VOL. 131 | NO. 96 | Friday, May 13, 2016
Food Tour Event Launches This Weekend
By Andy Meek
When you’re a foodie like Cristina McCarter who proudly flies the flag of her favorite local restaurants, you attract certain reactions from friends.
One, in particular, is a frequent occurrence – the phone call McCarter gets often from a friend asking the same question. “Where should I eat this weekend?”
Starting Saturday, May 14, this marketing professional will have a new answer to offer up. She’s launching City Tasting Tours – guided 2 1/2-hour visits to different corners of the city’s restaurant community.
Limited to 12 guests each time (“So I can make sure I’m engaging with everybody”), the Saturday tours will make stops at five restaurants. They’ll offer samplings of everything from the savory meats at Central BBQ to the pizza at Aldo’s, in addition to behind-the-scenes interactions with chefs.
“I’m the only tour guide right now, and I’ll be giving people tours around Memphis – mostly Downtown Memphis,” McCarter said. “And we’ll go to about five different sites and eat whatever each restaurant claims to be their best seller or something that they want people to try – whatever the restaurant wants to showcase.”
Participants will end up walking about 1.5 miles on the Saturday tours, which will be held rain or shine. The tours cost $55, which covers the cost of the dishes participants will consume at each tour’s five restaurants. The tours start at South Main and make their way ultimately to Beale Street, where they end.
McCarter is the friendly tour guide offering her commentary and thoughts along the way. She has about a dozen restaurants in the first batch of eateries she’ll pull from, food spots that include Cafe Pontotoc, Flying Fish, Earnestine & Hazel’s and more.
McCarter, who also writes her own food blog called Loving My Memphis, worked for a previous incarnation of the touring venture several years ago. She was contacted around October partly on the strength of her blog to gauge her interest in starting the tours back up again.
Her blog is itself a similar kind of tour of Memphis food establishments. She writes with conversational ease. Of a recent trip to Bangkok Alley, she describes the delicious smells and her satisfaction with the Pad Kee Mao that comes with sautéed flat rice noodle and other ingredients in addition to a tasty special sauce.
“I really want to get it out to locals that don’t know what’s going on sometimes around the city or where to eat,” she said of the tours. “That’s been my thing since I started blogging.”
For the friends that call her up wanting recommendations, she’s got a ready-made reply.
“This is like an easy way to say come do the tours, and we can go to all these different places in one day,” she said. “And for tourists, of course, who come to Memphis and might not know where to go, it’s an easy way for them to try different places and get a feel for the city from someone who’s lived here all their life and enjoyed it and loved it since being a kid.
“I’m really just trying to reach out to everyone and let them know local is the way to go and show them how to have a good time in the city.”