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There are so many reasons to get excited about a trip to New York City – the iconic buildings, the amazing shopping, the bustling atmosphere, and of course, the food!
In fact, exploring New York’s food scene was one of the things we were most excited to do, which is why we decided to book a food tour. There are over 20,000 restaurants in New York City, so we felt that it was definitely worth having a local guide show us the best of the bunch.
You can find pretty much every type of cuisine imaginable in the city, as well as the famous New York classics that have been popularized here like bagels, pizza, cheesecake, and pastrami. Taking a food tour in NYC is a true culinary adventure, and we loved the tours that we did!
Since New York’s food scene is so diverse, it should come as no surprise that there are tons of different food tours available in the city. That’s why we decided to put together this guide to help you choose the best one for you – bon appetite!
Don’t have time to read the full article? You can’t go wrong with this food tour of the famous Chelsea Market! You’ll try a variety of food and leave completely stuffed for under $80 USD!
Our Top Choices for Food Tours in New York
Chelsea Market Food Tour
We absolutely loved this Chelsea Market Food Tour. The Chelsea Market is one of New York’s best and most historic foodie destinations. We ate everything from Japanese tacos to Kim Kardashian’s favorite mini doughnuts!
One of the best things about this food tour is that you get to skip the lines at the food stalls. The Chelsea Market is really popular, so this was a big bonus!
It costs $78 USD per person, which we thought was good value given how great our guide was and how much delicious food we got to eat. You can book the Chelsea Market food tour here!
Chinatown and Little Italy Food Tour
Chinatown and Little Italy are two of New York’s top foodie neighborhoods, but it’s definitely best to go with a guide, which is why we think that this food tour is so great!
Lots of the best food spots in Chinatown are off the beaten path, so a local guide is really worth their weight in gold! Meanwhile, a lot of Little Italy’s restaurants are tourist traps but your guide will make sure that you avoid the sub-par spots and enjoy plenty of genuine Italian food instead.
This tour costs $125 USD per person and lasts for around 3 hours. You can book it online here!
1. Are NYC food Tours worth it?
Yes, absolutely. We think a food tour is one of the absolute must-do activities in NYC, regardless of which tour you choose!
New York is so much about the food and eating your way around the city gets you closer to living like a New Yorker than any other tour. After all, the best way to get to know a city is through its food scene! This is especially true in New York.
To us, a food tour is one of those iconic activities in NYC, up there with the likes of a Manhattan helicopter ride – these are NYC bucket-list experiences you just have to check off!
2. How much do NYC food tours cost?
On average, food tours in New York cost around $85 USD per person. However, they do vary in price. The Chelsea Market food tour we took was one of the most affordable options at $78 USD, but some of the other highly-rated tours can go up to $150 USD.
Th price really depends on a few different factors like the duration of the tour, how much food you get, and whether or not transport is included.
All in all, we found that New York City food tours were relatively cheap for a guided tour with lots of food included (we honestly left so stuffed that we even skipped dinner that night!). New York isn’t a cheap city, so we think that these prices represent good value for money!
3. What are the best areas for food tours in New York City?
Chelsea Market is a big indoor market in the uber-cool Meatpacking district. It used to be a biscuit factory (in fact, Oreos were invented here!) but now it’s a huge mixed-use space that is famous for its food hall.
You can find over 40 vendors here serving food from all over the world, from Jamaica to Afghanistan. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that food tours in the Chelsea Market are popular!
We took this Chelsea Market food tour and had a blast. We were really happy with the amount of food we got and the fact we got to skip the lines. Plus, we had some free time to explore the market by ourselves, which we really appreciated.
We love Little Italy because it really takes you back to old New York. It’s got a great atmosphere and you can find lots of delicious and hearty food here, as well as some awesome specialty stores. It’s also home to the oldest pizza restaurant in the USA, and the oldest cheese shop, too!
Admittedly, Little Italy is pretty touristy nowadays, which is why we think it’s worth going as part of a food tour like this one. It even stops at the famous Ferrara’s Bakery, which is said to have the best cannoli in the city (and the queue of eager locals outside certainly proves that!)
Greenwich Village – or just “the Village”, as NYC residents call it – is known for its artsy, Bohemian atmosphere, and its great food scene. Here, you’ll find lots of New York classics like yummy bagels, New York pizza slices, doughnuts, and Italian food.
The Village is a really charming area and its delicious eateries definitely reflect that, so it’s definitely worth eating your way through this uber-trendy area.
This walking food tour gives you the choice between exploring Chinatown and the Village, so it’s the perfect way to learn about the neighborhood’s foodie hotspots, as well as its interesting history.
Lower East Side
New York City is known as “the melting pot” and the Lower East Side is one of its most diverse areas, which means that its food scene represents cultures from all over the world!
The Lower East Side is home to a lot of Jewish and Eastern European food, since many people who fled Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries settled here. The area is also home to many Hispanic and Asian people, so its culinary landscape really is a rich tapestry.
Since there’s just so much to explore and learn about here, it’s definitely best to take a guided tour, like this one. You’ll get to sample Chinese, Italian, and Jewish food, and check out some awesome street art in Nolita. This is an excellent way to learn more about immigration in New York and discover how the city came to be so diverse.
Brooklyn used to be a city in its own right, and it’s celebrated for its cultural enclaves. You can find awesome Middle Eastern, Polish, and Italian food here, and the pizza in Brooklyn is said to be the best in New York City! In fact, Frank Sinatra used to have pizza from Brooklyn flown out to him when he was on tour.
This half-day tour gives you a really comprehensive overview of Brooklyn’s food scene, from Williamsburg’s edgy coffee shops to traditional Polish pierogies and world famous chocolate bonbons. Plus, you also get to visit the Brooklyn Bridge Park, which is newly reopened.
Why We Book Tours with Viator
Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! We almost always book our tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:
- Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
- Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
- Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
- Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.
Check out the Viator website here!
Related Read: Be sure to also visit one (or a couple) of the best Observation Decks in NYC including the Empire State Building!
4. What are the best food tours in NYC?
Chelsea Market and High Line Food Tour
The Chelsea Market is an iconic NYC food destination and we had a fantastic time on this particular tour. We learned so much about the history of the market, and New York in general, and we got to eat a ton of food!
We definitely think it’s worth visiting the market on this food tour rather than going independently because you get to skip the line, which saves a lot of time as this place is really popular!
I especially loved the New York pizza slice we had on this tour – I think it was the best slice I had in the city! The doughnuts were amazing too and we also got to try a lot of unique foods, too, like tahini ice cream.
This tour also includes a guided walk along the High Line, where you get beautiful views of the city skyline. Our guide provided lots of background information that we wouldn’t otherwise have known and gave us context behind the art installations that we saw along the way.
It’s a small group tour with a maximum of 14 people, so you don’t feel like you’re being herded around. We also like the fact that it ends in Hudson Yards, so you can stick around and explore this swanky area afterwards if you want to – or even head up to The Edge observation deck (you should, it’s really cool!)
The tour costs $78 USD per person and it was definitely worth the money. We had a fantastic time and would definitely go again!
Related Read: For more detailed info, read our complete review of a food tour in the Chelsea Market.
Chinatown and Little Italy Food Fest
Chinatown and Little Italy are two of New York’s most iconic neighborhoods, each with their own rich history and cultural heritage. Both of them have played a big role in shaping New York’s food scene and cultural landscape, and they’re home to some of the city’s best foodie hidden gems!
What we love about this food tour is that your local guide will lead you away from the tourist traps and take you to the most authentic spots that the locals love! From the best cannoli in Little Italy to the specialist noodle bars in Chinatown, you’ll discover a ton of amazing eateries that you would never have found on your own. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!
This tour costs $125 USD per person, and we recommend arriving hungry. As well as eating lots of food, you also learn a ton about two of New York City’s biggest ethnic enclaves and dive deeper into the city’s fascinating history.
To us, this is easily one of the best food tours in New York, and you can book it easily online here!
The Original Best of Brooklyn
This Brooklyn food tour lasts for 4.5 hours, which is plenty of time to discover the area’s best food hotspots. You’ll get to explore the ultra-hip Williamsburg neighborhood, where many of New York’s hottest food trends are born, and of course visit some cool coffee shops that take their craft very seriously.
You’ll also be guided around some of Brooklyn’s ethnic enclaves to discover some of New York’s best Middle Eastern offerings, including falafel and shawarma, and lots of authentic Italian food. There’s also a stop in Greenpoint, the Polish neighborhood, for pierogies and kielbasa, and a visit to the Jacques Torres chocolate factory.
Of course, 4.5 hours is a long time to continuously eat, so there is a break to visit Brooklyn Bridge Park where you’ll enjoy amazing views of the Manhattan skyline. You’ll also visit Prospect Park as well.
This tour costs $149 USD per person, and it includes coach transportation from Greenwich Village to Brooklyn and back again. As well as all of the amazing food you get to eat, we think that this tour is an excellent way to get out of Manhattan and learn all about the diverse and trendsetting borough of Brooklyn.
Greenwich Village Walking and Food Tasting Tour
If you’re keen to sample the best of New York’s own specialty foods – like pizza, cupcakes, and falafel – then this Greenwich Village food tour is the one for you.
Lots of places in the city claim to have the best pizza, baked goods, etc. in New York, but this tour will actually take you to a ton of the top spots! Instead of spending hours researching the best places to go, you can just join this tour and stuff your face with tons of food.
Stops include the historic Bleecker Street Pizza and Mamoun’s, which is widely considered the best Middle Eastern eatery in New York. It’s been around for over 50 years, so it has definitely withstood the test of time. The tour starts and ends at Molly’s Cupcakes, a beloved, retro-style cupcake bakery, so you can finish off with something sweet.
In addition to all of these goodies, you’ll also bypass some famous landmarks, including the building that was used as the apartment facade in Friends! You’ll also pass by the historic Stonewall Inn, an LGBT bar which was raided in 1969, sparking the Stonewall Riots.
All in all, we think that this food tour is an awesome way to explore Greenwich Village and learn more about one of New York’s most famous neighborhoods. It costs $80 USD per person and lasts for around 3 hours, with stops at a minimum of seven different eateries.
New York City Lower East Side
The Upper East Side is the glitzy neighborhood where Gossip Girl was set, while the Lower East Side is a diverse and historically working class area with a vibrant global food scene. It’s a fascinating area to explore and this walking tour takes you on a culinary journey through its history.
The tour will take you to a range of markets, bakeries, and restaurants where you’ll try everything from pork dumplings in Chinatown to bagels and pastrami at the famous Katz’ Deli, which was famously featured in the romantic comedy When Harry Met Sally.
What really brings this tour to life, though, is the enthusiastic guides who share a ton of fascinating information about the history of the Lower East Side and the different cultures that coexist here. We think it’s an awesome way to get off the beaten tourist path and see a different, more local side to New York City.
This tour costs $85 USD. It starts outside the African Burial Ground National Monument and ends in the Lower East Side neighborhood, so you can continue exploring by yourself afterwards if you wish, or catch the subway back to Midtown.
5. Do you need to book a NYC food tour in advance?
Yes, they’re very popular, especially in the summertime. We highly recommend booking in advance so that you don’t miss out!
When you use Viator to book one of the NYC food tours we’ve recommended in this article, you’ll be able to change or cancel your tour up to 24 hours beforehand. This means that you can reserve your spot well in advance but have peace of mind that you’ll be able to reschedule your tour or get your money back if your plans change, which we think is super important when you’re going on holiday!
6. Are food tours in NYC suitable for children?
Yes! Kids love NYC food tours because they get to taste a ton of new food, and most of the tours include plenty of sweet treats, which always go down well! Just make sure that they’re okay to walk for 1-2 miles (1.6 – 3.2 kilometers) because this is the amount of walking involved with most food tours in New York.
7. Do food tours in NYC accommodate dietary requirements?
Yes, but it does vary from tour to tour. You can message the tour operator through Viator and advise them of your dietary requirements, and they will do their best to accommodate you. However, make sure to do this at least 48 hours in advance. We think it’s best to do it as soon as you book the tour.
The Best of Brooklyn and Greenwich Village food tours are the best options for vegetarians, as they both have substitutes available for those who don’t eat meat. It’s still best to advise the tour company in advance, though.
8. Should you tip your guide on a NYC food tour?
Yes, like the rest of the USA, tipping is expected in New York City. You can tip based on how you feel your guide did. The guides are awesome and really know their stuff, so make sure to bring some cash for gratuities!
Our tour cost us around $100 USD so we left a $20 tip each. To some, this will be too much to give and that’s ok. However, tipping at least 10% should be seen as a minimum – providing you enjoyed the tour and your guide did a great job.
Related Read: For another food-related experience, consider joining one of the epic dinner cruises in New York – we loved the one we did called the Bateaux Premier Dinner Cruise!
9. Are New York City food tours safe?
Yes. New York City is pretty safe in general, and tours take place during the day time in nice neighborhoods. You’ll be with a local guide who will take you to areas that they know very well.
Plus, you’ll only eat at approved restaurants with good food hygiene standards, so all of the food is safe to consume.
To be honest, I have never felt unsafe in NYC while visiting. We have also never had an issue with the food as the United States has some of the best food standards in the world! So, eat away!
10. What should you bring on a food tour in NYC?
NYC food tours require 1-2 miles of walking, so make sure to wear suitable shoes. Wear comfortable footwear that won’t give you blisters or make your feet ache. Leave your new shoes and high heels back at the hotel!
Hat and sun protection
If you’re going on a NYC food tour during the summer, you’ll want to wear plenty of sunscreen as you’ll be walking around outdoors. A hat is also important to prevent your scalp from burning and keep the sun off of your face. Sunglasses are a good idea, too.
Water is provided along the way, but it gets hot in New York, and you’re going to be doing a decent amount of walking. It’s a good idea to bring an extra bottle of water with you, especially during the summer. Some of the food is salty, too, which always makes you thirsty!
You get a lot of food on New York City food tours, so come hungry! I know there are tempting treats pretty much everywhere you look in the city, but try to resist them and arrive with an empty stomach. You’ll be taken to the best eateries NYC has to offer, so don’t ruin your appetite!
Tipping is the norm in New York, so make sure to bring some cash to tip your guide. You tip based on how well you feel your guide did, so maybe bring a few different denominations, just in case.
Your guide may have some sanitizer that you can use, but I was glad that I brought extra with me on our tour. You find yourself eating with your hands quite a lot on NYC food tours, so it’s nice to be able to clean them afterwards.
Plus, you’re walking around the city so it’s nice to use some sanitizer before you touch your food as well.
Other Things to do While You’re in New York City
As the biggest city in the USA, there is no shortage of things to do in New York! I mean you could spend weeks here and still not see a fraction of what the Big Apple has to offer. But if you only have a few days and want to see the highlights, these are other top attractions and activities we highly recommend checking out.
- Fly above NYC – Exploring on the ground is fun, but to truly appreciate the New York skyline, take to the air! Joining a helicopter flight in NYC gives you a front-row seat (or hopefully a window seat!) to all the iconic sights like the Empire State Building, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Statue of Liberty. We chose this 15-minute helicopter flight that flew over Manhattan and it was a highlight, if not THE highlight of our whole trip!
- Eat pizza! – New York was home to the first pizzeria in the US way back in the early 1900s and it’s still something this city is known for. I dare say the pizza here is legendary! Top pizza joints include John’s of Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village, Prince Street Pizza in Nolita, and we also loved 2 Bros Pizza.
- Visit Central Park – Likely you’ve seen this famous park in movies, so it’s a must while you’re here. Central Park is huge with great spots like a historic carousel, Belvedere Castle, and even a skating rink in the winter. Feel like you’re starring in a rom-com with this horse and carriage ride. It’s 45 minutes around Central Park and a fantastic way to cover more ground in style.
- Cross the Brooklyn Bridge – New York can be expensive, but strolling over the Brooklyn Bridge is completely free! The views of the skyline are stellar and there are lots of vendors if you get hungry. We recommend walking all the way across to Brooklyn Bridge Park for the best views of Manhattan.
Where to Stay in New York City
New York City is huge – there is just no other way to put it! Even Manhattan (the area you’ll want to base yourself in) is a lot bigger than you think. That’s why choosing the right hotel in the right location is so important during your stay in New York.
Below, we’ve simplified it all for you by choosing a couple of the very best hotels available in the city. All three of these options have ideal locations close to attractions and the subway system. They all have amazing reviews, too, so just choose the one in your budget category and you’ll be ready to pack your bags!
Motto by Hilton – $$$
Motto by Hilton is a gorgeous hotel located in the Chelsea neighborhood only 600 meters from the Flatiron Building. The hotel features modern decor that has “speakeasy vibes”. In fact, they have a beautiful bar onsite that looks like the perfect place to sip an Old Fashioned. There are a variety of rooms on offer including some that are a little more budget-friendly, and some that are pure luxury with city views! Prices start from about $400 USD per night plus tax.
TBA Times Square – $$
TBA Times Square is where we stayed the last time we visited New York, and honestly, we loved it! This hotel is the perfect combination of comfort and value for money. It was clean, modern, and our room had all of the amenities we needed for an enjoyable stay (air conditioning, k-cup coffee maker, steamer, large shower, big windows, etc). Plus, the location is ideal, it’s only a couple blocks from Times Square! It’s also just a 20-minute ride from the 9/11 Memorial and Museum (with no transfers).
Prices do range, but they do go as low as $200 USD per night plus tax depending on the time of year and day of the week. You can check prices and book the TBA Times Square online here!
Nap York Central Park Sleep Station – $
For those traveling on a tight budget, Nap York is a budget hostel that’s an ideal choice. Although affordable, this property is immaculate and offers a ton of amenities for a great stay including air conditioning and a shared kitchen. The rooms are modern and the location is about as central as it gets! This property only offers dorm rooms, but they are affordable at as little as $150 USD per night.
Travel Insurance is more important than ever right now!
If you’re traveling during these uncertain times, be sure that you have travel insurance!
SafetyWing is our go-to insurance when we are going on longer trips. They offer travel medical insurance that’s super affordable (only $45 USD per 4 weeks!) and even have coverage in case you get that dreaded c-word. The only thing to note is that the insurance must be purchased once you’ve left your home country – we typically buy it as soon as we land at the airport.
We’ve personally used SafetyWing for many different trips, and we’ve been reimbursed for countless expenses when we’ve fallen ill. SafetyWing even covered our flights back to Canada in full when the pandemic first happened (when last-minute flights before the borders closed were super expensive!)
It’s safe to say that travel insurance has saved us thousands over the years!
Thanks for reading!
Yummm, writing this blog has me hungry just thinking about all of the amazing food you can try in New York. Honestly, a food tour is one of the best ways to ensure you get to sample the best of the best. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed if you choose any of the food tours in this blog – they all have incredible reviews.
For more info, check out our blogs about travel in the USA and New York, including some related articles below:
Things to KNOW Before Booking a Helicopter Ride in NYC
Guide to Visiting the Empire State Building