Hidden Gems Food Tour of York – A Uniquely Local Review

As one of the most popular cities in the North for tourists and local visitors alike, York has built a strong reputation for good food. With a restaurant or cafe on every corner the choice is almost endless, and despite living here for five years I still discover something new every day.

This Hidden Gems Food Tour with Tours in a Dish was the perfect chance for me to really dig into the local culinary scene, and discover new eateries within the wider context of York’s culture and history. When planning this tour, Marion prioritised independent businesses that were run by foodies who genuinely love what they do. Cafes, bakeries, and street stalls were all included within this diverse group, representing all the many aspects of York food. The people who built these businesses did so through hard work and effort while supporting local producers in creative ways. It was a real pleasure to join a group of strangers and bond through the universal language of delicious food.

This tour consisted of 5 different locations around the very centre of York – most tucked away and living up to the ‘hidden gems’ label. Because of this, I’m going to keep the names and locations of these establishments secret out of respect for our guide. The tour lasted a few hours and was not very taxing – we moved between locations at a sedate place, weaving around tourists and taking in the sights.

The tour began as all good restaurant meals should; with some delicious bread. We squeezed into a little boutique bakery that was apparently very popular, with regular customers popping in and out as we listened to the owner talk about her business. The sourdough we tasted was delicious and hearty, and multiple guests made a resolution to return before the end of the day to buy their own loaf. We also tried an amazing savoury danish swirl filled with roasted vegetables, and I wasn’t ashamed of going back for another piece.

A short stroll took us to a nearby area filled with street food stalls and picnic tables, where visitors milled around holding takeaway boxes and the air was thick with tempting aromas. Here we stopped for some savoury galettes filled with tangy goat’s cheese. These were assembled before our very eyes, and we all enjoyed half a galette each. The inventive combination of ingredients was impressive, and I really enjoyed the inclusion of crunchy daikon radish. It’s great to see the innovative and entrepreneurial ways that local ingredients can be prepared.

Our next stop paid homage to York’s past status as the Chocolate City. We were guided through the full process of chocolate creation, from the initial import of beans to the final tempering of the chocolate. Having such a behind-the-scenes understanding brought a new element to the chocolate we tasted, as each flavour profile was made in a slightly different way. Guests on the tour volunteered their opinions on the flavours present in the chocolate with shouts of “Raisin!”, “Tobacco!” and “Oranges!”. It was a really fun diversion from the earlier tastings as we focused on one ingredient and all the ways it could be prepared.

The ‘main course’ of sorts took place at my favourite restaurant in York – one at which I’m a regular. This itself was interesting as I was visiting with different eyes; keen to see what the other guests on this tour made of this small Japanese cafe, keen to taste the selections that our guide had chosen for us. For many guests this was their first time tasting authentic Japanese cuisine and there were mixed reactions to the delicate green tea (Fine by me! As a verified tea-lover I was happy to drain the pot). The savoury, umami taste of the teriyaki tofu went down a treat with everyone, as did the crunchy vegetable side dishes. It was delightful to see my favourite food being enjoyed by strangers for the first time.

We finished the day in style, at a boutique gelateria. I felt like a little kid enjoying ice-cream at the end of a tiring trip to the beach! This particular gelateria is so popular that it usually has a large queue outside, so it was nice to skip that due to our booking, and sit down to 4 mini tasters of any flavours we chose. They were all incredibly tempting, but as someone who doesn’t manage dairy too well I made a sensible tummy-preserving decision and went for some sorbets. The dark chocolate sorbet was so incredibly creamy I could scarcely believe it was dairy free! My personal highlight was the lemon and basil sorbet, an avant-garde sounding combination that was easily the most refreshing thing I’ve ever eaten.

Now fully satiated, the group sat together and finished off their gelatos, comparing flavours and reminiscing about the tour together. I think this was my favourite moment as I got to see strangers really enjoying my beloved city after it was so excellently showcased by Marion.

 It was the perfect day out, with a great balance of wonderful food and relaxing sight-seeing. I stayed a while to chat with our guide about the tour itself and her motivation behind it; to highlight deserving local eateries that continue to innovate cuisine within York. I think she exceeded expectations, and I would recommend the Hidden Gems Tour to any who ask. 

Daisy, Uniquely Local Experiences

If Daisy’s review has whetted your appetite and you’d like to experience the Hidden Gems Food tour for yourself you can buy a voucher here for £55 per person.