When I was travelling in the past, I never really thought about joining a food tour to explore a new city. I always assumed it was too expensive and that I couldn’t eat most of the food anyway because I’m a vegetarian. But on my recent trip to the United States and Canada, I discovered that there are indeed some great food tours that cater both for special dietary needs (e.g. vegetarians like me) and allow money-conscious travellers to stay on budget. So here are 3 North American Food Tours you absolutely have to try on your next visit…
USA East Coast:
1. Free Tours by Foot in New York City
New York City is the setting for Julie & Julia (2009). This “foodie film” tells the true story of the aspiring writer and New York local Julie Powell (Amy Adams). In 2002, she decided to start her own blog (one of the first food blogs ever) about her one-year foodie challenge. This challenge was to cook all the recipes in “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” – a cookbook released by Julie’s idol Julia Child (Meryl Streep) in 1961.
Inspired by this film, you can go on your own little foodie adventure in New York City. With so many immigrant influences from all corners of the world, you will always find new things to try and enjoy here.
Fortunately for travellers on a budget, Free Tours by Foot offers a range of really cool “free food tours”. That being said, “free” refers to the fact that you do not pay an upfront fee for the tour (usually 45 US Dollars and more). Instead, you only pay for the samples you actually want to eat (usually about 2 US Dollars per sample) as well as a tip for your guide at the end.
Thus, the Free Tours by Foot Food Tours are a lot less expensive than ordinary food tours. Plus, the areas that they go to are usually less known, more residential neighbourhoods. Thus, you can be sure to see some new sides of the city!
Free Tours by Foot currently offers five regular and five seasonal food tours in New York City.
On my most recent visit in May 2017, I tried the East Village Food Tour and the Williamsburg Food Tour. Both tours were great to discover a new neighbourhood in New York City and find the best deals on authentic and affordable New York food.
New York is such a huge city that it can get overwhelming and also pretty time-consuming to find all the good eating places by yourself. In my experience, it’s best to just join a tour that will lead you straight to these places. With a guide by your side, you will also learn a lot more about the historical and culinary influences of a specific neighbourhood than you would if you just wander around by yourself.
The Food Tours by Free Tours on Foot are scheduled regularly. However, they are also very popular. Thus, I recommend you book your tour at least a week in advance. You don’t have to pay for signing up, but you do have to fill in a form on their website in order to secure your spot on the tour.
Ready to sample New York City?
Book your Free New York City Food Tour on Free Tours by Foot
2. The Sweet Stroll Food Tour in Cincinnati
The city of Cincinnati in the U.S. State Ohio was the main setting and filming location for George Clooney‘s political drama The Ides of March (2011). There is one scene, in which the young intern Molly (Evan Rachel Wood) meets Stephen (Ryan Gosling) in an all-American diner. This might well be a restaurant of the so-called “Skyline” chain.
This chain is famous for the so-called Cincinnati Chili. A lot less spicy than it sounds, this chili is made of a special kind of meat- or tofu based sauce with a secret chocolate ingredient.
If the chocolate in the chili is not enough to satisfy your sweet tooth, how about the Sweet Stroll Food Tour? On this tour offered by Cincinnati Food Tours you will be filled with 7 sweet treats while tour guide Barb fills you in on the exciting history of Cincinnati’s most up-and-coming neighbourhood “Over-the-Rhine”.
I took the tour in May 2017. To read more about my experience, check out my Sweet Stroll Food Tour post.
The Sweet Stroll Tour does cost 45 US Dollars per person. However, I thought that spending this money was really worth it because without a guide, I would have never found all those sweet little gems in just 2.5 hours. Plus, I would have certainly not learnt that much about the intriguing history of the “Over-the-Rhine” neighbourhood, which was mainly shaped by German immigrants.
Early booking is recommend as the Cincinnati Food Tours are quite popular, too.
Ready to sample Cincinnati?
Book your tour on Cincinnati Food Tours
Read more about my experience on the Sweet Stroll Food Tour in Cincinnati
Canada’s West Coast:
3. Gastronomic Gastown Tour in Vancouver
Although set in Seattle, Fifty Shades of Grey (2015) and Fifty Shades Darker (2017) was largely filmed in Vancouver’s historic Gastown district, so by joining a food tour in West Canada’s coolest city, you can combine both sampling yummy Canadian food and seeing some filming locations of the famous movie.
In many ways, the Canadian food is similar to that in the US. However, there are also some very distinctive Canadian dishes, such as the “Poutine” (French Fries with a special kind of gravy sauce and vegetables).
Aside from Gastown, Vancouver is equally famous for its large outdoor market Granville Market, which you can explore on the Granville Market Tour. For those that want to try even fancier food, check out the Guilty Pleasures Gourmet Tour For the most authentic Vancouver food, try some world-class street food on the World’s Best Food Truck Tour.
I really enjoyed the fact that we sat down at every restaurant we visited. Since the tour took place from 3 pm in the afternoon, it was really quiet in most places, so we had enough time to enjoy our food and learn more about the Vancouver’s intriguing history with our guide. The samples were really filling, so I had my lunch and dinner sorted in one afternoon. Finally, don’t be alarmed by the price. CAN Dollars is worth a little less than US Dollars and Euros, so 79.99 Canadian Dollars (the standard price for the tour with non-alcoholic drinks) and 99.99 (with alcoholic drinks) are about 53 or 67 Euros respectively.
This tour is also very popular, so make sure you book in advance! At least a week is recommend.
Ready to sample Vancouver?
Book your tour at Vancouver Foodie Tours
Unless otherwise credited, all photos by © Sonja Irani | filmfantravel.com