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Did you know it has a patio? Winnipeg’s newest (and lesser-known) patio places

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).

Hey guys look what we got #littleblufence

A photo posted by The Tallest Poppy (@tallestpoppy) on

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.

The new patio at The Merchant Kitchen will soon feature larger tables ideal for their family style menu (PCG)

The new patio at The Merchant Kitchen will soon feature larger tables ideal for their family style menu (PCG)

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.

sunday sun showers call for an 'old fashion ice tea' ~ bourbon | red rose | amaretto | lemon & orange bitters 🍋🍒

A photo posted by ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀the roost // social house (@theroostwpg) on

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.

Finally, as bonus-points patio, check out the new Stella’s location at 1463 Pembina, which has a rooftop patio and just received a rather glowing review in the Free Press.

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

La Belle Baguette owner Alix Loiselle (PCG)

The first year has been a beauty for St. Boniface’s La Belle Baguette

There’s an online review of La Belle Baguette on Zomato, by someone with the handle Intl.Foodie, that begins with this gem: “Everything they turn out seems to be fraught with magic and I don’t say that lightly about food.”

It’s high praise, but apparent she’s not the only one, as La Belle has become, after just under one year in business, a culinary destination.

“I grew up on this street — my grandparents lived on this street and so I know the area, and I know the people. So I had a sense it would do well,” said chef-owner Alix Loiselle.

“But I didn’t know that this place would start to bring people from all over the city; people drive from St. James, and Charleswood, and they come to little old St. Boniface for some of my stuff, so that has been just great.”

Locally picked strawberry eclairs and tarts (PCG)

Locally picked strawberry éclairs and tarts (PCG)

What they come for is artisanal breads, pastries and sandwiches, the ingredients in which are meticulously sourced. The flour comes from Prairie Flour Mill in Elie, MB (which frequent PCG readers will recognize as the local wheat that all the best bakers use), while the butter is from Notre Dame Creamery (again, the best).

The recipes have been crafted by Loiselle, a 28-year-old with an impressive pastry background that includes a diploma from Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa Culinary Arts Institute, Winnipeg’s Frenchway Café, Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, and then several years in Montreal where he did everything from catering, to a working at a traditional French bakery, to being on the team that opened Maison Boulud at the Ritz-Carleton Montreal under world-famous chef Daniel Boulud.

“I could have made a career with Daniel [Boulud], I could have made a career with Première Moisson — which is a big chain of artisanal bakeries in Montreal — I could have done that for the rest of my life and been comfortable,” said Loiselle.

“But at the last minute I decided to pack my bags and sell all my belongings in Montreal and start a new life here.”

Alix Loiselle making tarts (PCG)

Alix Loiselle making tarts (PCG)

He came back to Winnipeg for family, and ended up meeting his partner Peter Paley and running Paley’s restaurant the Oak Wood Café — a real neighbourhood gem in South Osborne — together from February 2013 until Loiselle opened La Belle Baguette on July 17, 2015. (Paley and Loiselle just sold the Oakwood this spring).

Anyways, back to that “fraught with magic” bit, because the ticket here really is the pastries, which never last a full day on the shelf (that, along with the fact that this shop smells like heaven — assuming that the afterlife is full of butter, flour and sweetness).

In fact, the only complaint Louiselle and his staff ever gets from regulars — of which are many, the same faces show up every morning for a pastry and coffee — is that there are never any almond croissants left after 10 a.m.

Maple tart (PCG)

Maple tart (PCG)

I’m not a huge dessert person, but I’m a sucker for pastries, and I have no shame in saying that during the drive back from our interview I actually began to squeal with glee while eating a Belle Baguette strawberry éclair (if you drove past me on the Provencher Bridge, I was the one with a face covered in whip cream wearing a stupid grin).

The strawberries in that beauty were picked the day before by Jardins St-Léon Gardens, whom Louiselle has come to rely on for summer berries, while the choux dough had a delicate shell on the outside, and a centre that was just a touch spongy.

What I love the most about La Belle Baguette is that all of Louiselle’s creations are not overtly sugary. I brought back some strawberry tarts, éclairs, and maple tart to our office and our Tourism Winnipeg staff were in agreement that everything — including the maple tart — had just the right amount of sweetness.

The gorgeous, airy whipped cream in the eclair, along with the silky custard in the tarts allowed the local sweet-acidic strawberries to shine, while the pastry crust was delicate, crumbling when it hit your tongue and just buttery enough that it did not feel like overkill.

They also do excellent sandwiches at lunch on their baguettes, which rightfully holds up to the shop’s namesake by being crusty on the outside, and chewy and fluffy in the centre.

La Belle Baguette has a charming little patio and the location is a peach, sitting at 248 De La Cathédrale Ave [locals will recognize it as the former home of Chez Sophie] right behind Saint Boniface Cathedral, one of the city’s most-popular tourist destinations.

With customer lines often snaking outside the door in the morning, this first year of business has certainly been a beauty for Loiselle and his staff — although it surely comes at a cost of beauty sleep.

“I arrive at 2:30 in the morning and start all the breads,” said Loiselle, who also does the books and sourcing. “Then by 7 a.m. the store is full of fresh stuff. But, I now have a team of three people in the kitchen with me who do all the mise en place and the Danishes and whatnot for the next day.”

“I have baker’s plus owner’s hours. So I may as well live here.”

La Belle Baguette is open 6 days a week, Tuesdays-Sundays. 7 a.m.- 6 p.m. weekdays (but most of the good pastries are long gone by then), 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday. They also have a food kiosk that they share with Chocolatier Constance Popp on the Esplanade Riel.
For their one year birthday on July 17th they’ll be throwing a special party with some guest costumed interpreters and much French merriment.  

Chef Aron Epp at PEG Beer Co. (Mike Peters Photography)

Brunch? Beer? Worldly cuisine? Yup, Winnipeg has a tour for that

Sometimes you have to go with a pro when you are looking to discover a city’s culinary scene.

Here in Winnipeg, that’s been made easy with the likes of the West End Biz, Exchange District BIZ, and Downtown Winnipeg BIZ, all of whom provide an assortment of tours that will bring you folks to some of the city’s best — and sometimes lesser known rooms — in search of fine food and drink.

West End

The motto of Winnipeg’s West End is “taste the world,” and with over 90 restaurants in this area — the majority of which are ethnic hole in the walls — this is the spot to take your tastebuds globetrotting.

This area is where you’ll find some of the city’s best South East Asian food, with notables including Pho Hoang (794 Sargent Avenue – in fact, Sargent is simply studded with great Vietnamese food), Winnipeg’s Filipino standout restaurant Jeepney (714 Sargent Avenue), and the legend that is Magic Thailand (842 Logan Avenue). There’s also no shortage of Ethiopian, East Indian, Cantonese and Caribbean spots.

Inside Café Dario. (Photo by Robin Summerfield.)

Dining at Café Dario during a Around the World in a Few Blocks tour. (Photo by Robin Summerfield.)

The “Around the World in a Few Blocks” West End BIZ food tour focuses on a mix of celebrated establishments – like Cafe Dario, Shawarma Time, Casa Grande and Morden’s Chocolates — while also introducing diners to spots that are only on certain locals’ radars. Each week you have new restaurants on the tours — which only makes sense when you can find nearly 100 restaurants here spread over a couple city blocks — while your guide also offers insight to this unique area of the city (with its jazzy murals and cool shops).

The “Around the World in a Few Blocks” tour runs once a week from July through to September 7th. The first one of the summer takes place on Thursday July 7th (get the full schedule here).

Tickets are $50 per person per tour, with the option for additional drink tickets ($4.50 for domestic beer, $6.50 for wine and import beer), and they run from 6 p.m. to approximately 8:30 p.m..

Tours can be booked (two days in advance please) by calling the BIZ at 204.954.7900 or by emailing Joe at joe@westendbiz.ca. Vegetarian meals are available.

The Exchange District 

Over the past several years The Exchange has continued to grow into its own as the hip centre of the city. It’s a place where astute locals, who have often lived in other worldly cities, have brought new ideas home, opening trendy shops in handsome heritage buildings.

Culinary wise, with over 50 restaurants and bars The Exchange covers everything from pre-theatre dinner, to fine dining, to sushi, to casual lunch-centric spots, to pubs, to new wave coffee shops that will fill your Instagram feed. (It’s also home to the brand new PEG Beer Co., where you can meet chef Aron Epp, who is pictured in the lede photo explaining his food on a recent tour. Photo by Mike Peters Photography)

The Dine the District tour includes a stop at PEG Beer Co. (photo by Mike Peters photography)

The Devour the District tour includes a stop at PEG Beer Co. (photo by Mike Peters photography)

The Exchange District BIZ offers two culinary tours during the summer, both of which run once a week July through August. On Mondays, from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., you can take part in the Little South America Food Tour, which will take you to Carnaval Brazilian BBQ, Corrientes Argentine Pizzeria and Hermanos Restaurant and Bar — all of which are conveniently located on Bannatyne Avenue.

On Tuesdays from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. you can do the Devour the District Food Tour, which celebrates the Exchange’s eclectic offerings. Here, you’ll feed on farm to table offerings from Peasant Cookery and PEG Beer Co. — Winnipeg’s newest brew pub, along with flavours from Blufish Japanese Restaurant.

Both tours are $70 per person, which includes alcoholic beverages at all the stops. You can book at this link.

Find it Downtown

The most culinary tours in the city come courtesy of Downtown Winnipeg Biz, who are offering 6 tours this summer — most of which are just $30 — that altogether would fit the bill for a full-day feast.

For starters, there’s the most important meal of the day, which they showcase in The Breakfast Club tour. Tour stops include a rotation via The Original Pancake House, Prairie 360 (which has the best views of the city), Nick’s on Broadway (which makes a mean breakfast), The Pint and The Fyxx. Tours run on July 3, September 4 and October 2, from 9 a.m. to noon. (Get your tickets here).

Next up is the Patio Crawl tour, because downtown is awash with outdoor spots that bathe in all that glorious Winnipeg sunshine. This tour takes you to a rotating roster that includes The Keg, Pony Corral, Earls, The Old Spaghetti Factory at The Forks (which looks out onto the Assiniboine River, The MET (with its stunning rooftop patio), and Carbone Coal Fired Pizza (which is where downtown’s cool kids are often found). This summer it runs on June 30, July 7, July 22 and August 19. Tickets are available here.

On the boozy side of things, Downtown Biz offers both a Tap In beer-centric tour, along with a Winnipeg Wine tour. Beer stops can include Shannon’s Irish Pub (a classic pub), the Garrick Hotel (a classic dive), Carbonzo’s Pizza Pub, Rudy’s Eat & Drink, The Keg, The Pint and Carbone Coal Fired Pizza. Tours run June 29, July 6, 21, August 12, and September 15; tickets here.

At $75, the vino tour is the most expensive of the bunch, but it’s also the best bang for your buck and the longest, running from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.

You get five stops total, at either Blaze Restaurant & Lounge (which also has a great burger), DT Urban Kitchen + Oyster Bar (because shellfish and sauvignon blanc belong together), Prairie 360, The MET, Resto 12, SMITH Restaurant (possibly the most handsome lounge in all of Winnipeg), The Merchant Kitchen (#bestfriedchickenever), The Loft Salon, and the always-classy VG Lounge in the Fairmont Winnipeg.

There is also the option of booking this tour in conjunction with a stay at the Alt Hotel, whereby you get two tour tickets and a night stay for only $285. Wine tours run June 24, July 29, August 26, September 30 and October 28; tickets available here.

Arguable the coolest food tour is A Moveable Feast, which will see you joining a hip crew on bike to five restaurants located all across the city. There’s too many restaurant taking part to name, so you’ll have to check out all the participating restaurants here. Tickets to this beauty are $40 per person (you need to bring your own bike), the dates are June 22, July 13, August 17, September 14 and October 1, and the tour runs from 5:30 p.m to 10 p.m.