The patio tour is one of three that I’ve done over the last few years. I’ve decided to take them and combine them all into one story.
Tap In Tour
If you read this blog fairly regularly you know that I’m a fan of Food Trucks. I enjoy being able to eat my meals outside. Yet, there’s more than one way to enjoy outdoors dining. Winnipeg also has a large number of patios where you can enjoy you food and drink. Patio dining allows you to watch the world go by and engage with friends and strangers as they pass by on the street.
For years people in Winnipeg have tended to associate patios with Corydon Avenue but over the last few years the numbers of patios in the downtown has increased quite considerably. Back in 2006 there were 22 patios downtown. At that time the Downtown Winnipeg Biz started encouraging the restaurants among their members to add patio space. In the nine years since the number of patios has increased by almost 75%, to where there are now 36 patios downtown.
The patio program, which is funded by member businesses, offers an A to Z guide for businesses on how to get started on a patio. Along with the guide several members of the Biz team, including Jason Sivixay, Stephanie Voyce, and Melanie Andrushko, our tour guide, have backgrounds in city planning and urban design. Plus, the patio program helps the businesses navigate the many regulations and licensing steps. Finally, the patio program provides loans of equipment, at no cost. for businesses wanting to give patios a trial run.
Yesterday, I was part of an invited group of journalists and bloggers who were taken on a patio tour. The Downtown Biz offers a series of tours throughout the summer. Our group visited four locations, Casa Burrito, Fools and Horses Coffee, Bar Red Sea, and Clay Oven at the Hydro Building. These locations are part of a couple of the tours on offer.
This was a walking tour. One of the great things about a walking tour is that it gives you a chance to easily flow back and forth among the other people on the tour. This meant that I was able to visit with just about everyone of the dozen or so people there. Along with mainstream media such as CBC, Winnipeg Free Press, and the Metro, there were a few bloggers.
It’s always good to touch base with my fellow bloggers. Among those on the tour were Sagan Morrow, Wendy Elias-Gagnon of EatSipSlurp, and Susie Erjavec Parker from Momstown Winnipeg. We were also joined by staff from Streetside Developments.
At each location we were given a sample of the food that each restaurant specializes in. We also heard each owner explain why a patio was a good idea for them. As well, we heard about some of the ways that Downtown Biz patio program had assisted or was assisting them in the process.
With four different stops, not only was there plenty of food on the tour, but the variety was equally plentiful. From Mexican at Casa Burrito, Ethiopian at Bar Red Sea, Charcuterie at Fools and Horses, and Indian at Clay Oven the tour featured a little bit of something for everyone’s tastes. Below is a gallery of most of the items we tried.
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Each summer the Downtown Biz offers a series of tours to allow people to sample some of the many food and beverage offerings in the downtown. Last year I was given the opportunity to go on the patio tour. This year I had hoped to go on the breakfast tour, but those are on Sunday’s and for some reason my parish expects me to be at
church those days. However, when that didn’t work out, Emily Ormonde, the tour coordinator for Downtown Biz kindly switched me over to the Tap In Tour. You can find out more information on the various tours here.
The secret to making a tour like this a success is having a good tour guide. Susan, our tour guide, did an excellent job. In addition to getting us from stop to stop in good time, she took us along to a couple of other spots downtown, to see some of the interesting activities taking place.
It was an interesting evening. When I arrived I discovered that I was the only person on the tour who was not part of a group. This for me is usually a recipe for disaster. As an introvert among introverts, meeting new people is always difficult. This is especially true when I’m in big groups. However, as the evening went on, I found he various small groups to be quite welcoming which made the event quite enjoyable
Tap In Tour: Shannon’s Irish Pub
The tour started at Shannon’s Irish Pub. I was running a couple of minutes of late so I missed the beginning of the presentation. Our beverage for the stop was a Black and Tan.. Then we found out why we should never order a Black and Tan if we were in Ireland. For the snack we got a crunchy shrimp skewer along with a slice of goat cheese quiche. The quiche was the definite food highlight of the evening. It was smooth, rich and creamy with just a touch of sweetness. It would actually make a nice dessert as well.
Tap In Tour: Garrick Hotel
After Shannon’s we headed over to the Garrick Hotel. The Garrick is a classic throwback bar that is something of a downtown institution. In keeping with that idea, we were served Hot Rods and Old Dutch chips. The beverages were tourist choice, and I went with the Rolling Rock Extra Pale. While we enjoyed our food and drink, we were treated to a video show of local bands that appear at The Garrick.
Tap In Tour: Garbonzo’s Pizza Pub
Our third stop was a place I’ve visited before. This is the one spot where I didn’t manage to get any pictures. I decided to satisfy my inner hipster by ordering a PBR to drink. It was either that or wear skinny jeans, and nobody wants to see that. One of the reasons I didn’t get pictures here was that it was trivia night. Despite being on my own, I managed to attach myself to a table of people who enjoy trivia as much as I do. We played through the first half of the trivia game before moving on to the final stop on the tour. Naturally the food was pizza. I ate a nice thick slice of the meat lovers.
Tap In Tour: Rudy’s Eat and Drink
Our final stop was at Rudy’s Eat and Drink. I didn’t get the name of the beer, which was already in a pitcher on the table, but it was clean and fairly light. As the 4th beer of the evening I appreciated the light quality. Rudy’s offered us a nice variety of snacks. They had homemade crinkle cut kettle chips and dip, Chicken Wings, An asian perogie (gyoza), and finally some sticky ribs. All of the items were very good, with the sticky ribs being a standout.
Once again, I switched tables when we got to Rudy’s and was able to enjoy the company of some of the other people on the tour. Thank you to Downtown Biz for inviting me along. Thank you to Susan for being such a great tour guide. Thank you to all the friendly people who turned this into a great evening out.
Tour Time Returns – Along with some New Patios
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Over the last couple of years, I’ve gone on a couple of the Downtown Biz tours. Last year I did the Tap In tour, and the year before that I went on the Patio Tour. This year, Susan Ainley, tour co-ordinator invited me, along with a group of other social media inclined folks to join her on this year’s edition of the patio tour.
One of the first things I noted was that the list of participating restaurants this year was different from the Patio Tour I went on a couple of years ago. Patios in the downtown continue to grow, and so there are always lot’s to choose from.
Our gathering spot for the day was the patio at Pony Corral on St. Mary Avenue. It was beginning to cloud over but we still managed to find some sun for ourselves. Besides Susan and myself, our social media group consisted of Craig and Michelle Hologroski, Natalie (PegCityLovely) Bell, Lindsay Somers, Cory Beal, and Jaime Vales-Riench. For our first two stops we were also joined by Tineke de Jong of the Downtown Biz.
Being National Caesar day, I made the Classic Caesar, shown above, my drink of choice at Pony Corral.Along with our beverages we were served a platter of chicken bites with tzatziki and pita slices. The chicken was wonderfully moist and well-seasoned.
The patio tour requires a bit of walking, and that’s a good thing, because it allows you to work off some calories and leave room for the food that follows. So, after our stay at Pony Corral we headed over to Carbones Pizza. Here we caught the high point of sun for the afternoon.
The tasting menu was also enjoyable as we got to try both the White and the Tyrol Pizzas. The White is one of the better vegetarian options going. For a beverage I went with the Torque Beer, Helles Lager. Enjoyable all the way down.
The weather turned a little bit chillier and damp at this point so our next two stops were indoors. We stopped at Moxie’s in the MTS Centre, (at least it was the MTS Centre when we were there). Here we were served their house made hard lemonade. A delightful drink made better by the fact that it isn’t overly sweet. We received a taco for our food portion, and then they went and brought out some of their tried ribs and table smashed guacamole for us to try. Finally, they brought us a shot that featured coconut rum.
For our final stop we ended off at Rudy’s Eat & Drink. Here we ran into the dilemma of piles of food at the end of the a filling tour. However, we dug in and did our best. There were Spring Rolls, Kyoza, and what looked like chicken or pork bites. They were at the far end of the table and I didn’t try them. There were also two choices of beverage. The Little Brown Jug 1919, and a fruit-filled cocktail topped with Mango slices. Having tried the 1919, I decided on the cocktail. It was delicious. However, it is also dangerous, as you could easily drink 3 or 4 without realizing how much alcohol you are consuming.
As always with the downtown tours the conversation is the best part. Most of the people who were on the tour are people I only know through their social media profiles. So, it is nice to be able to find out about them IRL. If you are looking for a good way to discover more about downtown Winnipeg, the Biz tours are always a good way to go.