If you haven’t heard about Free Tours By Foot- check them out here. They offer FREE (*Pay what you feel the tour was worth) tours of multiples cities around the world. This tour specializes the most famous items on the menu for a discounted price. Samples range between $1-$2. The great thing about living in New York is the opportunity to go on these tours in our free time, but if you’re a tourist visiting NYC it is the perfect way to learn more about the city’s history without falling into a typical ‘tourist trap’. I highly recommend checking out the different tours they offer to see what peeks your interest!
Tip: These walking tours take place mostly outside, so if its Winter be prepared. It was 28 Degrees when we went on our tour- a little uncomfortable, but worth the experience.
-If you go on the food tour make sure you bring cash- preferable in smaller bills as each stop ranges between $1-$2 per sample, plus your tip for your guide at the end (Our guide was Erick- super knowledgeable and great!!)
Free Tours By Foot: East Village
Stop 1: Papaya King
Location: 3 St. Marks Place
On the Menu: $2 for Hot Dogs topped with your hearts desire of Sauerkraut and “NY Onions” (tomato paste and onions) & Tropical Smoothie Samples of : Mango & Coconut and Papaya.
Thoughts: What’s New York with out a true NY Hot Dog?! First of all- the Hot Dogs were delicious! I added a fork full of sauerkraut and NY Onions. The sample price got you half a hot dog- which doesn’t seem like a lot of first, but once you finish this tour you will be full) The smoothies were refreshing! They weren’t too sweet, or fake tasting either- my personal favorite was the mango-coconut.
Stop 2: V Spot- Latin Vegan Food
Location: 12 St. Marks Place
On the Menu: $2 Philly Vegan Empanadas: Packed with House-Made Seitan, Vegan Mozzarella & Cheddar Cheese, Mushrooms, Onions & Green Peppers; Served with Zesty Vegan Mayo
Thoughts: I’m going to be honest- Did I think it was possible to offer a good vegan… VEGAN Philly Empanada?! Well, V Spot proved me wrong! Amazing! You couldn’t tell that this place was vegan with the flavor! I love how they can incorporate a vegan menu without sacrificing the flavor with Latin cuisine- which is known for being meat dominant. I definitely recommend coming here- even if your not on the tour and want a savory vegan meal with Latin influence.
Stop 3: Mamouns Falafel
Location: 30 St. Marks Place
On the Menu: $1 for two falafel balls with tahini dipping sauce.
Thoughts: This was probably my favorite stop on the Free Tours By Foot I have been here before, and always go back when in the mood for Middle Eastern Food. It is the BEST falafel I’ve had! Packed with flavor! I had to order another sample! Our tour guide was telling our group that chef Mario Batali came here and thought they were the best as well. Mamoun’s has been a staple and I will keep coming back!
Iggy’s Pizza: (Getting full)… Stop 4: Iggy’s Pizza
Location: 173 1st Avenue
On the Menu: $1half slice of Classic “plain” pizza (just cheese)
Thoughts: NYC knows Pizza. I was really looking forward to a good slice for NYC Pizza, but I have to be honest. It did the job, it was tasty… good piece of pizza; however, It wasn’t anything groundbreaking… That could be because the sample was a plain piece, and not a specialty slice with toppings. It was not bad by all means, but I have had better slices in this neighborhood like: Artichoke Pizza and Stromboli’s.
Stop 5: Veniero’s Pastry
Location: 342 E. 11th St.
On the Menu: $2 Classic Vanilla Cannoli
Thoughts: To start, the ambiance of Veniero’s is SO classic! It takes you back to early 1900’s immigrant New York… I don’t think they did any renovations, but it’s so cozy with an eatery in back, while the pastries catch your eye in the front.
We tried the vanilla Cannoli- amazing! I was full from all I ate, but when it comes to desert… there is always room. If you want an authentic, Italian experience in New York you must check out Veniero’s. The selection of pastries and sweets are to die for! In fact, my family has been coming here for years! Every year we get my grandma the Strawberry Shortcake cake as a tradition.
Davey’s Ice Cream Stop 6: Davey’s Ice Cream
Location: 137 1st Avenue
On the Menu: A La Carte: Instead of paying for a sample, this place was up to you to purchase from the menu. It was 28 Degrees so I decided to skip- BUT I have had this ice cream regularly because I live nearby. My favorite flavor is Speculoos Chocolate Chip.
Davey’s is also Zagat Rated as one of NYC’s Best Ice Cream Shops- Definitely worth checking out when in the East Village.
Overall: An amazing way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Free Tours By Foot Tour lasted about 2.5 hours. If your visiting NYC or a local I recommend looking up the different tours they offer in NYC. A great way to learn about new things and look at your favorite city in a different perspective! Never too old to learn!
Again check out Free Tours By Foot Tour if you are looking to learn the history of New York or are a novice foodie like myself.