Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

We mourn these three

... but there are still lots of places to get your iconic eatery fix

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It's been a lousy year for lovers of iconic eateries in Winnipeg.

First, there was Alycia's in the North End, whose perogies were so good the late actor John Candy called it his favourite restaurant. It shut its doors last winter.

Then there was the Wagon Wheel Lunch, which served world-famous clubhouse sandwiches downtown for more than a half-century. It turned off its ovens for good in July.

And last Friday, C. Kelekis Restaurant, a Main Street institution since the 1940s, announced it would stop selling its shoestring fries at the end of next month.

If you believe bad things always come in threes, you can relax.

But if you're worried about where you're going to get your next home-cooked-like meal, we've compiled a list (in no particular order) of some of our favourite remaining local iconic eateries, where the face of the place can often be found flipping meat behind the grill, filling coffee cups and greeting customers at the door.

RAE AND JERRY'S: Arguably the best-known steakhouse in town, the waitresses in matching uniforms at the Portage Avenue mainstay have been serving up prime rib since 1957. Sitting on your red leather chair and looking at the wood-panelled walls, you can be excused if you think owner Steve Hrousalas has a time machine.

THE GARWOOD GRILL: One of the few places in town to use real turkey in its clubhouse sandwiches, the 40-year-old Pembina Highway eatery is also known for its hangover-curing breakfasts, Greek-style pizza, Denver sandwiches, burgers and large portions.

BLONDIE'S RESTAURANT: The number of places in the world that serve a nine-pound burger are few and far between, and this is the only one in Winnipeg -- as long as you order it at least 24 hours in advance. The 22-year-old Main Street eatery's signature burger also includes 50 slices of bacon and 50 slabs of cheese.

VJ'S DRIVE INN: A favourite among the late-night downtown bar crowd, this take-out counter across the street from the train station is famous for its burgers, hotdogs and shakes -- and for customers sitting on their outdoor picnic tables in the middle of winter. It celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2008.

RED TOP DRIVE INN: The St. Mary's Road mainstay has been serving its six-patty "Monster" burger for nearly 50 years. The decor has had more than one customer feeling like they had walked into Arnold's on Happy Days.

DAIRI WIP DRIVE IN: Nearly as famous for the picture of John and Robert Kennedy that hangs behind the counter as it is for its Fat Boy and Chili Burger in a Bowl, the Dairi Wip has been feeding residents of St. Boniface since 1957.

TUXEDO VILLAGE FAMILY RESTAURANT: Considering the neighbourhood, you probably wouldn't expect to find a family-style restaurant with very reasonable prices just a few blocks from some of the biggest houses in the city. A relative newcomer to the restaurant scene, it has been on Corydon Avenue for 13 years.

NICK'S INN: Technically, this institution is in Headingley, but it's been worth the trip for the burgers, fries and coleslaw since 1939. Even though it's a bit of a drive, don't pack a lunch.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 2, 2012 A5

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