Culinary Backstreets

Culinary Backstreets has been running urban food tours since 2009. They currently offer tours in Mexico City, and Queens, New York as well as in 12 other cities throughout Asia and Europe. While guests will get to know their local guide throughout the tour, the larger focus is on the small, family-run cafes, food trucks, and restaurants that they visit and what those places mean to the neighborhood. 

Culinary Backstreets tours are not just about food

Like the most memorable food tours I’ve joined, from Sydney to Tokyo, Culinary Backstreets tours are not just about food. While there is food at every key stop, there’s also a seemingly endless history lesson between every bite. While I always want to know what I’m eating, I also prefer to know the history behind it. What makes Culinary Backstreets different from many of the other food tours I’ve joined is their focus on the local business owners and their role in the community. For example, while on the Corona’s Culinary Essentials tour, I had the chance to hear many inspiring stories of how Mexican, Colombian, and Ecuadorian chefs ending up leaving it all behind to try their luck in America’s most diverse borough. 

No matter where you are, food tours give you the opportunity to sample a lot of different items in a short period of time

When you join a Culinary Backstreets food tour, you can be confident that they won’t fill you up on one item. You’ll get to sample a handful of different local staples from sweet to savory. Their guides speak nearly perfect English and will explain everything before any member of the group touches a concha or takes a single bite of their mini taco. When you make your online reservation, you can mention any dietary restrictions you have.

Your Culinary Backstreets guide will speak the local language

This may sound like an odd one since I’m a native English speaker writing about a tour I joined with an English-speaking guide in an English-speaking country, BUT, we are talking about Queens. It’s not only New York’s most diverse borough, but according to many estimates, if Queens were a separate city, it would be the most diverse in the world. To put this into perspective, 800 different languages are spoken here. The Corona’s Culinary Essentials tour ends in Jackson Heights, where 167 different languages are spoken.

Many of the business owners and service staff you’ll meet will speak basic English, but not may not be able to explain every dish you are sampling, or why they chose to open on Junction Blvd as opposed to 103rd Street. But your local guide will be able to facilitate any conversation you want to have about where that amazing champurrado recipe came from or where the first alajores were sold. As a personal note, when I took the Corona’s Culinary Essentials tour, I’d been visiting Corona and Jackson Heights for more than ten years and was only familiar with one of the stops we made.

Going on tours at home gives me the opportunity to promote my own tours

Going on group tours gives you the opportunity to meet other travelers with similar interests. You’ll often spend more time between stops than at the actual stops. This gives you the opportunity to get to know your guide and the other guests. And when you go on tours in your own city, you can always mention the excursions you offer. Many guides are happy to pass along brochures, business cards, etc. of other tour guides/companies. Personally, I discovered Hush Tours through Bronx Historical Tours and have had amazing experiences throughout the Bronx with both companies. 

If you’re a fan of The Ramones, I offer a Ramones Walking Tour in Manhattan.

I also offer a Goodfellas Tour of Brooklyn and Queens.

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This post was sponsored by Culinary Backstreets. You can check out their different NYC tours here. They also offer tours in Meixco City as well as twelve other cities in Asia and Europe. Read what people are saying on TripAdvisor.

All pictures were shot with a Panasonic Lumix ZS100 4K Point and Shoot Camera, with the exception of any Instagram pics

Have you been to Queens? If so, what did you eat? Where?