Vickie Wilson’s Vegas Valley Food Tours might just be the best thing that’s happened to the downtown Las Vegas restaurant scene in some time. Not only has she brought a number of tourists and locals Downtown to enjoy the great culinary offerings of our city core, she’s kept them coming back.
Since Wilson started Vegas Valley Food Tours in 2013, she’s doubled the number of people taking her tours. Now she wants to expand into the Arts District.
“Food tours are addicting,” says Wilson. “Once you travel and do a nice food tour, you’re quite disappointed when you go somewhere and you can’t find one in the area.”
Every Tuesday through Saturday morning at 10 a.m., tourists and locals alike meet on the corner of Third and Fremont Streets for a culinary adventure through Downtown. The food tours are not limited to the six tastings that participants take in at exclusive-to-Vegas restaurants like Rachel’s Kitchen, Chillspot, GrassRoots and Cous Cous Mediterranean Café: they also get a taste of Vegas’s past.
“Most people are surprised by the level of history, culture and architecture we hit within the two-and-a-half hour period,” says Wilson.
A former social worker and manager, Wilson initially offered just one tour every Saturday. Now, she runs tours full time with two tour guides. Wilson recently added Zydeco Po Boys to her rotation and is currently in talks to include Glutton. She hopes to add Dougie J’s and MTO (pictured above) to her Arts District tour, which she’d like to launch by late fall.
“Downtown is more than just four blocks on Fremont,” says Wilson. “It’s a community. Those small business owners have beautiful products and are committed to this community. I look forward to being part of their neighborhood.”
Wilson is always on the lookout for restaurants that have strong reviews, good customer service, space that accommodates large groups and restaurants that work well with those places already on the tour. However, the real trick to launching into the Arts District lies in planning a tour that lets participants visit restaurants that don’t require participants to walk too far.
“I see guests yearly now that once never thought about staying Downtown,” says Wilson. “Now people call or email me to let me know that they are going to stay at the Grand, or try the Golden Nugget. That has been really good to see people engaging with the community.”