Discover downtown Phoenix through Taste it Tours
by Kellie Hwang – Apr. 4, 2012 10:28 AM
The Republic | azcentral.com
City walking tours incorporate sight, hearing, touch and smell. But on a new downtown walking tour, taste is the most important of the senses.
Taste It Tours gives visitors an in-depth look at downtown Phoenix’s rich history, as well as a taste of the culinary destinations it has to offer. The concept was developed by Arizona native Jessica Combest, who went on several food tours and decided downtown Phoenix needed one.
“I kept noticing what could be better about tours I had been on,” she said. “I have such a deep passion for downtown Phoenix and wanted to showcase that. After the tour, most of the time the participants will go back to the restaurants we visited.”
The 3½-hour-long tours run three times a week and include five to six restaurant stops in which guests try signature dishes and cocktails. Along the way, a tour guide discusses history and different points of interest.
On a recent Saturday afternoon, food lovers gathered at the Westin Downtown Phoenix’s restaurant, Province, a farm-to-table restaurant that features fresh, locally grown ingredients. These concepts were important to Combest when choosing the tour locations. ”We didn’t want to settle, and wanted the tour to have restaurants that feature made-from-scratch dishes prepared daily,” she said. “We also haven’t included any chain restaurants — it was important to support local business.”
Province was ready for the tour with a long table set up. Participants introduced themselves, sharing if they had gone on a food tour before and if they considered themselves “sweet” or “savory.” The staff served red sangria made with citrus-cinnamon syrup, flatbread topped with chorizo and Manchego cheese and croquetas with ancho-chile aioli.
Eric and Lisa Christensen, both 30, of Gilbert, had been on several food tours in such cities as Denver, Seattle and Scottsdale. They rarely come to downtown Phoenix so decided to check out the tour.” We are always up for something new, and I like the concept of getting to know a city through food,” Lisa said. “It’s also great to get into five or six restaurants without having to make reservations. We get so much variety.”
The stop at Tom’s Tavern & 1929 Grill included food and history. The group learned that the original Tom’s Tavern opened in 1929 and previously was the city morgue, and was a popular gathering place for political figures. Tour participants dined on pork sliders and sipped Ratneritas, a margarita made with tequila, Cointreau, amaretto and lime and lemon juices. ”There is so much history with Tom’s, which is why it fits so nicely in this tour,” said Shawn Munson, operational manager for the restaurant. “Including a Thai restaurant and a pub in the tour shows the diversity we have in downtown. There are great places in downtown Phoenix, and hopefully the area can continue to grow with events like this.”
The tour also took participants to Seamus McCaffrey’s Irish Pub and Restaurant, where they dined on shepherd’s pie, Irish soda bread and Guinness Stout. At Thai Basil, diners enjoyed tom yum soup, pad Thai noodles and the signature Thai Basil dish while sipping on Singha, Chang and Phuket beers.
Along the way, tour guide Marlene Amodeo told the group about successful rancher and landowner Dwight B. Heard and talked about the historical Hotel San Carlos and its famous guests, as well as some infamous supernatural visitors.
“I never come to downtown Phoenix, and I knew nothing about its history,” Amodeo said. “So I started to do research and checked out some books, and became fascinated with everything I learned.”
Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/thingstodo/dining/articles/2012/04/04/20120404discover-downtown-phoenix-through-taste-tours.html#ixzz1r7LJ3FTa