This week we look at Fort Garry, with a focus on the eateries and stores along the Pembina strip.
In recent years, familiar landmarks have been joined by a welcome wave of Asian and Middle Eastern restaurants — sushi joints, tea houses, ramen specialists, donair and kebab takeout places, Korean barbecue — many feeding hungry University of Manitoba students.
This stretch of highway isn’t exactly picturesque, but it’s home to dozens of good restaurants. Here are just a few:
● Take comfort: Stella’s on Pembina (1463 Pembina Hwy., 204-275-2001, stellas.ca), the latest outpost of this local chain, excels at comfort food, especially with "Breakfast All Day," surely three of the most comforting words in the English language.
Along with serving up big breakfasts, ever-reliable sandwiches, and a much-loved house salad, the Fort Garry locale is the best-looking Stella’s in town, with a modern industrial vibe, lots of windows and — as long as the last golden days of summer hold — a second-storey patio that lets you forget you’re on a highway.
Stella’s currently offers reduced-capacity dine-in, curbside pickup and no-contact delivery through DoorDash.
● Master of the za: Tony’s Master of Pizza (1110 Pembina Hwy., 204-452-9797, tonysmasterofpizza.com) has been slinging pies since 1972. (Full disclosure: I’ve been eating Tony’s pizza since my high school days, when it was the go-to party pizza order.) The menu has expanded since then — you can get salads now — but the pizza remains O.G., a straight-up and tasty combo of good hand-rolled crust, robust tomato sauce, solid toppings and lots of cheese.
Also — speaking from morning-after-the-night-before experience — Tony’s pies make for great breakfast pizza.
Tony’s offers pickup, as well as delivery to south Winnipeg neighbourhoods, but doesn’t do dine-in.
● Eat your fruit and veggies: Vic’s Market (1038 Pembina Hwy., 204-475-8332, vicsmarket.ca), a friendly, family-run neighbourhood fixture since 1958, focuses on fresh produce, with seasonal pleasures like springtime garlic scapes, summertime Manitoba strawberries and a recent crop of heirloom tomatoes, homely but absolutely busting with taste. (Keep an eye out for "Vic’s Picks," which highlight what’s really good that week.)
Along with the fabulous fruit and vegetables, Vic’s also offers butcher and deli counters, an excellent cheese selection and lots of upscale pantry goods, both local and imported.
Vic’s is open for in-person shopping, but you can also email your order and get contactless curbside pickup.
● Fab pho: The Vietnamese food at T.H. Dang’s (1425 Pembina Hwy., 204-415-5588, facebook.com/T.H.DangRestaurant/) is full of fresh, vibrant flavour. Try the pho with thin, almost translucent slices of rare beef, just cooked by the heat of the subtle, anise-scented broth, the plump salad rolls in stretchy-soft wrappers, or the vermicelli bowls, with rice noodles topped by tasty charred meat and seafood.
Dine-in capacity is limited right now in the modestly sized room, but T.H. Dang’s also offers quick takeout.
● Persian feast: Yes, there are burgers and fries at Tehran Cafe (1875 Pembina Hwy., 204-783-4726, tehrancafe.ca), but this halal restaurant also showcases the complex tastes and layered spices of Iranian food.
Standouts include slow-cooked lamb shank, the meat falling off the bone, served with fava beans and dill-flecked rice, chicken with walnuts and pomegranate, and a stew of kidney beans, fenugreek and braised beef. Dishes are served with aromatic rice or tender, paper-thin bread for sopping up all that flavour.
The café offers pickup or delivery through DoorDash, SkipTheDishes or Uber Eats. Dine-in is at reduced capacity, so reservations are requested.
● Delicious by name, delicious by nature: A Chinese resto that was all-vegan before that was trendy, Delicious Vegetarian Restaurant (1467 Pembina Hwy., 204-477-1530) has been around for decades. You’ll see why when you taste wontons swimming in chili sauce, smooth eggplant with black bean sauce, or a hot and sour soup warm with spice and just a bit sharp with vinegar.
The expansive menu, with soups, congee and noodle options, as well as several "mock" meat dishes made with vegetable protein, will be a boon to vegans and vegetarians. And with this much flavour, even omnivores won’t miss the meat. Delicious is also budget-friendly, with many mains priced under $10.
This small venue is currently doing takeout and delivery only.
Studying at the University of Winnipeg and later Toronto’s York University, Alison Gillmor planned to become an art historian. She ended up catching the journalism bug when she started as visual arts reviewer at the Winnipeg Free Press in 1992.