A city reveals its personality through its architecture, its neighborhoods, its history, and the overall rhythm found only by walking its streets. But to truly tap into the varied culture of an urban enclave, there's no substitute for sampling a city's cuisine. To get beyond the Zagat dart-throwing strategies typically employed by out-of-towners, hunt out a city food tour, which typically combines all the aspects of a city's unique charm with an informed, sumptuous overview of the best dining and drinking a city has to offer. And it also offers an opportunity to drop a few calories while walking from coffee shop to bakery to comedy club.
Simply put, food tours are better than just plunking down in a restaurant because they allow you to get the lay of the land and see what's going on behind the scenesand you'll likely meet a few local residents, too.
And for you DIYers who think food tours are simply about knowing where to go, following a bona fide tour guide means not only getting exposed to the proper spots, their varied histories, and a wide variety of cuisinethe guides also know what to order at each stop and how to pace the experience, so you don't gorge yourself at that first bakery stop.
Tours usually last three or four hours, and comfortable walking shoes are advised. Many companies also offer private tours, geared to your own special interests and schedule.
I've honed in on a San Francisco culinary tour to offer a taste of what's in store on a typical city food tour, and have then offered a survey of similar options across the States (and one across the pond) to whet your traveling appetite.
Wherever you go, just be sure to show up hungry.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication