When I was on my (early) birthday trip with my friends we went on a New York City food walking tour. Or really a Chinatown, Little Italy, and Lower East Side food walking tour. Still I’m convinced food walking tours are one of the best ways to see the city. Not only are you walking, getting a close up view of different neighbourhoods, but you also get to eat. What’s better than eating?
We booked our food walking tour with For Your Brain and Belly. As their name suggested, the tour was a good combination of eating and learning (and walking). We had a tour voucher through Groupon, which came to $25/person (regularly $49/person). Turns out we were the only four people who had booked a walking tour for that day, so we essentially got a private tour with a private tour cost. I can’t guarantee that will happen if you book a tour, but it was pretty sweet deal.
The tour was about 2 hours or so and we were warned to bring our walking shoes because we did a lot of walking. There was a good combination food we got to try from a variety of different restaurants. We tried some Chinese dumplings, beef scallion pancakes, cannoli, a pastrami sandwich, a knish, and a fresh matzoh cracker. One of the things I enjoyed about this tour was that the food samples were included in the tour price. We also stopped at a seafood market, a candy store, and a store that sells homemade pickles. At these places, we had the option to purchase more food, but to be honest there was enough to eat on the tour that this wasn’t necessary.
The food portions weren’t huge, but we all had a bit of everything. I didn’t leave stuffed and wanting to die, but I wasn’t starving after either. The beef scallion pancakes were my favourite, but I also loved the little cannoli we got, and the pastrami sandwich from Katz’s was delicious too. The matzoh cracker was my least favourite thing, but I’ve had matzoh crackers before and they’re pretty bland. It was neat that we got to try a fresh made (and super hot) matzoh cracker though. It made me realize that the matzoh crackers I’d tried before (ones my mom had bought from a local grocery store at home) had likely been stale and had sat on the shelf a little too long. Fresh is best.
Our tour guide was a local New York, who’d grown up in Manhattan and lived in the city for most of his life. He had stories to share about being a cab driver back in the 70’s when NYC was much more dangerous than it is now. He also had a lot of great restaurant recommendations, which sadly we weren’t able to check out because of lack of time (but it’s just an incentive to go back). We learned a few interested things like were Martin Scorsese buys his cheese, and that the population of Chinatown in Manhattan is continuing to grow (and subsequently there’s only about only about a block of Little Italy that actually looks Italian).
While I suffered a bit of heat stroke and got a sunburn (through my own stupidity of not drinking water or wearing sunscreen – even during April wear sunscreen) the tour itself was great. I got to eat a little food. I learned a little and did a little walking. This tour was an enjoyable way to spend a few hours in New York with my friends.
Have you been on a food walking tour?