By Lauren Elizabeth Ware
I love food. Better known from Shaggy on Scooby Doo,“There’s nothing I love more than food unless it’s more food.” Food is one of the best ways to bond with people. You laugh, exchange stories, share food, and enjoy the environment. It’s a great way to be adventurous and explore some of the great popular vote restaurants, or find some interesting hole-in-the-wall places. I’ve recently realized that Galveston has a lot of hidden gems located just along The Strand. Karen Vaden and her family, have concocted the perfect way to explore all of the wonderful food that The Strand has to offer:- “Taste of The Strand” (TOTS). With a 3-hour walking tour of nothing but good company and food,“Taste of The Strand” is just what you’re looking for.
One year, for Karen’s husband’s birthday, they took a trip to New Orleans where they did a history, swamp, and food tour. When they returned home, Karen thought, “You know, in the history of Galveston Island, why on earth has someone not thought of doing a food tour! With as many restaurants that are from scratch and locally owned. Why not?” What really kicked them into gear, was when her son came home from serving in the military and had no luck finding work. Karen wanted to create something that they could not only retire on but that would provide jobs for veterans.
In March of 2017, “TOTS” was born. The tour begins at Hendley Green Park and stops at places such as Nonno Tony’s, Shrimp N’ Stuff, Yaga’s Grill, and more. Tours are twice a day every Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 1-4pm and then again at 5-8pm, rain or shine. They do require one day in advance booking with a maximum of 16 people. If it’s a private booking, the maximum increase to 20 people at most. Their goal is to work together with each of these eateries, bringing business to not only themselves, but also to provide loyal returning customers to the restaurants.
Karen and her family bring something to table that I’ve personally never encountered – they bring a sense of family to the atmosphere. They make you feel comfortable, at home, and almost as if you’ve known them for awhile. They love giving theses tours because they want to expose those “hidden gems” you might miss.
They want to show everyone that Galveston is more than just the beach. The history of Galveston is undeniable. It’s everywhere and everyone is aware of all the ghost stories and flood stories, but Karen doesn’t want this business to be another history or ghost tour. As she says, “We’re more designed around the food and the mystery of the Island rather than the history.” They strive to set themselves apart and bring a uniqueness to the table that makes people feel relaxed and have fun.
With the new year brings the next phase of TOTS – more food, more stops, and more fun.
For $89.95 (plus tax), you can join Karen and her family and enjoy the food and the mystery that makes Galveston Island what it is. And what better way to become immersed with the loving community of the Island than learning The Strand like the back of your hand.
Strap on some walking shoes, bring an appetite, an open mind, and enjoy yourselves!
Call (409)599-5425 or go to www.tasteofthestrand.com for more info or reservations.