Silver Heights Restaurant
Neighbourhood: St James
Address: 2169 Portage Ave
In 1957 Anthony Siwicki Sr. opened a coffee shop in Winnipeg, dipping his toe into the hospitality business. Over time the coffee shop expanded to the dining room, and today Silver Heights Restaurant is still in the business of warm hospitality, generous dishes and familiar comforts—with no sign of ageing out.
This long time St. James staple beckons with its iconic red neon longhorn sign. Three generations in, helmed by grandsons Tony and J.C and their families, it exudes the warmth characteristic of well-aged family run restaurants. This vintage hospitality, the type that begins with an exuberant welcome, sets an engaging tone for the dining experience.
Grilled meats, a decades-long prime motivator for the restaurant scene, reign here. It is no surprise that the house specialty, fall off the bone baby back ribs slathered in barbeque sauce, has timeless appeal. Steaks are also seared over fire, charring certified Angus aged beef to perfection.
The menu, a classic hit list curated for all generations, balances nostalgia with new. Two jumbo prawn options—fried and served with old school cocktail sauce or nouveau Cabo Wabo Margarita style, part of a medley with scallops in a tequila lime chipotle cream—are both delicious.
While not necessarily the main attraction, starters and light bites are a highlight. Steak paparazzi, a row of sirloin strips rolled around cream cheese, candied bacon and jalapeno, offers sweet, salt and spice in a single bite. Creamy New England-style clam chowder is chock full of clams, bacon and potato in a luxurious broth. A hearty farmers market-inspired salad loaded with vegetables can easily serve as its own light meal. Sweet corn, carrots, tomato and onion contrast with crunchy bacon, creamy avocado and slices of egg. Pungent blue cheese rounds out the flavour mix.
Many loyal customers have a standing order at a place like this. And why not? This is the place to get those meals newer diners don’t really understand. Baby beef liver, prime rib or chicken Oscar are blasts from the past that turn out to be legitimate palate pleasers. Those in the know order Manitoba pickerel, pan-fried and beloved for its crispy salt and vinegar potato chip coating.
Classic spots like Silver Heights, without a hot shot chef to their name, may fly under the radar in our foodie city, but skipping this longtime favourite would be a mistake. Fantastic cooking and the love and support a neighbourhood restaurant gives its community over many decades makes the recipe for a true culinary gem.