Walking While Eating

Today I happened across this new-to-me food tourism guide to San Francisco’s Ferry Building, posted on Bunrabs, a fun Bay Area food blog and restaurant-review site. This latest “Metro-Menu” is full of colorful yet down-to-earth food pics and puntastic quips (“What kind of small fry doesn’t like semi-fast food?”), and gives three days’ worth of delicious itineraries, broken down into seven courses each. Clearly there’s a good deal of thought put into each day’s listings: Usually meals and sweets alternate, light fare follows heavier foods, and there’s good critical discussion of what to order.

Of course, in practice it would probably be impossible to complete these itineraries without feeling stuffed and losing your taste for food midway through, given that none of them require you to leave the Ferry Building. Bunrab’s other Metro-Menu, which gives food agendas for three days in New York (and includes an ample amount of walking), seems much more doable.

The New York menu also includes plenty of full-fledged sit-down establishments peppered in with the street food, which I appreciate. There are lots of professional culinary walking tours out there, from the highfalutin to the touristy (and some food bloggers are partial to bakery and chocolate-shop hops), but those often revolve around ultra-casual establishments and lack the more formal dining experience.

Recently I organized my own four-course restaurant hop, inspired in part by last year’s New York magazine roundup of dream meals (and perhaps by the spirit of the late R. W. “Three Lunches” Apple). While it was incredibly fun, I discovered one reason why people don’t do it more often: the guilt factor. Even those hip small-plate spots that ostensibly cater to folks who come just for appetizers, salads, or mini-entrées don’t take kindly to diners who order just one or two tiny dishes to share and then go on their merry way. Raised eyebrows and mildly annoyed is-that-alls at two of the places resulted in our tacking on unwanted alcohol and unusually large tips.

Has anyone else out there tried restaurant-hopping? Any advice on dealing with the pressure to power-purchase (or is it bad form in the first place not to stay for a full meal)?

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