Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours
Taste Carolina is a company that takes folks around to try out different restaurants. You can pick a tour in one of of the following cities: Durham, Chapel Hill (which includes Carrboro places), Hillsborough, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and Raleigh. Pick one. I know, just one. It's tough. You then meet up with your group and your guide at a set time and you start walking.
Taste Carolina expertly manages the group and the restaurants so that every place you go they are expecting you and the tasting menu is prepared. At most places the chef and/or restaurant owner comes out, addresses the group, discusses what made their place unique, fields any questions, then lets you taste what was prepared.
While we would walk from place to place the guide would stop and point out interesting things, share facts and anecdotes about where we were and what we were seeing, and talk about the history of the city we were in. It was really well done.
My friends and I did the Durham food tour. Our tour included: Bull City Burger & Brewery, Toast, Daisycakes, The Piedmont, L'Uva, and Tyler's. Honestly, I had been to every spot except L'Uva before. Yet I was still enthralled and in love with this tour. It is one thing to sit at a restaurant and pick menu items. It is quite another when a chef/owner wants to impress you so whips up tastings of their signature dishes. YumO (high five Rachael Ray). Oh, and the guide gave me the skinny on which restaurants and places are on the other tours and I approve of those, too (you will be happy to know).
Each place gave us just a little bit of food; Bull City gave us a taste of beer; Tyler's had a full out beer tasting. But at the end you are stuffed, even if it was just a morsel here and there and you walk about 3 miles throughout the tour. You aren't lingering at each place, either. Taste Carolina runs a tight ship and sticks to their schedule so as not to annoy the restaurants being so accommodating. However, they usually build in one longer stop on each city's tour where you can buy an alcoholic beverage to sip on if you wish. For Durham this was The Piedmont. Then we moved on. We ended at Tyler's, a natural spot to stay and sip a brewski if you want.
Some details to know: you must register in advance, they must know you are coming. This isn't cheap when you first see that pricetag but given everything you get with it it isn't terrible. Dress comfortably and it's rain or shine.
Taste Carolina also puts together special and private tours. Have a special interest? Got some folks who are interested, too? Call them up! You can do a Girls Night Out Tour, a Taqueria Tour (yes, someone invite me to that PLEASE), a Food Truck Tour, a Barbecue Tour, a Chocolate Tour....whatever you want they can put it together.
Speaking of, for Father's Day this year (2012) they are offering a Durham Brews Walking Cruise that includes food trucks and beer, in Raleigh they are offering dinner and drinks for Dad, and in Winston-Salem you get beer, brunch, and barbecue (score). See this link here for 2012 Father's Day details. If we were going to be in town we would so be there. DH would love it.
One other thing you might want to know is that if you do a repeat Taste Carolina tour you will be going to mostly the same places, with perhaps 1-2 differences. Taste Carolina works hard to cultivate relationships with the most popular and well-respected restaurants so they take groups to them again and again. It works. You can, however, make requests when you reserve and Taste Carolina will try to honor them.
Oh, and leave the kids at home for this one. While you may have little gourmands this is for folks who want to hear all about the inner workings of a kitchen, how a chef's mind works, and then make slightly inappropriate noises when delicious food hits their palette. This is meant to be savored.
Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours
Chapel Hill/Carrboro, Durham, Greensboro, Hillsborough, Raleigh, Winston-Salem