Taco Tour Manchester Returns for 2023

The beloved annual event features more than 90 restaurants serving $3 tacos on Manchester's Elm Street
Taco Tour 2022 6

Photo by Ethos & Able Creative

Manchester’s most beloved annual event is back. Taco Tour Manchester, after being put on hold in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19, made its much-anticipated return to the city in 2022. On May 4, 2023, from 4 to 8 p.m. in downtown Manchester, the event will make its sophomore appearance under the direction of the Greater Manchester Chamber and Cole Riel — who’s passionate as ever to fill Elm Street with tacos. “It was like two years without a Santa Clause for the city,” Riel, the Chamber’s director of small business and community development, says. “Last year was us figuring out the logistics, and this year we’re perfecting what was already successful about the event. It’s great to have everyone excited for the Tour this year and have a better understanding of what to expect.”

For four hours on the eve of Cinco de Mayo, Manchester residents will have the chance to eat their way through the city’s cuisine vis-à-vis taco. Over 90 restaurants are planning to set up shop on Elm Street and sling tacos for $3-a-piece (cash-only). Last year, Riel says he saw (and tasted) an impressive potpourri of varying tacos, from Alley Cat Pizzeria’s pizza taco (Riel’s 2022 favorite), to Piccola Italia Ristorante’s chicken parmesan caesar salad taco, to the 2022 “Best Taco,” Firefly American Bistro & Bar’s more traditional offering: a soft flour tortilla with seasoned chicken, cheddar, Mexican rice and hot-and-smoky chipotle crema.

Taco Tour 2022 137

Photo by Ethos & Able Creative

“We have a huge variety of folks — from Indian restaurants to sushi restaurants to more traditional Mexican restaurants — involved in this event and it really highlights the diversity that we have downtown in Manchester,” Riel, the official director of the Taco Tour, says. “Manchester is an incredibly diverse city in what’s often thought of as not a super diverse area of the country, so to be able to showcase that and get folks thinking about different ways to sample their food, the taco is a terrific way to do that.”

Taco Tour Manchester first got its start in 2011 under the name “Hippo de Mayo Taco Challenge,” started by alt-weekly Manchester newspaper The Hippo. Riel, who grew up in nearby Goffstown, says the event began as a business promotion offering a smaller spread of local tacos before quickly expanding. In 2018, the city agreed to shut down Elm Street to vehicular traffic to accommodate the vast crowds filling the streets, something it’s done every Taco Tour since. Last year, Riel says the Tour brought in between 20,000 and 25,000 attendees. He expects much of the same in 2023.

In addition to munching on tacos, Riel and the Chamber have a number of additional activities in store. A “Grand Marshall” kicks off the day by eating the Tour’s inaugural taco; this year’s guest of honor is singer and former “American Idol” contestant Alyssa Wray. New for 2023 is the Hood Sour Cream Concert, with six musical acts playing on two downtown stages. Jeffrey Gaines, Frank Viele and Best Not Broken will play on the 92.5 The River Stage in Veteran’s Park, and Colleen Green, Donaher and Supernothing will play on the M&T Bank Bandstand Stage located on Elm Street. Additionally, all attendees are encouraged to vote for their favorite taco on tacotourmanchester.com. The winning restaurant receives $1,000 to donate to a charity of their choice and the much-sought-after “Best Taco” trophy. “How do we make Manchester a destination for culture, experience and, most importantly of all, food?” Riel says. “I think any community needs to find what’s unique to it. When we think about Manchester, we need to have things that make it a unique destination, and Taco Tour is definitely one of those things.”

Taco Tour 2022 174

Photo by Ethos & Able Creative

As a seasoned (pun-intended) Taco Tour veteran, Riel recommends a few tips to make the most of the event. Most importantly, proper preparation. “Map,” he says. “The map (available on the event’s official website) will drop the week before the event, and that’s really when you have to sit down with your friends, family, whoever’s coming with you to the event, and circle your top destinations. There’ll be a lot of options but you need to figure out where your top priorities are.” He compares the Tour to Disney World, with its bustling crowds and dizzying sensory overload. “You can’t just walk into the Magic Kingdom and expect to waltz onto all the rides,” Riel says. “That’s very similar to Taco Tour.” Additionally, he advises attendees arrive early and make a whole day of it. “I think it’s a great opportunity to come downtown at 2 or 3 p.m., get a cold Dos Equis at a bar down here and wait for restaurants to be set up,” he says. “And then once they are, go crazy.”

All in all, Riel hopes the Taco Tour provides Manchester residents and tourists alike the chance to recognize and celebrate the city’s culture. “There’s so much in Manchester to be proud of that other places don’t have,” Riel says. “We feel like this is an amazing city, and every opportunity we have to showcase that to other folks, we really need to take advantage of.”

Taco Tour Manchester takes place on Thursday, May 4, from 4 to 8 p.m. in downtown Manchester. Visit the event’s official website for more information.

Taco Tour 2022 8

Photo by Ethos & Able Creative

Below is a list of some of the available tacos at this year’s Taco Tour Manchester:

Alas De Frida
Chipotle chicken with grilled onion taco

Chicken in creole sauce, epis and avocado aioli, pikliz and plantain chips (GF)

bluAqua Restrobar
Alligator and andouille, steak chimichurri

Buba Noodle Bar
Chicken ramen taco

Firefly Manchester
Chewbacca chicken and cheese taco with seasoned chicken, cheddar, and chipotle crema in a soft tortilla shell

Industry East
Roasted sausage taco with tomato crema, red onion, cilantro and cheddar

Thai Food Connection
Wonton shell, chicken krapow and special sauce

The Common Man Roadside
Beef barbacoa, chicken tinga, pork carnitas and apple cider donut tacos

Green Beautiful
Meaty mushroom taco with red cabbage slaw, pickled peppers and an avocado crema, served with a side of vegan street corn (Vegan and GF)

The Sleazy Vegan
Jackfruit taco with mango-jalapeño salsa

Wild Rover
Sheperd’s pie taco

Categories: Family-friendly things to do, Food & Drink, Things to Do