Six Professional Food Guides Share Their Favorite Restaurant Experiences

Did you know that you could have a career as a "Professional Foodie"? Food tour guides spend a lot of time around the most delicious food you can imagine. Picture gourmet dim sum,  phở, and Peking duck one night, followed by the best pizza, rice balls, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate chip cookies, and private tastings in the private back room of Murray's Cheese the next day. Imagine eating at the best new restaurants and trying every food trend this city has to offer, which is, of course, part of your job. If you are a Foods of NY food and culture tour guide, that is your reality, and you even have an annual budget to learn about the history, traditions, delicacies, and hidden gems for every neighborhood tour.

Foods of New York tours recently celebrated its 15th year in business and announced an exclusive partnership with Chelsea Market. To celebrate these big achievements, the tour guides are sharing with The Daily Meal their favorite food experiences from their unique "insider" perspective:

Amy Bandolik, Foods of NY Director of Operations

I met my husband where he works, at HOME restaurant — a stop on our Greenwich Village Tour. I was in the neighborhood (and lived across the street) dropping off orders for the next day and chatting with the chef about Food Tour business — and there he was. I now dine at HOME restaurant every Wednesday night, while my husband works. I sit in the charming garden (open all year round), in the chilly winter air, with the heat lamps blazing so I don't disturb others, since my new date is our 2-month-old son! Don't worry, I'm a good tipper.

The full story is here in this New York Times Engagement Article. One of our other tour guides also met her fiancée on the tour at another restaurant.

Robin Higginbotham, Foods of NY Tour Guide


For my 40th birthday, I wanted to have a very special evening out in New York. My family was coming from Rhode Island and Massachusetts to help me celebrate, and I wanted it to be an evening to remember New York City style. I chose Il Buco Restaurant (highlighted on our Nolita tour) on Bond Street. We had an unforgettable evening dining in their wine cellar, which is rumored to have inspired Edgar Allen Poe's "Cask of Amontillado." It was the perfect choice for a one-of-a-kind New York experience. My family, friends and I enjoyed irresistible food and wine in the most enchanting setting. It was rustic elegance in both the food and the setting.

Darrel Blackburn, Foods of NY Tour Guide 

Stanton Social Club French onion soup dumplings were the most amazing appetizer I had last year, which I shared with my nephew on the Lower East Side. We finished our meal with the Red Velvet Twinkie, which was a revelation. Every New York City restaurant seems to do a variation on red velvet, which I love. You should check it out.  

Rebecca James, Foods of NY Tour Guide

I've had many top-notch meals in New York, but perhaps one memory that sticks out is a Sunday morning brunch at Barney Greengrass on the UWS. My friend and I were seated at a very tiny table and had as-good-as-it-gets bagels and lox and bottomless cups of good coffee. I'd never had bagels and lox prior to moving to New York, and that meal was one of those moments when I realized I was morphing into a "real" New Yorker!

Ted Mineau

Having butterscotch pudding at HOME Restaurant (Greenwich Village tour), real pudding, like my mother used to make when I was a kid, not like Jell-O pudding, with real whipped cream. And tour attendees get a coupon for one!  

Bert James , Foods of NY Tour Guide


Well, this is going to be a little corny but... when my colleagues Amy and Todd dined with me at Le Gigot (a spot on the Original Greenwich Village tour) for our first meal together, I knew I was going to be happy in my new job. I remember exactly what we ate. Obviously, we started with the crab cakes. We had beef stew and finished with the apple tart. When Todd made sure the crème fraîche was facing away from him, I knew it was the start of something pretty cool.