Answers from Our Experts (1)
Like most of Canada’s cities, Winnipeg’s food culture is a product of its regional ingredients and its local immigration patterns. Winnipeg offers an impressive diversity of cuisine, from ethnic foods and aboriginal traditions, to greasy spoons and high-end gastronomy. The following food experiences attempt to represent what’s uniquely Winnipeg:
Pickerel. Manitoba produces some of the best freshwater fish in the country, and the king of local waters is indeed the pickerel. An extremely mild fish with firm white flesh, pickerel (also known as walleye) is enjoyed across Winnipeg served in a variety of ways, from sautéed pickerel cheeks, to good old-fashioned fish and chips. You haven’t been to Manitoba if you haven’t tasted pickerel.
Saskatoon berries. Often described as fibrous blueberries, “Saskatoons” are a native berry to Manitoba, which you’ll only find in Canada’s prairie provinces. Frequently featured as Saskatoon pies, jams, and even cocktails can be found on local menus. For something authentically local, and when in season, you can buy them fresh at the local farmers markets. For something truly authentic, slather some Saskatoon jam on freshly baked bannock, something you can find at The Forks.
Traditional Ukrainian pierogi dinners. Winnipeg has long been home to a large Ukrainian community. As a result, Ukrainian food — borscht, cabbage roles, kielbasa, and especially pierogies — have been adopted into local households as default Winnipeg cuisine. Though strangely absent from restaurant menus, pierogies and kielbasa can frequently be found at festivals from food vendors, often listed next to the hot dogs and hamburgers. On rare occasions you’ll find gourmet approaches to pierogies in Winnipeg restaurants. The Fusion Grill, for example, serves a decadent white truffle pierogi with duck sausage and walnut cream, and while not traditional, it’s no less delicious.
Bison. Millions of bison once roamed the tall grass prairies that surround Winnipeg. Though their numbers dwindled due to overhunting, there’s been a resurgence and a healthy comeback in farmed bison populations. Their meat, lean and delicious, can frequently be found on Winnipeg menus as substitutes for beef, especially hamburgers. Try a bison burger at Unburger — the popular healthy gourmet burger Winnipeg chain, and you may never go back to beef again.
Salisbury House. Foodies will no doubt cringe, but Winnipeggers have a soft spot for “Sal’s”, the Salisbury House chain of restaurant. There’s nothing more traditionally Winnipeg than grabbing a “nips” (burger) at “Sal’s”. Part nostalgia for simpler times, Sal’s can be found all over the city, offering breakfast, lunch, and dinner. For a truly authentic Winnipeg experience, head down to Investors Group Field for a Blue Bombers game, and chow down on these no frills burgers while watching the team. It won’t even matter who wins, you’ll be an official Winnipegger.