Three Food Tours That Will Leave You Hungry for More
Everything from food trucks to famed Austin restaurants
Sometimes it's difficult to live in Austin. While the constant influx of tourists can spend hours at the pool, the rest of us are lucky if we can catch a shower after Bikram yoga. With all our side hustles and social commitments (not to mention our busy dog-walking schedule), it's far too easy to forget what our city has to offer. That's why we like booking a hotel, digging out the Birkenstocks from the closet (jk – those were out already), and pretending we are a member of the leisure class.
Our favorite way to party? Eating, of course. But left to our own devices, we far too often Favor Chipotle. That's why it feels like a vacation letting someone else do all the work of choosing what to eat. Luckily Austin has several tours that do just that – offering everything from quick jaunts through the food truck scenes to bespoke experiences at some of our more famed restaurants. All of them will leave you hungry for more – and in love with your city all over again.
Bold Food Tours
What it is: Some folks are foodies and some folks are food obsessives. Muffie Fulton, the force behind Bold Food tours, is the latter. A neuroscientist by training and an epicure by nature, Fulton took an early interest in molecular gastronomy, connecting her background with the then-nascent cooking movement. Since her work at a biotech firm included global travel, Fulton used every opportunity to eat at the world's best restaurants. But it wasn't until she tried Modernist cooking at home that Bold Food was born. Fulton immersed herself in research and classes, eventually using that knowledge to teach others the ins-and-outs of spherification and foams. In 2016, she expanded to food tourism – taking her culinary passion on the road.
What to expect: Fulton's Austin tours are immersive experiences, requiring a full weekend. But by the time you are finished, you'll have several new friends (not to mention several new pounds). There are plenty of blocks of free time for shopping or enjoying live music, but be prepared to eat all day. Her upcoming September trip is an instant way to complete your Austin bucket list with stops at Olamaie and Barley Swine for pairing dinners, a tour through famed Central Texas barbecue joints, an introduction to ATX's breakfast taco culture, and a grand finale of Franklin Barbecue without having to wait in line. Although the meals are all planned, the small group sizes (and the chartered bus) allow for flexibility – like an impromptu visit to Small Victory when Fulton was last in town. If the first thing you think of when making travel plans is where you will eat, you couldn't ask for a better staycation than a Bold Food tour.
Pro tip: Elastic-waist pants. Fulton doesn't play when it comes to good eating, ordering generous portions at every stop.
Austin Eats Food Tours
What it is: At the ripe old age of 6½, Austin Eats is the oldest food tour currently operating in the city. Fittingly, Andy and Lindsey Potter started the company after a vacation – realizing culinary walks like the one they enjoyed in Los Angeles didn't exist in their hometown. The idea took off quickly, and Andy was soon able to leave his corporate job. Now there are five public tours operating every week (plus a scattering of private ones), hosted by everyone from local servers to blogger Ali Khan, host of the Cooking Channel's Cheap Eats.
What to expect: There's several different options, but none require more than a few weekend hours – making the affordable tours ideal for couples looking for a unique date. The Saturday food truck bus tour covers hot spots all over town, often including a trip to la Barbecue without the wait. The Pub & Grub bus tour allows for some day drinking and Via 313 pizza, while the Friday walking tour on the Eastside lets you pregame your weekend with stops at 4-5 buzzing bars and restaurants like Whisler's, Licha's Cantina, and Prohibition Creamery. Our favorite jaunt is the Brunch, BBQ & Brewery tour, which includes just about everything you need to be a happy person.
Pro tip: Arrange for your crush to pick you up after your tour. They tend to be boozy, which will give you the courage to ask them out.
What it is: Owner Elizabeth Alderson has collected a staff that includes a cross-section of "weird Austin," employing comedians, musicians, artists, and one unicyclist. Although food is not the sole focus of the business, the culinary-related tours take the same approach as the rest of the offerings – interactive adventures meant to give locals and visitors alike a personal experience. All of the food and drink trips are booked privately, so if you don't have a large group of friends, you'll have to convince your boss that your company is wayyy overdue for some team-building.
What to expect: Tours typically last 3-4 hours, and there is a variety of options to suit personal tastes. The Taste of Austin is a good introduction if you are relatively new to the area, combining trailers with brick-and-mortars. The barbecue tour takes you to essential Texas stops like Kreuz Market in Lockhart. If you are looking to get away from the city, we recommend one of the Hill Country trips. One focuses on the wineries in Driftwood. Another gives a sample of a distillery, winery, and brewery. Since these trips are all booked on a private basis, they can be infinitely customized – making them a great choice for bachelor/bachelorette parties.
Pro tip: Try to get a tour with Steven McFarlin. Yelp and TripAdvisor can testify to his extensive fan club.