In New York City, travelers can enjoy cuisines from nearly every country on the planet—so it's no wonder that many are opting for food tours to get some guidance. Frequently themed by neighborhood or type of food, some tours can teach more than most New Yorkers themselves know, in a short period of time. Plus, you can tap the knowledgeable guide for recommendations for the rest of your trip. Here are four of our favorite culinary adventures:
Harlem offers much more than soul food. There's an abundance of Caribbean, Mexican, and African cuisine in this neighborhood as well—and we love Taste Harlem’s four-hour walking tour for experiencing all of it. Yes, you'll have amazing fried chicken and waffles with grits at the 53-year-old Sylvia’s Soul Food Restaurant, but at another establishment you'll also have Dominican roast pork, plantains, beans, and rice. You'll even sip healing tea at a spice shop. Try the mac-and-cheese at Fresh Market, a three-level grocery store and café. It's satisfying comfort food, plain and simple. Due to COVID-19, walking tours are currently on hold but are expected to be back up and running soon (check the website for updates). In the meantime, private tours via Zoom are available. $75 per person; $65 per person for groups of 10 or more.
Lower East Side Food Tour
All the way downtown, the Lower East Side has its own food history. The two-hour Sidewalk Food Tours adventure takes you beyond the neighborhood's hip boutiques and trendy bars for a taste of the area's immigrant working-class history. You’ll visit the oldest bialy bakery in the U.S. as well as the last pickle store on Essex Street—which was once referred to as "Pickle Alley." Sample foods from all corners of the globe (think: steaming hot dumplings, fresh homemade gazpacho, NYC pizza, and halvah candy), then come back to the 21st century with a cup of high-tech coffee. They are currently giving small group tours. $75 per person for public tours, $99 per person for private tours.
The 3-hour tour with Like A Local Tours features the Flatiron District, named after the 21-story Flatiron Building on 23rd Street. These days, the neighborhood is sizzling hot, thanks to Mario Batali’s artisanal Italian food emporium Eataly—where you'll begin. From there, you'll head to a little-known local burger joint, taste burrata pizza, watch cheese-making at a local cheese factory, and sample NYC’s best grilled cheese sandwich. Chocolate babka, an iconic Jewish pastry, will serve as dessert. Throughout the walk, you'll learn about the history of the neighborhood, from the Flatiron Building—once one of the city's tallest—to Union Square, which has always been a rallying place for political demonstrations. Tours are limited to 10 people max. $56 per person.
The Original Greenwich Village Food and Culture Walking Tour
It's no surprise that the West Village, with its tree-lined streets and brownstone buildings, has served as the backdrop of many TV shows and movies, including "Sex and the City" and "Friends." A three-hour tour here with Foods of NY will take you through some of the hottest spots for noshing and celebrity-spotting. Check out the homes of former Vice President Aaron Burr and Pulitzer-winning poet Edna St. Vincent Millay on your way to a 75-year-old pizzeria and an Italian specialty shop that serves fantastic rice balls. You'll also taste olive oils and learn how to choose the best ones at your grocery store. Tours will resume part-time on July 2, 2021. $58 per person.