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Published April 15, 2013, 11:30 PM

Walking restaurant tour takes off in Fargo-Moorhead

FARGO – A new gathering getting started in Fargo-Moorhead is like a pub crawl for foodies.

FARGO – A new gathering getting started in Fargo-Moorhead is like a pub crawl for foodies.

Dishcrawl, a national walking food tour that made its local debut last month, is a monthly event that aims to introduce diners to local eateries four at a time.

The first Fargo crawl emphasized the downtown area, and visited Rhombus Guys Pizza, the Old Broadway Grill, the Beefsteak Club and Spicy Pie Pizza.

The second event, which is set for April 23, will focus on restaurants around the West Acres Shopping Center, according to local organizer Angie Mueller.

But as is standard for Dishcrawl, the names of the participating restaurants won’t be released until 48 hours before the date of the crawl.

If you’re eager to find out the details ahead of time, though, hints will be dropped on the organization’s social media pages, Mueller says.

“We drop little hints here and there,” she says. “But we try to keep it as secret as possible, for the fun of it.”

Food and community

Dishcrawl was formed in 2010 in San Jose, Calif., and has since expanded to more than 30 other cities across the U.S. and Canada.

Tracy Lee, Dishcrawl’s founder, says the concept behind it was simple – bringing people together over food.

“What started off as a simple concept blossomed into a gathering where neighbors could get to know each other and relationships were built over food,” Lee wrote in an email.

For Mueller, who runs W, her own event planning and concierge service in Fargo, Dishcrawl’s goal held an obvious attraction.

“I like finding fun things to get people together,” she says. “And I thought, (Dishcrawl) is great, because it involves food.”

In a standard Dishcrawl, each participating restaurant serves one specific part of a meal, such as appetizers, salads or soups, entrees or desserts.

The crawl group, which is capped at 40 people, spends about 45 minutes at each location, and then moves on to the next restaurant.

Ideally, each stop will be within walking distance of the rest, but Mueller admits that won’t always be possible in the F-M area.

“You might have an occasion where you might have to end a little bit further away than you want to,” she says. “But you’re going to get really close.”

Moving around in a large group means participants are likely going to be interacting with and meeting new people, Mueller says.

“Basically a lot of what it’s about, I think, is community, and getting people out and meeting different people,” she says. “Whether you want to do something on your own, or as a girls’ night, or as a date night, you’re meeting new people.”

A lot of options

After the April 23 Dishcrawl, Mueller is unsure when the next one will take place, as she’s busy planning a separate downtown food event for June.

Once finished, she hopes that Dishcrawl becomes a regular monthly event people can look forward to.

“In general, the idea is to have a Dishcrawl once a month, and maybe even more than one, if we’re getting a feel for it or if there’s a need for it,” she says.

As she’s reached out to area eateries to see if they’re interested in participating, Mueller says she’s gotten a pretty warm response back.

“The restaurants and the chefs and the managers have been really fun to work with so far,” she says. “If they can’t be a part of it, they’ve wanted to be. They’re really proud of their food and their menus.”

Nate Johnston, an assistant general manager at the Old Broadway Grill, says he saw the first Dishcrawl as an opportunity to expose a new crowd to their chefs’ offerings. Specifically, the restaurant served up a variety of soups for the event.

“It’s another way of introducing some of our products to new clients, and give them the chance to try some of our items that they can consider for the future,” he says.

Although the F-M area isn’t quite as large as some of the major U.S. cities where Dishcrawl has become an established event, Mueller says she’s been surprised with her options.

“Sometimes you don’t even realize how many restaurants there are in Fargo,” she says. “Sometimes people just get kind of stuck in a rut. But, man, there are a lot of places to go.”

If you go

What: Dishcrawl Fargo – West

When: 7 p.m. April 23

Where: Locations will be announced 48 hours prior to the event

Info: Tickets cost $45 and are still available at www.dishcrawl.com/fargo

For more information: Follow Fargo Dishcrawl on Twitter at @DishcrawlFargo, or email Angie Mueller at AngelaM@dishcrawl.com

Readers can reach Forum reporter Sam Benshoof at (701) 241-5535