There's more than one way to see a city, but the tastiest has to be a food tour. Whether you’re a longtime Minnesotan who thinks you’ve seen it all or are planning an outing for out-of-town guests, eating your way through the Twin Cities’ culinary scene allows you to absorb the culture, history and fl avors of Minnesota’s unique regions. These four tour operators off er distinct itineraries that explore the best of our state’s restaurant, coop, and brewery off erings either on foot or on four wheels. Now all you need is a group with a big appetite!
Twin Cities Food Tours introduces guests to fare on both sides of the Mississippi. The walking tour in Northeast Minneapolis visits six venues and the tour in Cathedral Hill visits 10 venues that showcase international flavors and one-of-a-kind restaurants. Guests hear the back stories of these venues and the history behind the neighborhoods they walk through. The ideal group size is 12 guests with one guide, but up to 20 can be accommodated with two guides. Cost of private tours varies based on customization, but the base rates range from $48 per person to $55 per person. Restaurant substitutions, alcohol additions, and the length of the tour will affect those rates. “It’s a lovely way to spend time together, especially for a corporation, in a way that is so different from what people are usually doing with their day,” says owner and tour guide Rebekah Leonhart.
“In a food tour, you actually get to taste the flavors and see the sights instead of just sitting in a bus and having somebody tell you about it,” says Rebecca Pfeiffer, owner of Taste Twin Cities. Her company’s Minneapolis Riverwalk tour makes five stops over three hours. It begins by the Guthrie, crosses the Stone Arch bridge, and ends in Northeast Minneapolis. Highlights includes Thai food at Sawatdee and local craft beer at Tuggs Tavern. Private tours can also be customized to a particular type of food, such as pizza or chocolate, or you can plan separate stops for drinks, entrées and desserts. Private tour fees are all-inclusive (food, drinks, gratuities). Public tours run $50-$85 per person. Taste Twin Cities can accommodate groups as small as four people or as large as 100. Pfeiffer has led tours for business of all sizes, from small startups to corporations like General Mills. She says these tours are great for team-building, welcoming employees from other cities, or showing interns a good time. “Food is very social. It’s a platform where people can talk to each other and have a fun time,” she says.
The Minnesotan brewery scene is just as unique as the food scene, so don’t forget the brewski when you contemplate a tour. Guests get a ride like no other when they step aboard Hoppy Trolley’s restored 1968 electric bus, which features perimeter seating to facilitate conversation. The first stop is Ombibulous, a liquor store which sells only Minnesota-made wine, beer and spirits. From there, participants head to 56 Brewing where they can tour the brewery, learn about the brewing process, and sample beer. Then it’s on to three additional local breweries, where guests receive a pint of beer at each. Br ing your own coolers of food, order pizza to be delivered at one of the stops, or sample from the on-site food trucks at each brewery. Choose your own breweries for a customized tour or try the beer-paired, threecourse dinner at the Freehouse, a brewpub in the North Loop. Add some action to your outing by opting for kayaking from Above the Falls Sports or indoor go-kart racing at MB2 Raceway. Tours start at $65 per person with a 10-person minimum.
If you have a big, thirsty crowd, Bitter Minnesota can accommodate you. Between three vehicles, there’s room for up to 42 on its multiple brewery tour. Guests can choose from a list of featured local breweries or let the experts at Bitter Minnesota dictate the itinerary. In addition to drinking, you’ll learn about the histories of the repurposed buildings that house many of the breweries as well as the origin stories of those businesses. “It’s a little different outing than your standard dinner-and-drinks kind of environment. I think it helps people engage in a nonwork setting. It’s relaxed. It’s fun,” says co-owner James Hammer. Dig into a locally sourced box lunch from The Draft Horse that includes different sandwich options and homemade potato chips or request a drop-off at the destination of your choice. If, after all that imbibing, you’re ready to wreak some havoc, Bitter Minnesota can arrange to take your group to Extreme Sandbox, where you can drive a real bulldozer. “We’re always looking for new activities that definitely are outside of the standard let’s-go-bowling type of thing,” says Hammer. Private tours start at $700 and go up to $3,000, depending on group size, special activities, and pick-up location.