A food tour is an especially delicious way to explore a city. Perhaps you’ve been thinking about trying one or have never even considered it. Either way, this article gives you just 8 insights insights into some of the benefits of doing a food tour whether you are a visitor or a local.
Visit hard to find places
We are lucky today that there is no shortage of information readily available to us on the internet. With review sites, blogs and social media sites, it can be relatively easy to find out about places that are well-rated or currently advertising. However, especially when you don’t know a place, it doesn’t necessarily help you to find out about unique places or dishes specific to that area. Additionally, you can’t look for what you don’t know about.
Cities and towns the world over are full of hidden gems and local institutions. Without doing extensive research or chatting with locals, it is easy to miss some of these must-visit places. However, with a local guide who knows the local food scene inside and out, you can discover both an array of hidden gems and local institutions.
Even when we have locals on our tours, we always find that they have never heard of at least one to two venues. They often leave with a new favourite that they are already making plans to come back to.
Learn so much more than just what is on your plate
A food tour rightly so should be focused on the food you get to experience. However, what a tour can also do is tell you so much more than what is on your plate. With knowledgeable hosts and industry experts at venues, you should also gain further insight into the areas you visit, the stories behind the people you meet or learn about, the history of food origins, cultural influences, best practices, tips and recipes, as well as why particular ingredients and dishes were chosen to highlight in a specific tour.
For example in Brisbane, we often include macadamias into tour itineraries for a few reasons, including the fact that they are indigenous to the greater region and state, and as part of a story which highlights that the World’s first commercially cultivated macadamia tree was planted in the Brisbane Botanical Gardens and still produces nuts to this day.
Discover other places that you should try
We can’t gloss over the fact that food tours are all about eating (a point we’ve already mentioned a fair bit:). They are about eating at some of the best venues in that area. Some of the best venues for specific dishes. They are about eating dishes unique to the area. They are about eating local iconic ingredients, and they should also be about places you will want to return to. However, another great benefit is that after learning more about what you like, your knowledgeable host can also recommend other places and even specific dishes for you.
For example, we recently had a couple on a tour that were looking for places they could enjoy good food and wine on a date night. In addition to a couple of venues we had visited on their specific tour, we were also able to tell them about a variety of other venues, including Snack Man (Kid Curry), C’est Bon, La Lune Wine Bar, Carl’s Wine Bar and Bistro amongst others.
Eat where the locals eat
Large cities today have no shortage of restaurants, cafes and bars, and especially in ones that attract a lot of visitors. They are also full of plenty of places specifically tailored to the visitor market. However, these aren’t always the best places to eat at, plus they are often overpriced.
On a food tour, you will visit venues that aren’t tourist traps. They are places that locals love, and with businesses that focus on all things local (like ours :)), they are places that source their produce locally, and are local icons that represent a specific facet of the local culture. You don’t have to hunt around for these places, it is just like finding that gem inside a China Town where all the Chinese eat.
Meet the locals (and other travellers)
There is nothing quite like discovering a place than with a local. Locals know the people, the culture, and the nitty gritty details like what time of day is best to visit specific places, as well lesser known places, and even things to avoid. If you were just to visit a place and not do a tour or stay with a local host, it can be a little tricky to really meet and get to know any locals.
Tours are also a great way to meet other travellers and even locals doing the tour as well.
A food tour will also introduce you to some of the people behind the scenes. From chefs, to sommeliers, winemakers, bakers, brewers, coffee roasters and mixologists, you can garner a wealth of knowledge from their specific expertise. So locals, this is where you can also get some extra value!
Experience more at a place than if you were just visiting as a regular customer
One of the things I love most about being able to offer on a tour, are those behind the scenes experiences or even dishes that aren’t currently available on their regular menu. In addition to meeting the experts behind the scenes, being able to have private hands-on demonstrations with chefs, having a go at mixing a cocktail, or sampling wine directly from the barrel, gives you a special experience that many talk about and remember for a long time. It’s the finer details and out of the ordinary experiences that count.
You don’t have to make bookings, work out how you are going to get there or wrangle a menu
Visitors and locals alike often comment about the fact that they love not having to think about where they’re going, making bookings or even deciding what to order. They love the ease of doing a tour where everything is taken care of for them.
Now that we are navigating the COVID-19 pandemic, getting bookings can be that little more difficult. Additionally, many venues have moved to set menus, minimum spend and degustation style dining to weather the costs of this everchanging storm. A food tour will allow you to visit multiple places and experience a sampling of dishes rather than a whole banquet or degustation menu at just one restaurant.
Experience some of the best of dishes, drinks and venues
Going back to the first point, review sites can be great to find out about well-rated venues, but they often lack detail on what you should order there. True, some places are great and each and every dish on their menu is a winner, but this isn’t always the case.
Food tours should be focused on taking you to great places for some of the dishes and drinks that they do best. This is also why you want to look for a food tour that is fully inclusive because they have done the research into what you should have at a venue rather than letting you try to determine this for yourself.
Bonus... When you can get customised experiences to meet your interests and tastes
There are many companies all around the world that offer private tours, and in recent years, there are also some that specialise in private customised food tours. These are great if you’re looking for something outside of the box.
For visitors, they allow you to share your interests, experiences and even your overall itinerary so that you can get something that will give you an experience you haven’t had before, isn’t anything else like you are doing on the rest of your trip, and most importantly is all about the things you are going to love.
For locals, we have found these have become particularly popular for special birthdays, anniversaries, corporate or social groups, and they are a great way to discover a different side to your city, and something unique that you wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to do.
So there you have it, 8 reasons why a food tour is a great way to explore a city.
If you’d like some more inspiration on ideas specifically related to Brisbane, check out some of our other posts in Things to Do in Brisbane.