So many of those handsome “stone skyscrapers” you see in downtown Winnipeg, those sturdy, ornate late 19th and early 20th century buildings, are housing some of the newest, hippest little rooms in Canada -- all of which steps away the Alt Hotel Winnipeg.
Actually, scrap that footsteps part. Let’s say a few pedals away, because when you are exploring Winnipeg there’s no better way to look sweet, then upon the seat, of a Downtown Winnipeg Biz bike that is available to you. (Bikes are free for Alt Winnipeg guests -- cruisers replete with a charming rear wheel wooden basket and all).
Start that day right at Clementine, a brunch spot by the same fine folks who brought Segovia to the city, Winnipeg’s nationally acclaimed Spanish tapas restaurant. Egg lovers will fawn over Clementine’s Braised Bacon Benedict, a dish livened by maple sabayon and pickled jalapeños, while their Fried Chicken Toast will never make you miss the waffle (although they have those too!) with its house made sourdough (perfect crust, just enough sour notes) covered in tangy pimento cheese and pickled squash. (The chicken is first done in citrus brine before being crusted and fried, making for layers of flavour and texture in every bite). It’s located in a brightly lit basement in The Exchange District, a room that combines the elements of a North African French cafe seamlessly with the preexisting exposed brick and beam aesthetic that you’ll find inside all of Winnipeg’s heritage buildings.
From there, take a few pedals round the corner to Tiny Feast. No it’s not a delicate tasting menu restaurant, but rather a stationary and gift store that combines Wes Anderson preciousness with a panache for uniquely Winnipeg items (think cheeky area maps as art and locally made mugs from Mud and Stone Studio featuring muddy grey ceramics attached to pretty wood handles). Plus, once you’ve made your purchases, you can fit them right in your wooden crate bike basket. #adorbs
Two other delicious stops can be found just across Main Street in their own respective heritage buildings. First is Peg Beer Co., a new brewpub featuring a minimalist interior of white brick walls and sturdy wood tables meant to hold a menu of rustic offerings like flatbreads, salt roasted carrots, and massive mains meant for sharing like a baked bone-in ham. Their first batches of their own beer are just about to be released, but until then they have a fantastic list of cans and bottles from other craft breweries.
The other newly polished gem is Forth. It’s an airy, spacious Instagram-friendly coffee house during the day that turns into a craft cocktail lounge at night. Mornings see a fun little menu featuring items like a perfect avocado toast with poached egg and chili oil, breakfast tacos, and noteworthy baked goods (chef Pam Kirkpatrick was previously the mastermind of Cake-o-logy, one of the city’s best sweet shops) while at night its downstairs bar features really excellent concoctions from barman Josey Krahn and an equally tidy bar menu of drink appropriate dishes.
Finally, you must bike down to see the new Forks Market where (as of early June) you can try out the new Food Hall, which features 5 food kiosks (all from established Winnipeg restaurants), a rotating pop-up kiosk, and a wine and beer on tap service where -- get this -- you can grab a glass or pint and sip away while you shop The Forks‘ stores (seriously, how sophisticated is that!).
Mike Green, food enthusiast and proud Winnipeger.