Have you ever wanted to feel like a local when you visit a new city? Know a bit about the history and find those hidden food gems that as a tourist you always miss? Then booking a Secret Food Tour would be my recommendation.
After experiencing their Indian Food Tour in London, once a visit to New York was on the table, I instantly booked the tour for our group.
Usually I would give you all the details of a food tour (see my other Food Tour reviews here ). However the clue is in the name, a Secret Food tour, and as I don’t want to spoil the wonderful surprises I won’t be revealing all of the tour details.
The walking tour is through the Greenwich Village district of New York. A diverse area, with an interesting history behind the ever expanding cuisines you will discover popping up.
Bridget, our guide, was a true encyclopedia for the adventure and one of the warmest tour guides I have encountered. By the end of the tour it was like exploring with a friend or family member.
The tour covers some of the essential New York foods that will no doubt be on your ‘must-try’ list for your visit. The first stop immediately ticked an item off of mine; an everything bagel with schmeer (impossible to say without a New York accent!).
The everything seasoning contains a mixture of poppy seeds, sesame seeds, salt, garlic and onion flakes which all bring a delicious savoury taste and some texture. I haven’t been able to find everything seasoning in the UK yet, but it is easy to make your own if you want to bring your new bagel discovery home with you!
Everywhere you go spiralizing seems to have taken off and NYC is no different. At stop 2 we were treated to a small sample of healthy zoodles (courgetti) with meatballs and an accompanying bone broth. Interestingly, and possibly controversially, we were told that meatballs originate from New York not Italy!
I enjoyed the zoodles, but I wasn’t convinced of the bone broth flavour. I would always encourage people to try everything you can though, you never know when you may discover a new favourite dish!
In between this stop and the next Bridget took us on a small detour to show off some of the rich, albeit gruesome history of the nearby Washington Park. Once the site of a yellow fever grave and the home to a tree commonly known as the ‘hanging tree’, ghost stories about the Park are abundant! I was very glad we were visiting during the day!
One of the resident ghosts is Victorian servant Rose Butler who was hung for allegedly setting a fire that killed all of her household. Her ghost is said to sit at the base of the tree crying with rope wrapped around her to keep her dress from revealing her modesty when she was being hung!
Molly’s Cupcakes, our next stop, welcomed us all back to the best of our school days! A famous cupcake shop in the village, the founders inspiration was his teacher, Molly, who would always bake cupcakes for her pupils on their birthday. In honour of Molly the entire store features those iconic school games, desks and even swing seats! I also love that a portion of sales revenue is donated to local schools which means you can feel good about being naughty with delicious sweet treats.
A New York food tour wouldn’t be complete without a slice of pizza and our fourth stop provided everyone with a chance to sample (another…) slice of heaven! We all received a slice of delicious cheese pizza and I became convinced on the trip that you actually don’t always need lots of toppings to make it amazing. I also learnt the secret to the next level pizza served in the city; it’s using good old New York water in the base mix – shhh!
At this point in the tour I was grateful for a little bit of a walk to the last two stops! Plus it meant we could learn some more about the local music culture at Cafe Wha?, where Jimi Hendrix and Bob Dylan were discovered. Also, we got to walk past some of the most beautiful brown stone houses. I could definitely imagine living in one of them! One of the famous walk-ups we passed was also the location of many of the outdoor balcony scenes from the infamous Friends sitcom.
The second to last stop was our first taste of a sweet on the tour (the cupcakes from Molly’s were given to us as gifts to take away), a very special doughnut! In an amazing connection to our first stop we were lucky to try an ‘Everything’ doughnut. This has the same seasoning on the top as the bagel, but in a sweet variation.
I enjoyed the combination of the savoury topping on a sweet iced doughnut, but after we bought a box of some of the other flavours for later (oops!) I did prefer some of the other flavours. I do have a very sweet tooth though!
Unfortunately the end of the tour was approaching but we still had one final stop – our secret location. I am not going to reveal it’s identity as I don’t want to spoil the tour, but I will say when I discovered what it was I actually squealed with delight and the delicious food was worth the suspense!
The tour lasts about 3.5 hours in small groups and I’d definitely recommend your wear comfortable shoes. They are also able to accommodate dietary requirements and were very helpful in adapting the tastings for a vegetarian attendee and other food allergies (advance notification advisable).
I can’t recommend Bridget and the tour enough, make sure to book yours online before you head on your next trip!
Date of Tour: October 2017