If you’re looking for a fun, unique activity to do while your family is visiting New York City, then let me tell you all about the Jackson Heights family food tour we experienced. Jackson Heights is an ethnically diverse neighborhood in Queens that blends together cultures from all over the world. It is said that 167 different languages are spoken in Jackson Heights. This family food tour in Queens is run by Laura of Eat Your World. She designed this NYC walking food tour specifically for kids. Through different food stops, kids learn a little about each country’s geography, cuisine, and language. It has been one of the best New York food tours we have done. This NYC walking food tour is a wonderful way to spend a couple of hours enjoying new food and taking in the diversity that makes Jackson Heights such a unique neighborhood.
My Review of the Jackson Heights Food Tour (Family Version)
Our family lives in Southern Connecticut, and because we are so close to many states, we try to travel locally and take weekend or day trips often. I had read many great things about the food in Jackson Heights and was itching to get over to Queens to begin exploring. The issue is that both my husband and my kids are kind of picky eaters, so I had to do research about where we could go that they would be open to trying new things. The more I read about it, the more I thought that maybe I should leave it up to a local expert. This is when I found out about Eat Your World. Laura has lived in Jackson Heights for over a decade and has given food tours for over 8 years in Jackson Heights. When I saw that her site had a family food tour, I immediately lit up and contacted her to arrange a date for the tour.
The children were given a packet that had maps of the countries we would be “visiting”, as well as a short profile of each location which included the country’s flag, the capital city, the national dish, and how to say “thank you” in their native language. There were also suggestions on what to eat at each place and a sidebar for the kids to write any tasting notes. Included in the packet was a word search that the kids could complete while we had downtime and were waiting for the food to arrive, although Laura kept us pretty busy by sharing little anecdotes about Jackson Heights and the food scene.
In the packet, there is also a Scavenger Hunt checklist that could be completed along the way and then finished at the end. Both my kids were very diligent about completing everything on here.
Specifics of the Jackson Heights Food Tour (Family version)
- Cost: $40 per adult and $30 per kid (over 2 years old)
- Length of Time: 1.5 hours
- Recommended Ages: 5 and up
Our family was graciously given a discount for the purposes of this NYC walking food tour review; however, all opinions are completely my own.
Getting to Jackson Heights
You can easily reach Jackson Heights from midtown Manhattan in about 15 minutes via the E, F, 7, R, or M train (stop is 74th St./Roosevelt Avenue). We chose to drive because it was an hour less of a commute from Connecticut, but we could have taken the Metro North train, transferred at Grand Central, and then transferred to the 7 train. Parking is about $20 for the day, which isn’t too horrible, but finding a parking lot was not easy. In retrospect, I wish we would have taken the subway. If you can take the train, I would highly recommend it, rather than hunting for parking.
Jackson Heights: NYC Walking Food Tour Stops
Stop #1- Nepali Bhanchha Ghar
I had warned my two kids (9 and 11) that we would be sampling cuisine from Nepal, Tibet, Colombia, and India. While hesitant, I assured them that nothing would be spicy and that they would be learning about these places too. They had done other food tours before and complained that the tours were too long. This family food tour was only going to be 1.5 hours; which was perfect!
We began our food tour at Nepali Bhanchha Ghar restaurant. Laura led us inside and ordered two items: a rice donut called sel roti and a sampler platter with rice flakes, pickled vegetables, and chickpeas. Both were surprisingly tasty, and all four of us enjoyed the uniqueness of the sel roti and the dipping sauce it came with, along with the savory chickpeas and crunchy rice flakes. While the kids did not love either item, they said the flavors were interesting but pretty good.
Laura talked to the kids about Nepal’s flag, its geography, and taught them how to say thank you to the owner when we went upstairs. She also told us that both Nepal and Tibet are well known for their steamed dumplings called momos. This restaurant hand makes their momos daily. The only reason we did not order some is that we would be eating momos later on during the tour.
Stop # 2 – A&G Himalayan Fresh Food
This Tibetan food truck had our favorite item of the day – beef momos. Not only did they look beautiful, but they tasted so nice! My kids loved them and have already asked when we will return to try other momos. I highly recommend this place, as they do have other items on the menu as well that I’m curious to try. For those that enjoy a little bit of heat, there is a sauce that you can dip your momo in.
Laura encouraged the kids to write down their tasting notes at each stop and practice their food connoisseur skills. Both kids enjoyed writing down what they tasted and their reactions. Again, I was surprised that we were 3/3 on food for the day, and not one kid was complaining.
Stop # 3 – Delicias Calenas
Our third stop was a Colombian cafe where we sat down and ordered pan de bono (cheese bread) and a chicken empanada. Since our family is of Cuban descent, we were able to have a conversation with the staff and our kids were able to read and understand more of the menu items. Living in Miami, we have eaten Colombian food before, but had never had an empanada prepared this way. It was breaded in such a way that it tasted very similar to eating fried chicken. I think if we hadn’t fallen in love with the momos from Tibet, this would have been the favorite food item of the day.
Stop #4 – Rajbhog
This was our last stop on the Jackson Heights food tour. It was an Indian restaurant known for its desserts. To be honest, they were strange-looking and had very unique flavors, but none of them were bad. Most flavors had some element of nut or flower in them, and some of them were jelly-like. While I’m glad we were able to try Indian desserts, I can say that there is no need to have them again!
The kids were great sports and did try all of the 5 different items that were ordered. Laura even let them choose an item each. Overall it was a wonderful afternoon spent learning about new cultures through food and meeting a lovely person who showed us a brand new neighborhood that we plan on visiting again. The Eat Your World packet also has suggestions on some fun things to do nearby after the family food tour and more kid-friendly restaurants in New York City. Check out their downloadable one-day eating itinerary for families and other self-guided downloadable food guides.
Final Thoughts on our NYC Walking Food Tour in Jackson Heights
I would highly recommend this NYC walking food tour for families who live within a couple of hours from NYC or anyone visiting New York City for a longer period of time. It makes for a great day trip and it is a fun activity that parents and kids can do together. I loved that this tour was geared towards kids. In fact, Laura geared most of her conversations towards my kids and we interjected from time to time. My 9 and 11-year-olds were the perfect age for this family food tour. I would say that any older than 13 is too old.
We had previously done two food tours in the past: a Flatiron District Food Tour and a Greenwich Village Food Tour. While both of them were fantastic, the kids thought they were too long (3 hours) and the historical information presented on the tour went a little over their heads. This walking food tour was perfect because Laura spoke to them directly and showed them the beauty and uniqueness of the Jackson Heights neighborhood, in addition to having activities for them to complete.
If you happen to be visiting the New York City area and are looking for a fun family activity that will leave your stomach content, then this NYC walking food tour is for you. I would definitely rank it up there with one of the best New York food tours you can take (with kids). This walking food tour is the perfect length of time and all of the stops are very close by.
Eat Your World also offers other food tours on weekdays and weekends that are longer and geared towards adults. In fact, I would love to return and take a few friends to do the “adult version” which she mentioned is much more adventurous. Check our their Queens Food Tours if you’re interested in exploring this fantastic food scene.
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