It's no secret that San Antonio is a travel destination rich in history and culture. From the Alamo and the Missions to a vibrant visual arts scene and the prized Spurs, there are many reasons to visit the city. Now there is a new way to explore San Antonio that goes beyond the main tourist attractions: Local writer Julia Celeste wants you to get to know San Antonio through its food.
Celeste, an avid home cook, began writing about San Antonio restaurants in 1979. The dining writer and restaurant reviewer for San Antonio Magazine for 10 years, she is also the guide editor for Zagat San Antonio and an adjunct writing instructor at the Culinary Institute of America. For her latest venture, Celeste has created comprehensive food tours to cover San Antonio’s iconic cuisines and exciting new dining scene.
Celeste's Food Chick Tours are designed to stop at historic institutions and neighborhood secrets where participants meet the chefs and bartenders, ask questions, and sample the restaurant's offerings. Popular tours include the Hassle-free Happy Hour, obligatory Tex-Mex tour, an Anything But Tex-Mex counterpart, seasonally appropriate Tamalada tour, and the popular Progressive Dinner where diners walk between destinations.
“The walking tours are fun because you can stroll between restaurants and get a respite between courses. Locals and visitors alike enjoy meeting the chefs and discovering the food scene here,” Celeste says.
The driving tours involve being chauffeured by a professional driver to avoid parking hassles and tipsy driving. “That driver really makes the all-day Texas BBQ Road Trip [tour] a winner.”
Celeste became known as "The Food Chick" while writing for San Antonio Magazine and decided it was a fun moniker for this venture. “I think it fits my personality and expertise. I enthusiastically share my professional and personal knowledge with my guests on every tour. So, they truly are Food Chick Tours, not generic scripted tours.”
This month she plans to launch the Voracious Vegan/Vegetarian Venture to tap into the "healthier eating" phase people go through early in the new year. “I love those stops and hope it gains enough traction to keep it going throughout the year," she says. "I'm also hoping to solidify my Ice House Chill tour. It's a dwindling tradition and I want to share that experience before they're all gone. Some ice houses are serving great food.”
The Food Chick Tours website currently has eight set tours that customers can book online (prices range from $95 to $250 per person), but Celeste also customizes tours to meet individual needs. She's booked a family cooking class for a 50th wedding anniversary celebration and led a tour that celebrated a 25th wedding anniversary with two couples who met in San Antonio but hadn’t seen each other in years. She's also expanding services to larger, corporate groups looking for something special to do during conferences.
"Recently I've taken a tour with eight women from three generations of one family who all love to eat and cook together," says Celeste. "It's plans like these that make this so rewarding and engaging. I love helping people enjoy life. It's a blast!"