The New York food scene is thriving, and for a first-time visitor—or even a repeat visitor for that matter—choosing a place to eat can often feel like a daunting task. What do you check first…Yelp? Instagram? Friends? There are so many options and so many cuisines to pick from that you spend more time deciding on a place to eat than actually enjoying your meal out.
And, that’s when the magic of food tours comes in to save the day: guided food tours are specially curated walking tours with a local guide, often combined with histories of the neighborhood(s) you are exploring through your sense of taste.
Why take an NYC food tour?
You get a chance to explore a number of different neighborhoods in a short span of time. At times they take you off the regular tourist route, and you get a chance to explore the New York food scene through the recommendations of a local New York food guide.
Make new friends! Every one on a food tour has one thing in common: your love for food. Food tours are a great way to make new friends, especially if you’re traveling solo.
You don’t have to plan your day – food on foot tours are highly curated and planned to a T. You just show up and are led around town and nourished along the way!
Get the chance to experience some of New York’s best food including hidden gems which you can always return to for another meal.
Depending on your needs, a walking food tour in NYC can be private and highly customizable based on your dining needs. This makes them a family-friendly activity the entire family can enjoy for a few hours, and best of all the kids are fed along the way.
About Ahoy NY Tours & Tasting
I was interested in taking an NYC food tour of Chinatown, Nolita and Little Italy because they were three areas I had not really explored while living in New York City. I found a lot of New York food tours focused specifically on Little Italy or Chinatown but not all three of them, which is why discovering Ahoy NY’s latest food tour, A Taste of Mulberry, right before my visit was a blessing in disguise.
You can expect Ahoy’s food tours to be intimate in nature; my tour consisted of 7 people in total which allowed us to always interact with the guide Liz (who was fantastic btw), ask questions, and not be too far away that we couldn’t hear what was being said.
A Taste of Mulberry Street
In the span of three hours, we tasted some of the best food in NYC from Spain, France, Israel, Italy, Vietnam and finally, Hong Kong. All by taking a walk down Mulberry Street!
The Birth of NoLIta
Until the 90s, Mulberry street was considered to be a part of Little Italy. But due to the cost of rising rents and urban professionals moving into the neighborhood, it became less of an Italian community and of course, the new residents had to have a neighborhood name. There were a few suggestions by businesses in the area, but none of them stuck, until an article in 1996 by the New York Times, which suggested NoLIta—short for North of Little Italy.
And the rest is history. Today, Nolita is a cool, hip neighborhood that rivals SoHo and TriBeCa. You will find plenty of good bars, restaurants, gallery spaces and more every where you turn, so it makes sense that it is the starting point of the Mulberry street food tour.
There are plenty of churros to choose from—ones that are filled with passion fruit, vanilla, nutella or dulce de leche, or you can opt for the more traditional Spanish churros that are dusted in sugar and served with fresh, hot dipping chocolate.
The tour does a good job weaving the neighborhood’s history in as you walk from trying some of the best food in New York from one food tour stop to the next. An important stop on along the tour is at Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the first Catholic cathedral in New York City. Originally, the geographical area of New York City was only from the tip of island up to New York City Hall.
French Cheese Board
Supported by the French Government, the French Cheese Board promotes the best cheeses from France. You can sign up for French cheese tasting classes, learn how the different French cheeses are made and how to pair wine and cheese for your next cheese tasting party! We got a wonderful lesson in three types of cheese from three different regions in France: brie made from cow’s milk, one made from sheep’s milk, and an extremely fresh, high-water content goat cheese.
Walking and learning all about cheese certainly built up our appetites, and our next stop, Taïm, which was conveniently a few doors down, was just what we needed. Taïm—which means tasty in Hebrew—is a vegetarian-lovers delight, serving up falafel in pita or on platters.
If you’re craving Middle Eastern food that’s healthy, but also delicious, one of the many Taim locations are your best bet!
Pomodoro Ristorante & Pizzeria
While waiting for our pie to come out the oven, our tour guide Liz, schooled us on pizza and the inception of the quintessential New York slice. A vodka sauce pizza is made with tomato sauce, heavy cream and vodka, plus fresh mozzarella on top (which doesn’t really melt). There’s a debate about whether vodka sauce pizza started in Northeast Italy or if it originated in NY. But regardless, I am glad it came to be, because this slice was one of my favorites in New York City so far.
Pomodoro Ristorante & Pizzeria, 51 Spring St, New York, NY 10012
Heading down to Chinatown
Chinatown didn’t exist before the 1870’s, which is when large numbers of immigrants came from China to establish a community. Today, Chinatown is a vibrant and bustling neighborhood that is home to not just Chinese immigrants, but many from Southeast Asia – Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.
Pho Thanh Hoai 1
So, instead of eating at a Chinese restaurant, the tour took us down a narrow Chinatown street to a popular Vietnamese restaurant where we tried a popular street food: spring rolls! I have had plenty of spring rolls before but never had them quite like this. Street vendors in Vietnam deep-fry spring rolls (pork is the most common filling) before serving them wrapped up in a fresh lettuce leaf. There was a veggie option, which I got to try with a rice flour dough and a filling made from taro, jicama and sliced carrots.
Thanh Hoai 1, 73 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10013
Before Chinatown came into existence, the area was known as Five Points, a seedy and notorious neighborhood run by gangs. There is a particular alley, Bandits Alley—right by the Columbus Park Pavilion—which was so dangerous to walk down that it was known to have the most murders in the world.
And right across the street from Columbus Park is the last stop on the best food tour NYC has to offer: it’s dessert at Eggloo. If you didn’t realize, the tour is cyclic in nature; we start and end with dessert!
NYC Food Tour Tips
Wear comfortable shoes! Our tour lasted 3 hours long and we walked quite a bit, so comfy shoes on busy city streets is important.
Layer your clothes! If you’re visiting in the Fall/Winter — the weather can be unpredictable. My tour was on an exceptionally warm day but when I left in the morning it was cold, so layering is key to a good tour. Also, be prepared as the tour happens no matter the weather. If the forecast says rain, bring an umbrella!
You don’t have to eat everything you are given on the food tour —even though you have multiple stops, which seems like a lot of food, the tour is designed to replace one meal. In case you can’t finish what you’re given, ask to have it boxed.
Get your tickets in advance because they will sell out. Getting a taste of New York famous foods is a popular option when visiting New York City, so don’t wait. In addition to their Mulberry Street tour, Ahoy Tours & Tastings also offers a Little Italy & Chinatown food tour, plus private tours. Go to https://www.ahoynewyorkfoodtours.com/ to get tickets.
Bio: Christabel Lobo is a freelance travel writer and yoga teacher who spends half the year between Mysore, India, NYC and Washington, DC. She also blogs about her travels around the world as a third-culture woman and PoC female traveler on Where’s Bel. Follow her travels visually on Instagram. Don’t forget to read her article on The 15 Best Things to do in New York City in the Fall.
Disclaimer: Christabel joined A Taste of Mulberry tour as a guest of Ahoy Tours on behalf of Pint Size Gourmets.
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