While I would say my aunt Rebecca and I are locals or New Yorkers at this point, there’s still so much of the city we have yet to explore from its food to its history. So, when there’s an opportunity to discover a little piece of Manhattan I’ve never seen before, I’ll take it!
And so, that brings us to this past weekend when my aunt and I took the Sidewalks of New York: West Village Foodie Tasting Tour. We’ve been on several walking tours as of late from Chinatown to Harlem to now the West Village. This was definitely one of the more enjoyable (and tastier) ones (though it’s hard to compare as they’ve all been so different). What can I say? Bec and I loving a good walking tour!
First, I should mention our great tour guide Dante. He was personable, energetic and very knowledgeable about the area. This tour had a good mix of historical and cultural facts about the neighborhood (both that of revolutionary New York when Greenwich was farmland to it’s role as little bohemia and as a Mecca for artists over the years). Dante shared this all in a very accessible and humorous fashion!
Here’s Dante telling our group about the façade over Little Owl – the exterior in Friends.
For example, did you know? (These are all a bit random but I was a bit preoccupied by the food!).
- There’s between 10,000 to 20,000 bodies buried under Washington Sq Park…. Yikes.
- Jackson Pollack and Dylan Thomas (among others) frequented Minetta Tavern in the 20s and 30s. (Also, I didn’t realize a scene in Mad Men apparently takes place in the restaurant… need to rewatch the series now!). Happy I had the pleasure of eating here last summer!
- Some say, the phrase “to 86 someone/something” originated at Chumley’s bar at 86 Bedford Street in the Village during the era of Prohibition.
- The difference between Broadway and off Broadway shows is not about the theater’s relation to Broadway (as I always thought was the case). But in reality, it has to due with the amount of seats in the theater with Broadway shows having a larger capacity of seats than say off Broadway or off-off Broadway…
I’ll save the rest, as I don’t want to spoil the tour. But honestly, you really do learn something new everyday!
I will say, the highlight of this tour was, of course, the food. We walked through different areas of Greenwich and the West Village from Sixth Avenue to Eighth Avenue, sampling different cuisines as we went. As Dante reminded me, they say you could eat breakfast, lunch and dinner at a different restaurant in New York every single day and it would take you more than 100 years to get through all of them! I can say now, I got through at seven over the course of this tour so at least that’s something…
- Falafel at Mamoun’s falafel (it’s the oldest falafel restaurant in the city!)
- Sopressata and arancini at Faicco’s Italian Specialties
(I love a good butcher shop… is that weird??)
- Bacon at Fatty ‘Cue
(You had me at bacon, Dante!).
- A bagel and smear at Hudson Bagels
(I really got to start eating more New York bagels… they really are amazing!).
- A carnitas taco at Choza Taqueria
- A slice of Margarita pizza at Aritchoke Pizza.
- A cannoli at Pasticceria Bruno
This selection of tastings was wide, showcasing the diversity of the cuisine in not only New York, but also the Village. They were perfect bites as we walked and I was pleasantly full by the end! A Saturday afternoon spent noshing is fine in my book!
I’ve been to the West Village many times since moving here (it’s one of my favorite neighborhoods) and we still walked down streets and past landmarks that I’ve never seen before. That’s something I love about New York and the beauty of going on a tour like this. It might seem touristy, but I can confidently say I’m learning more about the city than most real New Yorkers who’ve lived here for their entire lives may know.
If you’re in the NYC area, I would highly recommend this tour in particular from Sidewalks of NY. But, I’d love to do any of their other tours and look forward to doing so!