From the desk of Lauren Palmer
*this content was originally published in the September 2019 issue of The Art of Living Beautifully magazine.
“I’m so happy that we operate a food tour in downtown McKinney,” Food Walks of Texas owner Lali Miles told me, her expressive brown eyes playful, “because when Paul and I moved here in 1993, the square was kind of a ghost town – nothing like the foodie and shopping paradise that it is today.”
It all began when husband and wife (Paul and Lali Miles) traveled to Georgia for their 25th wedding anniversary and found a food tour of downtown Savannah. Neither had heard of a food tour before but were intrigued by the idea. When they weren’t able to make the tour schedule work with their travel plans, they set out on their own: tasting, sipping, and exploring their way through downtown Savannah, the historical homes, trollies, and shops. “It was by far the best part of our trip, and when we returned home this idea of a food tour resonated. The revitalized downtown McKinney Square needed one!”
It wasn’t long before Food Walks of Texas gave its first tour in November of 2017. To prepare for the launch, Paul studied a plethora of history books pertaining to McKinney, Collin County, and The Republic of Texas. His diligent research made Paul an expert, so much so that the Food Walks of Texas tours are now known for being steeped in rich history. Tall Paul, as he is known around the Square, has a gift for storytelling and a genuine passion for sharing local tales. In fact, he was offered a job teaching history by one of his tour guests who happened to work for a local school district. He declined, but the compliment was reassurance that his performance was hitting the mark. “My tours are equally a show and a tour,” Paul told me with well-deserved pride.
So, what is a food tour? According to Food Walks of Texas, a food tour is a unique culinary adventure combining local cuisine with history, architecture, and culture that provides guests an authentic city experience. Paul and Lali believe Food Walks of Texas help both locals and tourists really get to know the city of McKinney. The experience is for everyone!
The Eat There or be Square tour, led by Paul, is a three-hour tour with 6 stops and 2 beer tastings that spotlight McKinney’s local breweries: Franconia and TUPP’S. Lali’s tour, Let There Be Brunch!, is also three hours, but has 12 stops: 4 sit-downs with brunch food and cocktails, and 8 stops that provide a little takeaway gift – something Lali has nicknamed a Treats and Eats experience. Scotch Eggs and Bloody Marys from The Celt and Chicken and Red Velvet Waffles paired with mimosas from The Pub are just a few of the combinations served on the Let There Be Brunch! tour. Each food tour offers a VIP experience. The food is ready when you arrive. No menu. No bill. No tipping. And the chefs and owners are around to visit with guests. Anyone can walk the Square or into the local restaurants, but Tall Paul and Lali bring it to life.
Currently, Food Walks of Texas works with 25 different vendors downtown to make each tour special and unique. “We started with Hugs Café, then The Pantry, and our list of partners grew from there. The most gratifying part of this entire endeavor is how welcoming downtown McKinney has been to our business. Not just our partners, but Main Street, The McKinney Chamber of Commerce, and The McKinney Convention and Visitors Bureau have all been so gracious and kind to us and our guests. We’ve become genuine friends.”
I hesitantly asked if Lali had a favorite tasting from the tours. “That’s like asking which child is your favorite!” Lali exclaimed. “But I will say the Local Goat and Fig pizza from Cadillac Pizza is a great favorite with guests because it is such an unexpected, unique bite. It’s also the fastest used coupon.”
So much more is ahead for Food Walks of Texas, like quarterly pop-up events and a new tour beginning on Wednesday evenings in the fall called The Happiest Hour that will spotlight Texas-based cocktails. Stay tuned to all the Food Walks’ news by finding them on Facebook and Instagram @foodwalksoftexas and on their website.
Experience all the bites and delights the McKinney Square offers and schedule a Food Walks of Texas tour through their website today. Come hungry. Leave happy!
*Food Walks of Texas can customize corporate and private tours
To learn more about Lauren and The Art of Living Beautifully, please visit our ‘about’ page.
Thank you Food Walks of Texas for sponsoring this content.