Updated: Oct 15
New York City is known for its food, and the Lower East Side is one of those places in NYC that has been home to many different cultures and people over the years. Here’s my suggestion for the best food tour!
I had never actually taken a food tour, but as someone who has visited New York City over ten times, I am continually looking for different and unique things to do while there. Food tours are a great way to explore a city and try something new. As I researched, I realized I was so right – I had a blast on my food tour of the Lower East Side. I was so excited when I found out that Free Tours by Foot does several food tours all over New York City.
They have a really unique model; you pay what you want at the end of the tour. You should definitely end up giving what you would for any other tour because it’s just as great. This unique model meant we only paid for the food we wanted. Any money we gave to our guide went to him. We paid for our own food, and it was easy for people to share things or only get samples instead of ordering too much and wasting it. This made the tour even more interesting and fun!
I looked at doing food tours all over New York City, and the Lower East Side was home to Germans, Greeks, Italians, Jews, Chinese, and more. The culture and history in this area of New York are diverse, and so is the food. There is a pretty great food tour in Chelsea Market, but the diversity in this area makes it the perfect spot for a food tour! If you’re looking for more great things to do in New York, the New York Pass includes a ton to do and might just be worth it. I also loved that the Lower East Side is right near the Brooklyn Bridge which is where I was headed next after this tour.
Lower East Side Food Tour
This was such a great tour because, for one, our guide was a real New Yorker. He knew the shop owners everywhere we went. It was also perfect because there were people from all different countries and walks of life. Our guide was funny and entertaining while still helping us all learn so much about the Lower East Side food scene. He took us to all the classic spots that I expected and did it all at a budget price!
We met up outside our first stop on the food tour: Yonah Shimmel Knish Bakery. It was the perfect first stop! It was easy to find (important for a tour!), had plenty of space, and gave you an authentic New York experience—plus Knishes, a Jewish food made of potatoes and potatoes, are my favorite!
Up next were two famous New York City food spots: Russ and Daughters and Katz’ Deli. We heard about the history of the Lower East Side as we snacked and walked down the streets full of New York history.
We then stopped in at A Laboratorio del Gelato which had SO many kinds of gelato. They allow you to sample a few and then order. I highly recommend trying some of the fun flavors, like siracha lavender, before getting your delicious favorites, like caramel latte. It was a unique and unexpected spot.
Our second sweet stop was Sugar Sweet Sunshine, which is famous for its not-so-pudding puddings. It’s more like layers of cake with pudding in between—just delicious. This place had a groovy 1970s vibe (can you tell by the wallpaper?!). There are incredible desserts all over New York City, and this one was perfect. After all these stops, I thought I might fall into a food coma, but we kept going!
We made stops for donuts at Doughnut Planet and ate some famous bagels at Kossar’s. In my case, I saved them because I was full. Plus, what is better on a Monday after a great weekend than an awesome bagel!
Our last stop was for pickles at The Pickle Guy’s right next door. This place was so unique! They pickled everything—fruit, peppers, cucumbers, potatoes, tomatoes. Make sure you try out some different kinds! They sell all their pickles as singles as well as by the quart. I took a whole quart of their famous full dill pickles home. I’m still snacking on them to this day!
A food tour was the perfect way to see a different side of New York, meet some fun people, and explore a place that I had heard so much about. If you ever want to take a Lower East Side food tour, make sure you check out Free Tours by Foot for some of their awesome tours!