Tasting the Gaslamp Quarter
San Diego is foodie haven. It’s also a very safe, walkable town. Combining those attributes into a cool guided visitor activity is pure genius. So I have a suggestion for you; eat your way through some of San Diego’s most delicious foods while strolling through and learning about its most historic, savory neighborhood… the Gaslamp Quarter. There are several companies to choose from, but my money and recommendation is on Another Side Of San Diego Tours’ two-hour walking tour ($149) of the unique and eclectic downtown Gaslamp Quarter, one of San Diego’s most famous neighborhoods.
San Diego’s food culture is influenced heavily by American and Mexican cultures due to its position as a border town, its large Hispanic population, and its history as part of Spanish America and Mexico.
However because of its current ethnic and cultural mix, San Diego has a wide range of cuisines; think Mexican, Italian, French, Spanish, Filipino, Vietnamese, Greek, Latin, German, Indian, Central and East Asian, Middle Eastern, and Pacific Islander food throughout the city.
San Diego’s warm, dry climate and proximity to the ocean also make it a center for fishing and for growing a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. This is the foodie Olympics for sure.
On your guided stroll through time, you’ll admire restored Victorian-era buildings, housing, restaurants, cafes, art galleries, boutiques, shops, nightclubs and more. You’ll love the local fare at three of the tour guide’s favorite San Diego restaurants while immersing yourself in the incredible neighborhood experience.
You’ll try ample samples of several different cuisines on the tour. The tour company has taken the time and consumed the calories necessary to find the most unique diners, dives, and mom-and-pop spots that the Gaslamp Quarter has to offer.
At the start of your tour, your guide will check you in at the tour desk next to Horton Plaza. They will offer you a bottle of water and a big smile, and off you go on a one-and-a-half- to two-mile stroll. At each restaurant, you’ll sample the cuisine of the restaurant while learning about its food and history.
You can purchase wine or spirits at most places for an extra charge. This was an important component for the group I was in. During the walking portion of the tour, your guide will share interesting facts and stories about the buildings, streets, and culture of San Diego.
The Gaslamp Flavor and History Walking Tour doesn’t go to the fanciest restaurants in San Diego but it does take you to the yummiest places while providing great local scenery. My tour took me from Italian (The Operacaffe) to Mexican (Rockin’ Baja Coastal Cuisine) to the richest gelato shop (Chocolat Cremerie) I’ve ever been to. I know I was visiting places that are usually only known to locals.
Good year-round weather most of the time means you can book a tour with confidence 12 months of the year. The tours get a hodgepodge of people, both local and visitors. People who love food, people who love regional architecture, people who want to know more about the San Diego culinary scene, people who love to experience a city by walking and tasting it, people who want to do immerse themselves in a city’s taste and feel.
People who go on foodie tours are the curious, fun-loving sort who will gladly walk and chat for two hours. If your friends describe you as “lethargic,” or a “picky eater,” or if you have a cast on your foot…then a two-hour foodie tour is probably not the event for you. Plus, your fellow tour goers are likely to roll their eyes and talk behind your back a lot.
San Diego is a pretty casual place when it comes to fashion, so don’t feel like you have to dress up. Come as you are. Dress in looser threads – and definitely no prom shoes, keeping in mind you’ll be casually strolling for about two miles/ two hours total. Go ahead and wear your favorite statement t-shirt from a local tourist shop or your home town. Be who you need to be.
Once you take one tour, you’re likely to want more. The good news is that you can take more than one tour and not visit the same restaurant or area twice because this company has a variety of tours like the famous Gaslamp Segway Tour, Coronado Segway Tour, and La Jolla Segway Tour. You can also sign up for a variety of other experiences: helicopter tours, horseback tours, hot-air balloon flights, sightseeing tours, sailing tours, kayaking tours, and hiking tours. Pretty much if you can think of it, they’ll sell it to you.
So…why not put on your most outrageous t-shirt, slap on your sun hat, pull on some hiking shoes and I’ll see YOU soon on one of the year-round tours. That Coronado Segway® Tour is calling my name. Not sure how much longer I can last before I hop on that bad boy.