Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Late-night Winnipeg: Wide awake

Your unofficial guide to everything from sushi to snooker

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ONCE one of Canada's most nocturnal cities, Winnipeg's late-night rep has taken a beating in recent years.

Long gone are the days when you could dine on fresh steamed oysters at Happy Garden until 4 a.m., chow down on Asian salads at Pure Lard until 5 a.m. or drink cinnamon coffee at the old Blue Note well past 6 a.m.

Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver have dozens of clubs where DJs spin all night, not to mention 24-hour supermarkets and diners.

Even Grand Forks appears to be kicking our late-night ass, thanks to its 24-hour Wal-Mart.

But all is not lost here in a town where parties typically don't start until 11 p.m.

The following is a list of places to eat, drink, work or play either late at night or simply later than you might think. What matters here is not the actual hours, but the service provided given the time of day.

What you'll find is not the City That Never Sleeps, but The City That Only Sleeps If There's Nothing Better To Do.

> PLAY

Ever since the city started enforcing its draconian anti-dance bylaw in the late 1990s as a means of shutting down raves, most clubs have stopped spinning music after 2 a.m.

The sole exceptions are Blue Agave (335 Donald, 943-5538) and Zen Lounge (formerly Avenue, 334 Portage, 944-8881), which occasionally keep the electronic music coming until 5 a.m. But even when there's no special event, Blue Agave's DJs spin until 3 a.m. on the main floor every Saturday.

If you don't like house or techno, you can always make like The Dude. Academy Uptown Lanes (394 Academy, 488-0000) provides a safe haven for bowlers in and out of housecoats until 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, or until 1 a.m. on Thursdays and Sundays.

Other late-night bowling and glow-bowling options include La Verendrye Bowling Lanes (614 Des Meurons, 237-4137), open until 1:30 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays) and both Village Entertainment Centre (479 Westwood, 837-6725) and Roxy Lanes (385 Henderson, 667-6865), which are open until 1 a.m. on weekends.

If billiards are your thing, almost every bar in town has a table open until 2 a.m. After that, go downtown to Bourbon Street Billiards (241 Vaughan, 957-1293), where the subterranean pool environment is open 24 hours a day.

If you prefer more passive entertainment, both Cinema City locations (1399 McPhillips and 1910 Pembina) offer midnight movies on weekends for $3. They don't search for alcohol, but you will be removed if you act like a loogan.

Rep theatres Cinematheque (100 Arthur, 925-3457) and the Globe Cinemas (Portage Place, 694-5623) also hold occasional midnight screenings. This weekend, The Globe has the Stanley Kubrick classic A Clockwork Orange for only $5. Milk is not included.

If that's not geeky enough, you can always play vids. Magic Land (567 Portage, 786-6079) offers unlimited gaming for a flat fee until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.

Dark Zone (230 Osborne, 287-8710) offers a more zapping experience in the form of laser tag, also until midnight Fridays and Saturdays. And if you need to whack something for real, you can get your aggression out at Rookies Baseball Experience (695 Berry, 783-4487), where the batting cages are open until 11 p.m. on weekends.

If you play hockey in a rec league, you already know about late-night ice time. More quaint is the skating at Wheelies Family Roller Centre (2401 McPhillips, 988-5060) and Galaxy Skateland (595 Portage, 774-6691), where the last roller-skating session of the evening ends at midnight on weekends.

> EAT

Winnipeg only has a handful of establishments left that earn their bread and butter off the post-bar crowd.

Offering pizza, short orders and some Greek items, Papa George's (93 Osborne, 452-6044) has a long tradition of tolerating the wasted and the wise-assed until 4 a.m. every day except Sunday in Osborne Village. Behave and you'll get better service.

Ditto at Johnny G's (177 McDermot, 942-6656), where Exchange District club-goers chow on burgers and fries until 4 a.m. Thursday through Saturday or 3 a.m. otherwise.

Out west in St. James, Schmecker's (3106 Portage, 888-7300) offers a surprisingly large menu every Friday and Saturday until 3 a.m. The kitchen's open until 1:30 a.m. the rest of the week.

A less obvious choice is Santa Lucia (4 St. Mary's, 327-4134), where you can get a passable Greek platter as well as pizza until 3 a.m. on weekends. The Corydon location (532 Waterloo, 488-8090) also stays open until 2 a.m., which is unique in somnolent River Heights.

If you don't mind putting up with a live band, Wolseley's comfy Bella Vista (53 Maryland, 775-4485) serves great, if not cheap pizza until 1:30 a.m. There's never any cover charge and the salads also rock.

You can also get superior Italian food later than you might expect at Colosseo (670 Corydon, 284-4977) on the Corydon strip, homey pizza at Ciociara in the Maples (1273 Jefferson, 632-0996) or Paradise in the west end (789 Portage, 772-2539), which all keep their kitchens going until midnight on weekends.

For Chinese food, Ken's (333 Ellice, 943-1062) remains the king of late-night Asian, offering a long list of southern Chinese dishes until 4 a.m. on weekends, or 3 a.m. otherwise. The divier but just as beloved Sumhay (225 Logan, 957-5050) stays open until 3 a.m. on weekends, and 1 a.m. the rest of the week. Hong Kong Harbour (571 Portage, 786-3333) also stays open late downtown -- till 3 a.m. on weekends and 2 a.m. the rest of the week.

Other late-night Chinese options include Great World (1779 Portage, 885-6980) and China Garden (2740 Pembina, 261-3411), where you can dine in until 1 a.m. on weekends. It's also worth noting you can order some of the city's best Chinese seafood until midnight on weekends at the recently renovated Kum Koon Gardens (257 King, 943-4655) in heart of Chinatown.

If you'd rather eat raw fish, you can order sushi relatively late at three Winnipeg Japanese spots. Last call for sushi is midnight at Wasabi Sushi Bistro (121 Osborne, 474-2332), 11:45 p.m. at Wasabi On Broadway (588 Broadway, 774-4328) and midnight at the Corydon strip Meiji (659 Corydon, 453-1120).

Among Winnipeg's many Vietnamese restaurants, Vietnam (555 Balmoral, 943-4423) stays open the latest, offering big-ass bowls of pho, plates of vermicelli and mini-subs until 1 a.m. Don't let the location scare you away -- you can park in front of your table.

Also open late in the Village is Vi-Ann (51 Osborne, 477-9551), where you can nab a bubble tea until 12:30 a.m. on weekends. Even more fun is the Korean Museum Restaurant, also known as Right There (472 Stradbrook, 775-5353), where you'll find the city's most authentic Korean food, some unique East Asian spirits and almost too-friendly service until 11:30 p.m. on weekends.

If food is merely an afterthought, most of the city's watering holes can keep you happy for most of the night. Elephant & Castle (350 St. Mary, 942-5555), The Toad In The Hole (108 Osborne, 284-7201), The Toad On Main (172 Main, 942-8623) and Bar Italia (737 Corydon, 452-1929) keep their kitchens open until 1 a.m. Last call for munchies at the King's Head (120 King, 957-7710) is midnight.

As well, many restaurants keep their kitchens open long after the dining rooms close. Sit in the lounge, and you can order off the menu from upscale pizza joint Civita (691 Corydon, 453-4616), garlic specialist Gilroy (179 Bannatyne, 943-1700), Mexican joint Carlos & Murphys (129 Osborne, 284-3510) or the funky Italian Nicolino's (2077 Pembina, 269-5004) until 2 a.m. on weekends.

Other lounges that serve food late include Pony Corral (four Winnipeg locations with kitchens open until 1:30 a.m.) and Pockets (171 McDermot, 957-7665, 1 a.m. for food). And if you need to get decadent, plop yourself down in the lounges at Silver Heights Restaurant (2169 Portage, 889-7246) or Lisi's Ranch House (1761 Main, 339-5522), where you can gnaw into a full order of baby back ribs until 1 a.m. or 12:30, respectively.

More casual eats are omnipresent, from the ubiquitous Salisbury House restaurants that corner the 24-hour coffee market in Winnipeg, to Perkins, Humptys and Extreme Pita locations.

The venerable shack known as VJ's Drive-Inn (170 Main, 943-2655) offers the most glorious artery-clogging fare in town until 2 a.m. on weekends. East-siders, however, swear by Elmwood's Great Burger & Fry Co. (290 Henderson, 654-4664), which is open until 1 a.m. Monday to Saturday.

Also open slightly late is The Line Up (98 Albert, 943-3166), which offers fish & chips, Shanghai noodles and edible if ludicrously inauthentic falafel until midnight, just across from Old Market Square. And yes, there are probably dozens more insomniac burger joints or sub shops out there; no vicious e-mails if I've missed any.

> LOAD UP

OK, say you're heading out for some kind of vaguely formal or important evening, like a dinner party or a drink with the prospective in-laws. But you're too stupid and/or lazy to have bought anything nice ahead of time.

Lucky for you and other yuppies, there's La Grotta Mediterranean Market (1360 Taylor, 982-9461), where everything -- from an upscale deli to one of the city's top five bakeries -- stays open until 9 p.m. The fresh canoli will make 'em happy; Some fresh flowers and a nice vintage from the attached wine store will make 'em even happier.

If you need a wider selection of alcohol, two of the city's government-run liquor outlets stay open until 11 a.m. on weekends. The LCs in question thrive in Osborne Village and at Grant Park Shopping Centre, where you'll also find a fine wine boutique.

After that, you're stuck with beer from hotel vendors, which are allowed to stay open to 2:30 a.m. Arguably the best is the cubby-hole behind the Osborne Village Inn, which stocks ice-cold Stella, Corona and Sleeman's in addition to the usual domestic brands.

> FUTZ AROUND

If you're a shift worker, insomniac or simply keep wacky hours, you don't view the night as party-time. To you, the wee hours are just another part of the day.

Beginning in October, you can work out 24/7 at TransCanada Fitness (413 McPhillips, 586-8005), formerly known as Premier Fitness. Remember, shenanigans aren't tolerated -- this isn't a late-night pickup joint.

Even more strenuous heavy lifting takes place at Rona Revy (two Winnipeg locations) where compulsive home renovators can find a loose screw or a mass of lumber until 10 p.m. on Fridays, an hour later than most other hardware stores.

Even more desperate souls can be found at the Fort Garry Staples (1910 Pembina, 269-5928), where the copy centre is open to nervous university students and absent-minded business types 24 hours a day.

You can also wash both your clothes and your car 24/7 at Goldeye Car Wash & Laundromat (570 Notre Dame, 772-5573), where the ambiance is none but the machines all work great.

More relaxed night owls can chill at the Osborne Village Music Trader (97 Osborne, 475-0077), where you can buy and sell CDs -- or simply listen to new tunes -- every day of the week until midnight.

> CRY FOR HELP

If you don't like to buy your condoms from gas stations, or need to refill a prescription pronto, Shoppers Drug Mart keeps its oppressive fluorescent lights glowing 24 hours a day at both its Main & Redwood and Osborne Village locations. Don't be offended if the security guard follows you around -- protecting hair gel and nachos is serious business.

If the medical emergency is more serious and your pet is at risk, call the 24-hour Animal Emergency Clinic (400 Pembina, 452-9427). The staff can deal with anything your regular vet can handle, but don't show up with a hairball -- just look what happened to Claire Danes' client in Terminator 3.

For non-medical problems that can't wait until morning, call the 24-hour glass-replacement people, plumbing and heating guys or locksmiths -- just flip open the Yellow Pages under the appropriate heading and take your pick.

But if your emergency falls into the category of a romantic mishap, there are two other numbers you should know: The Orchid (228-8332 after hours) takes orders overnight and will deliver flowers the next day, while King's Florists (772-5060 during the day) will deliver 24 hours, though you have to order during business hours.

Bartley.kives@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 25, 2003 $sourceSection$sourcePage

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