Image: Travel Manitoba
Eat and drink your way through the province with unique culinary marvels that are sure to leave you wanting more.
Forget London, New York and Tokyo. You don't have to travel across the world to find original foodie experiences. In Manitoba, there's something for every season and sensibility, and it's always carried off with a Prairie spirit that's welcoming, unassuming and homegrown with an appreciation for nature and its bounty. Consult this list of hot spots each and every time you find yourself in and around Winnipeg—or let it inspire you to make a special trip to investigate these quintessential Manitoba food-and-drink rituals and destinations.
On-trend decor and tasty morsels make The Common at The Forks Market a downtown Winnipeg hot spot. | Image: The Forks Winnipeg
THE TRENDY FOOD HALL
Where the Assiniboine and Red rivers meet, The Forks Market in Winnipeg has long been a family-oriented hub for everything from shopping and snacking to listening to live music, taking salsa lessons and strolling the river walk. In recent years, it's transformed into a trendy destination with a gourmet food hall called The Common. The first-floor space features inviting communal tables (all the better to discover how friendly Prairie folk really are), an array of unique culinary creations by regional chefs (think pork belly, hand-pinched empanadas and Hawaiian shrimp nachos) and an extensive array of wine and craft beer, with flights served on wooden boards cut into the shape of Manitoba.
Nothing's fresher than fish caught and cooked especially for a shore lunch on the coast of one of Manitoba's many lakes. | Image: Travel Manitoba
THE SHORE LUNCH
Imagine taking a deep breath of fresh air, dipping your toes into a sparkling lake and then biting into a perfectly smoked piece of honey-glazed trout— fish you reeled in yourself from one of Manitoba's more than 100,000 fresh-water lakes and waterways. That's what the traditional open-air shore lunch is all about: a lakeside meal of the day's catch, freshly prepared with a mix of frying, baking and smoking techniques and often enjoyed by campfire. Several of Manitoba's backcountry lodges, like Aikens Lake Wilderness Lodge, Eagle Nest Lodge and Kississing Lake Lodge, make it a central part of their offering, with shore lunches crafted by local guides who know their way around the wilderness—from where to find the best walleye to how to fillet your fishing haul. They'll make a simple shore meal a fla¬vourful feast to remember.
Take advantage of winter temps and taste RAW:almond's culinary creations made along the frozen Red and Assiniboine rivers. | Image: Jacqueline Young
THE POP-UP RESTO
Fill your creative and food-loving soul with tickets to dinner at RAW:almond, a restaurant pop-up that hosts an unforgettable series of evenings on the frozen Red and Assiniboine rivers each winter. Since 2013, Mandel Hitzer, chef and restaurateur, and local architect Joe Kalturnyk have been elevating Winnipeg winters with their elaborate meals, often inspired by local ingredients and conceptualized by world-class chefs. The pièce de résistance? The temporary wooden structure that Kalturnyk's team builds on the ice, illuminates with candles and warms with space heaters so you can taste-test in parka-swaddled comfort. They've since brought the concept to Churchill in northern Manitoba and to Gimli, an Icelandic town an hour north of Winnipeg.
Farm-to-tap flavour in colourful cans make the brews from Neepawa's Farmery Estate Brewery a local must-try. | Image: The Farmery
THE RURAL BREWERY
With craft brewing on the rise in Winnipeg, it's easy to satisfy your thirst with a wide variety of local beers from the likes of Torque Brewing, Barn Hammer Brewing, One Great City Co., Half Pints Brewing Co. and Little Brown Jug. If you're hoping to catch a glimpse of the countryside, try Farmery Estate Brewery near Neepawa, a two-hour drive west of the 'Peg. The family-run farm grows barley and hops, and then produces uniquely Manitoban blends they call a "taste of the Prairies." Try bevvies like the Premium Lager, the Pink Lemonale and the Prairie Berry-Ale—all served in colourful retro cans—to wet your whistle with homegrown flavour. It's a true farm-to-tap experience. Follow up with a helping of poutine and deep-fried pickles from the food truck outside, and maybe even sneak in a tour of the brewery.
Each fall, see migrating birds arrive in droves during a sunset goose flight feast at FortWhyte Alive. | Image: Adobe Stock
THE GOOSE FLIGHT FEAST
Why have a three-course meal at a restaurant when you can have a three-course meal at a restaurant at sunset while watching thousands of Canada geese take flight before your eyes? The richly painted horizon will take your breath away just before winged creatures overtake the skies. That's the quintessentially Manitoban experience at both FortWhyte Alive in Winnipeg and Oak Hammock Marsh in Stonewall, outdoor recreation centres with lakes and wetlands where thousands of gulls, geese and other bird species gather in flocks in September and October before heading south for the winter. If you prefer to keep it casual or bring the whole family along, you can buy tickets for FortWhyte Alive's Sunset Goose Flight— minus the feast—and enjoy roasting bannock (an Indigenous flatbread) and s'mores over a bonfire and listening to the thrum of live music.
These culinary experiences are just the beginning. Visit canadianliving.com/savourmanitoba for delicious recos from Manitoba's top dining experts.