This is part of a series of interviews with inspiring travelers. Today I’m interviewing Gigi Griffis about her Washington, DC food tour. See more about traveling with tours here. All photos provided by Gigi.
Tell us about yourself and your travel experience.
Hey there! My name is Gigi. I’ve been traveling internationally since I was 14. My first trip was to Australia and the main goal was to see a kangaroo (check). I’ve been hooked ever since, so it makes sense that four years ago (May 2012), I decided to ditch my permanent address and take to the road full-time with my backpack, freelance writing business, and small dog. I’ve been mostly traveling in Europe since then (Belgium, Scotland, Switzerland, Italy, France, Croatia, Slovenia…etc.), but am currently making my way across Canada, starting in super pretty and way underrated Ottawa.
For a living, I write books, blog posts, websites, and magazine articles. And for fun, I’m a reader, hiker, dancer, cook/foodie, and adventurer. I love trying new things, especially when it comes to food or the outdoors.
Where did you go on your tour and how long was it? How many food stops were there?
This food tour was in Washington, DC’s lesser-explored U Street neighborhood. It lasted just over three hours and we stopped at six different places for everything from chili dogs to Ethiopian food.
What tour company did you use and why?
We used Carpe DC. Their U Street tour sounded really interesting, especially since I knew nothing about Black Broadway or U Street’s murals or its riots going into the tour.
Why did you choose a tour instead of traveling independently?
The more my partner (Chad) and I do food tours, the more we like them, especially when we’re only in a city for a few days. It’s a way to get a slice of culture and history, while also getting fed.
What did you like about the DC food tour? What was your favorite part?
I really liked to learning about U Street’s history and I loved how certain places along the way (particularly The Original Ben’s Chili Bowl, which is one of the few restaurants that began before the riots, continued uninterrupted after the riots, and still operates today) were deeply entrenched in that history.
What did you learn about Washington, DC from the food tour?
Did you know that DC has the largest Ethiopian population outside Ethiopia? And thus it’s a hub of Ethiopian food.
We also learned a ton about the importance of the neighborhood — home to Black Broadway and many iconic African-American figures — in African-American history. There’s way too much to elaborate on here, but the history is fascinating and well worth delving into on a tour or via research.
Was there anything you didn’t like about the tour?
It was quite a bit larger than other food tours we’ve been on (about 14 or 15 people). Personally, I prefer the smaller, more intimate groups of 5 – 10.
What was your favorite food on the DC food tour?
I loved the Ethiopian dishes from Etete. They were light, delicious, and — in the tradition of Ethiopian food — you eat with your hands. And I also loved the half-and-half chili dog from The Original Ben’s Chili Bowl. It was delicious and the place was something special.
What inspired you to take this D food tour or travel to Washington, DC?
Honestly, I recently fell in love with food tours, so I just started Googling food tours in every destination we were going to this summer. I found this one and immediately reached out to ask if we could come join them.
Would you recommend the DC food tour? Would you change anything about it?
Yes. The food is good and the history of the neighborhood is really compelling.
Do you think the DC food tour would be good for a new traveler? Why or why not?
Yes! Food tours are great for new travelers. You can get to know the neighborhood, get fed, and also meet plenty of other travelers on the tour.
Bio: Gigi Griffis is a world-traveling entrepreneur and writer with a special love for inspiring stories, new places, and living in the moment. In May 2012, she sold her stuff and took to the road with a growing business and a pint-sized pooch. She’s blogs at gigigriffis.com and has authored 10 unconventional travel guides in the last two years. Check them out on Amazon here or through Gigi’s site here.
Gigi received a complementary tour from Carpe DC but all opinions are her own.
You might also enjoy: