Feast your eyes on these foodie walking tours, which reveal the flavours and culture of cities from Lisbon to Lima, Havana to Hanoi

EUROPE

Porto

Taste Portos tours are rooted in fundamental beliefs about the gastronomic scene in Portugals second city. First, Portuenses like to keep things simple: so, no fusion experiments. Second, its as much about the people behind the food, as the food itself. Food is an expression of culture, says US-born Carly Petracco, who founded Taste Porto in 2013 with her Porto-born husband Miguel and his childhood buddy Andr. We like to show whos doing the cooking, whos serving the food, whos supplying the ingredients, and so on.

Shes good to her word. Walking the city with one of the six guides feels less like venue-hopping and more like dropping in for a catch-up with a series of food-loving, old friends. Everywhere you go (whether its the Loja dos Pastis de Chaves cafe with its flaky pastries or the Flor de Congregados sandwich bar with its sublime slow-roasted pork special) the experience is as convivial as it is culinary. And its not just food either. Taste Porto runs a Vintage Tour option that includes a final stop at boutique wine store, Touriga, where the owner David will willingly pair your palate to the perfect port.
Tours from 59pp, tours last 3-3 hours, tasteporto.com
Oliver Balch

Lisbon

Lisbon

A single espresso first thing on an empty stomach is the secret to a long and healthy life. So says 93-year-old Carlos Pina, whose father founded coffee roastery Negrita in 1924 and who still works there. One of only two roasteries left in Lisbon, Negrita is in a former stables in the Graa neighbourhood and has survived because the family own the building: elsewhere across the city rising rents are forcing decades-old businesses to close.

Graa and neighbouring Mouraria are still home to families who shop in local stores, making the two neighbourhoods ideal for Culinary Backstreets: its food tours aim to give visitors an insight into the citys history and culture. After breathing in the scent of coffee and roasted spices at Negrita, the tour takes in a traditional cerveceria for plates of clams, velvet crab and prego (steak sandwich). Then theres a shot of cherry liqueur at a local corner store and a takeaway grilled chicken eaten in the no-nonsense bar of a neighbourhood association another fast-disappearing feature of old Lisbon.

A contrast to these insights into old Lisbon is tiny A Taberna do Mar, which opened in 2018 opposite the church and convent of Graa. Here chef-owner Filipe Rodrigues combines his love of Japanese techniques, Portuguese produce and a passion for sustainability to create inventive dishes. Try samples of horse mackerel bone broth and smoked sashimi of yellow fin tuna. Even the pudding, based on traditional egg custard, has a hint of sardine. At 25 the 10-course tasting menu is a bargain and worth booking if you have another night in the city.
115, tour lasts around 6 hours, culinarybackstreets.com
Isabel Choat

Berlin

Berlin

An influx of creative talent and relatively affordable startup costs have meant the German capitals restaurant scene has boomed in recent years. Per Meurling, the Swedish founder of Berlin Food Stories, and Liv Fleischhacker, a food writer and founder of Nosh Berlin, the citys only Jewish food festival, are here to help sift through the glut of dining options. Tours kick off at Markthalle Neun, a refurbished food hall in the Kreuzberg area, and encompass everything from a look at Berlins thriving Turkish diaspora with a stop for dner kebabs and other signature staples, of course to German classics, such as eisbein (pickled ham hock) and knigsberger klopse (veal meatballs in cream sauce) at Max & Moritz. The guides take turns leading tours but each offers insights on how the citys history has helped shape its gastronomic present.
90pp, tours 3 hours, berlinfoodstories.com
Diana Hubbell

Barcelona

BARCELONA
Xarcuteria La Pineda

More than mere culinary tours, Devour Barcelonas small-group sojourns dive into the history and culture of the city and steer travellers towards lesser-known local haunts. On a morning stroll on the Tastes & Traditions of Barcelona tour, visitors skip the hordes at Mercat de la Boqueria in favour of a more civilised breakfast of charcuterie, cheeses and cava at Bar Joan at Mercado de Santa Caterina. After more stops in the El Born neighbourhood, the tour winds toward Barceloneta for vermouth and bombas (meat-and-potato croquettes) at Bodega La Peninsular and squid ink-stained paella at Can Ramonet. In the evening, the Tapas, Taverns & History tour delves into everything from the Spanish inquisition to the city war. The exact stops vary depending on the guide but may include a visit to Bodega La Palma for cider-braised pork cheeks or a glass of red straight from the barrel with flash-fried anchovies and cumin-scented butifarra sausage at La Plata, a barebones tapas joint that was a favourite of the late Anthony Bourdain.
Tours from 79pp, tours last 2 to 3 hours, devourbarcelonafoodtours.com
DH

Copenhagen

Guide

The first thing visitors note about Copenhagen is the vast number of bicycles: 43% of all commutes are done by bike. So, it is not surprising that visitors want to explore the city by bike, too. If you master the art of pedalling you should give Foods of Copenhagens culinary bike tour a spin as it involves exploring the less touristy areas of Nrrebro and Refshaleen.

Cindie Christiansen founded the company three years ago and she takes guests to the hippest places in town. A tour might include modern, open-faced sandwiches at Selma, desserts at Winterspring, hotdogs from Kejser Sausage at the Bridge Street Kitchen and fermented potato fries at Tapperiet Brus. It also includes local drinks, such as Nordic ciders at Rdder & Vin. Christiansen chooses places carefully, mixing street food and fine dining. All the food on the tour is consumed sitting down and eating a full dish rather than tastings. This makes for a longer tour but also for in-depth knowledge and a more sociable experience.
144pp including bike rental (which is yours for the full day), foodsofcopenhagen.com
Andrea Bak

Naples

Naples,
Naples, Italy. Photograph: Alamy

Despite its history and culinary traditions, an outdated reputation keeps Naples off some travellers Italian itineraries. Yet, Culinary Backstreets tour one of the newest among the companys global offerings illustrates just how much there is to discover in this hypnotic city. The tour begins outside the old city walls in Porta Capuana with a mid-morning espresso, rum baba and sweet, ricotta-filled sfogliatelle. Next up is a third-generation baccaleria for samples of salt cod, a healing glass of sulphuric water from Vesuvius, and a bruschetta-like snack in the citys last traditional friselle bakery. The 10 stops on the five-hour tour offer much more than quick bites and photo-ops. The guides have fostered relationships with the bakers, vendors, and cooks who make this food scene unique, and this allows rare peeks into bakers ovens and chats with artisans. A stroll among the buzzing stalls of a local market highlights a slice of Naples in an area many visitors are unlikely to see. The tour also hits the must-sees perfect for those on a tight schedule who dont want to miss tasting a Sorbillo pizza or a shot of limoncello.
107pp, tour 5 hours,
culinarybackstreets.com
Will Vibert

Palermo

Palermo
The Duchess of Palma gives a cookery class

The Duchess of Palma Nicoletta Lanza Tomasi has a crash course in Sicilian cuisine and it begins with a tour of Palermos Mercado del Capo. I didnt realise I knew so much about the citys history until I started teaching my cooking class to fund the upkeep of the palace, she says, working between her favourite spice merchant, fishmonger, shouty fruit and veg traders and stalls stacked with bags of pasta.

Part food tour, part cooking masterclass, Cooking with the Duchess delves deep into the way Palermitans have eaten for centuries, from the Arab traders that first set up Mercado del Capo 1,000 years ago to the Jewish, Normans and Greeks that made this city the street-food capital of Europe. It also ends at Nicolettas home, the cacti-lined 18th-century Palazzo Lanza Tomasi a palace on the citys seafront, where the Dukes father, author Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, once sat to write the iconic novel, Il Gattopardo (The Leopard).

I have always cooked traditional, Sicilian dishes to preserve the heritage of the island, says Nicoletta. The four-course menu changes seasonally but street-food inspired chickpea panelle, swordfish rolls and almond and pistachio pesto ruvidelli are examples of the recipes you can get hands on with in the palace kitchen, between herb foraging on the jasmine-laced terrazza and glasses of Sicilian wine. Then on to a tour of the palace and lunch with the Duke and Duchess in the grand banqueting hall.
146,
butera28.it
Anastasia Miari

ASIA

Shanghai

Morning
Morning star first stop on Untours breakfast tour. Photograph: Linfeng Li

Untours street eats breakfast tour starts with a tasting of three of Shanghais four most popular breakfast foods, collectively known as the four heavenly kings. There are crispy, oily, fried youtiao doughnuts, which are dipped into a freshly made sweetened soy milk that also helps wash down a dense cifantuan rice ball. This stodgy-and-satisfying Shanghainese dish combines white and red sticky rice, stuffed with salted duck egg and tart mustard pickles. These are enjoyed at Xiangcai Renjia, a Hunan-style restaurant that, in the morning, doubles as a breakfast joint, making use of the free seating to serve food made by the owners of the food stall next door.

Next, the tour moves to the Xiangyang Road area of the Former French Concession, where visitors can sample pancakes, steamed buns and dumplings, all served from tiny holes in the wall. The classic jianbing, or Chinese crepe, is a fitting substitute for the sesame pancake that is traditionally the fourth heavenly breakfast item. Jianbing, which is best enjoyed straight off the griddle folded around egg, fried wonton skin, pickles and spicy sauce, can be traced back 2,000 years to north-east China but is now popular across the country as an on-the-go breakfast.

Elsewhere, in a tiny sit-down place next door to the jianbing stall, there are rich and flavoursome pork-filled soup dumplings, served in a traditional bamboo steamer. Of course, breakfast in a city as cosmopolitan as Shanghai isnt all about tradition: trendy coffee shops also serve western-style choices with Chinese characteristics. At Egg, a cafe on nearby Xiangyang North Road, taste the brownie topped with peanut and numbing Sichuan peppercorns for a tingly, sweet contrast to the mornings savoury carb feast.
60pp, tour 3 hours,
untourfoodtours.com
Tess Humphrys

Hong Kong

Hong

Despite its name, there is more to Little Adventures Wonton-a-thon tour than just a sampling of Hong Kongs iconic dumplings. Each itinerary is tailored to the tastes of the guests, and could include succulent roast goose or deftly carved duck; a dazzling array of dim sum in an old-school tea house; a jarring shot of snake wine; or learning the finer points of oolong appreciation with a celebrated tea master. Stops on recent tours include Lin Heung Kui and its array of morsels served from trolley-mounted steam tables and sizzling grills, or For Kee, a quintessential cha chaan teng, the Hong Kong equivalent of a greasy spoon diner, known for its pork chops. The tour is narrated by a member of the Little Adventures team, which includes founder and journalist Daisann McLane, a local chef, and some noted food writers. The guides are Cantonese-speaking culinary experts who beyond their infectious enthusiasm for the foods of the Fragrant Harbour Hong Kong in Cantonese share their encyclopaedic knowledge of the city they live in and love.
125pp for half-day tour for a group of three.
littleadventuresinhongkong.com
Vincent Vichit-Vadakan

Bangkok

Bangkok
Bangkok Chili Paste Tour

Skip the gloopy stir-fried noodles on the tourist-trap of Khao San Road and explore the intricacies of Thai cuisine with Food Tours Bangkoks Chin Chongtong, a charismatic guide who has called Bangkok home for more than 15 years. Her Chili Paste day tours through Banglamphu, an especially atmospheric neighbourhood in Bangkok, include a street-food breakfast in an alleyway lined with historic shophouses, a stop for young coconut ice-cream from a vendor that has been making it for more than seven decades, lunch with a chef who pounds all of her curry pastes by hand, and a foray into Pak Khlong Talad, Bangkoks flower market. Meanwhile, the Thonburi Food & Art Walk ventures further off the beaten track to the side of the Chao Phraya River where few travellers go. Sample traditional Thai sweets at a shop that has been making them for 80 years and delicacies such as fried snakehead fish at Wang Lang Market.
57pp, tours up to 6 hours,
foodtoursbangkok.com
DH

Mumbai

Mumbai
Ice-cream stall, Mumbai

No Footprints Mumbais Khau Gully (street food walk) offers a condensed taste of the citys street food, starting with the ubiquitous vada pao at the Aram vada pao stall at the grand CST railway station serving spiced, mashed potato fritter, deep-fried, then pressed into pao (white bread) painted with chutney. A short saunter across is Mumbais oldest surviving eatery, Pancham Puriwala, a magnet for migrant labourers drawn to its fluffy puris and gravied potatoes.

In cacophonous Crawford Market, a five-minute walk away, is Badshah, serving its falooda (a colourful jumble of ice-cream, vermicelli noodles, jelly, rose syrup, nuts and basil seeds), the perfect cold drink for sun-charred Mumbai. Nearby is Kyani &Co, Mumbais oldest Irani cafe, specialising in all manner of meaty Parsi comestibles from masala-flecked mince to chicken patties to mutton cheese omelettes. Then onwards to Parsi Dairy Farm on Princess Street, purveyors of creamy kulfi (a sort of ice-cream made by simmering creamy milk for hours) and ghee-drenched sweetmeats.

On Chowpatty beach, honeycombed with food shacks, taste pao bhaji: mashed vegetables in a bath of butter, and bhel (potatoes, onions, puri, puffed rice, with a wash of sweet-sour and spicy chutneys), and a dusting of sev (hair-thin strands of fried chickpea flour) on top. Those more stern of stomach can visit the nearby restaurant Soam for the same dishes in more salubrious, air-conditioned environs. Then to the Babulnath dosa vendor for cheese-slicked dosa and spring Chinese dosa, the latter stuffed with capsicum, carrots, and skewered with soy and spicy schezwan sauce. The tour ends across the road at Dave Farsan Mart, home to superb vegetarian Gujarati snacks.
Around 30pp, transport extra, tours last 4-5 hours, nfpexplore.com
Meher Mirza

Tokyo

Sangenjaya,
Sangenjaya, Tokyo

Sangenjaya known locally as Sancha developed three centuries ago in Japans Edo period, and is named after the three teahouses that provided refreshment to pilgrims heading to the Grand Shrines of Ise. Today, little of that history remains but it has become known for its maze of narrow alleys, home to squat postwar buildings and the tiny restaurants, bars and cafes they contain.

The night-time tour by Tokyo Memories through the neighbourhood is led by Simon Berry, an Englishman whos lived in Sangenjaya for the last decade. Berry guide guests through a couple of favourites: Takomasu, a street-side takoyaki (fried octopus ball) stall that sells takoyaki sandwiches; Ogata, where guests make monjayaki, a cabbage-filled pancake.

Then its into the alleys, to Omasu, a kushikatsu restaurant owned by baseball fanatic Yoshi-san (kushikatsuis deep fried skewers of meat and vegetables). Its easy to get lost in these alleys but Berry navigates them confidently to Kiura, a sake bar behind a sliding door disguised as a shops back wall. After the oil-heavy kushikatsu, its a welcome change and a strong finish to the tour. The sake is refreshingly light and the food menu stretches from sashimi to a plate of lightly boiled, garlic-covered edamame.
100pp, tour 4 hours,
tokyo-memories.com
Oscar Boyd

Vientiane, Laos

Laos

When the French settled into Vientiane amid the heat on the middle Mekong in 1893, they puffed on opium, before a smoking ban reignited colonial passion and planning. They resurrected the City of Sandalwood, razed by marauding Siamese in 1827, with French shuttered buildings, uprighted the broken Buddha effigies, and ventured south to plant coffee. Today,

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/us

 

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