Illustration by Julia Rothman
Today’s Winnipeg city guide comes from Lenore Hume, an ad-agency copywriter by day and a vintage-furniture upcycler by night, who lives in the prairie city of Winnipeg. She chronicles tales of her first love, first dog, first house and first business Lather Creations in her blog, Lather. Write. Repeat.
In her guide, Lenore takes us through the many neighborhoods that make up this Canadian city and its wonderful venues, restaurants, shops and attractions. Thanks, Lenore, for this wonderful look at Winnipeg! — Stephanie
CLICK HERE for the full guide after the jump!
Try as I might, I just keep getting drawn back to Winnipeg. Although I grew up in Manitoba, I left after graduation to travel the world, go to school and work. Twelve years later, I found myself settling down in Winnipeg. It is only here that I found love, got my first dog, bought a house, found my dream job and started my own vintage-furniture upcycling business.
You don’t choose Winnipeg; it chooses you. This quirky little city is more of a big small town filled with people you know, and it sits smack-dab in the middle of Canada. From prairies to polar bears, the province of Manitoba has it all, with Winnipeg right at its heart. We are resilient people, living in the harshest of opposing climates. Half the year, we bundle up and brace the blowing snow and bitter -30º temperatures. The other half of the year, we live for the blistering heat and humidity, tainted only by our sworn enemy — the mosquito. We love our lake life, with beaches and lake towns only an hour or two in every direction from the city. We play host to hundreds of summer festivals like the Fringe Festival, Folklorama, the Folk Festival and the Jazz festival.
Winnipeg continues to be one of the most affordable places in Canada to buy a home, compared to some of our counterparts where real estate prices have skyrocketed. Our industry is varied, making for a stable economy during difficult times. And our city is filled with pockets of vibrant and multicultural neighborhoods that expose us to arts, culture, tastes and sounds that are both accessible and down-to-earth. Although our city is isolated, we are home to a bustling arts and culture scene with a symphony, an opera house, a ballet company, multiple theatre companies, an art gallery and a museum, as well as a new Human Rights Museum that’s being built, professional football, baseball and hockey teams and numerous small music and arts venues.
I’d like to share the neighborhoods that I’ve grown to love in the three years that I’ve lived here. It’s a personal list, and I have so much more to see and do. Plus Winnipeg has a fantastic array of amazing eateries, so my list is sure to spark some debate among the locals. I hope you’ll add your favourites, as well!
Welcome to Winnipeg, friends!
Just south of downtown across the river, the “Village” is arguably the city’s most densely populated neighborhood, with its concentration of apartment and condo living. This bustling hub is home to a mix of bohemian and punk, students and retirees, upscale condo living and downtrodden homeless life. Starbucks and American Apparel live comfortably alongside used record shops and indie boutiques. It’s a great place to grab a bite, browse the shops and do some people watching.
Eat and Drink
Carlos and Murphy’s
Winnipeg is about as far away from Mexico as you can get, but that doesn’t stop this restaurant lounge from mixing up the best margaritas and nachos in the city. Get a seat tucked away on the side patio during the summer months for the true gringo experience!
The Cupcake Corner
Sometimes a gal just needs a cupcake, and this is where I go to get my fix.
Stella’s is a local success story, having begun as one small café named after the owner’s grandmother and grown to three bustling restaurants and counting. Breakfast is served all day and I recommend their specialty — the baked eggs.
I love to have tea and dessert with my girlfriends at this Village staple. It’s such a fun place, with the retro checkerboard floors, wall-to-wall red banquettes and a full chalkboard menu along the walls. But most of all, it’s the glass cases filled with sinfully delectable desserts that get me every time. Desserts are pricey but worth it!
Toad in the Hole
112 Osborne Street, (204) 284-7201
This is one of the few places in the city where I can get my beloved Strongbow Cider, which I began drinking while living in London. The Toad is a classic English pub with plenty of dark wood, beers on tap and pub grub.
A fresh addition to the Village, this bright and cheerful eatery serves up a selection of sweet and savoury crepes rolled into cones. A welcome change from the typical sandwich or burger.
Out of the Blue
102 Osborne Street, (204) 475-9771
This chic little boutique recently moved to a bigger space across the street, joining the Out of the Blue and Frockstar stores. They stock the latest clothing and accessories collections from Dish, Little Fawn and other young, hip brands.
117 Osborne Street, (204) 284-0823
This long-time Osborne shop is hard to define, except to say that it’s filled with lovely things. They carry everything from jewellery, cards and notebooks to housewares and gift items. There’s always something new and always something pretty!
I have a standard reply when asked by my other half what I would like for my birthday: “Anything from Silver Lotus!” This teensy jewellery shop is filled top to bottom with the most gorgeous (and affordable) pieces, from the quirky to the luxurious. They also stock Nat and Matt handbags and a small collection of clothing.
The brainchild of designer Andee Penner, Sew Dandee is a great little shop filled with handmade goods, upcycled clothing and accessories and consignment clothing. She also does custom sewing and alterations.
Village Antique Market
197 Osborne Street, (204) 287-2278
A maze of rooms take you back in time, with vintage items, collectibles, antiques and other aged eclectic goods. Perfect for Saturday treasure hunting, but don’t expect a bargain — the antiques are on the pricey side here.
Dream On Futons
As the name suggests, this home décor shop has a big selection of futons (which is fitting for the apartment-heavy village area), plus accent items like throw pillows, draperies and a selection of fabrics for custom coverings.
Although it’s not quite in the Village, walk two blocks east to Donald Street and you’ll find this local design mecca. Bring your extra savings because these designer furniture and interior items don’t come cheap. But it’s fun to wander through and dream of adding one of these special pieces to your space.
Just south of Osborne Village are the up-and-coming neighborhoods of Fort Rouge and Riverview, where I call home. Primarily a residential area, we’re seeing many new shop and restaurant openings on the South Osborne strip. Rising housing costs have made the area more popular because of its smaller homes with character at more affordable price points. The proximity to downtown is also a plus for young couples and families wanting to live in an older neighborhood with more character that still stays close to the city’s urban centre.
Eat and Drink
This popular gastropub boasts a large selection of imported beer options, pool tables, a high-end nibbling menu and plenty of comfy couches for a relaxed and chic atmosphere.
Bistro 7 1/4
Make sure to get a reservation early, as this intimate little eatery has breathed new life in to the neighborhood and fills up fast. If you reserve a seat at the chef’s table, expect to be included in a few taste tests from Chef Alex. The huge bowls of “moule et frites” are my fave, with steaming mussels and thinly cut fries to sop up the flavourful juices.
Chocolate Zen Bakery
This teensy bakery is a welcome addition to my neighborhood with their baked deliciousness and cake-of-the-month club. Plus the “dogs welcome” sign in the window makes me so happy!
Tucked back in an unassuming strip mall, this café is always full of diners. Most likely, it’s because of their fabulous selection of huge salads, stacked sandwiches and homemade soups, plus a super friendly staff.
766 Jubilee Avenue, (204)475-6850
From the first glimpse of spring until the last leaf falls in autumn, the Bridge Drive-In has folks lined up for their tasty ice-cream treats. Despite the name, it’s actually walk-in only, so you can get a cone and then take a scenic walk across the old railway-turned-walking bridge right next door.
The Sugarbayer Cottage Company
In Manitoba, we love our lake life and cottage country. For that shabby chic cottage style, stop in to Sugarbayer’s for distressed dressers, hutches and desks in soft, watery colours.
A welcome new addition to the neighborhood, this carefully curated boutique is an eco-craft collective made up of local artisans. There is plenty of affordable jewellery, clothing and upcycled pieces from locals like Emm’s Gems, Jake + Cleo and Everything is Ticketyboo!
Burton Lysecki Books
Step through the bright red door and browse the stacks of old books. Established in 1971 with over 100,000 titles on its shelves; this is the city’s oldest used, rare and out-of-print bookshop.
The vibrant Corydon strip extends from Confusion Corner (just as it sounds — a weird intersection) and heads southwest, hosting a variety of bars, eateries, boutiques, salons and yoga studios. Known as Winnipeg’s Little Italy, this street comes alive in the evenings, especially during the warm months of patio season, where Corydon is the place to see and be seen.
Eat and Drink
Opened by three sisters, this hip eatery has fresh and wholesome on the menu. They source organic ingredients and use local farmers whenever possible for their hearty baked goods, thick smoothies and tasty entrees.
659 Corydon Avenue, (204) 452-3916
This is my go-to spot for fresh, delicious and reasonably priced sushi. We have many sushi spots worth visiting, but this one gets my vote!
When in Little Italy . . . For over 30 years, they’ve been serving up heaping plates of homemade pasta and authentic Italian dishes. The seafood cannelloni is my personal pick!
737 Corydon Avenue, (204) 452-1929
A longtime resident of the Corydon strip, this popular lounge and patio is bustling almost every night of the week.
This intimate upscale bistro is a great pick for a special-occasion meal, with a small menu fusing modern California cooking with traditional Italian cuisine. The modern décor is further enhanced by the local art that is featured on the walls for three-month shows.
681 Corydon Avenue, (204) 284-2602
With a huge outdoor patio, Saffron’s is a popular summer spot. The menu is varied, but I always go for nibblers like nachos and other tapas to have with drinks.
Do you even need a reason to go for gelato? When the city’s summer temperatures hover near 30ºC, you’ll be lining up for this sweet and cool treat.
Bread and Circuses
238 Lilac Street, (204) 477-4555
Delicious baked goods, hearty homemade soups and fresh, stacked sandwiches make this one of my favourite lunchtime spots.
740 Corydon Avenue, (204) 478-1144
There are a few Greek spots on the strip, but I’ve always been partial to Nico’s selection of classic entrees like souvlaki and lemon and rice soup.
Two young sisters opened up Soul Shoes, and I love stopping in to try on the latest lust-worthy styles. You’ll find styles from Faryl Robin, Miss Sixty, Steve Madden and Fornarina to keep your feet looking fancy.
Cha Cha Palace
173 Lilac Street, (204) 284-4128
Browse the three floors in this unique and girly shop for an eclectic selection of shoes, jewellery, other accessories and clothing from brands like Hanky Panky, Frye, Satya, Fluevog, Fly London and much more. They also recently opened a satellite location on Main Street in the Bernes and Black Salon.
Candie and Dolls
Since moving from the Exchange to Corydon, this local independent shop has expanded to two levels for their selection of contemporary women’s clothing by well-known brands like Rachel Pally, Joe’s Jeans, Ben Sherman, Michael Stars and more.
These Four Walls
167 Stafford Street, (204) 452-5786
If I had an unlimited budget to adorn my home, I would definitely be making a beeline for this home accent and décor boutique. Everything from furniture to accessories are sleek and modern, with a chic blend of textures like Lucite, natural wood, glass, stone and steel.
For Space Sake
Most apartment dwellers can relate to the constant need to organize and dream up creative new ways of using limited real estate. This shop is the destination for small spaces, full of super-smart storage solutions.
2-1724 Corydon Avenue, (204) 488-7311
This cute little clothing boutique is a little off the main strip but worth the trip for denim from Fidelity and Dish, plus separates and dresses from brands like French Connection, Oxmo and Bobi.
Academy Road/River Heights
Full of charming, tree-lined streets with turn-of-the-century character homes, this upscale residential neighborhood is home to a discerning selection of high-end boutiques nestled among small specialty shops. On Sundays, Wellington Crescent, one of the city’s most prestigious residential addresses, shuts down to walking and bike traffic only.
Eat and Drink
The brightly painted mural in front invites you in to an intimate space to enjoy gourmet cuisine featuring locally sourced ingredients.
404 Academy Road, (204) 944-8786
Get your reservations early for this coveted Academy Road eatery. Pizza gets a posh new spin with exotic toppings (hello drunken mushrooms?) and extra-thin crust in this hip and modern space.
This cozy and comfortable neighborhood spot serves classic homemade meals with an elegant twist from the wood-fired oven. There are no reservations, but the delicious food is worth the wait.
The coffee, tea and chocolate emporium is the perfect stop for a gift . . . or something just for you! Tea lovers will swoon over the selection of over 220 loose teas, hand-picked from around the globe.
Tiber River Naturals
What began as a home soap company for a new mom has blossomed into one of the city’s most popular beauty bars. With two locations, Tiber River offers an assortment of natural handmade body products plus in-store pampering treatments like manicures and pedicures.
Mad about Style
A fairly new addition, this chic little boutique offers fashionable clothing, shoes and accessories at excellent price points. Try the yoga jeans for a comfortable twist on trendy denim.
440 Academy Road, (204) 256-9875
One of my favourite shops to visit, this charming store carries an array of home décor pieces, jewellery and clothing all influenced by Winnipeggers’ first love — going to the lake.
The Garden Room
I don’t have a green thumb, but wandering through this shop can almost convince me to learn. From pretty planters and unique gardening tools to patio furniture, they have all you need to make your outdoor space gorgeous!
The Creative Paper Gallery
A great place to buy a gift or just browse, this shop stocks all kinds of paper products, from albums and journals to custom wedding invitations.
Showcasing both local and international artwork, this quaint gallery is worth a visit. Owner Jenny DeLury also keeps a selection of jewellery and gift items, plus she does custom framing.
Take a step back in time in the Exchange District. Named after the city’s grain exchange in the late 1800s, it is rich in history and architecture. Often the backdrop for Hollywood North film sets, this eclectic area just northeast of the downtown core is home to a renaissance, with the revitalization of many older buildings and many small businesses setting up shop. There’s also been the development of loft condominiums in an attempt to turn the Exchange into a work-live urban playground. It is arts and culture central, as the site for the Fringe Festival, the Manitoba Museum and Planetarium and several theatre houses and concert halls.
Eat and Drink
Stepping into this teensy shop is pure heaven. It smells like buttercream, and the front counter is topped with cake stands holding all kinds of sweet indulgences. They do cupcakes, wedding cakes, cookies and squares, and this amazing ball of goodness called cakettes — cake and buttercream rolled together and dipped in chocolate! Yes, you heard that right . . .
93 1/2 Albert Street, (204) 944-0045
Local coffeehouse chain The Fyxx serves up hot drinks and yummy sandwiches in this cozy location.
King’s Head Pub
This authentic British-style pub garners a regular crowd, serving 27 types of brew on tap and plates of English pub fare with an Indian twist. Head over on Fridays for the curry buffet.
Mondragon Café and Bookstore
One part vegan restaurant and one part political bookstore, this popular exchange destination is run as a worker’s collective.
Local success story Hilary Druxman creates the most beautiful and understated, delicate pieces of jewellery. Her flagship boutique is an open and airy space in a character building filled with glass display cases of her treasures mixed with the exposed brick and wide wood beams of centuries past.
Ragpickers Emporium and Books
216 McDermot Avenue, (204) 942-7992
This treasure hunter’s delight is packed to the rafters with unique, vintage, eclectic clothing and accessories, making it a popular sourcing location for the local movie industry. They also have a huge costume rental section, and the upstairs is used-book heaven. You could spend hours poring over all the history.
A step back in time to the mid-century, this mixed-bag store has a funky blend of clean-lined reproduction and vintage furniture straight out of the fifties, a small section of hip clothing and cool accessories. Head down to the basement for amazing deals.
Into the Music
True music devotees get their fix at Into the Music. Even though downloaded music is taking over, there will always be purists on the hunt for classic vinyl and hard-to-find imports.
225 McDermot Avenue, (204) 415-0299
This sleek and upscale boutique houses premier brands like Kenneth Cole, Ben Sherman, Miss Sixty and Citizens of Humanity.
Hat lovers flock to this quaint space for the latest in toppers for him and her. From cozy toques and chic fedoras to casual caps, there’s a hat for everyone here.
This gorgeous boutique takes full advantage of its character space, with polished hardwood floors and huge windows that flood the space with light. This is the place to find that perfect event dress!
Recently relocated from South Osborne, this upscale home and gift shop features a variety of unique items like wine accessories, clocks, indoor planters and other quirky gift ideas.
As the granddaughter of a proud French Canadian, I have a soft spot in my heart for Winnipeg’s French quarter. The area goes back many years and has an assortment of old character and new development. It’s the site of the annual Festival du Voyageur at Fort Gibraltar, which celebrates our French-Canadian roots and our winters. It’s worth visiting the Basilica and site of the Grey Nuns along the riverfront.
Eat and Drink
One of my favourite eateries in the city, this charming restaurant serves contemporary French dishes that will make your mouth water. I especially love the pasta dishes such as Penne Inferno, which is soaked in a chili-spiked cream sauce. Try to get a table upstairs; it’s more intimate.
With a casual area on one side and a more formal dining room on the other, Promenade offers continental, eastern European flavours and classic French cuisine. Just steps from the river, take a walk across the lamp-lit streets after dinner.
This little gem of a restaurant is a father/daughter team serving up authentic southern barbeque including pulled pork, BBQ chicken and wings. Tucked into a strip mall, the interior may be modest, but the warm and welcoming service is outstanding.
Santa Lucia Pizza
Ooey, gooey and oh so good! This is my go-to pizza in the city, and now that they’ve completely revamped the flagship restaurant (they have pick-up and delivery all over the city), it’s worth dropping in for Greek and Italian favourites like souvlaki, pasta or just a classic pizza pie.
This big and bright space is the perfect place to stop for a spot of tea or coffee and a homemade dessert. There are plenty of comfy chairs, and you can even take small packages of tarts, squares and other dainties “to go” for a sweet treat at home.
Previously known as La Vielle Gare, this bistro had a facelift and now gives a nod to its neighborhood roots with its French menu with a modern twist. The restaurant is housed uniquely in a turn-of-the-century station building and railcar.
French for jewellery, the name says it all. Shop here for unique handmade pieces of jewellery from the in-house collection. Word on the street is they’re preparing to open a second location in my neighborhood — can’t wait!
The Bra Bar and Panterie
This lingerie shop fills an old house in Old St. Boniface and carries specialty-size bras, underwear and other silky underthings to make you feel lovely or naughty . . . depending on your mood.
Downtown Winnipeg is small compared to many other cities, but it still bustles with so much of the city working in the core (including me). In the summer, you’ll see the office crowd packing the parks and grabbing time outside. In the winter, the core utilizes its intricate indoor-walkway system to beat the cold. With the opening of the MTS Centre right on the main drag of Portage Avenue, more people are drawn downtown for concerts and hockey games.
Eat and Drink
This adorable little eatery is decorated in soothing yellows, greens and blues. Go for the amazingly fresh roast-turkey sandwich with cranberry mayo, and try to snag one of the three comfy back booths.
This tiny bistro shares a space with Aqua Books, making it a great spot for book browsing and noshing. They cater to a variety of dietary needs — from vegan-friendly to celiac-friendly, and it’s all made from scratch on the premises.
200 Main Street, (204) 944-1600
There are a few Indian restaurants downtown to choose from, but I love Ivory’s dinner buffet because I can never decide what to order! The space is elegantly designed, and the owner always drops by your table to say hello.
The Tallest Poppy
A little further from the core on Main Street, this delightful breakfast and lunch spot sources local ingredients and serves a multicourse family-style brunch on Sundays.
This Canadian department store institution has recently been revived with a makeover, accenting the building’s hundred-year-old history and architecture. Shop three floors of clothing, housewares and more.
The Old House Revival Company
I could spend hours digging for treasures on the four floors of this antique mall. From turn-of-the-century doors to 1950s kitsch, there is something unique and special around every corner.
Another one of Winnipeg’s thriving character neighborhoods, West Broadway is located just southwest of the downtown core and becoming Wolseley between Portage Avenue and the Assiniboine River. With a reputation for social and environmental activism, this tight-knit neighborhood has seen a gentrification over the years and now boasts a mingling of small businesses, local artists and tasty international restaurants.
Eat and Drink
The Melting Pot
218 Sherbrook St, (204) 783-1317
I’m a sucker for fondue, and that’s exactly what the Melting Pot has to offer. The décor is a bit retro but hey, so is fondue!
Wasabi on Broadway
588 Broadway, (204) 774-4328
Great location with a good reputation for delicious sushi, but expect to pay a little more here. There’s also a smaller version of Wasabi on Osborne.
Charisma of India
This classic Indian restaurant is tucked into a small strip mall, but they’ve recently renovated the space inside. They offer great dinner combos with classic Indian fare for take-out and delivery.
63 Sherbrook Street, (204) 775-5662
At this quaint little bistro, you can expect generous portions of authentic Danish fare like schnitzel. They must be doing something right; they’ve been around for years.
Recently opened, this restaurant is Canada’s first all-vegetarian burger café. Served up with sesame-potato fries, you can try a variety of flavourful patties made from vegetables and legumes.
43 Sherbrook Street, (204) 774-0818
This relaxed neighborhood hangout serves all-day breakfast plus other traditional diner staples.
Tall Grass Prairie Bread Company
Hot and fresh cinnamon buns right out of the oven . . . need I say more? The main bakery is in the Wolseley area, but I also love to visit Tall Grass at the Forks. They’ve always got something scrumptious cooling on the racks and waiting to be devoured with a big cup of tea. Organic breads, baked goods, squares, oh my!
Steeped in history, The Forks is truly one of Winnipeg’s gems. Located where the Red River meets the Assiniboine River, The Forks was once the ancient gathering place for the aboriginals, European fur traders and other immigrants. Today, it is still a gathering place with an indoor market featuring a collection of eateries, small local shops, the Manitoba Children’s Museum, Manitoba Theatre for Young People, tourist attractions and more. The Forks will filled with delightful eateries, from the super casual to the elegantly upscale. Sydney’s is one of my favourite places to dine in the city for those extra-special occasions.
Fancy-shmancy upscale dining in an amazingly warm and cozy space. I love the four-course prix fixe menu that allows you to mix and match from an artfully prepared selection of starters, appetizers, entrees and desserts. The menu changes monthly based on seasonal ingredients and the whim of chef and owner Michael Schaeffer.