Since the 1980s Winnie’s Le Bus has been on Manayunk’s Main Street. Patrons frequent Winnie’s to enjoy eclectic American food that is homemade with locally sourced ingredients. Chef John O’Brien runs the kitchen here and next door at Winnie’s sister restaurant, Smokin’ Johns.
Chef O’Brien puts his heart and soul into his cooking. He learned when he was young from his grandmother who made family dinner every Sunday night and he adored admiring her extensive spice cabinet. He brings his passion for family and cooking to Winnie’s and Smokin’ Johns. Growing up, his children would participate in cooking competitions.
Chef O’Brien started washing dishes at 14 years old, and soaked up the excitement and adrenaline of the restaurant business. His first big corporate job was working in Claridge casino in Atlantic City in the 1980s. He learned a great deal from catering as well which lends to why Winnie’s catering does such great business – from hired to feed everyone from the triathlon athletes to being personally hired by Phish when they came to Philadelphia to play at the Mann Center.
It’s all about the food here. Vegetarian, vegan, locally sourced, it all can be found at Winnie’s. Walking by you’ll surely feel the comforting vibes of this neighborhood spot. Customers can always be found enjoying a bite at the outside tables or grabbing a drink at the inside circle bar under a rowing skull that hangs from the ceiling paying homage to the numerous athletes in the area that dine here. Rowers, bikers, and runners can all attest to the health and quality of the food at Winnie’s. Beautiful paintings by local artist Tony LaSalle hang in the dining room on exposed brick walls beneath the original restored wood beams.
No one is surprised to find that the masses pack this spot for brunch enjoying ronds of the Mighty Mary made with bacon-infused vodka and homemade Bloody Mary mix. Or grab a Manmosa made with champagne, brandy, and wheat beer. Brunch is first come first served, but lucky for you, breakfast is served here 7 days a week so you don’t have to wait for brunch on the weekends! Keep an eye out for the weekly French Toast or Eggs Benedict special. The High Protein 6-Grain Pancakes with oats, wheat, corn, barley, buckwheat and sesame will fuel your body after a long workout and the Winnola with housemade granola topped with bananas, strawberries and vanilla yogurt offers a sweeter healthy option. We loved Winnie’s Breakfast Sandwich made with farm fresh eggs topped with asiago cheese, fresh asparagus, roasted red peppers and baby spinach served on a toasted brioche bun and a side of homefries.
Don’t fret over making a reservation for lunch or dinner because Winnie’s offer an all day menu with lunch and dinner specials that change daily. The menu also changes to reflect the best flavors of the season. The Southwest Fish Tacos with grilled flour tortillas, spiced tilapia, crunchy greens, grapefruit salsa, chipotle lime crema and served with yellow rice & beans are always a hit for the summer. And arguably the most famous dish on the menu here would probably be the Thai Turkey noodle salad which has been on the menu since Winnie’s opened. It has homemade roasted turkey, multigrain pasta, scallions, zucchini, celery, carrots, sesame seeds, bell peppers, spinach and walnuts tossed in our house thai dressing.
Our favorite and also very popular, is the Blue Colorado Salad with chargrilled ancho glazed chicken over mixed greens, grape tomatoes, fresh asparagus, grilled corn, maytag blue cheese, tossed in red wine vinaigrette. The name Colorado refers to the color of the red dried ancho chilis that are made into a marinade for the chicken. This Colorado Chicken is also offered as a sandwich. Health nuts love the Brown Rice Nut Salad with brown rice tossed with broccoli, carrots, bell peppers, onions, sunflower seeds, almonds, raisins, walnuts and tahini dressing. served with hummus, feta, mediterranean olives and multigrain flatbread.
If you save room for dessert you can enjoy a local ice cream sandwich from Weckerly’s or wash it all down with an ice cold beer from Yards, Sly Fox, Victory, as well as other craft beer options rotating seasonally. Winnie’s has 6 beers on tap, but you can also head next door to Smokin’ Johns where they have a selection of 25-30 beers on tap. Download the Chow Now app for delivery and remember catering is always available too!
We would like to thank Chef O’Brien again for sharing with us the food and story behind Winnie’s.