If you’re lucky enough to be headed to the US soon to indulge in a dream food tour, then there are some key things to take into account to help you get the most out of your visit.
Planning is paramount. While it may be tempting to simply deploy a ‘see what unfolds’ mentality, proper planning will make everything more efficient and ensure that no time is wasted! It also means that you’ll get to enjoy the very best restaurants and street food that various states have to offer rather than taking a risk on a more seat-of-your-pants approach!
Here’s what you need to do or consider to make sure your tour is delicious in every way…
Choose the Locales
Trying to undertake a food tour that includes too wide an area could be a disaster: you may well end up doing more traveling than eating. Instead, plan a route, and narrow down locales within your various destinations. For example, if New York City makes up part of your itinerary, whittle this area down still further: focus on Manhattan, for instance (especially if you’re a pizza lover) or the Lower East Side, rather than trying to take on the entire city, which is likely to be an overwhelming proposition.
When choosing your locales, think of the types of food you most want to sample. So, sticking with New York City, if you really appreciate Chinese food, opt to concentrate on Flushing in Queens, a neighborhood known for its vibrant, high-quality, and plentiful Chinese restaurants.
Do Plenty of Research
It’s also well worth doing lots of research ahead of your trip to pinpoint the establishments you’d most like to visit. Depending on what you’re looking for, you could consult the Michelin guide, browse Tripadvisor, or look at various specialty culinary magazines to find the places to target.
Think about the experiences you want to have. Are you looking to relax in restaurant chairs under the stars? If so, Catch LA should be on your list of must-visit eateries: its retractable roof offers an experience like no other – and you may bump into one of the many Hollywood celebs that flock to this restaurant for its fabulous food and unique ambiance.
Or perhaps you want to sample regional food or a menu that fuses traditional US flavors with other influences? Whatever you’d like to try, doing thorough research can help ensure you’ll get to enjoy the experiences you’re looking for.
As part of your research, find out as much as possible about the history of the neighborhood and specific restaurants you’d like to visit you can. This will enrich your visit and help you understand the story behind the food, making your visit even more memorable.
Get the Timings Right
It’s not just the venues and areas you need to decide upon: as part of the planning process, it’s vital to work out timings to cram as much into your days as possible. Finding out the opening and closing times of each eatery you want to visit is crucial, and you’ll also need to look into whether outdoor food stalls are permanently in situ or only operate on certain days and times.
And don’t forget to factor in the walking or driving times between establishments – plus how long you’d ideally like to have between courses or dishes.
Focus on the Standout Menu Items
As sad as it is, it just may not be physically possible to enjoy main course after main course for hours on end! Instead, think about sampling the highlights of the eateries in your chosen locales.
Again, research will serve you well here. If a particular restaurant is known for its tapas, head there at the start of the night, moving on to another establishment for, say, a steak and another for dessert – perhaps with a few cheeky little helpings of street food in between!
Sharing menus is also an excellent way to try double the dishes, so do this whenever possible!
Ask for a Doggy Bag!
While this may not be possible at every establishment you visit, where there’s an opportunity to get/buy a small item from the menu or concession that you didn’t get to try during the meal itself is a great way to experience even more flavors!
Think cakes, cookies, dumplings, or cheese – tucking into these later in the evening or the next morning when you’re back at your accommodation is a great additional side road to explore on your food adventure!
…Or Consider a Professional Tour Operator
While you may be interested in putting together the details of the food tour yourself, considering signing up for a professionally–run tour is undoubtedly worthwhile.
The benefits of a paid-for tour include the fact that your guides will have the experience and expertise to know precisely where to take you to ensure you taste the very best dishes that the region has to offer. Plus, the hassle of securing reservations and arranging travel will be largely taken out of your hands, so you can simply savor the sumptuous food!