How to Taste New York history through food tours NYC

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I’ll let you into a little secret.

I love food.

I love good food.

I love fresh, good food that leaves a lasting impression, long after the taste buds have dined out on a new sensation.

Yes, I may be a style blogger and more often than not when I travel you’ll find me in my natural habitat (fashion stores and beauty outlets) sniffing out a bargain but a big part of the thrill of traveling for me – whether that’s close to home or overseas – is fossicking for memorable food.

Whether that’s sitting down to a seven-course degustation menu in a Michelin-starred restaurant or biting into a fresh mozzarella ball wrapped in prosciutto at America’s oldest Italian cheese store, food can be the ultimate souvenir of a trip away.

Now, let’s talk about those mozzarella balls, shall we?

Prosciutto and homemade mozzarella at Alleva Dairy, Little Italy, New York City
Prosciutto and homemade mozzarella at Alleva Dairy, Little Italy, New York City

My holiday in New York may be over but if I close my eyes I can still taste that mozzarella that had only been made that morning. Cheese that my mouth would never have bitten into except for joining the Ahoy New York City Food Tour.

One of the best ways to experience the history and culture of New York is by joining food tours in NYC.

That first stop on the tour at Alleva Dairy set the foodie scene for the following three hours as we walked through the eldest streets of Little Italy and Chinatown.

Getting a lesson in cheese outside Di Palo's Fine Foods, Little Italy, New York City
Getting a lesson in cheese outside Di Palo’s Fine Foods, Little Italy, New York City

Before setting out I had a pretty good idea that we’d be sampling some amazing NYC food. What I hadn’t anticipated were the historical and cultural lessons learned along the way.

These two neighbourhoods in New York are steeped in history and have grown personalities indicative of their immigrant beginnings.

With food being so much a part of each of these cultures, it’s no wonder it’s impossible to talk about one without the other.

And that’s just what our nYC food tours guide Laura did.

Her enthusiasm for this area of New York City is infectious. Whether describing the original way the traditional Sicilian dessert, Cannolis, were rolled (using a broomstick!) or explaining how a New York park is like a living room for the families living in small tenements, it’s this intertwining of food and history that made each of the tasting stops all the sweeter.

To be honest, particularly travelling with a seven-year-old, we might not have even attempted negotiating our way around Little Italy and Chinatown without this insider knowledge.

Mott Street in Chinatown, New York City
Mott Street in Chinatown, New York City

You certainly cannot judge a potentially good dining experience by its cover.

By day, a rusting roller door on a shopfront gives no clue to the fact that it’s an uber cool nighttime cocktail bar.

Want to take a peek at some of the other yummies that went in our bellies?

Thought so.

Food porn alert ahead.

Fresh Cannolis - New York City Food Tour

Pra Raam (chicken sauteed in spicy peanut curry sauce, drizzled with coconut cream and served over steamed broccoli) at Pongrsi Thai Restaurant, the oldest family-run and operated Thai restaurant in New York City.
Pra Raam (chicken sauteed in spicy peanut curry sauce, drizzled with coconut cream and served over steamed broccoli) at Pongrsi Thai Restaurant, the oldest family-run and operated Thai restaurant in New York City.
Dumplings from Tasty Dumpling and served in Columbus Park
Dumplings from Tasty Dumpling and served in Columbus Park
Lychee cupcakes from Everything Frosted, where the chef was trained by the Whitehouse's Pastry Chef
Lychee cupcakes from Everything Frosted, where the chef was trained by The Whitehouse’s Pastry Chef
Egg rolls from Nom Wah Tea Parlor in Chinatown, where Sex and the City's Cynthia Nixon held her commitment ceremony reception
Egg rolls from Nom Wah Tea Parlor in Chinatown, where Sex and the City’s Cynthia Nixon held her commitment ceremony reception

If you’re into food and heading to New York, I’d recommend doing this NYC food tour early on in your trip.

It’s three hours well spent – yes you’re on your feet for most of that time (there’s a 30-minute stop at Pongrsi Thai Restaurant) – but you’re not covering a massive area.

Wear comfortable shoes (Ha! You should see my New York blisters … I call them badges of honour!); and bring a hat or raincoat depending on the weather.

Oh, and don’t eat too much for breakfast beforehand … you won’t end the tour bloated and feeling like you’ve visited Sizzler for a buffet but you will be full.

As for what you’ll see and find out?

Not only will you visit places you will want to come back to – to dine in or takeout – but you’ll also be given a list of dining recommendations that you can work your way through during your stay.

It’s this insider foodie knowledge that can’t always be found in a guidebook – the type of knowledge that can create food memories which last a lifetime.

Cost: $49 per person. For more information or to book, visit www.AhoyNewYorkFoodTours.com

Check out these other food tours NYC has to offer:

Need more New York travel tips?

Bio: Nikki Parkinson is a fashion and beauty blogger, blogging over at Styling You, a blog that offers real-world advice for busy women wanting to look and feel their best. You can also follow her love of all things fashion, foodie and travel via Instagram. And read Nikki’s post on 10 must do things in New York City

Note: Nikki joined the New York City food tour as a guest and on behalf of y travel blog.

Have you ever been on a New York City food tour?

30 thoughts on “How to Taste New York history through food tours NYC”

    1. Your very welcome Nikki. Thanks for the great write up. We love New York and we love food so this will be a MUST DO next time were are in NYC 🙂

  1. Ohhh yum…. I follow you on Styling You. Great post, we are an Australian family living in the US at the moment, going to New York in a few weeks. Would this tour be suitable for a 3 year old and a pair of mid-60 year olds? I think it would be right up my hubby’s ally (and I’m not going to say no the curry with broccoli, looks delicious!)

  2. I’ve never done a food tour of New York, but I have spent quite a bit of time eating in Chinatown! I did a food tour in San Francisco and I was surprised how much I learned about the history of the neighborhood.

    I think I’ll have to put food tour on my list of things to do next time I’m in NYC.

  3. Oh, the Fresh Cannolis definitely made my mouth water. I’ll make sure to check this tour out next time I’m in the area! Question though: were there vegetarian choices in all the places along the tour?

  4. I am not a big fan of food and I’ve never been to NYC (I know – hard to believe). But honestly, this is one food tour I would be excited about doing. Such a diverse city with lots of great food.

  5. Glad you had a great time on the food tour! I live here in NYC, and actually our favorite Thai places are in Queens–much more authentic. If you really love Thai food, recommend making the trek out to SriPraPhai in Woodside. Some of my other favorites are Grom for authentic Italian gelato and Eleven Madison Park for a splurge dinner for a special occasion. Don’t forget a fun trip to the Union Square Farmers Market which also lends itself to tasting local produce, cheese and even wine.

  6. Oh. My. Word. This is the first time I have read a blog and had my mouth water. Amazing. Those cannolis…geez. The next time you visit the city you should look into some of the tours Family In New York offers. They specialize in custom private New York tours. They can create a tour with your unique interests in mind… including (but not limited to) food!

  7. I’ve always wanted to take a food tour of New York City. I lived there for a few years and living there just makes you realize that there are so many hidden gems and foods to discover. Next time I’m there I’m going to track down those Lychee cupcakes!

  8. Danyelle Franciosa

    I never been in NYC for food trip but it is very nice to be there and have some fun. The foods are mouthwatering and delicious. Wish I could do the same like yours.

  9. A little taste of Italy in New york. Wonderful! I love food tours and recently did a couple in Rome which were fantastic and I learnt so much. I’d love to try the New York equivalent.

  10. That is an awesome post, Nikki. A walking food tour in NYC has been on my must-do list for sometime and I am going to make sure I actually do it next time I am there now that I read about your experience. I have always been worried it wouldn’t be value for money but I think you proved my fears wrong.

  11. When visiting new places I love taking food walking tours as it always me learn more about that specific city I’m visiting.

  12. Such a great post, and it is making me SO hungry right now. The greatest thing about New York City is obviously the variety.

    There are simply so many great places, but I am glad you have started by steering people toward Little Italy and Chinatown first.

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