A New Culinary Tour Takes You “Off the Beaten Path”

off the beaten path food toursFlatbread Company pizza: worth a stop on any food tour. Photo by Rachel Wehr.

Lizzie Bell and her fiancé Sam Schlussel are self-proclaimed globetrotters; they love to travel together, and they often take food tours while they do. But as longtime residents of Somerville and Cambridge who currently call Davis Square home, they’re also big fans of the colorful array of restaurants located right here in their own densely packed little neighborhood.

Plenty of culinary excursions exist to showcase the side of Boston that tourists are looking to see—the chowdah, the lobstah. And it’s not that Bell and Schlussel aren’t fond of those experiences; they’ve taken many such tours themselves. But there’s so much more to eat in this area than seafood—so why, they found themselves wondering recently, couldn’t there be a food tour specific to Davis Square that showed guests exactly that?

“There’s a lot of tours of the North End, which are amazing, and we love going on tours like that,” Bell says. “But instead of just doing a food tour where you support the tourism [industry], is there a way to get people to go a little off the beaten path?”

That’s where their aptly-named Off the Beaten Path Food Tours—which kicked off just last weekend—comes in.

Bell’s background is in food marketing, and she got her MBA at Babson, where there’s an emphasis on entrepreneurship. And she knows firsthand how challenging it can be for a small business owner to oversee day-to-day operations of the business and take the time to promote it.

Bell wants the benefits of Off the Beaten Path to be twofold: introducing tour-takers to the culinary creators of Somerville while helping independently owned shops reach a new audience of foodies. Ideally, guests—be they students looking at colleges or teams from tech startups on a company outing—will leave having had a brand-new dining experience and having met the people behind some of the eateries they already know and love.

“We were thinking more about our neighborhood here, and the entrepreneurs, really, the local businesspeople who are taking a risk and looking to grow,” she explains. “What were they doing before? Were they in IT like George from Opa Greek Yeeros? Were they in finance like Alan from Oat Shop?”

“Luckily for us, we live in a vibrant city that’s full of that entrepreneurial spirit—and with unique and delicious experiences,” she adds.

Tour stops will vary from weekend to weekend and depending on time slot; right now, they’re offered on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

And you won’t just get to fill up on food—though that’s obviously a huge plus. Bell and Schlussel are also giving their guests a history primer, weaving in information about area universities and significant historical sites with insider food tips and current happenings.

Perhaps best of all? You can do it all by foot. There are so many great restaurants in Davis, Bell says, and Off the Beaten Path Food Tours takes advantage of the neighborhood’s walkability, which is one of her favorite things about living in the square (and one of the reasons she never plans to leave—even with her giant dog).

More foot-friendly food excursions are on the way soon, too: Davis Square’s tour is the company’s first, but there are plans in the works to add one in Union Square—and later, one that’s specific to Bow Market, which will be a worthy destination of its own when it brings 30-plus new restaurants and retailers (including a brewery!) to Union Square.

More information, including tickets, are available at offthebeatenpathfoodtours.com.