is where you want to be starting at 3 p.m. to sip 2 oz tequila drinks while snacking on ceviche.
Corydon – By far the city’s most-famous patio strip, the centre of Corydon Avenue features a whopping 22 patios, the majority of which are all nearly side by side, making it an ideal destination should you have the ambition to go on a full-fledged patio crawl.
On the new side of things this summer you have Saperavi and Il Molino (709 Corydon Avenue), the first being an excellent Georgian restaurant and the second being a Danish smørrebrød shop, which share a patio (Il Molino, the Danish place, is open during the day, while Saperavi takes over for dinner starting at 4:30 p.m). As we’ve noted in May not long after it opened, there’s no other Georgian restaurant in Winnipeg, and Saperavi has some excellent dishes in the way of grilled meats (shashlik), shkmeruli (“chicken cooked in milk with garlic and Georgian spices,”) and dumplings, while there is a nice assortment amazing bread dishes — all of which are baked in-house — that you can wash down on the patio with a fine selection of European beers on tap. I tell you, this place is a real new hidden gem.
The other brand new spot is Bisita (637 Corydon Avenue), a Filipino restaurant by the same awesome peeps (that being Helene and Roddy Seradilla) that had the Pimp My Rice Food Truck. One of the reasons why that flashy truck is not on the streets is because they now have this sweet brick and mortar spot, where you can get dishes on the courtyard style patio like lechon kawali (a 24 hour brined pork belly that gets braised then fried) and their award winning (via Pimp My Rice) adobo chicken wings.
Special mention too, to two (#3-2-wordbonus) other spots on the strip, those being The Roost Social House (651 Corydon Avenue) and Penny Loaf Bakery (858 Corydon Avenue), which have both only been open for around a year.
Roost’s patio is perfectly perched right over the main strip, and is bigger than their actual dining room (inside seats 18, the patio around 32). Their drinks are top-notch, while their small plates are just as good, and the whole design of the place is cool beans. Just check out their Instagram account and try not to fall in love with these kids (who are all only in their early 20s).
Penny Loaf is great because it is an old-school bakery that uses a wood fire oven, and their quaint little patio is ideal for eating everything from a slice of pie, to a gourmet sandwich or pastry. Plus, their creations are gorgeous; if you can look through their FB account’s image gallery and not immediately want to eat all the pies and croissant tulips you should be teaching a class on restraint.
Exchange District – Winnipeg’s fashionable heritage district is already home to some of the city’s best patios, particularly The King’s Head and Peasant Cookery, which look out onto all the summer action at the Cube outdoor stage.
One major new addition is the lengthy sidewalk-situated patio at Hermanos (179 Bannatyne Avenue), which offers a charming spectacle amongst the handsome brick facades of the south east Exchange. I recommend that you start at this South American spot with a summery watermelon and cucumber salad before ordering a mammoth ribeye to share.
On the much quainter side of things there is a brand new patio outside of Cake-ology (85 Arthur Street), where you really see if their milkshakes bring the boys from the yard (and by yard, we mean Old Market Square, which is just across the street). More likely, the lads will come calling for sugar cookie ice cream sandwiches and their vast assortment of cupcakes which they can enjoy outside on little bistro sets (because you know dudes be eating cupcakes and dainties come summertime).
And get this, opening so very soon (I’m told hopefully within two weeks’ time) King + Bannatyne and Chosabi (both at 100 King Street) will be opening a joint 60-seat patio right on the front sidewalk. Considering these are two of the most-popular spots in the Exchange District already, and that their location is absolutely primetime for any sort of summer action by Old Market Square, this will only make it an even bigger draw. PEG Beer Co. (125 Pacific Avenue) too should have their patio up and running within the week (fingers crossed), so look out for picnic tables packed with flatbreads and pints.
St. Boniface – Winnipeg’s French Quarter has some fabulous patios, with standouts including the garden side patio at Chaise Cafe & Lounge (271 Provencher Boulevard) — a charming porch setting covered with greenery, and Promenade Cafe and Wine (130 Provencher Boulevard) — which provides unparalleled views of the Esplanade Riel, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and Downtown.
Perhaps lesser-known, and new(ish) to the neighbourhood is the patios of Dwarf no Cachette and La Belle Baguette. La Belle Baguette just celebrated their first year in business, and it has one of those few patios that is not on a main street (being tucked-in behind St. Boniface Cathedral), making it an ideal setting for tucking into delicious pastries while reading a paper and sipping a freshly brewed iced tea. As to Dwarf no Cachette, it’s tiny courtyard patio welcomes you into the city’s cutest restaurant and is hidden (much like its restaurant dwarfs) from St. B’s main strip. This summer Dwarf is doing fun shaved ice desserts perfect for the patio, while they make an excellent okonomiyaki. Plus, their menus are the most adorable things you are going to see on paper.
Note: the lede photo is of the patio at SMITH at Inn at the Forks, which is surely one of the best patios in the city.