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West End Eats: An Adventure in Global Cuisine - This dough, is worth your dough.

This dough, is worth your dough.

By: PegCity GrubJuly 25, 2012 // Winnipeg in the News

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In business for 33 years, Homer's serves all the classic Greek favourites like chicken souvlaki, hummus, olives, meatballs, spanakopita and grilled pita bread.

Winnipeg's West End is a vibrant, culturally diverse neighbourhood that is often the first stop for new immigrants to the city and the country. That makes it a perfect place to take a global cuisine adventure.

From authentic Peruvian, Ethiopian and Taiwanese to Greek, Italian and Portuguese, the area has a cuisine for any mood or craving. These ethnic eateries are typically owned and operated by immigrants who have brought their favourite foods, dishes and spices from their homeland.

The immense neighbourhood—which stretches from Langside Street to just east of Polo Park Mall and Portage Avenue north to Notre Dame Avenue—has 130 restaurants, 30 of which opened in the last 18 months or so.

In an effort to introduce more people to the culinary delights of ethnic cuisine, the West End BIZ hosted its second annual concierge tour. The afternoon tour led about 20 people from the tourism industry, including yours truly, to seven area restaurants to sample eats from every kitchen.

Here's a quick sampling of the neighbourhood restaurants on the tour.

westendeats_empanadasInside La Rica Vicky, authentic Peruvian bites like empanadas and cow's eyes (creamy, cheesy mashed potato dumplings) were prepared by owner Victoria Caceres. The space is bright and colourful and is still home to a tiki bar, a leftover from the space's former occupant Desperados.

At Pho Kim Tuong, our plates were piled high with Vietnamese specialties like crunchy mango salad and shrimp Thai rolls. Mango bubble tea was a refreshing finish to the meal.

Inside Homer's, a 33-year-old Greek-food institution in Winnipeg, a spread fit for an invading army was served including beef meat balls, chicken souvlaki, two kinds of spanakopita (one with spinach; one with just feta), hummus, olives and grilled pita bread. The food was fresh and fantastic and healthy. No animal fats are used in the restaurant and the olive oil on the table comes from owner George Katsabanis' farm in Greece.

Lan May Taiwanese Chinese was also a delightful surprise. From the street, it looks like a take-out spot but once inside you're led down a hallway, past a private dining rooms and an extensive tea-cup collection to the main dining room. As billed, the menu is a mix of Taiwanese and Chinese standards all made under the watchful eye of Lan May, the charming owner.

We also made a quick stop at niche bakery Jonnie's Sticky Buns for one of their classic cinnamon buns.

At Pop Soda's we feasted on creamy marscapone piped cannolis made in house. A spike of citrus made the perfect counterpoint to the rich, decadent cheese.

We finished the stomach-stuffing tour at Elements restaurant where red wine sangria went down as smooth as Kool-Aid, but much better tasting. The slightly tangy tipple was topped with cranberries and made the perfect refreshment for a hot summer day.

For more information about West End restaurants click here.

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