- Culinary walks
- Our Story
|2-7 people||Corona||~5-6 hours||10:30am|
Quick bite: On this full-day, deep dive into the immigrant cooking experience in Queens, we’ll visit Corona and Elmhurst, two unassuming neighborhoods that have managed to stay under the radar while other parts of the borough have become increasingly popular destinations.
The largest of New York’s five boroughs, Queens is the home of over two million people, half of them born outside the United States, speaking more than 150 different languages. It’s perhaps the only place on the face of the planet where Tagalog bumps up hard against Romanian. It’s also home to countless immigrant stories of the most classic kind: a newcomer arrives and sets up shop – or, more frequently, cart – selling the food of his or her homeland as the first step towards making it in America. As a result, for the culinary explorer, Queens is truly the promised land.
Queens is home to countless immigrant stories. For the culinary explorer, it is truly the promised land.
On this deep dive into the immigrant cooking experience in Queens, we’ll visit Corona and Elmhurst, two unassuming neighborhoods that have managed to stay under the radar while other parts of the borough have become increasingly popular destinations. We’ll start our day off in bustling Corona Plaza, in the shadow of the elevated tracks of the 7 train, for a visit to a family-run Mexican bakery and, not far away, a taste of handmade tortillas and, on the weekends, pit-roasted goat. Also near the plaza, we’ll stop into a small bakery and café, owned by an immigrant who got his start toiling in the back kitchens of Manhattan restaurants, for a traditional cemita, the behemoth sandwich that’s the pride and joy of Puebla, Mexico.
From there our walk will continue along Roosevelt Avenue, the area’s main artery and Queens’s own version of the Pan-American Highway, ducking into markets and stopping by vendors representing Mexico, Ecuador and Argentina. On a side street, we’ll drop by a Colombian “fast food” joint for that country’s almost surreal take on the New York hot dog, with topping options that include cheese, ham, bacon, eggs, pineapple and crushed potato chips (preferably all together).
Before leaving Corona and its Latin American kitchens, we’ll make our way to a beloved Uruguayan grill house to share a chivito, a monstrous steak sandwich, and then head over to neighboring Elmhurst, home to a number of thriving immigrant communities from throughout Asia. As we walk along Queens’s own Broadway, Elmhurst’s main drag, our stops will include a Tibetan momo hole-in-the-wall, a hip Thai grocery-cum-community center, a Chinese dumpling and hand-pulled noodle shop and a small spot serving the crossroads cuisine of China’s Henan province.
We’ll end our day at a neighborhood cafe – part of a local mini-chain opened by an immigrant family from Taiwan – that specializes in desserts made from the intriguing durian fruit, for an end of the day sweet and another reminder that what has always made America great is the ability for anyone from anywhere to come here and make a successful new start.
Fee includes everything consumed on the walk. Some special features:
|Visit residential neighborhoods||Children welcome|
|Terrain fairly flat/ Stroller – friendly||Most stops can be altered for vegetarians & pescaterians|
What is included in the fee?
In addition to your Culinary Backstreets guide, all food consumed on the walk – more than a dozen different edible specialties – are included in the price. Alcoholic beverages are not included.
Why is the Culinary Backstreet tour more expensive than some other walking tours?
Our approach is different than most tour companies. Each of our culinary walks is the outcome of considerable research. We work with academics in the field and our own team of experienced professionals – both guides and local journalists. Our ongoing publishing of articles, from restaurant reviews to features about the intersection of food and culture, constantly feeds new material into the culinary walks, so they evolve and constantly improve. Though costly, we believe that this is how to create the quality experiences we strive for.
We practice honest tourism and would never accept a free lunch or any sort of commission. On the contrary, we are proud to know that the money spent during the culinary walk goes to support businesses that we believe in, helping to preserve the social and cultural fabric of the cities we love so dearly.
How does the payment process work?
Once you have made a reservation, we require the full $150 fee to be paid in order to complete the online booking. Our online booking system uses Stripe to process secure payments. Your card is only charged if the walk is confirmed.
What is your cancellation policy?
100% will be refunded if given 1 week notice prior to walk and 50% will be refunded if given 72 hours notice or more. All refunds may be subject to credit card processing fees.
Are your walks public or private? How many people are on them?
Our walks are 2-7 people and are open to the public. If you would like to do a private walk, we may be able to arrange one for an additional fee. Please contact us at [email protected] for more information.
Can I get a discount if I join more than one walk?
Yes, we offer a 10% discount to those who join more than one walk. Please email us at [email protected] if you’d like to join multiple walks.
Are your walks suitable for people with food allergies?
This can vary based on a number of factors, including the food item in question. Please email us at [email protected] to discuss your situation before booking.
Are your walks suitable for vegetarians, pescetarians, and vegans?
This walk can be altered for vegetarians and pescetarians but vegans will have difficultly partaking in all of the stops. All dietary restrictions should be noted in the booking.
Are your walks suitable for a gluten-free diet?
This walk can be altered for gluten-free diets, but, please note this in your booking.
How physically demanding are the walks?
This walk covers a couple of miles of walking but it is on fairly flat terrain and is not demanding physically.
Can children join the walks?
Of course! We offer a 50% discount to children ages 12 and under, and we do not charge for children under the ages 6 and under. The route is fairly stroller-friendly.
Can you pick me up from my hotel? How will I return, once the tour is over?
Our tour prices don’t include transportation. If you book a tour, you’re responsible for arriving to the pre-arranged meeting spot on your own.
Once the tour is over, we will help you get an authorized, safe taxi to your hotel, or provide directions on public transportation, if you’re interested in that.
How do I get back to the meeting point when the tour ends?
The end point is a 25 minute walk from the meeting point, about a mile away for both ways. You could also take the R or M trains for 2 stops and transfer to the 7, which would take about 15 minutes.
How much food will I get to try?
This is really up to you. We generally make between 10 and 12 eating stops on our walk and try to include some breaks from eating along the way. The price includes as much food as you’re open to trying. We offer a suggested portion size at each stop and you can take our recommendation if you’d like. Our walks often involve street food and sharing food.
Is Queens safe these days?
Yes, we find Queens a very safe place to explore. We do hit some crowded areas and always suggest that you keep important valuables and passports at your hotel.
This is not a tour for the Instragram-happy foodies […]; it pushes you to look more deeply into your food choices, to examine how what we eat intersects with the economics of immigration and gentrification […] until now I had never considered the socioeconomic ramifications of which food trucks I frequent. Read more
[Culinary Backstreets] is trying to get residents and visitors of New York City to explore beyond Manhattan… the company has published the “Beyond the Courts Queens Food Guide.” It is being distributed at the development corporation’s kiosk at the tennis center. Read more
This tour wasn’t just about the food. It was also a fascinating insight into the immigration in New York. Watch here
“A few weeks ago, our engineer David Tatasciore and I went to Queens for a day of tasting New York’s most diverse boroughs, many street food options, with Culinary Backstreets, a tour company that focuses on the small and often under-appreciated mom-and-pop kind of places that truly encompass the culinary heartbeat of a city.” Listen here
Culinary Backstreets is a food tour company that takes groups through a trio of neighborhoods in Queens, New York, one of the most ethnically diverse urban areas in the world. Listen here
Cano’s other son, Enseider Arevalo, leads Culinary Backstreets tours in the Queens neighborhoods of Corona and Elmhurst. … More than just selections of indigenous foods, Culinary Backstreets delves into the culture, history and stories of the people and establishments visited. Read more
For a taste of a destination, throw away your guidebook and turn to Culinary Backstreets. The food blog and tour company helps travelers experience a city’s true flavors by learning the stories of the locals who bring them to life. Read more