Happy Friday folks! This week on food tour spotlight we go all the way across the other side of the U.S and speak with Vickie Wilson, owner of Vegas Valley Food Tours. As a New York City Food Tour company focused on Queens, one of our mission is to showcase a different side of the city and encourage tourists to explore lesser known (and more delicious) areas. The most common perception about NYC is that it’s simply Manhattan and nothing else–but we look to change that one bite at a time. Similarly, for most folks, Las Vegas equals lots and lots of CASINOS! But speaking with Vickie, we realize there’s so much more, like an awesome food scene! Here’s our interview
Tell us about yourself and Vegas Valley Food Tours?
My name is Vickie Wilson and I was born and raised in Las Vegas. I am an educator, previous social worker and lifelong lover of all things Vegas. Being a food tour owner allows me to combine three of many passions in my life- learning, eating, and meeting people from all over the world.
Vegas Valley Food Tours is a company connecting Vegas history, culture, and community with whomever is looking for a positively unique experience through historic downtown Las Vegas. By sharing my love of the downtown community, I hope to foster curiosity in lessor known downtown neighborhoods and encourage guests to seek out what is unique, beautiful, and deliciously downtown Las Vegas.
Tell us about Las Vegas and what made you start Vegas Valley Food Tours there?
Vegas (as we know it today) started as a rail town in 1905 named The Clark Las Vegas Townsite. Current day downtown Las Vegas was then just a stop in the middle of the desert serving as a connection between a stretch of rail line between California and Utah. With a bit of luck, proximity and natural resources, The Clark Las Vegas Townsite grew from being a rail stop to being the start of what would become the foundation for the Vegas we see today.
From inception, there has always been some form of gaming in Las Vegas – legal and illegal. After Nevada approved legalized casino gaming in March 1931, the city of Las Vegas and Clark County set up licensing procedures for casino games. Most of the gaming applicants came from establishments that had offered legal poker games on Fremont Street downtown, such as the Las Vegas Club, Boulder Club, and Northern Club. Soon after legalization of casino gaming, interest in casino licensure grew to areas outside of downtown largely focusing on the area now known as the strip.
As time went on, more interest and growth in the gaming industry took shape on the strip to outgrow the growth in the older Fremont Street Historic District.
The strip is fabulous and there is nothing like it in the world! I would encourage anyone visiting Vegas for the first time to visit iconic Vegas locations on the strip. Then once you have seen the Fountains of Bellagio, attended Cirque du Soleil, and taken a picture in from of the iconic Welcome to Las Vegas sign, come and visit downtown and its whimsical charm as the historic center of Las Vegs.
I started a food tour because I love food tours and I wanted to share my passion for history, community and culinary offerings. I decided to offer the tour in downtown because I have a connection to the downtown community that starts from my childhood.
Downtown is made up of several districts including Fremont East District, The Arts District (18b), The Las Vegas High School Historic District, John S Park Historic Neighborhood and the Fremont Street Casino District. Our current tour products focus on the Fremont East District, Fremont Street Casino District, and the Las Vegas High School Historic District.
What makes Vegas Valley Food Tours different and unique?
We try to do things a little differently in that we are food lovers with the ability to tell a great story about the community, culture, and the vibrant downtown culinary scene. We offer an experience for the everyday foodie that is fun and informative. Not only are our tours delicious, we connect the history of the city during our culinary journey through one of the oldest communities in Las Vegas where the promise of a rail town and artisanal wells sparked an interested in the middle of the desert that continues to welcome people to the desert from all over the world.
What type of food do we get to try?
On our tours, we offer food for the everyday foodie. We are not trying to push anyone to their culinary limit so we focus on the locations locals love and tourist so rarely experience. A list of our current tasting locations can be found on our website and we look forward to changing the way people experience Vegas, one bite at a time.
Thank you Vickie! Seems we have more reason to head down to Las Vegas now!