Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Flagstaff, AZ Tasting Tour is Latest Foodie Sensation

Last summer I grazed my way around downtown Flagstaff in the city’s latest foodie sensation: Flagstaff Eats tasting tour. I experienced tastings at seven different restaurants that were the equal to a full meal. A professional guide led our unique tasting experiences. Even though I have lived here for twenty years, the tour took me to eateries where I had never been, and the tour opened my palate to plates that I had never tried before.

“Flagstaff Eats tours are perfect for out-of-town visitors who just have a short time in town, but want to experience many of the great restaurants that Flagstaff has to offer. The tours are also great for locals who always go to the same restaurants, or who order the same thing at their favorite restaurants. This stretches them a bit,” said Ariel Mierendorf, our cheery guide who gave us the inside scoop on local’s favorites.

“We’re supporting local businesses, and we’re showing people places in Flagstaff that they might not have otherwise found,” Ariel continued as she lead us from our meeting spot at Flag Buzz Coffeehouse on San Francisco Street to Karma Sushi Bar and Grill on old Route 66. The tour is mapped out rather well, with just short walks between the restaurants. But by the end of the two and a half hour tour, we had walked approximately a mile and a half without even noticing. The tour is stroller and wheelchair friendly as we typically stayed outside the eateries.

Karma’s taste treat was one of their signature rolls, The Godzilla, made with tempura Maine lobster tail, avocado, cucumber and snow crab. Unfortunately, this Vagabonding Lulu is allergic to lobster, so I had to pass-a-Rooney on the tempting appetizer. “Let us know about any food allergies upfront,” said Ariel, “And we can order accordingly.”

Next it was across the tracks on San Francisco Street passing the historic train depot for our subsequent stop at NiMarco’s Pizza. As we walked, Ariel filled us in on Flagstaff history and pointed out other noteworthy restaurants. “Right along San Francisco Street, we have over five Thai restaurants – and they are all busy. Flagstaff loves their Thai food,” she explained.

I could tell that NiMarco’s made their sauce and dough fresh each day by tasting my Popeye slice – made with spinach, of course. I was in such food bliss that I kind of lost track of where we went next. But I do remember a taste of that Flagstaff favorite Thai food at Swadee Thai, a sit-down inside Charly’s for a mini Fry Bread taco, olive oil tastings at the Olive Oil Traders and a Fred Flintstone-sized meaty rib at Big Foot BBQ. Bigfoot is one of my fave restaurants in town, yet I never experienced their ribs, moist cornbread or the BBQ and jalapeno quesadilla – all that was part of our tasting. I’m one of those that always order the same thing – the Junkyard Dawg, an Andouille sausage piled high with pulled pork and slaw – so the tour did its trick and got me to stretch out of my comfort zone. Dessert was The Sweet Shoppe and Nut House’s famous caramel apples, conveniently cut up for all to share. I highly recommend the Flagstaff Eats tour. The company was started by the same local folks who have been operating the Alpine Pedaler in Flagstaff for the past three years.

Be aware that all food tours start at Flag Buzz Coffeehouse 107 N. San Francisco, Flagstaff. Some in our party got confused and were waiting for the tour to begin at Mother Road Brewing Company where the Alpine Pedaler meets for the pub crawls.

When You Go
$40 per person, all food tasting and taxes are included. $30 for children ages 5-9. Final tip: Wear comfortable walking shoes and dress for the weather.

Stacey Wittig is an Arizona travel writer based in Flagstaff, Arizona, USA. Enjoy this article? Then subscribe to her blog (in the upper right corner) and never miss another travel article ... complete with free travel tips. www.vagabondinglulu.com
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