When you’re traveling, eating good local food is one of the top treats to look forward to. However, if you’re new to the city, it can be difficult to find the smaller, hidden gem restaurants. You know, the inexpensive eating places that the locals know about but that aren’t typically ones a hotel concierge will recommend. One way to find the local best is to book city food tours.
These food tours can be a real eye-opener. They will often take you to off-the-beaten-track spots you would never find on your own. Usually, they offer local food samples at restaurants or stands and help you create a short list of places you want to return to. They typically offer local history and cultural information, so you learn about the city too. For all these reasons, I like reserving my food tour near the beginning of my trip. Then I have time to return to my favorites.
It seems a lot of cities tout themselves as ‘foodie’ cities. So within these ‘food’ cities what are the better food tours? Here are a few ideas from travel enthusiasts.
Quebec City, Canada
Old Quebec City is known for fine French and continental cuisine including tourtières, maple syrup, crepes, chocolates, and wine. Today’s Woman Traveller tour leader, Suzanne Bodner, guides small group tours to this historic city and while there she books her groups to sample local fare with Tours Voir Québec. The 2.5-hour city food tour is available through the very friendly Tourist Bureau across the street from Le Chateau Frontenac. The tour offers 15 samples and explains the history of the area along with the background of local foods.
For me, Mazatlan is a favorite city I return to year after year and I’ve found the food scene there to be surprisingly plentiful and delicious. One of the best food tours in Mazatlan is offered by Flavor Teller. The Barrio Bites tour takes you to a variety of lesser known places like a crispy taco stand frequented by local police and cab drivers, one of the few authentic made-from-corn tortilla makers, two local fish markets, a little fish soup restaurant and the only craft brewery in the city. Tour leader, Maaike, has a sparkling personality and is happy to share her knowledge of local foods, history, and happenings.
Siem Reap, Cambodia
Off-the-beaten-track travelers, particularly those traveling Asia, know that the foods of Cambodia stand out as some of the most interesting. In Siem Reap, Vespa Adventures offers something a little different with their Foodie Heaven tour. This company takes you, as a passenger, on a Vespa scooter to various places in the city to try local treats like crickets, worms, grasshoppers, tarantulas, fried noodles, fried rice, chive cakes, Lok Lak (a marinated meat dish) and Amok Trey (a freshwater fish dish).
According to Food and Wine magazine, these cities are listed as places with a vibrant food scene. Here are a few of their top food tours.
The five star ranked Florence Food Tour offers a 3 ½ hour tour driving to five places that offer seven Florentine specialties along the way.
The #1 ranked food tour in Paris, Paris Food Tour: Taste of Montmartre, includes tastes of French pastries, cheeses, chocolate, crepes, ham, sausage, and Wine! What’s not to love?
Join the Half-day Food and Drink Walking Tour in Tsukiji and Asakusa where you will tour through the biggest and oldest (80 years old) fish market in Japan and learn about foods like Japanese omelets, fresh oysters, sushi, fried fish cakes, sake, and tea.
New Orleans, U.S.A.
Though NOLA is well-known for foods like gumbo, crawfish, jambalaya, muffulettas, beignets, and po-boys, why not try a tour that’s more unique – The Classic Cocktail Tour. This one includes 4 stops covering 3 cocktails. On the way, you learn about the history of NOLA, its architecture and you’ll hear stories about the wilder side of the city.
Top rated Hong Kong Food Tour: Central and Sheung Wan Districts, is perfect for first timers to learn about local treats like wonton noodles, roasted meats, handpicked tea leaves, and freshly baked tarts at a local bakery.
Buy tickets online
Finally, if you’re looking for a place to buy online tickets for tours prior to traveling, Viator and Get Your Guide are good options. Viator (your 1st purchase gives 10% discount) is owned by TripAdvisor and offers a low-price guarantee. Get Your Guide has similar benefits but provides different tour offers so it’s useful to check both.
No matter which city or which tour, local food tours are one of the best ways to learn about the foods, the sites, the history, and the culture.
Enjoy your meal! Bon appétit! Disfrute de su comida! Buon appetito!
*Note: None of the companies or products listed here have contacted us, paid or requested we mention them. All references are entirely the result of Opptee writers’ experiences and research.*
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