How Churchill, Manitoba Became Canada’s Most Unexpected Foodie Destination

With access to unique ingredients from the sub-Arctic tundra, restaurants in Churchill, Manitoba, have turned this small town into one of Canada’s most unlikely culinary marvels.

Restaurants in Churchill Manitoba
Bison Stew at the Tundra Pub in Churchill, Manitoba – Photo credit: Kevin Wagar

Nestled at the top of Manitoba, right where the Churchill River meets the vast waters of Hudson Bay, is the town of Churchill.

Churchill, Manitoba, is a rugged, raw outpost. Visiting this small community is the closest that I’ve ever felt to the experience of ‘frontier living.’ It’s a place where people can build a house just outside of town and simply claim the land for their own. That’s assuming that they can survive the wild where the world’s largest land carnivore prowls the landscape, and animals such as Arctic wolves abound.

While Churchill might be small, it has become one of the most sought-after destinations in the world. In fact, each year, thousands of researchers, adventurers, film crews, and photography enthusiasts make their way to Churchill each and every year for their chance to experience the wonders of this tiny outpost.

You see, Churchill holds some pretty epic designations.

Northern Lights in Churchill, Manitoba
Photo credit: Kevin Wagar

Bordering the massive, untamed wilds of Wapusk National Park, Churchill lays claim to one of the largest populations of polar bears on Earth. These massive predators can reach sizes of 500 to 600 kg and are known for wandering around town on their way to the Hudson Bay shores.

Being dubbed the “Polar Bear capital of the world” might seem like a pretty solid achievement for a small town with no roads connecting it to major populations. But Churchill wasn’t done with just polar bears.

During the summer months, massive pods of Beluga Whales make their way from the thawing waters of Hudson Bay into the nutrient-rich waters of the Churchill River to feed. So, on top of Churchill Polar Bears being the town’s most epic attraction, it’s also considered the “Beluga Whale capital of the world!”

There are many things to do in Churchill among a wealth of attractions, including shipwrecks, plane crashes, the Aurora Borealis, some of Canada’s most beautiful murals, and one of its most unique shorelines. Yet there is one aspect of the town that has been enjoyed by visitors but overlooked by those who tell the stories of Churchill. And that is the food.

Churchill, Manitoba, One Of Canada’s Most Underrated Foodie Destinations

Unique Arctic ingredients in Churchill, Manitoba
Churchill, Manitoba has access to some truly unique ingredients – Photo credit: Kevin Wagar

Visitors strolling Kelsey Blvd, the town’s main street, will find a unique collection of shops, attractions, and restaurants. At first glance, Churchill resembles your typical Manitoba small town. But once you have a closer look, it’s clear that it’s anything but.

The mystique of Churchill, Manitoba, has drawn an absolutely fascinating collection of locals to the town. Among them are world-class chefs who have been drawn to the glorious landscapes, mind-blowing nature, and unforgettable lifestyles that you can only find in communities as unique as Churchill.

However, it’s not just the lifestyle that draws culinary visionaries to Churchill. The unique sub-Arctic climate means that there are plants and animals here that are tough to find elsewhere in the world. And this means that some of the ingredients in Churchill restaurants won’t be found anywhere else globally.

With access to some of Canada’s most iconic game meats, including elk and moose, and unique flora, Churchill chefs have been inspired to create scrumptious cuisine, the likes of which can rarely be found elsewhere.

The Best Restaurants In Churchill, Manitoba

Ribs at Churchill Manitoba restaurants
Sticky ribs at the Seaport Hotel in Churchill, Manitoba – Photo credit: Kevin Wagar

Unlike many Canadian cities, deciding where to eat in Churchill, Manitoba isn’t a huge challenge. This tiny town has just a handful of restaurants to choose from. But each one offers a unique sampler of northern Manitoba cuisine.

Some of these restaurants present masterful examples of Tundra delicacies, while others cater to the hefty appetites of the countless science, geography, and tourism enthusiasts that travel to this remote community each year.

I’ve had the pleasure of eating at almost all of the restaurants in Churchill, Manitoba, and I can be honest in saying that I’ve never been disappointed in either the food or the service. Here are a few stand-out Churchill restaurants to pay special attention to during your visit.

Tundra Pub

Because of the diminutive size of Churchill, many businesses within the town serve multiple purposes. The Tundra Pub is no different.

Strolling into this restaurant, which is located in the Tundra Inn, may make you think you’ve wandered into a seedy country bar. A smattering of slot machines, dark corners, and antique wood trim line the insides. But there are two sides to this iconic Churchill restaurant.

Tundra Inn, which was purchased by Churchill expedition company Frontiers North in 2018, acts as both the hotspot for nightlife in town, and once you walk through a dividing door, you’ll find one of the best restaurants in Churchill as well.

The restaurant combines innovative ingredients to create truly tundra-inspired cuisine. Dishes such as Elk Meatloaf, Bison Gringa Tacos, and Arctic Char offer flavours of northern life for meat lovers. The Beyond The Borealis Burger and Tundra Salad offer similar flavours for those with vegan and vegetarian diets.

The restaurant knows that it needs to cater to year-round residents as well as those on once-in-a-lifetime northern adventures. So high cuisine at Tundra Pub is balanced with a wide assortment of comfort food as well.

Lazy Bear Cafe

Run by local outfitter Lazy Bear Expeditions, the Lazy Bear Cafe offers the nicest atmosphere of all of the in-town Churchill restaurants. Reminiscent of a hand-built log home, complete with a massive stone fireplace, the Lazy Bear Cafe is the perfect place to relax before a night chasing the Aurora.

The menu at Lazy Bear Cafe mirrors the comfort of the atmosphere. You’ll find a distinct selection of tundra cuisine, including Braised, Peppered Elk, Arctic Char, and Manitoba Bison. Many of these dishes are paired with local berries and mushrooms that will broaden your appreciation of northern cuisine.

These delicacies are paired with an array of vegan and vegetarian-friendly cuisine along with a range of comfort foods that include some of the best burgers in town. Lazy Bear is also the go-to coffee shop in Churchill and one of the only places to grab an espresso.

If you’re out photographing Polar Bears on a warm September day, Lazy Bear also serves the best milkshakes in Churchill.

Dan’s Diner

The Frontiers North Tundra Buggy is a unique restaurant in Churchill, Manitoba
The Frontiers North Tundra Buggy – Photo credit: Kevin Wagar

For many visitors to Churchill, a Tundra Buggy experience is among the most iconic adventures you can undertake. These massive rolling buses offer visitors a chance to experience Churchill wildlife up close without the worry of being added to the menu yourself.

Dan’s Diner, a pop-up dining experience run by Churchill outfitter Frontiers North, gives visitors a chance to dine beneath the northern lights just across the waters of the Churchill River. The dinner experience served aboard a specially-designed Tundra Buggy offers a culinary adventure “inspired by the land and sea” surrounding Churchill, Manitoba.

The diner uses locally-sourced ingredients, including “rocket greens” that are grown in a hydroponic shipping container at the Churchill Northern Studies Centre.

Seaport Hotel

If, like me, you’re a lover of slow-cooked ribs, then look no further than Seaport Hotel. With both a small cafe and dining area set in a diner atmosphere, the sticky, fall-off-the-bone meat at the Seaport Hotel isn’t to be missed. And the servings are large enough that there will be enough for leftovers the next day.

It’s Time To Discover Food In Churchill For Yourself!

An elk roams the Tundra in Churchill Manitoba
An elk roams the tundra in Wapusk National Park in Churchill, Manitoba – Photo credit: Kevin Wagar

For many, a visit to Churchill is a once-in-a-lifetime dream destination. It truly is one of the most unique places to visit in Canada. From the fascinating lives of the small number of locals who brave the dramatic weather year-round to the many workers, students, and scientists who make a temporary home here to study the land, animals, and climate of one of Canada’s most incredible places, Churchill is full of amazing stories.

But the food in Churchill, Manitoba, is a story deserving to be told. The bold chefs, fascinating ingredients, and constant innovation have made this town one of Canada’s most unlikely foodie destinations. And I look forward to seeing these flavours grow year after year.

2 thoughts on “How Churchill, Manitoba Became Canada’s Most Unexpected Foodie Destination

  1. Carsen says:

    Very nice reviews Kevin,

    I was up there working on the houses jacking them up where people from Europe came to see the polar bears. Nice people in town nice restaurants and shops. Everyone gets along.

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