September 23, 2020

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World of flavours

The heart of the West End offers diverse dining

In this new series, we’re spotlighting our town’s great neighbourhoods, while checking in on some of our local restaurants as they deal with COVID-19. This week we head to the heart of the West End, looking at the resto-dense strips of Sargent and Ellice, as well as a new outpost on Wall.

This area is packed with international flavours. You can eat your way around the world on these demographically diverse streets, home to Salvadoran, Ethiopian, Greek, Vietnamese, Punjabi and Portuguese grocery stores, bakeries, take-out joints and small mom-and-pop cafés.

Cheap and cheerful: Sargent Taco Shop (698 Sargent Ave., 204-505-1121, sargent-tacoshop.com) specializes in small but mighty tacos, fresh and packed with vivid flavours, and sold at bargain prices. Tasty options like chorizo, al pastor and chicken mole are available at three for $7.50, and even premium flavours like beef tongue and huitlacoche (often called Mexican truffle) are only three for $9.

Chicken mole tacos at Sargent Taco Shop are a sure bet. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press files)

Chicken mole tacos at Sargent Taco Shop are a sure bet. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press files)

The shop has expanded its menu since opening, now offering more street food-style options, from Mexican poutine to churros with dip. There’s no dine-in — this tiny spot offered only a couple of chairs pre-pandemic, and now there’s just no room — but the takeout operation is going strong and delivery is available through DoorDash.

First Nation feast: Located on a busy corner across from the West End Cultural Centre, Feast (587 Ellice Ave., 204-691-5979, feastcafebistro.com) serves up a modern take on traditional First Nation foods. This Indigenous-owned business also acts as a warm and welcoming community hub, something that’s needed now more than ever.

The traditional bison dip (left) and pickerel dinner with wild rice are both popular choices at Feast. (Mike Sudoma / Winnipeg Free Press files)

The traditional bison dip (left) and pickerel dinner with wild rice are both popular choices at Feast. (Mike Sudoma / Winnipeg Free Press files)

You can still dine in, with social distancing, but Feast is currently offering a "grab-and-go market" so you can take some of their most popular menu items home. (Curbside pick-up is available.)

Pizzas on a crispy-thin bannock crust are available, either hot to-go or frozen to bake up at home. The butternut squash option — with a maple-chipotle sour cream drizzle and some chopped green onions for adding after cooking — was terrific, as was Feast’s meaty, satisfying ever-reliable bison chili.

We also got a whole bannock, rich and still warm, with a slightly salted crust on the top. I left it sitting on our kitchen counter and family members kept cutting off little slices all day. It was that good.

Night out: Barn Hammer Brewing Co. (595 Wall St., barnhammerbrewing.ca) has all the necessaries for an artisanal taproom, with good beer, good beer names and good design. Go for popular signature brews like the crowd-pleasing amber lager Lousy Beatnik, the velvety-dark oatmeal stout Grandpa’s Sweater or the crisp Le Sneak Belgique witbier. Or check out the brewmasters’ latest experimental beer, Uncertain Times, which seems made for the pandemic era.

Barn Hammer's Uncertain Times seems made for the pandemic era. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press files)

Barn Hammer's Uncertain Times seems made for the pandemic era. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press files)

There’s no kitchen at Barn Hammer, but patrons are encouraged to order in, with plenty of options available in this up-and-coming Wall Street neighbourhood.

Barn Hammer is also offering contactless home delivery.

Stocking up: For 30 years, Tindahan Food Mart (906 Sargent Ave., 204-783-3946, tindahanfoodmart.com) has been a magnet for shoppers looking for Filipino favourites — or just anyone who is interested in food. Along with all sorts of pantry goods, this busy grocery store has a nose-to-tail butcher section, a teeming fish and seafood section and lots of produce, including hard-to-find ingredients like banana flowers.

Tindahan Food Market has a butcher and seafood sections, fresh baking, produce and prepared dishes for takeout. (Sarah Taylor / Winnipeg Free Press files)

Tindahan Food Market has a butcher and seafood sections, fresh baking, produce and prepared dishes for takeout. (Sarah Taylor / Winnipeg Free Press files)

Alongside the far wall, you can pick up prepared dishes for takeout. There’s pancit, sisig and a delicious pork adobo, with unrepentantly fatty meat and a rich, dark sauce, a hint of vinegar cutting the richness.

For sweets, there’s a freezer case filled with ice cream, with flavours like purple yam and young coconut, as well as fresh baking, including buchi, red bean paste encased in wonderfully chewy-crisp dough finished with sesame seeds, and bitso-bitso, tender and stretchy doughnut twists.

alison.gillmor@freepress.mb.ca

Alison Gillmor

Alison Gillmor
Writer

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.

Read full biography

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