The best way to travel is to follow where the food takes you. I’ve found that exploring a new country or city through food tours can be fulfilling in so many ways. Don’t be mistaken, food can bring you on a journey that uncovers the culture, history and the people of the place. I’ve been on some great food tours in the past from Turkey to Italy, and those have inspired me to plan my own wherever I travel. Here is how I planned my recent trip to San Francisco:
1. Pick Your Partner
One of the most crucial parts of planning your food tour is picking your partner. It’s true that traveling with another person can be challenging, but pick the right person and you’ll have a trusty travel partner for life. Meet my partner-in-eating, PingHwa. Make sure your partner is someone who is flexible and open to trying new things. PingHwa is a picky eater, but will always try something once.
2. Pick a Destination
Research is the key to picking your dream destination. We picked San Francisco because we wanted three things: good Asian food, fresh Seafood and artisanal markets. Pick a place depending on the types of food you are interested in and do some research on your destination’s specialties and food culture. If you’re interested in street food, think warmer climates like Thailand or Mexico. If you like to get lost in food markets, try France or Italy. It’s no different if you’re looking for local foodie destinations in America. Do your research.
After you’ve picked a destination, you might find yourself browsing all sorts of websites that might give you insights on what your destination specializes in. These dishes may have influenced your destination of choice to begin with. Find out where to get the “best” version of a certain dish. Make sure to ask your friends who may have recommendations from their own travels.
Our friends recommended Zuni Cafe, our research lead us to Tartine, and we stumbled upon Crustacean one night. Something we found to be helpful was planning out our meals so that they were located close to the part of the city we wanted to explore that day. It will limit any excuses for not following the plan.
Commitment. Commitment. Commitment. If your partner backs out on your plans because he/she is “tired” or “full,” persevere. I must admit, PingHwa and I spent many nights after dinner sprawled out on our hotel beds and passing out from our food comas, but did we have any regrets on how much we ate that week? No. You won’t regret it either.
Walking is sometimes the best way to discover a city—depending on the city of course. Instead of taking a cab or public transportation, walk after a meal. It’ll help you pace yourself and will allow you finish the food tour strong.
So there you have it! 5 steps to guide you through your very own food tour from start to finish. Stay tuned for my favorite places to eat in San Francisco.