Hungry for new experiences, new friendships? SideTour comes to Chicago

by Terry B on October 17, 2012

New York City startup SideTour is all about trying something new and seeing the world through the eyes of others. And now it’s come to Chicago.

People are naturally curious creatures. Naturally social too. Put those two elements of human nature together and you’ve got the driving idea behind SideTour. Founded in New York in June 2011, SideTour is an online marketplace of “handpicked activities, tours and memorable things to do, all hosted by talented local people.”

Some of the events are food and drink related—creating a gluten-free meal with a holistic chef, dining with a banker-turned-monk in his East Village monastery and brewing your own pale ale with a craft beer expert, for instance. Others range from boxing with a world champ in a Brooklyn gym to visiting Hollywood’s secret (props) arms depot in SoHo and learning the art of disguise from a former CIA agent.

The idea for SideTour came to CEO Vipin Goyal after he and his wife returned from six months of traveling. On the road, they were constantly exploring and seeking out new experiences. Once back home, though, they fell back into their comfortable ruts. Through SideTour, Goyal and his team seek to create the kinds of new adventures we all treasure when traveling.

SideTour has just launched in Chicago this week, the company’s first expansion outside New York City. We recently attended a preview event, a six-course Indian dinner and cooking demo in the Lincoln Park home of journalist and cookbook author Anupy Singla, her husband and two lovely daughters.

There was wonderfully flavorful food, of course, made with fresh ingredients, mostly simple techniques and a handful of go-to Indian spices. The conversation was just as lively. Most of us arrived knowing only one or two fellow attendees, but left feeling we had made many new friends.

SideTour’s Chicago launch features a dozen experiences, including a seasonal off-the-menu tasting at Michelin-starred Naha with chef/owner Carrie Nahabedian; learning to create ’60s-inspired cocktails with mixologist Revae Schneider, named one of Zagat’s 30 Under 30; and exploring culturally significant street art in the West Loop with Ukrainian Village gallery owner Nick Marzullo. You’ll find the complete list at SideTour’s Chicago site.

For New York City experiences, click here. Oh, and the disguise class with the ex-CIA agent? That will be part of SideTour’s upcoming Washington, DC launch.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

catlin October 18, 2012 at 5:19 am

How exciting! Checked out their website. Sounds like so much fun! Now only if I could get Portland on their list:)

Anita October 21, 2012 at 5:53 pm

This sounds like a fabulous, fun concept – and I’m thrilled it’s coming to Washington DC. Not only do you give me recipes and cooking tips, but now some interesting leisure-time activities where I live. I have friends who do less for me :)

Terry B October 23, 2012 at 4:06 pm

Catlin, I wouldn’t be surprised if they added Portland at some point—sounds like the perfect mix of people who know cool stuff and people who want to learn it.

Glad to do it, Anita—and thanks for the laugh!

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