Nice Gal of the Month: Erin of Monroe, LA!

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This is Erin. My FAVORITE kind of tour taker! She asked lots of questions and added to the discussion. When I don’t know the answer I #Google it and get to learn something new, too. She’s a “flight nurse” - handling transporting of patients to trauma centers via helicopter. She’s from Many, LA and currently lives in Monroe, LA. After visiting some of the restaurants of the Lower East Side (that have been there over 100 years and are still family owned) she lit up and said, “this is what I love about America - all these people came and put in hard work and now years later their family is reaping the benefits. EVERYONE needs to learn about this”. Well Erin - send all your friends! :)

Take Two Tours and Call Me in the Morning? A Prescription to Nice Guy Tours!

I first heard about Nice Guy Tours after an appointment to see my doctor in Birmingham,England. I told her that I was going on a second trip to New York, after having a wonderful holiday there during 2017 with friends, and also wanted my daughter and daughter-in-law to experience a trip to NYC, too.

Anyhow, my doctor shared with me her memories of a holiday in NYC herself, and asked me if I had been to Greenwich Village last year, then highly recommended the Nice Guy Food Tour with Dante. Most patients usually leave their doctor’s with a prescription for medication, but I walked out with a handwritten prescription with "Nice Guy Food Tours" on it, which I found quite comical.

I took her valuable advise, and am so very glad I did. My daughter-in-law is a devoted fan of the Friends series, and my doctor told me you also see the Friends building exterior shots, so it had to be a must for her.  We had an awesome tour with the awesome Dante - what a character,  and boy is he a knowledgeable chap. 

My girls favourite food was the cream pizza from ‘Artichokes’ and mine was the Belgian fries from Pommes Frittes. But to be quite honest, I loved all of the food, because eating is my favourite pastime!  My keep fit instructor is going to NYC in June, and I’ve now highly recommended the food tour to her and her husband, who seem quite keen.

I’m hopefully doing a return trip with friends in 2019 to visit my cousin in New Jersey, and hoping will be able to do another Nice Guys Food tour with Dante.

- Kathy Mooney

Nice, um, Wombat of the Month?

Our Aussie friend Craig and his family visited recently, and brought along their extended family member Gary. I have to be honest Gary may be one of my favorites to ever go on the tour. Look below and you'll see why. Oh, and also, see the "real" Gary below as well!

Here's what Craig had to say of the tour by the way:

"We live on a 100 acres of Australian bush, around two hours drive south-west of Sydney.  When coming to New York, we wanted an experience that would give us a feel of the city from ground level, and to enjoy some of the special foods New York has to offer.

We really enjoyed the tour. Visiting so many places that have been feeding New Yorkers for decades ( in some cases over a century ) was a real treat, especially in buildings that were the original premises.  Dante is an excellent host, and what’s more, you can tell that he not only enjoys his job, he loves his city and the people in it. A great tour, we would happily do it again next time we are in New York!"

Thanks Craig and company...and I miss you Gary!

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Dear Dante: Three Years and Running

"You're approaching your third anniversary.  If I told you three years ago you'd have the number one walking food tour on TripAdvisor what would you tell me?"
- Jon C. - Westchester County, NY

I would be surprised to think I could make it to number 1.  I would've definitely signed up for top ten.  I also wouldn't think I could do that without hiring 100 guides or having people put money into the business.  The more I think about it - it's absolutely amazing!  I'm so humbled by it all and thankful.

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Dear Dante: Do You Feel a Chill in Winter?

 "How difficult is it doing tours in the winter? Isn't it too cold?" - John C., Herndon, PA

"How difficult is it doing tours in the winter? Isn't it too cold?"
- John C., Herndon, PA

Do I get cold? Yes, of course! Do I wish I was sitting in a nice, warm office when it's really cold out on a tour day. Definitely...not! I love my job.  The nice part about my food tours is it's small groups, and we go in and out of our stops.  So, in the winter, we get cold and go into a warm place. Then we get cold again, and warm, etc. The flip side happens in the summer, we get hot, and then go in for a cold break. And then it repeats.    But, going back to your question, the delicious food also keep us warm!

Nice Guy Tourist: Milk Bar Bakery

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I had heard about Milk Bar because it's all over (Toronto, D.C., Vegas, and some other spots in NYC) but none within steps of the tours I give.  I had wanted to go there for many reasons but notably because of one of their signature desserts. I'll get to that in a minute, but first let me paint a picture you may share with me.

Growing up, the best part of my breakfast was the very bottom of my cereal bowl. As my cornflakes or any cereal really was coming to the end, I knew the best was yet to come:  sugary, milky goodness at the very bottom.  Now let's get back to the Milk Bar, it doesn't take a genius to know why I have wanted to visit it on Christopher Street for quite some time.  Their signature is the cereal milk soft serve ice cream.  Sure, they've got cookies, cakes, and ridiculously delicious delicacies, but this ice cream? Well, there's a reason I'm writing this post.  It took me back to being a kid (and adult) who takes his cereal down to the last spoon slurp.  The ice cream is made with milk, cornflakes, brown sugar and has a pinch of salt thrown in for good measure. In a word, it lived up to the hype

Visiting this bakery/ice cream parlor is a must. There's a reason owner/chef Christina Tosi and her place have been written about all over the place (she's written two cookbooks, too - perhaps you've hear of "momofuku?"), and have been namedropped on The Tonight Show and placed on covers of Ad Week and other notable places.  Her story and place is as sweet as the goodies inside each establishment.  I can't wait to go back.

Dear Dante...

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Are kids allowed on your tour and do you offer a discount for them?  

Andrea Plotkin
Las Vegas, NV

Hey Andrea!  Thanks for the question.  Yes, kids are definitely allowed on my tour.  I think when you travel with kids it’s often hard to find an activity that everyone will enjoy and I think my tour is it: some food, some fun facts and just some fun in general!  As far as cost goes - infants are free.  Older kids most times eat more than most of the adults but don’t worry I don’t charge extra for them. Haha!

Nice Guy of the Month: Michael Lomuscio

Michael Lomuscio (pictured second from the right) is our Nice Guy of the Month.  The Poughkeepsie, NY naive found out about our tours through friends who were surfing the web "looking for things to do in NYC." We're happy he found us on their Google search.

Michael went on his first tour with us in June 2015, walking and munching on our Greenwich Village Tour. "The tour was outstanding," he said. "All the food stops were great." His personal favorite? The Artichoke Pizza.  Off his experience on his first tour, we welcomed Michael and his friends back for their second NGT but this time on the Lower East Side.  We look forward to seeing him and his crew soon. "We will most certainly be back again and again," he said. 

"We get out-of-town family and friends that stay with us each year, and Nice Guy Tours is on the 'Must-Do' list whenever visitors stay with us."

Thank you Michael. It's people like you that make me love what I do. Oh, and who's the nicest person you know? "I would be afraid not to say my wife Kathy although, without a doubt, she really is the nicest person I know."

Nice Guy Tourist: Museum of the City of New York

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Some local people won’t go to the Empire State Building or The Statue of Liberty.  I guess it makes sense if something's in your "backyard," you'd probably be more inclined to be a tourist somewhere else. There may be a stigma of doing touristy things in the city in which you live.  That said, I’d like to think a Nice Guy Tours Food Tour is the exception, but I digress. 

As a tour guide and as a lover of all things NYC, I am not one of those people that shies away from visiting areas throughout Manhattan.  I love playing tourist.  This ongoing blog series of Nice Guy Tourist - truth be told - has given me an excuse to do that as well.  I’ve done a walk over the Brooklyn Bridge, a visit to One WTC Observatory and now, I’ve visited the Museum of the City of New York.

To be frank, I love this museum.  It is a tribute to the city and tells the story in such a fascinating way  There is a video that talks about how NYC was all farmland and how it’s grown over the years.  There is an exhibit to all zoning laws as well. As you can imagine the laws have changed throughout the years.  As you know, if you’ve been on my Greenwich Village Food Tour, some neighborhoods are historically protected.  No new buildings above six stories in the village! Can you believe it? The zoning exhibit really dives into some of those rules.  I don’t want to ruin the museum for you - there are some surprises.  I would plan to spend two-to-three hours there.  It’s located at 1220 Fifth ave (near 103rd st).  It’s open every day from 10am to 6pm.  Adult ticket is $18.  Age 19 and under is free (how cool is that!).  Seniors are $12. Either way it is worth every penny.  If you check it out please let me know what you think.  See you on a tour soon

Five Questions with Molly' Cupcakes' Brennan Gallagher

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We're here today with Brennan Gallagher at Molly's Cupcakes. He's a Pats fan, but we won't hold that against him. Here's our five questions segment!

What is Molly's Number 1 best seller?
The #1 best seller is our cake batter cupcake. It's a vanilla funfetti cake topped with blue butter cream and multi-color sprinkles filled with raw liquid cake batter.

My mouth's watering right now! OK, and what's your favorite?
That's a tough one. I love the banana cupcake with either no frosting or the butter cream because it's light not too sweet and really brings out the flavor of the cupcake. But, I'm also a super traditional guy so love vanilla cake with chocolate  frosting. I like the "build your own"  because there's not filling on the inside, it's your traditional cake. It's not as heavy - really delicious. And our vanilla tastes like vanilla. It's not yellow cake. It's vanilla cake, which not every place does.

They all sound delicious. When people visit New York City, what is the one thing they should do off the beaten path?
I
very much recommend taking the A train or the 1 train all the way up to Upper Manhattan and checking out the Cloisters. It's not going to feel like New York City. It's kind of like this old castle feel and it's an art museum so they have a bunch of old relics from years and years past. It's almost like finding the countryside of New York. Other than that, there's Roosevelt Island which is right in-between Manhattan and Queens. FDR park is beautiful, overlooks river, and has a light house. But, the best thing about New York is you can walk down any random street and find something.

What do you think the biggest misconception people have about New York City?
That
New Yorkers are rude and that's something that I thought for years and years before I go here. It's not true. New Yorkers are very happy to help until they're not - like if they have somewhere to go. [Laughs]  If you're coming to visit, don't ask the person flying down the street trying to get somewhere. People ask me all time "where's this" and "where's that," and I'm like "Sure, I'll help."

Lastly, who's the nicest person you know and don't say me!
That's hard. I'd have to say me - no. I would say my friend AJ, who is from California and lives here. He's just the purest, nicest guy I know. He'd give you the shirt off his back. It's a beautiful thing. There's something about New York. People are direct with people. There's a genuine honesty. We're all from different places, but people can come and just be in New York, and pay tribute to what the area is all about. Now my second favorite, of course, is Dante.

My Valentine to You - Yes, You!

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If you’re reading this, I love you.  Now as a human being we are supposed to love all humans and I try to do that but I fail often whether it's at the grocery store, in traffic...you get the picture.  But YOU I really do love.  

If you’re reading this I am where I am because of you.  I started doing food tours almost seven years ago and it was like when the Wizard of Oz switched from black and white to color.  I really liked this job right from the beginning.  About five years ago, I started to get the idea to start my own food tour business.  After prodding from my wife, my father-in-law and my friend Jon Chattman, I decided to take the leap.  

OK, I started a food tour business.  I know how to give a food tour.  I know some cool facts, and I know some great food stops.  I’m good at giving tours but how do I get people to come on the Tours? Well.  At first, they didn’t.  A few people here and there but not enough to really have a sustainable business.  Then something happened.  I started to get more and more five-star reviews on TripAdvisor and people were finding me there.  If you’ve been on my tour and wrote me a five-star review on TripAdvisor, I love you.  You are the reason my business is successful.  

If you’ve been on my tour and you put a picture on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram - I love you. I am where I am today because of you.  Thank you.  If you took my tour and then told someone about it, I love you. You’ve helped my family to stay fed, warm and clothed.  It sounds cheesy but it’s real. These are the facts, folks.  I am where I am today because of you.  I got a message today asking about a tour.  The lady is visiting from the UK and said, “I was at my doctors office last week and she told me I had to take your tour."  I love that doctor.  Again, I also love you all who are reading this.  

This is my Valentine to you all - thank you for sharing my posts and clicking the "like" button. You are helping a hard-working man care for his family by doing something he loves and therefore you are also making the world a better place.  I love you.  I’ll see you on a tour soon - keep in mind:  one out of every one doctors recommends me!

Love,
Dante

Nice Gal of the Month for January: Dolores Hagen

 Dolores Hagen of Aldie, VA is our "Nice Gal of the Month," and for good reason. The software test engineer ("I get to break software for a living," she says with glee) has been on three of our tours.  Her favorite "eats" on the tours have been Molly's Cupcakes, which she notes, she's been to "tons of times." That, she said, "is the one that stuck with me." But, on second thought, "Artichoke pizza was awesome." OK, so that's the Greenwich Village tour. What about the Lower East Side, you ask?  "If it was for the tour I just took, it would be a toss up between the dumplings (at Vanessa's) and Katz.  The dumplings are fab and a bargain, Katz is not a bargain but is way yummy and a New York institution," she said.  On each tour, I try to offer up a fun fact and history.  Dolores said her favorite tidbit was the history of Economy Candy and that one of the reasons that it is so affordable is that the owners of the shop actually own the building.  She said her biggest surprise on the tour was how "shocked" she was that she enjoyed the taste of the pickles from the Pickle Guys. Overall, her favorite thing about New York, and this she notes is a "really hard" question to answer, is how "nothing is ever the same, it is always fun, there are always fun surprises, great people, great shows, great food."  She added, "Visiting NYC is like hanging out with an old friend, it doesn't matter how long you have been away there is still a connection and it is never boring! Sometimes the NYC weather sucks but other than that, I'm completely in love with the crazy city but don't think I could live there. It would overwhelm me."  That's understandable. So who we ask is the nicest person she knows and why?  But, she can't say me! "Again...very difficult," she said.  "Kerry Babylon.  She is very considerate of others, an amazing friend that puts up with a lot of my crazy without snapping at me; awesome sense of humor. She is just plain sweet.   Soooooo  much nicer than I am, heavens knows why she hangs out with me!"  Oh c'mon Dolores! Nice Guy Tours loves hanging out with you!   

Dolores Hagen of Aldie, VA is our "Nice Gal of the Month," and for good reason. The software test engineer ("I get to break software for a living," she says with glee) has been on three of our tours.

Her favorite "eats" on the tours have been Molly's Cupcakes, which she notes, she's been to "tons of times." That, she said, "is the one that stuck with me." But, on second thought, "Artichoke pizza was awesome." OK, so that's the Greenwich Village tour. What about the Lower East Side, you ask?

"If it was for the tour I just took, it would be a toss up between the dumplings (at Vanessa's) and Katz.  The dumplings are fab and a bargain, Katz is not a bargain but is way yummy and a New York institution," she said.

On each tour, I try to offer up a fun fact and history.  Dolores said her favorite tidbit was the history of Economy Candy and that one of the reasons that it is so affordable is that the owners of the shop actually own the building.

She said her biggest surprise on the tour was how "shocked" she was that she enjoyed the taste of the pickles from the Pickle Guys. Overall, her favorite thing about New York, and this she notes is a "really hard" question to answer, is how "nothing is ever the same, it is always fun, there are always fun surprises, great people, great shows, great food."

She added, "Visiting NYC is like hanging out with an old friend, it doesn't matter how long you have been away there is still a connection and it is never boring! Sometimes the NYC weather sucks but other than that, I'm completely in love with the crazy city but don't think I could live there. It would overwhelm me."

That's understandable. So who we ask is the nicest person she knows and why?  But, she can't say me! "Again...very difficult," she said.  "Kerry Babylon.  She is very considerate of others, an amazing friend that puts up with a lot of my crazy without snapping at me; awesome sense of humor. She is just plain sweet.  Soooooo much nicer than I am, heavens knows why she hangs out with me!"

Oh c'mon Dolores! Nice Guy Tours loves hanging out with you!