After our walking tour of Central Park went so well, we decided to search FreeToursByFoot for another tour to fit into our free day.
There were 2 the fit the bill.. a graffiti walk around Harlem, or a food tour of Greenwich Village. As much as I like seeing street art, food tends to always swing the vote for us!
By the time I booked, there was only one spot left on the tour.. So I fired off a quick email to the tour office, and they assured me that it was no issue to bring an extra person. So, off we went to take in the sites and food favourites of Greenwich Village!
We met our guide at Waverly Restaurant, near Washington Square Park. Then, it was time to eat our way around Greenwich Village!
(Full disclosure… we actually learned quite a bit about the history of the area, and about many of the buildings and businesses we walked by, but we’ll save that for another post on another day!)
Here’s the eateries we stopped at on our tour….
Stop #1: Artichoke Pizza 111 Macdougal St
Perfect first stop on our tour.. Artichoke Pizza, where I’m sure you can guess what we sampled! This is something I probably wouldn’t order if we were walking by on our own, and I can definitely say it would have been a mistake to miss it!!
The thicker-then-normal-NYC-pizza crust is topped with a creamy spinach and artichoke sauce, creating the perfect balance of dough and sauce. It’s not the typical NY pizza crust, so don’t expect to be able to fold it! The recipe is highly guarded, but it’s safe to say it’s not exactly low-fat or healthy.. And at $5/slice or $30 for the whole pie, it’s certainly not healthy on your budget, either!
The size of $1 sample slice we got was perfect. A full slice probably would have been much too heavy, especially since there was still 5 stops to go on our tour!
Stop #2: Mamoun’s Falafel 119 Macdougal St
Mamoun’s has been serving up Middle Eastern food since 1971, and was actually one of the first Middle Eastern restaurants in America, so it was an obvious place to stop for falafels.
If you’ve never had a falafel before (I hadn’t!), they’re basically balls of ground chickpeas mashed together with herbs, then breaded and deep-fried. Mamoun’s uses nothing but fresh, natural ingredients and imported spices, and they are SO good!
At $2 for 3 balls, they are a really great snack.
Stop #3: Faicco’s Italian Specialties 260 Bleecker St
This authentic Italian butcher shop has been serving up fresh meats and Italian specialties since 1900, when owner Edward Faccio opened shop shortly after immigrating in 1896. They did move locations once in the 1940’s, and have been a staple on Bleecker street ever since. Definitely worth a stop in! Try one of their famous Hero’s, or one of their many other fresh-made sandwiches.
We got to try arancini balls here… (basically just a fancy name for cheesy rice balls) and we both loved them! At just $1 each, they made an awesome afternoon snack. If I lived in the area, I’d be in regularly!
Stop #4: Bleeker Street Pizza 69 7th Ave S
This one was Seth’s favourite stop on the tour. We sampled their signature ‘Nonna Maria’ pizza, and it was delicious!! Essentially a margarita pizza, it is named after the woman the shop was inspired by. Nonna Maria left her home in Tuscany at 19, and brought her family recipe with her.
After a 20 year career with the NYPD, owner Douglas Greenwood decided to take his Nonna’s family-favourite recipe, and create what became one of NYC’s top 5 places to eat.
At only $3-$.50 per slice, these pies- handmade with fresh, premium ingredients, are worth every penny!
Stop #5: Bantam Bagels 283 Bleecker St
The next stop on our tour took us around the corner to Bantam Bagels. If you’re a Shark Tank fan, you might remember them from season 6, where the 1 year old business secured a deal with Lori Greiner. Coincidentally, they were celebrating their third birthday on the day we stopped in!
It looked as though there are maybe 12-15 flavour choices each day, and as they sell out the choices decrease. When we arrived around 3:30PM, there was still 8-10 to choose from, but you could tell some of the favourites were gone already. Once you order your bites, they pop them into the toaster to give them a warm up, which was great.
I went for my favourite combo- Everything bagel with plain cream cheese, and Seth (not being a fan of cream cheese) tried the Birthday cake bagel with vanilla cream cheese. Mine was pretty much as expected, but Seth’s was a bit too sweet for our palettes. While tasty, at $1.25 each, I’d probably opt for a traditional NYC deli bagel with veggie cream cheese (love those fresh veggies!!), instead. Cool option for an event of any sort though!
Stop #6: Molly’s Cupcakes 228 Bleecker St
Our Greenwich Village food tour ended in front of Molly’s Cupcakes. If you’re a Food Network fan, you may have watched them win Cupcake Wars in 2010.
The shop is named after the founder’s third grade teacher, who used to bake cupcakes for all her students birthdays. They’ve tied the school theme into the whole place: the exterior is painted yellow to look like a school bus, the back corner features shelves with books and board games, and they even donate a potion of their sales to local schools!
The shop has made it’s name both through their build-your-own-cupcake menu, and their filled cupcakes. We (naturally) gravitated right to the cookies and cream stuffed cupcake, it looked too good to resist!
This stop was the ‘splurge’ of the day, at $3.75 for one cupcake. After filling up at the previous 5 stops, we were happy to just share one. We both agree that while it was delicious, the price tag didn’t exactly fit. I don’t know that I would beeline here next visit to the city.
Thanks for joining us on our food tour of Greenwich Village! If you ever find yourself in NYC (or one of the dozen other cities they offer tours in), I hope you look up FreeToursByFoot and see if there’s something that suits your interests!
One last thing before I leave you, I’ll touch on the payment side of these tours… As the name suggests, the tours are FREE, which certainly suits our budget! We did have to pay for our own food on this one, but at most places it was only $1 per person.
FreeToursByFoot is able to offer free tours because instead of hiring guides that need to be paid hourly, their guides are volunteers. This leads into their ‘pay what you will’ philosophy. At the end of the tour, you are able to give each guide whatever you’d like, or ‘think the tour was worth’ (in their words).
Here’s some math… There’s around 20 people on each tour, and most tours run 2 hours. If each person gives a minimum of $5, the guide will earn at least $100, or $50/hour. Not that I am suggesting that’s what you should tip, but it gives a good baseline. No matter what you do choose to tip, it is still going to be MUCH cheaper than any other tour in NYC, so be nice to your guide 😉