After a recent vacation to the San Diego area, I realized there are more beaches than people in California and three days is not nearly enough to see them all. While there, I had the pleasure of attending the Encinitas Food Tour and Walk, Wine & Dine in Huntington Beach Food Tour. There are several food tours in the area I did not have time to experience offering well-reviewed and highly recommended tour products. Being a food tour owner, I decided to reach out to a few other owners (in the San Diego area) and learn more about their tour products.
My first contact was with Carlsbad Food Tours owner Cherimarie Poulos. I was so close to the area when I took the each of my food tours so I wanted to know more about what I missed and it’s very clear after this interview my next trip to the San Diego area will include a stop in Carlsbad.
Tell us about yourself and Carlsbad Food Tours
My name is Cherimarie Poulos, I was born & raised in California. I lived in San Diego over 20 years, my children were born in the area. I have a strong connection to Carlsbad, in fact one of my daughters was Miss Carlsbad in 2005. So I voted myself to be Mrs. Carlsbad. Now the Chief Foodie and Founder of Carlsbad Food Tours! I love Carlsbad and am happy to share my knowledge about the local history and great eateries in the Carlsbad Village. I had a wonderful career as a Registered Nurse for 34 years. When getting ready to retire I realized that I was still relatively young and could do other things at this point of my life. So I took my love of food and history and put them together to create “Carlsbad Food Tours.
How did you come up with Carlsbad Food Tours?
In 2013, during an anniversary weekend, my husband and I went on a similar tour in Carmel and had a fabulous time. The thought came to me that “We have a village, with some wonderful restaurants”, why can’t we have a food tour in Carlsbad? So after returning to Carlsbad and checking to make sure we did not in fact already have a tour, I decided to jump on this idea before someone else did. But where to start? Having not owned owned a business before, I decided to get counsel by calling the owner of the Carmel Food Tour, Stacy, and asked her for guidance. The first thing she said is I needed to contact Shane Kost in Chicago and do his Food Tour Pros course. Shane is the not only the owner of Food Tour Pros a company that teaching people how to start their own food tours, but he is also the owner of Chicago Food Planet, one of the largest and most successful food tour operations in the country. Chicago Food Planet does 5 tours daily and works with thousands of guests. Taking the course with Shane was the best advice she could have gotten. His course gave me a template on the how to set up her business. He taught us how to present the idea to the vendors, how to price the tour and how to set it up to be successful from day one. After going to Chicago, I returned with so much enthusiasm and ideas! And immediately went about town pitching the idea and gathering my vendors together. I also spent an enormous amount of time studying the history and culture of Carlsbad, as well as getting the “back story” on the restaurants in town.
Choosing the restaurants and food tastings was fun but also difficult due to having so many great restaurants in Carlsbad. So I initially focused on my two main items: Great Food & History! I chose eateries that had both of these characteristics. I also wanted to spotlight unique family owned places that we not easily repeated in other cities. I wanted my tour guests to get a taste of what Carlsbad had to offer.
After setting up my tour, I called Shane and told him I was ready for my walk thru visit. He flew from Chicago to do the tour, and of course took a lot of notes and made several suggestions at the end of the tour on how she could improve the product. The first year of the business I continued to work as a nurse doing, 9 hour shifts during the week and tours on the weekends. So, it was a pretty busy time, but the tours were doing well so I was happy.
Tell us about your city and what made you start a food tour there
Carlsbad, California is an upscale coastal resort city with old-world charm in northern San Diego County. Carlsbad also has 7 miles of white sandy beaches that stretch down the Pacific coastline in northern San Diego County, California. Carlsbad is a beach town because it touches the ocean, inlets and bays. Beach towns are often seen as tourist destinations that attract visitors and locals together to enjoy the beautiful scenery and waterfront activities. This quaint European type village has history and great food, which makes it an excellent location to start a food tour.
Carlsbad’s has amazing food and going on our food tour is one of the best ways to try it. Little Italy in North County San Diego is what we say here, because Carlsbad has a heavy Italian Population, which started with the Tuna Industry and now we have a lot of great Italian restaurants.
What type of food do we get to try?
We start with one of Carlsbad’s finest Italian eateries Caldo Pomodoro with old fashion Sicilian zest. We taste their baked artichokes, sweet marinara and famous garlic bread. Caldo has exciting dishes and unique ambiance. We then meander over to Humble Olive Oils try their balsamic vinegars from Modena, Italy and delicious Olive Oils. Our next tasting location is Vigilucci’s Gourmet Market better known as the Salumeria, Italian for market, where we taste Italian meats & cheeses, salami, prosciutto, panini sandwiches or pasta. Wine tasting is next at our local Urban Winery “Witch Creek”, where we taste award winning California wines. Our next stop we go to the Carlsbad Mineral & Water Spa to learn more about the history of Carlsbad and its miracle water. We also learn about the Twin Inns and the founding father of Carlsbad Gerhard Schutte and his influence on Carlsbad. Gaia Gelato is our next tasting location where we will be having a tasting flight of traditional gelato, yum. We then go the some of the off the beaten path areas of town to experience traditional Mexican food from one of the oldest business in Carlsbad, Lola’s Mexican Deli and a new venue in town Café Topes that serves up the best breakfast in Carlsbad, not to mention their most delicious homemade Cinnamon Rolls. We end our tour at the Carlsbad Chocolate Bar with a tasting of Sea Salt Carmel Chocolates.
Carlsbad Food Tours serve enough food that for most participants, lunch and sometimes dinner afterwards is not necessary. With the combination of drink and food tastings and breaks for architectural, cultural, and historical insight, most participants are comfortably full after our food tours. Most of our tastings are also vegan-friendly. Come and eat like the Locals, find all the hidden gems in Carlsbad.