New York. The Big Apple. The City That Never Sleeps. NYC is arguably the world’s most important hub for commerce and culture. The metropolitan area is home to some 24 million people and is a melting pot of people from various heritages and all walks of life.
When you add of this up, this means New York’s food scene is off the chain. However, the local foodie culture can be hard to navigate, especially if you’re new to town.
Everyone wants to eat like a local. The food that’s good enough that once the locals find it, they refuse to eat anywhere else. Doing so used to be near impossible. There is a seeming life cycle for a local hotspot. The restaurant serves great food. Locals find it, and pass world along to their friends. More people start patronizing the restaurant.
Soon, it becomes a hot spot and out-of-towners are frequently the establishment as well. Prices start climbing, lines are forming for tables, and sometimes quality start slipping as the restaurant operates beyond its capacity.
For travelers and people new to town, this often meant that they were eating at last year’s hot and hip “local” restaurant, at best. Most of the time, you’re eating at an overrated tourist trap.
Even if the restaurant came from humble and authentic beginnings, the temptation of tourism money is hard to resist. However, curated foodie tours, bar crawls, and other guided experiences can help you think like a local, and most importantly, eat like a local.
When you visit New York for the first time, there’s a good chance that you’ll be overwhelmed. Millions of people live among the countless skyscrapers, tourists tour the city year round, and there are so many shops, restaurants, and everything else.
One of the most overwhelming decisions is choosing where to eat. Quite simply, there are too many choices.
It’s almost like New York restaurants adhere to a sort of flock strategy. There are so many of them that they can be hard to single out. If you’re new to town or just visiting, it’s even harder.
Often, the restaurants that market themselves to tourists the most aggressively offer subpar food compared to the local favorites.
Every New York neighborhood has its favorite haunts, and a cuisine to satisfy every craving and palette can be found. Asian, Latin, South European, East European, Americana, Southern BBQ, this list could go on and on. New York’s food scene is every bit as diverse as its citizens. Services like Foodietrip and Airbnb promise curated dining experiences, allowing foodies and tourists alike to enjoy what the locals really love and get to know New York in a more intimate way.
While Airbnb has successfully tapped food excursions as an up-sell to its mainstay accommodations business, Foodietrip lends itself to in-house expertise and a focus on full-fledged experiences.
I’m reasonably familiar with New York. I’m a bit of a foodie, but there’s always room to learn more. And after a long week, I found myself needing to imbibe, so I identified a short “literary” bar crawl through Brooklyn. So how does it work? In an interview with a local guide I deduced that most guides will take you to some of their favorite local haunts.
In one tour, the guide recites literary works and shares her own experiences. She definitely fit the scene as a writer and artist in her own right. With my selected tour, I pay for the guide and the drinks are paid for separately. However, some of the tours, like wine tasting, come with drinks included.
Do you need to pay for a curated food experience? You’re not going to find the best local favorites by searching Google. You’re going to find the restaurants that are best at dominating search marketing. That’s a problem.
New York is a city that glistens with hidden gems, and if you know where to go, you can both save a bit of money and also enjoy some truly amazing food. However, you need to know what the locals know. You need to know which corner-spot restaurants to walk past and which restaurants are the best even if they don’t jump at you off the sidewalk.
You have to know what the locals know. That’s something I’ve learned through my own travels. When I visit cities, sometimes I can rely on my own personal network to suggest great food and personal tours. Sometimes I can’t get that local expertise. That results in a difference felt right on my own taste buds.
Curated food experiences? Sign me up. Should I find myself relocating to a new city and leave New York, some curated foodie trips would offer a great opportunity to both meet new people and learn the lay of the landscape.