Boiling Point: Taste New York City with Famous Fat Dave's tours

Jim Hillibish

Forget the Statue of Liberty, the Met or the Yankees. Don’t give your regards to Broadway. Next time you're in New York City, reserve a spot in Famous Fat Dave’s Five Borough Eating Tour on Wheels of Steel.

Fat Dave Freedenberg will pick you up in his restored Checker cab, and the food trip can begin.

Dave, a former “pickleman, cheesemonger, hot-dog vendor, food writer” and now a licensed cab driver and tour guide, knows his way around town, but never the typical tourist traps. He visits the small eateries that New Yorkers love and outsiders ignore, or fear. Some of these places are stand-up (no tables and chairs).

Dave’s viciously frank about what’s good enough for New York and what ain’t. He curries no favor with the town’s trend toward franchises. He’s angry at the gentrification of once-ethnic neighborhoods. This is not your Gray Line tour (they do offer single-car tours for $580).

Impress Fat Dave and state your mission:

- Best Slice Pizza Tour

- Pickles That Make you Plotz Tour

- Late-night Cruise Midnight Munchies

- Boot of the Boroughs Cannoli Tour

Or, you decide the theme or simply trust Fat Dave’s Faves.

Dave is a certified cable media star, appearing on the Food Channel, History Channel and Anthony Bordain’s “No Reservations.” You hook up with him via his e-mail at

You may cringe at the rates: $200 for two eaters over two hours; $100 each additional eater, each additional hour. Kids eat free.

But wait. That includes all the food and drinks at his stops. There’s room for five in his cab, but the space shrinks as the cab’s 2,000 calorie-per-mile tour continues.

A sure stop is Papaya King, a hot-dog shop at 179 E. 86th St. or 121 W. 125th. This is the quintessential New York grilled hot dog plus a neon-colored drink.

The drinks are freshly squeezed fruits and carrots masquerading as smoothies. Dave suggests Mango Madness or Blue Papaya and two franks with the works.

Fat Dave is all over YouTube, including his memorable theme song, which all passengers are required to memorize. Don’t forget the T-shirts.


2 papayas, ripe, peeled and seeded

1/2 cup fresh orange juice

1/2 cup vanilla frozen yogurt

Combine in a blender and purée until smooth. Serve chilled with a straw in a foam-plastic cup.

Serves 2.

Jim Hillibish writes for The Repository in Canton, Ohio. Contact him at