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5 Absolute BEST New York City Food Tours +10 Tips BEFORE Booking!

5 Absolute BEST New York City Food Tours +10 Tips BEFORE Booking!

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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. It’s kind of like taking a sightseeing tour of NYC but through its cuisine!

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! 

Our Top Choices

Chelsea Market Food Tour

Bailey with her Japanese Taco on our food tour inside the Chelsea Market on our guided food tour
The Japanese taco was sooo good!
Doughnuts at Doughnuttery at the Chelsea Market on a food tour in NYC
Doughnuttery!

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

An Italian dish on a food tour in New York City
So good!
Fruits in China Town YYC
Fresh produce in Chinatown!

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! Honestly, even if you only have a couple of days to spend in NYC, add a food tour to your itinerary!

2. How much do NYC food tours cost? 

A street in New York City with the skyscrapers above
Explore and eat your way around NYC!
Bailey with a bagel in New York City
The famous bagels!

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! 

Money Saving Tip – Some of NYC’s best attractions unfortunately aren’t free. But that doesn’t mean you have to blow your budget to see them! We purchased a New York City attraction pass during our visit and it helped us save 30-40% on admission fees to top attractions like the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty. There are a few different options, but the top three are the New York CityPASS®, the New York Pass, and the New York Explorer Pass by Go City.

3. What are the best areas for food tours in New York City?

Bailey in Little Italy, NYC
Little Italy!

Chelsea Market

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. 

Little Italy

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!)

cute historic apartment buildings in Greenwich Village, New York
Greenwich Village is a cute neighborhood we loved exploring while spending six days in NYC.

Greenwich Village

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

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.
  • Lowest price guarantee – If you happen to find the same tour at a lower price elsewhere, Viator will refund you the price difference.
  • 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! Or, for more info, read our detailed review about Viator here.

Related Read: Be sure to also visit one (or a couple) of the best Observation Decks in NYC including the Empire State Building! If you want to save some cash on these sights, check out our review of the Go City sightseeing pass!

4. What are the best food tours in NYC?

Chelsea Market and High Line Food Tour

Bailey in the Chelsea Market during our free time on our Chelsea Market food tour
The Chelsea Market is huge!
The High Line Trail with views of the skyscrapers in NYC
Walk off all that food on the High Line trail.

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! 

You can book your food tour in the Chelsea Market online here!

Related Read: For more detailed info, read our complete review of a food tour in the Chelsea Market.

Chinatown and Little Italy Food Fest

Pizza in New York City on a food tour
You need to try the pizza!
Pasta on a food tour in Little Italy, NYC
Oh and the pasta!

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

A man puts mustard on a pretzel in NYC
The pretzels are so good!

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. 

You can book this Brooklyn food tour online here!

Greenwich Village Walking and Food Tasting Tour

Daniel eats a slice of pizza on a food tour in New York City
Yum!
Bailey tries the dessert on our Chelsea Market Food tour
The ice cream was also so interesting and something I would not normally buy!

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. 

You can book this Greenwich Village food tour online here!

New York City Lower East Side

A bagel we tried on a food tour through New York City
The humble bagel!
Famous New York Sandwich
Famous New York Sandwich

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. 

Book this Lower East Side food tour online here!

Related Read: Another US city famous for its food is Philadelphia! Check out the best Philly food tours and tips before you book!

5. Do you need to book a NYC food tour in advance? 

Yes, they’re very popular, especially in the summertime in NYC. 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? 

The two doughnuts we got to try at Doughnuttery at the Chelsea Market on our food tour
You couldn’t try it all!
Daniel eats his Bao on our Chelsea Market food tour in NYC
Bao!

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? 

Daniel with his pizza at the Chelsea Market on our food tour
This was one of the best NY slices we tried in NYC!
Our food tour guide talks to our group in the Chelsea Market in NYC
Our guide led with so much passion!

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?

A New york City hot dog in NYC
A New York hot dog!
Dessert on our Chelsea Market food tour which was a vegan ice cream from a local store
Did someone say ice cream?!

Good footwear

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 

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! 

Empty stomach 

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! 

Cash 

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. 

Hand sanitizer 

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

A passenger takes a photo from our New York City Helicopter ride
The views from a helicopter are unreal!
bailey walks along the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City
A must-do!

As the biggest city in the USA, there is no shortage of things to do in New York! I mean you could spend a week or more 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

Bailey with her luggage in New york City
Ready to check in!

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.

You can check prices and availability for Motto by Hilton online here!

Delta Hotels by Marriott New York Times Square – $$

Delta Hotels by Marriott New York 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!

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 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.

You can check prices and book Nap York online on either Booking.com or Hostelworld

Thanks for reading!

Daniel and Bailey take a selfie in New York City
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:

How to Spend 5 Days in NYC: A Complete New York Itinerary

What is The New York Pass, and is it worth it?

Things to KNOW Before Booking a Helicopter Ride in NYC

Guide to Visiting the Empire State Building