Do I have to purchase tickets in advance? Can I pay cash?
Tickets must be purchased in advance, and tours often sell out quickly. To maximize your chances of getting the day and time you prefer, please book well in advance. Tickets can be purchased with a Visa, AmEx, Discover or MasterCard online. Cash is not accepted. To purchase tickets by phone, please call Fare Harbor at 888-774-8303.
If a tour is sold out can I get on a waiting list?
We do not provide a waiting list. If a date is sold out, it is likely that we will add an additional tour. Please contact us via e-mail at Michele@BostonFoodTours.com or call us at 617-523-6032 to let us know what date you are interested in.
Do you offer custom private group tours?
We welcome custom group tours from 10-45 people on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Please look at our Group Tour information page and let us know how we can best accommodate your group. Please e-mail us at Michele@BostonFoodTours.com or call us at 617-523-6032 and let us know the details of your request. A Boston Food Tour representative will return your call.
Does the tour leader accept gratuities?
Most of our tour guides are professional chefs and ambassadors of our neighborhoods. A gratuity for their exceptional service, while not mandatory, is very appreciated. The standard gratuity in the service industry is 15%. For custom group tours a 15% gratuity will be added to the final price.
Does the tour include lunch?
At nearly every stop, we’ll enjoy small tastes of specific Italian food/ingredients so that you may experience benchmark flavors to incorporate in your own cooking and dining adventures. As you will see, gli ingredienti veraci — authentic ingredients — are the key to la bellissima cucina italiana.
During this European-style tour our goal is to provide you with tastes and an understanding of the Mediterranean diet and authentic Italian ingredients. We do not visit restaurants and you will not be eating your way through the neighborhood. If your intention is to visit restaurants, this is not the tour for you. Some participants have described the tastes to be “like an antipasto to whet the appetite” while others have told us that they “were too full to eat after the tour”. Most importantly, you will learn how to identify and buy authentic Italian ingredients.
What if I have dietary restrictions?
If you have dietary restrictions (vegetarian, diabetic, kosher), you could just simply refrain from those particular tastings.
Can I shop on the tour?
We ask that you wait to shop until after the tour so that we can spend more time learning about the fabulous Italian food ingredients and enjoying the tastes we have arranged. Hopefully, you will allow yourselves some extra time at the end of the tour to return to your favorite stores.
What is the maximum number of people on a tour?
Since the shops are very small, we limit the regular tour to 10 depending on the day. Saturday tours before Christmas and Easter may be limited to 8 people. Custom group tours (not offered on Saturday) can accommodate up to 45 people.
Do you require a minimum number of tickets for the tour to take place?
Yes, we only run our regularly scheduled tours with at least 4 people. Since this is a very popular tour, this is not usually an issue. In the rare situation where we cancel a tour, we will contact you ahead of time to reschedule your tickets, issue a gift card to use at a later date or issue a full refund, whichever you prefer.
What if it rains or the weather is inclement?
The tour is held rain or shine. If the weather is very inclement, e.g. heavy snow or hurricane, the tour may be canceled. Refunds will be offered in the extremely rare event that the company cancels the tour, but in all other situations, no refunds will be provided.
Who will be leading the tour? Can I register for a tour that Michele will be conducting?
Most tours are led by Michele. Her personally trained assistants (guides) will help in leading group tours when the group size is larger than can be accommodated by one guide. Rest assured that Michele’s standards are very high — her assistants are terrific and each one brings his or her own special style.
Where do the tours start?
Upon registration you will receive a confirmation indicating where you are to meet the tour group.
I’m Italian American and have shopped in the North End for years – will the tour offer me anything new?
We have had many local North Enders on tour and they have been amazed at their new food finds. And most important, they are able to relive memories of their childhood and learn how their food culture evolved.
What if I don’t live in Boston, why would I want to take the tour?
To learn about one of the most vibrant ethnic neighborhoods in this country. Since the tour is like a walking cooking class, you will learn about how Italians eat, the best ingredients and how to buy them and special cooking tips. Boston’s North End is a feast for the senses! Once you learn about these ingredients, you will also know what to look for in your local stores. If not, several of the shops that we visit also sell online and you can easily have these items shipped to your home. Your world and dinner will never be the same.
Is the morning tour different from the afternoon tour?
Both tours offer the very same information and food tastings. If you plan on staying in the neighborhood to revisit many of the stores after the tour, you might want to do the morning tour, keeping in mind that most of the stores generally close at 6pm. Otherwise, many tour participants just want to stay on after the tour to enjoy dinner at one of our many fabulous restaurants.
I took the tour a couple of years ago. Has anything changed?
Although we occasionally change shop venues, the discussion of the most important ingredients remains the same. However, new shops provide opportunities for us to discuss new or different products. Some ingredients change according to the seasons, especially during Easter and Christmas, when the neighborhood is most festive. And, of course, as we learn more, and as new dietary information becomes available, we do our best to improve upon and enhance the tour.
Will there be any place to sit during the tour? Is it a fast paced tour?
The shops are too small to allow for seating. The tour involves standing and walking as we wind our way through the neighborhood, visiting about 6 stores. If you have difficulty standing for a long period, we have a cane/chair seat that we can bring to the tour. Please let us know if you would like to use it during the tour. All tastings are on the go. You should plan to be on your feet for the length of the tour, so wear your comfortable walking shoes. We do walk at a relatively quick pace.
Can you accommodate people with disabilities? What about strollers?
Some of the stores have a step up to enter and are not wheelchair accessible. Most of the stores are also very tiny. If you are able to leave the wheelchair outside of the store and enter with a cane, the tour can accommodate you. Strollers will also have to remain outside the store. There is no problem with their safety outside the door of the store.
What about taking children on the tour?
We love introducing children to Italian food and culture. The age of the child and their interest level and attention span will help you decide. Will they be bored over several hours with adults? Will they impact the other guests’ enjoyment? Please consider the tiny congested stores, the amount of standing in place while listening to the guide, and the other participants on tour. You know your child and can help ensure that everyone has a great tour.
Do you visit restaurants on the tour?
We don’t walk into restaurants, but we provide a handout of our favorite restaurants and we point out our favorites as we pass by. Remember, this is a very subjective commentary.
Are the tours offered only in English?
Yes, we only offer tours in English. If you would like to make arrangements for your own interpreter to join the tour, please contact us at 617-523-6032 or e-mail us at Michele@BostonFoodTours.com.
Are gift certificates available?
Yes, what better gift than the gift of food (except for maybe a few shiny baubles). A North End Market Tour is a unique way to say Happy Birthday, Happy Anniversary, Happy Holidays or just Thank You. Gift Cards can be purchased online. Please see our Gift Card page.
Can we take photos during the tour?
Still camera shots are welcomed and with the characters in the neighborhood, you could find yourself with some memorable photos. Video cameras are not allowed.
Are bathrooms available during the tour?
Except for emergencies, bathroom stops are not available during the tour. Prior to the tour, all coffee shops have bathrooms for customers.
What is your cancellation policy?
All tickets sold are non-refundable and may not be exchanged or rescheduled. In the rare situation where we cancel a tour that fails to attract minimum enrollment, we will contact you ahead of time to reschedule your tickets, issue a gift certificate to use at a later date or issue a full refund, whichever you prefer. We reserve the right to limit the number of participants and to cancel a tour that fails to attract minimum enrollment. The tour is held rain or shine.
Do you offer discounts for travel agents?
The standard travel agent discount is 10% for up to 4 people. This discount is valid only for travel agents who will be attending the tour and requires the agent to provide a business card at the start of the tour. To use this discount, please contact us at 617-523-6032 or email us at Michele@BostonFoodTours.com.