Food Tours New York City: The Art of Creating Your Own New York City Food Tour in SOHO
I love food (and food tours New York City) just as much as the next person.
Just ask my bank account and my therapist and they’ll tell you that my affinity towards foodie travel is REAL.
Self-guided food tours of New York City are probably one of the things that I spend most of my money on.
But you Know What Really Grinds My Gears?
When you shell out $40 a person just to go on some ragtag food tours in New York City, where you are served minuscule food samples and rushed through every stop while the tour guide stares you down as you eat.
Maybe that part is just me since I inhale my food and usually get three samples to share…with myself. But moving on.
Yeah, Thanks But No Thanks.
And while yes, there are a ton of AMAZING food tours in NYC and beyond (some great ones include NYC food tours Chelsea market, original Greenwich village food and cultural tour, Brooklyn food tours, Ahoy New York food tours, etc.), I always like exploring a city’s food culture on my own through an awesome, NYC food tour self guided since I’m my own best tour guide.
I can time to stop where I want, savor the food I enjoy, and explore the city at my own pace.
That’s why I am giving you this food tour itinerary for SOHO New York City (aka the area in Manhattan that lies between Houston and Canal and Bowery and 6th Avenue).
In terms of size, it’s a relatively small section of New York City.
What it lacks in size it makes up for in pure density of restaurants and cafes that churn out some of the best food New York City has to offer.
That’s Why You Need To:
Stick around, get hungry and learn about some of the foodie travel destinations in SOHO, NYC.
All Roads Lead to the New York City Subway
The New York City subway is not as hard to navigate as it may seem.
But Before You Enter the NYC Subway:
Just check to see if you are going Uptown or Downtown BEFORE you enter the station. Then, make sure that the station you are entering goes in that direction since not all stations have trains that go in BOTH directions.
Phew, glad we got the boringness out of the way so we can start salivating.
You’re in luck though since SOHO is really easy to get to.
Just take either one of the green 6 or 4 (the 4 is a little faster) lines to Spring Street.
Yup, That’s it.
And since SOHO is in Lower Manhattan, you’ll probably want to take the subway downtown, unless you’ re coming from Brooklyn.
Why Spring Street?
Legit, just walk down the block and it’s like foodie goodness just exploded all over the place, but in the best possible way since this will hopefully be your favorite edition of free food tours NYC.
First Stop? Dominique Ansel Bakery
Okay, I know.
This place isn’t exactly the most original destination for food in New York City. But, this place is super famous for a reason. So yes, the food is damn good.
But why stop here first?
Cronuts my friend. It’s all about the cronuts. These croissant and doughnut hybrids are so popular that if you come here after 9 am on a Saturday, they may just be sold out.
So make sure to stop here first!
Now in case, you aren’t in the know, Dominique Ansel Bakery releases one cronut flavor every month, and they never repeat a flavor.
Be prepared for Blueberry Coconut with Lemon Zest in July and Fig Marscapone in August.
That Being Said:
I wasn’t a huge fan of the banana weirdness but hopefully, Blueberry Coconut with zest is better than the one I had.
Just Remember That:
If you’re not into the Cronut craze, there is still some pretty awesome stuff to eat here. You can try a blooming hot chocolate (a marshmallow flower actually blooms atop the hot chocolate. Talk about some Harry Potter level sorcery), the chocolate chip cookie shots with vanilla infused milk (Only available in store after 3 pm. Otherwise you can purchase a to-go gift set), the frozen smore etc.
And Guess What?
There are two lines. So if you aren’t getting a cronut, you don’t have to wait in an epically long line.
Cronuts are still the shiz in New York. I waited over a half hour at 9 am.
Just Be Prepared to Order and Pay Quickly.
Remember, New Yorkers are always in a rush and you don’t want to be THAT guy fumbling around at the counter.
And skip the coffee, you’ll find better later in the tour.
***Located at 189 Spring Street (between Sullivan and Thompson). Open Monday through Thursday from 8 am to 7 pm and Friday/Saturday from 8 am to 8 pm. Open Sundays from 9 am to 7 pm.
Take a Break, Savor the Flavor and Gear Up for Our Next Stop… Ladurée in SOHO!
And yes, if you’ve been to Paris then this is the same one!
First of all:
Before you even set foot in this stunning and utterly delectable bakery/restaurant/cafe, please note that they have Macarons, not Macaroons.
There is a HUGE difference (maybe the most important thing you’ll learn on any walking food tours of New York City. LoL).
A traditional French, meringue-based cookie that is made with egg whites, icing sugar, granulated sugar, almond powder, and food coloring.
AKA it’s light and fluffy and delicious.
And comes in a variety of crazy flavors like bubble gum, rose petal, and not so crazy flavors like caramel, pistachio, chocolate, etc.
A small cookie, that is traditionally made from ground almonds, and sugar. Delicious but more dense, buttery, and coconutty than the French variety.
Don’t expect to find these coconut nuggets of delight here.
You’ll find an assortment of macaron flavors that are presented in exquisite gift boxes that you’ll never want to throw out.
And if you think the gift boxes are gorgeous, just step inside the restaurant
The decor here transports you back in time, into the world of grandeur, style, and grace that is reminiscent of the salons and cafes that dominated the Parisian landscape throughout the early 1900s.
In modern terms:
The decor here is an Instagrammers paradise; charming chandeliers, chic wallpaper, and statues that will have that selfie stick fo yours going wild.
So whether you sit down for table service or grab some macarons to go, this cafe is a foodie hotspot for anyone in SOHO.
Locations like this are why this area has some of the best New York City food tours.
***Laduree SOHO is located at 398 W Broadway and is open 9 am to 10 pm from Sunday through Wednesday and open until 11 pm Thursday through Saturday.
Need a Food Break?
So If you’re feeling full then now is a good time to take a breather.
Just stop by Ground Support Cafe.
This trendy cafe has a hipster feel and benches outside that make this quaint, independent coffee shop a stellar place to grab a cappuccino on a nice sunny day.
They also serve food.
But since we were just at Laduree across the street, I’m pretty sure you’re probably not hungry.
Their drinks are pretty fancy so this is a REAL coffee shop. I mean they have a Cortado and Chemex. Need I say more?
Yeah, no clue what those drinks are.
But I’m sure someone out is more proficient than I in the mystical tongue of coffee and knows all about those hardcore espresso drinks that only the best coffee shop in New York City serve.
***Located at 399 West Broadway and open on weekdays from 7 am to 8 pm and on Weekends from 8 am to 8 pm.
Two roads diverged in a wood and I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.
Yeah, I’m not Robert Frost and this NYC Food Tour ain’t that serious. But from here, you can either go to Magnum and make your own ice cream bar (because that’s all the rage), or you can head over to the MOMA Design Store and then Double Back.
The Choice is Yours:
So choose wisely. Indiana Jones Anyone?
Can you tell I’m slightly over the Magnum NYC make your own ice cream bar thing?
If You’re Not Familiar:
It’s the latest in a long line of NYC pop up shop that has all the Instagram kids going goo goo gaga because it is currently one of the most Instagrammable places in New York City.
But What is it really?
Well, to make your own ice cream bar, you first need to decide between white, dark, or milk chocolate as your dip.
These are the REALLY tough decisions in life.
You get to choose from over twenty, super fancy toppings, like Himalayan Sea Salt, Rose Petals, Urfa Biber chile flakes, dried cherries, salted caramel coated cookies, etc.
Think like the Project Runway of ice cream shops.
But the Super Cool Part?
They have these “Lookbook Bars,” that are released in pairs, between June 1 and Labor Day, and that look like edible art that is ALMOST too pretty to eat, especially since they are one of the most Instagrammable desserts in New York City.
Magnum really stepped it up by using colored chocolate because now your ice cream bar can look like a tye dye shirt!
Hippie, I mean Hipster, dreams really do come true.
Yup, there are now ice cream bars that are ALMOST as cool as me.
Kidding! I’m the anti-cool kid (So take pity on me and tell me that this is quickly becoming the best food tour NYC).
***Located at 132 Spring Street and open 11 am to 8 pm every day, except Sunday when they are only open until 7 pm.
Onwards and Upwards (as we gently caress our food babies) to the MOMA design store.
I am not a huge fan of shopping in NYC but the MOMA design store is like a super cool design museum where you don’t pay for admission and where you can buy all the art, and at mildly affordable prices too!
All the designs here are modernist (hence the acronym Moma aka Museum of Modern Art) in style and interesting to both look at and consider. Not like I actually know what they mean but I still try!
(I mean for a mere $200, you can purchase a vibrant replica of Andi Warhol’s skateboards with the iconic Campbell’s soup cans on them. Or you can just oh and ah like me)
If you wanna visit the real deal museum, and I suggest you do, head on over to West 53rd street.
So Stop Here:
Take a break from stuffing yourself silly, on this DIY food tour NYC, and making your pants way too tight. Get in the game because you need to make room for our next stop!
***This super rad store is located at 81 Spring Street and is open from 10 am to 8 pm every day except Sunday when the store is open from 11 am to 7 pm.
Balthazar, Here We Come!
Now is the time to assess your hunger level on this food crawl NYC.
If you are at a one, then I suggest stopping by Balthazar Bakery and grabbing a to-go bag. They have a bakery with fab croissants, danishes, and muffins that will all make a killer breakfast tomorrow AM.
Not a sugar addict?
They also bake savory croissants as well as spinach and cheese danishes for anyone looking for something that won’t make their dentist cringe in disgust.
By my favorite part?
They sell mini pastries! This way, you can try an assortment of carb bombs without feeling like a total fatass.
This Bakery is cozy (aka tiny) so there are no tables.
If you’re looking to devour these delectable pastries ASAP then stroll on over to the super cool, Elizabeth street neighborhood garden and grab a seat there.
One of the quirkiest and most eclectic gardens that I have ever been to (located between the Basilica of Saint Patrick and the New Museum).
Feel like a more formal dining experience?
Right next door is Balthazar Restaurant, an iconic French brasserie that serves everything from brunch to pastries to fresh seafood daily. It’s pretty delicious but popular, so be sure to make a reservation in advance.
And no, this is not the place get cheap eats in New York City but a great place for any foodie travelers out there.
High prices, one of the most iconic food trends NYC that never seem to go away.
At This Moment, We Will Take a Brief Break from the Foodie Frenzy and Stroll Over to Harney and Sons SOHO
Oh wait, you’re not a fan of tea?
Yeah, neither am I really. But I am a HUGE fan of Harney and Sons.
Not only do they provide you with hundreds of flavors of high-quality tea to choose from, that come in both the iced and hot variety, but the store is staffed with friendly and helpful sales associates who want nothing more than to make you happy.
I know, so weird in New York City.
Plus, the walls are literally lined, from floor to ceiling, with the finest quality teas that you can actually taste while standing at the counter.
So grab a shopping basket and stock up on literally every tea imaginable. And the price point isn’t bad either. You won’t end up paying $30 for a tiny tin of tea. You’ll pay maybe like $8.00 a tin.
No Harney and Sons near you?
That’s cool. Not only can you order their tea on Amazon, but many local grocery stores also carry some of their most popular flavors.
***Located at 433 Broome Street, the hot cinnamon spice tea is my fave so clearly, you should buy that. And the store is open every day from 11:30 am to 6:30 pm, except Wednesday.
We’re Hitting Another Fork (Get the Pun?) in the Road Guys! So depending on how hungry you are, you can head over to the Basilica of Saint Patrick’s or NOMO Kitchen because both are awesome.
I’ m not having some born-again religious experience.
This stop doesn’t have too much to do with the church. This is just the location of a fabulous local street market.
Just outside the Basilica, local vendors are lined up along the sidewalk and sell everything from jewelry to clothing to wall art.
And not stuff you will find at Walmart either.
Many of these vendors sell items with a unique local charm since many of their wares are actually handcrafted, like the rings that one vendor creates out of spoons and forks.
How Cool Right?
Makes me almost, sort of like shopping, just a little bit.
But if Shopping in New York City Sounds About as Much Fun as a Tooth Extraction then Nomo Kitchen in SOHO it is.
Not only does this hotel restaurant have a menu of delectable brunch items that make me swoon, but the decor here is absolutely stunning and an Instagrammers paradise.
The entrance to Nomo Kitchen is covered by a topiary of neatly trimmed leaves that create a beautiful, botanical tunnel that serves as the entrance to the building.
People use this spot for impromptu photo shoots. I literally had to not so politely ask one woman to move because she has been there for a solid half an hour and I was sick of waiting.
But I digress.
There are also quaint wooden seats, tables, statues, and trees that create a fantastic patio, in front of the restaurant, where you can sit, relax, and take photos after your meal.
Once inside though:
You will be absolutely astounded.
Between the modern glass roof, that floods the restaurant with copious amounts of light, the exquisite crystal chandeliers that magically dance the light through the air, and the walls that are adorned with vibrantly colored, street art style hearts, you definitely won’t leave without taking a few (hundred) photos.
All this and we haven’t even discussed the FAB brunch menu or the helpful staff.
One word, okay actually three but Lemon Ricotta Pancakes. So good. Served with a dusting of powdered sugar, some fresh mixed berries, and a sprinkling of candied pistachios and you’ll have a hard time not asking for seconds.
The Avocado Toast with a poached egg is also really good too.
But’s let be real:
Pancakes are a bit more fun than avocado toast.
Does this sound a bit out of your price range though?
Well, you’re in luck. All the entrees served here, besides the steak and eggs, are under $20. So even if your budget is tight (kind of like your pants are after eating here), you can still enjoy some of the finer things in life, like pancakes. Lots and lots of pancakes.
Oh and dress up a smidge.
This place feels a little fancy smancy. But not intimidatingly so. Like no ball gown needed for one of my favorite fun NYC brunch spots.
***At Nomo SOHO at 9 Crosby Street. Open every day from 7 am to 11 pm.
Shut the Front Door! Did Someone Say Ice Cream? Why Yes! Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream to be Exact.
So right when you set eyes on this FINE purveyor of some of the best ice cream in New York City:
You know it’s gonna be good. I mean the whole shop screams vintage, 1950s malt shop.
You feel like all you need is a poodle skirt or bomber jacket and you’ll ready to hit the sock hop, or if you’re feeling saucy, maybe you’ll get pinned and hold hands at lovers lane.
Sorry, I know that was a little X-rated.
But I LOVE the feel here. The employees even wear those little white hats that all the food service people wore in the 50s.
However, it’s not all about the decor at Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream!
The ice cream here is absolutely off the chain.
Is that what cool kids say nowadays?
I’ve never been cool so I wouldn’t know.
The shop also has these really interesting flavors like burnt honey vanilla, salt and pepper pinenut, burnt sage, and a few more traditional flavors like Rockiest Road.
My personal; fave?
And the kicker?
I’m not a huge fan of raspberry cheesecake. But somehow, I loved this flavor since it felt like pure magic in my mouth. And I never wanted the magic to end.
So stop by and pick up a thin slice of heaven for me.
Just make sure you get two though because no one will want to share something Walt Disney level magical.
***Located at 2 Rivington Stree and open Sunday through Thursday from 8 am to 11 pm and open Saturday and Sunday until Midnight.
Once You’re Hoovered Your Ice Cream, it’s on to the New Museum
No, not a new museum.
That’s the name of this museum, in case you’re mildly confused. I feel like they could have come up with a better name but it’s all good.
So why visit The New Museum?
Well, this contemporary art mecca is entirely dedicated to showcasing the latest contemporary art exhibits from around the world.
Expect a lot of highly innovative, multi-media art displays with intriguing commentaries on the impact of technology on our daily lives.
Currently on display?
The work of an artist that I didn’t even know I loved.
Thomas Bayrle, of Germany, creates pieces that analyze the unique relationship that has developed between technology, propaganda, and desire.
(Seriously an amazing exhibit where he uses one small, repetitive symbol to create larger mosaics that are displayed throughout the museum).
And FYI, this is a smaller museum! Woo Who! No museum burnout here!
Makes it much more manageable since you can see everything in about two hours.
The only annoying thing?
This museum is really narrow and tall, so there is only one elevator that takes everyone to the seven floors of the museum.
Yeah, it gets a bit slow and annoying to wait.
That’s why I suggest using the stairwell. Just make sure it’s not the emergency exit cause I could so see myself setting off the fire alarm by accident.
If you visit on the weekends, the Sky Roon is open and you can get a nice view of the city from the seventh floor. I mean, it’s not the most amazing view I’ve ever seen but it’s a lovely place to sit, relax, and watch the city go by.
***Located at 235 Bowery, the museum has pay what you wish hours on Thursday nights between 7 pm and 9 pm. Otherwise, the museum costs $18 for adults, $15 for seniors, and $12 for students. The museum is also open from 11 am to 6 pm Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday through Sunday. The museum is also open on Thursday with extended hours from 11 am to 9 pm.
I Know This Has Been a Long Day (I’m Tired Just writing About it), But Freeman’s is Our Last Stop if You’re Up for It!
Look, I get it.
You’re probably stuffed, exhausted, and broke, but even if you don’t eat at Freeman’s, this restaurant is still worth a visit.
This stellar eatery is tucked away at the end of, you guessed it, Freeman’s Alley; a fun little alley that is decorated with all sorts of fantastic street art that is totally worth a look.
The art along the alley is the only indicator that you are actually in New York City.
The eatery itself has a quaint, light turquoise exterior with an outer facade that screams country charm.
And if it’s possible:
The interior is even more charming with its rustic paintings and antler wall hangings that make you feel like you’re in a country cabin and not in the middle of New York City.
So even if you don’t stop in and try the Quinoa Bowl (it’s really good. I practically licked the plate), do try and explore this alley and all the hidden gems of New York that can be found within it.
That’s All Folks!
And I bet you’re happy about that.
Because this DIY New York City food tour is insanely long.
Totally worth it and totally delicious, in my humble opinion.
You don’t really have to walk too much since most of these New York City attractions are within ten blocks of one another.
So get your foodie groove on.
And feel free to sport a food baby for me. No judgment here!