The Common at 1 Forks Market Road
Although it may seem cliche to include this obvious place, it is included for a reason. This grand hall, filled with long communal tables, has become one of the city’s best meeting places. Here you can get seasonal local beers and Canadian wines on a rotating basis. The best part about the Common is its location. Surrounded by over a dozen food vendors and restaurants that can satisfy any craving you may have. Oh, did I mention that you are allowed to drink outside as well? This place has a great atmosphere, great food, and great prices.
Amsterdam Tea Room at 103-211 Bannatyne Ave
This place has been around for a while, yet back in the day they only served tea and tea accessories. When they revamped a couple years ago, they became a hot destination for good food and even better drinks. Located right in the heart of the exchange, this place is hopping during the Fringe Festival every year. If there is a line, I highly recommend waiting to get a drink here. Since they have plenty of years of experience with tea, they created a cocktail menu that focuses on their teas available for purchase. This was a brilliant move as their Earl Grey cocktails are amazing! Don’t worry beer drinkers, they got stuff for you too.
Cordova Tapas and Wine at 93 Albert Street
This slightly upscale tapas bar has a lovely selection of snacks like nuts and pretzels. If you so desire, they also have escargots with butter. The perfect balance between comfort and the unknown this beautiful place in the exchange would be an excellent place for a cocktail after any show. Although they take great pride in their wine menu, they also have a selection of original and classic cocktails for those looking for that Instagram picture. Also, if you’re with someone who doesn’t drink, they are more than welcome at this establishment, and there is a mocktail menu that tastes amazing. They also have a selection of non-alcoholic beers. Not just one token option, I’m talking numerous European non-alcoholic beers.
The Roost at 651 Corydon Avenue
Okay, so this place is not exactly super close to any theatre venues. Still, the owner has a theatre background, and I dare you to find more creative drinks in the city. With a rotating menu based on seasonal fruits and vegetables, the cocktails are unique, innovative, and wildly unusual. Also, I loved that last time I was there, the cocktails were in order from weakest to strongest, which was an excellent lesson for me to learn. Although the food menu is small and mostly vegetarian, they are lovely little small bits that will satisfy that itch. Otherwise, there is an ice cream shop right below them just in case you need something sweet.
Langside Grocery at 164 Langside Street
Although this is one of the city’s pricer cocktail options, it doesn’t mean you should avoid it. This is the definition of an authentic old fashioned bar. The menu is short, and the drinks have old fashioned names,“The Cary Grant,” anyone? This is not the kind of place you will see Jack Daniels, but you will get to expand your horizons when it comes to spirits. The cheese is from the Cheesemongers, and the meat from Deluca’s, so there is no way you can go wrong visiting this place. But expect to spend at least $50 for two people.
Yellow Dog Tavern at 386 Donald Street
Some of the places on this list have been a little fancy, and that’s okay. Yet, sometimes you just want a good burger and beer. Therefore, the Yellow Dog Tavern is the place for you. You want a bison burger or fish and chips, this place is excellent, and they have a great selection of local beer on tap. This place is in a perfect location close to the MTS Centre, which means it is packed on Jet’s game days. It is also quite close to the exchange, so its only a 5-10 minute walk from most theatre venues. Before I forget, they actually have a mascot, a yellow dog named hunter, who is heavily featured on their Instagram page.
Nonsuch Beer at 125 Pacific Avenue
Close to both the exchange, and the Manitoba Theatre Center, this place has dinner and late-night menus depending on when you see a show. Nonsuch brewery offers various beers on tap, which can come in a pint-size, or a smaller sample size if you wish to try them all. The food menu is stunning (I am a big fan of local chef Tyrone Welchinski) and the food is meant to pair with each of the beers. The menu often changes due to seasonal produce, but I bet you will never be disappointed but the food here. This place takes the same amount of pride in their food, as they do their beer, which makes it so special.
Forth Bar at 171 McDermot Avenue
This is a fascinating place, based on the space that it is in. The building is probably 100 years old, and when you walk in, all you see is hardwood flooring and plenty of couches all over the studio. Since it is open almost all day, you can spend all day using wifi, drinking a coffee in the morning, having some soup for lunch, and a cocktail after work. This place does it all and does so with pride. Their coffee menu is sublime, the butterscotch latte is to die for! Yet, the bar portion comes alive at night, and they make use of a patio that serves bar snacks and an extensive cocktail list.
The Palm Lounge
This beautiful lounge has a classic old Hollywood feel, and live entertainment almost every night. The food is midrange in price and quality, but the cocktail and wine lists are extensive and perfectly executed. This is where you go after a show when you don’t want the night to end. You can experience live jazz music and have the perfect gimlet cocktail. Considering that it is in the Fort Garry Hotel, you feel like you are transported to a new place, one that does not belong in the 21st century. You become carried into the 1920’s, and that is part of its charm. You do not have to be a guest at the hotel to get a drink, and there is not a dress code, although you will look funny if you show up in sweats. Everyone in the city should come here at least once in their life.
Carlos and Murphy’s at 129 Osbourne Street
So most places on this list have been a little on the fancy side, I will admit that. So with that in mind, I give you the place where you can get a margarita for less than $8 and where you can stuff your face with legendary nachos. This place has been an institution for my entire lifetime, well over 25 years, and I have been coming here as long as I can remember. So yeah, I may be a little biased, but if you want cheap cocktails, good food to share with a group (or enchiladas for yourself if you’re starving), and a seat on the patio, this is going to be your place. One last thing I can tell you, save room for dessert here, the sopapilla and Mississippi mud pie are always great.