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Taking a Bite Out of the Big Apple on a New York Food Tour

“Each successive wave of immigrants brought with them their most precious assets – their recipes and their love of food. In America, they transformed bland local ingredients into the dishes we know and love today,” said our native New York food tour guide Liz.

We don’t normally do guided tours in our travels. We prefer the DIY, self-guided tour experience where we can explore at our own pace (and take pictures)! And since Laura and I lived in New York City for many years (we met in the city, fell in love, and we got engaged here), we feel like we know the city pretty well. However, on this trip, we thought doing a NYC food tour would be fun. We expected it would be good. We did not expect it to be fabulous – and it was!

The walking tour, conducted by Ahoy New York Food Tours, explores both the food and the culture of Little Italy and Chinatown. This compact section of lower Manhattan was the first stop for millions of immigrants moving to America from 1861 through the 1930s. What began with the Irish, quickly turned into streams of Italians and then the Chinese – both strong food cultures.

A sampling of delights on a New York food tour
A Sampling of Delights

Our greatest regret is that we didn’t do this when we lived in New York. We would have learned about some amazing places that we never would have tried otherwise (we were West Siders). For those accustomed to ethic foods, the tour provides a level of complexity that a connoisseur would appreciate. However, novices will appreciate how accessible the guide makes unusual foods. This foodie tour is a great way to expand your palate!

New York Food Tour Highlights

Welcome to Little Italy sign at Canal Street
Starting our tour in Little Italy

Alleva Dairy, 188 Grand Street

The Italian cheese counter at Alleva Dairy
The Cheese Counter at Alleva Dairy

Now in its 6th generation, this family-run dairy sells the freshest cheeses and charcuterie in Little Italy. We sampled buttery Prosciutto di Parma and homemade mozzarella that melts in your mouth.

Di Palo’s Fine Foods, 200 Grand Street

This store has been selling Italian specialties since 1910. We sampled the crisp Piave (like Parmesan) and peppery Moliterno cheeses. But it was the huge display case of fresh pastas that caught our eye!

Grand Appetito, 197 Grand Street

Unlike the other places on this food tour, this is a new business. Opened in 2012, Grand Appetito turns the New York City by-the-slice pizza on its head. Instead of a soggy thin-slice mess, their Margherita Pizza features a crisp crust and certainly rivals the pizza in Naples.

Ferrara Bakery & Café, 195 Grand Street

The desert counter at Ferrera Cafe in Little Italy
Dessert counter at Ferrera

Let’s be clear – we’re not cannoli people. We have had way too many of these crappy little buggers. Most are bland, tasteless and boring. Ferrara changed my mind. What started as a gentleman’s club has turned into one of the great cafes in the city. The ricotta cheese was sweet and buttery and perfectly accented with the crunchy chocolate chips. These cannolis were heavenly!

Street in Chinatown
Exploring Chinatown

Pongrsi Thai Restaurant, 106 Bayard Street

After walking around on the tour for about an hour and half, we had a sit-down light lunch at the oldest family-run Thai restaurant in the city. The lunch featured a pra raam chicken with peanut sauce, plus warm tea to warm us up on a cold day.

Tasty Dumpling, 54 Mulberry Street

Woman making dumplings  at Tasty Dumpling
Worker at Tasty Dumpling

The name of this restaurant, Tasty Dumpling, reminds me of Samuel L. Jackson saying “tasty burger” in Pulp Fiction. But these are some really tasty dumplings. On a Sunday, this place was packed with locals loading up on the little purses. It was so full that it was tough to maneuver around in the small space.

However, in the back of the restaurant, I noticed a lady making and folding the dumplings. I was impressed with her efficiency as she cranked out one dumping every two seconds. It was a sight to see! (And yes, the dumplings are excellent!)

Nom Wah Tea Parlor, 13 Doyers Street

Crowds waiting to experience the original egg roll on a New York food tour at Nom Wah
Nom Wah Tea Parlor – home of the original egg roll

New York City’s oldest dim sum establishment is on a very crooked (in more ways than one) and very colorful street. As you indulge in the original egg roll, you’ll hear stories of mob murders and speakeasies. This place is tops on our list for a return visit!

There are an infinite number of NYC tours for practically every imaginable interest. If you are interested in food and the immigrant experience in America, this New York food tour is for you!

Laura enjoying tasty delights on a New York Food Tour
Laura enjoying tasty delights

Tour Details

Cost: The cost of the tour is $57-60 per person.

Time: The tour begins at 10:30am and runs approximately 3 hours (actually a little longer). Our guide Liz took extra time to make sure we all had our questions answered.


Peking Duck for sale in a Chinatown market
Peking Duck for sale in Chinatown

We were the guests of Ahoy New York. As always, our opinions are our own.

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Wednesday 23rd of July 2014

Food tour in the big apple? Wow! That is just what I need. Well, New York has been known to be one of the best places to go to but it also has the food that most everybody wants and needs. Everything is served wherever anytime. People will have no problems in choosing their food because they can see, smell and taste everything in that city.


Wednesday 2nd of April 2014

We've done this food tour with Ahoy. Both the tour and Liz are fantastic! I'll be back in NYC in June and I'm definitely headed to China Town for dumplings and an egg roll.


Sunday 23rd of March 2014

Drooling on myself over here a bit. GREAT roundup. YUM.

Laura Longwell

Sunday 23rd of March 2014

It was SO good. Kinda feeling a dumpling craving now :)


Thursday 13th of March 2014

I'm a HUGE foodie so this list really makes me smile! I definitely agree with you about Ferrara- love their desserts! Glad you had a great time!


Wednesday 12th of March 2014

I normally don't do food tours because they make me self-conscious about how picky I am (I don't eat any seafood, for example!) but I did go on a pizza tour of NYC a few years back that rocked! You should check it out some time!

Laura Longwell

Friday 14th of March 2014

That sounds amazing!

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