When the effects of the coronavirus pandemic hit the hospitality industry in 2020, it not only closed dining rooms in restaurants, but banned food shifts in New Jersey.

But with restaurants running again, food tours are starting as well. These tours invite food lovers to explore a city while enjoying the signature dishes of its restaurants and learning about local history.

“For the first time in 15 months, we’re opening public tours again, and it’s really exciting,” said Alessia Aron, owner of Beyond the Plate Tours, which features excursions to Jersey City, Red Bank and Somerville. “They (local restaurants) have gone through hell and are back and we are just trying to support them as much as possible.”

Her company, formerly Jersey Girls Grocery Tours, is one of seven that make up the NJ Food Trail.

Pasta and Cheese by Macona BBQ in Collingswood, NJ

“Initially, the female operators were really inspired by (Food Travel to New York State) and how it connects all the trails together across the state,” said Devon Perry, a representative of NJ Food Trace Food. “(COVID-19) made it flow smoothly and easier to collaborate as everyone was used to working online.”

“We thought of coming together and creating the Food Journey to New Jersey would help us get out of the pandemic better,” said Audrey Wiggins, owner of On the Town Food Tours, another participant. “July 1 is our official opening date for all tour companies; some started a little earlier than that, but all are now officially open.”