A great way to explore a city is to take a guided tour with a local and what better way to do that than walking from restaurant to restaurant trying the local food. When we heard about this walking food tour in San Jose it ticked all the boxes for an authentic Mexican experience.
Whilst in Mexico we wanted to explore the local streets and try the food the locals eat, but were also cautious and hesitant as to where we could explore safely. With the help of a local, in our case Francisco, we were guided through a culinary journey sampling tacos, tamales, ice-cream and more at local restaurants and street vendors that we otherwise would not have known existed.
In fact on our first night in San Jose we had visited the same local area the tour took us through but had stopped one street short of all the great restaurants as we had questioned the safety of the area. If only we had done this tour earlier in our itinerary!
Francisco ensured us all the places we visited were places he has taken his family providing an authentic local experience. Each location served us the specialty of the house and provided plenty of variety and options to step out of your culinary comfort zone.
The first three restaurants on the tour all served a variety of tacos in the options of either a corn or flour soft taco or a crispy flat tostada. As we restaurant hopped we tried tacos filled with smoked Marlin (our favourite), Sea Bass and then a marinated pork. A fresh condiment bar at the first restaurant provided plenty of local flavour and the second restaurant offered a fiery sauce to sample - Miss 8 was brave enough to try but instantly regretted the choice. I wish I had videoed her facial expressions they were priceless!
One of the great insights was to discover that real Mexican food rarely includes cheese! And Mexicans do not eat hard shelled Tacos! Clearly our love of Mexican food comes from the American version of Mexican cuisine that has filtered across the world. Can you imagine Nachos without cheese!
The three hour tour included visits to four seated restaurants as well as stops at a Pearl Shop and Tequila Tasting Bar. At the pearl shop Miss 8 picked the lucky door prize and was rewarded with a pearl which was opened in front of us, fresh from the pearl farm.
Our final two destinations of the tour were a Tamales street vendor followed by a local ice-cream store. Whilst the Tamales were not to our taste we were grateful for the opportunity to try them. We had always wondered what Tamales were - and to try them from a street vendor that was being frequented by locals was a great authentic experience.
The Tamales, in my non culinary layman terms, are a thick wrap made from maize stuffed with a choice of filling that come in both savoury and sweet. The wrap is steamed in a maize husk or banana leaf and has quite a distinctive flavour. We tried both a pork and a chicken and neither really kicked goals for our tastebuds.
Overall we were really glad to have chosen this experience. The group of five ladies from the US East Coast that joined us on the tour brought some great interactions to the table and made us feel welcome. The kids appreciated the authentic experience and we all enjoyed trying something new.
Find out more details here at Juan More Taco Tours.
Penny - Itchy Feet Family
Penny, an avid Trip Advisor Reviewer, is the author of ITCHY FEET FAMILY. A family living in Adelaide, Australia, and taking every opportunity to travel and explore the world.