As summer’s hustle starts to slow, folks from around the region gather to nosh their way along the beautiful St. Croix River on a guided Hudson Food Walk. On a tour of art and culinary delights, the charm and history of the quaint river town of Hudson are on full display. Tour goers get a glimpse into Hudson’s booming food scene with tastings of Latin- and American-inspired bites, craft beer and cocktails, and award-winning desserts and handmade chocolates. It’s a time to take a breath, relax and indulge.
Katie and Brian Elwood founded Hudson Food Walk in the summer of 2017 to encourage visitors and residents to enjoy the community’s offerings.
“I used to commute to work in the Twin Cities,” Katie Elwood says. “When I’d get to the St. Croix River as I headed home, I’d look up and see hot air balloons overhead, and my blood pressure would drop. It’s such a very special place that you want to share it with others.”
Hudson’s charm, accessibility and concentrated downtown make for a perfect walk along the river, she says. “The independent shops and boutiques are unique,” Elwood says. “You’re just not able to get this anywhere else; there’s a diverse, delicious mix of foods. When we first moved here, we were sitting on the patio at San Pedro [Cafe], and to this day I feel like I’m on vacation when I’m downtown in Hudson.”
The typical tour season for Hudson Food Walk is June through early December, but Elwood is happy to take cold-loving visitors on private tours all winter long. Fall tours take place most weekends, and she says they can accommodate private tours on weekdays, as well. Since the business kicked off, the Elwoods and their staff have given more than 200 tours. Each three-hour jaunt includes six delectable stops and a walk-and-talk about the history of Hudson.
“We start at the Phipps Center for the Arts, because the tour is also about culture and arts, and wrap up with a stop at Seasons Gallery. We walk along the river, learn about the bridge, but food really takes center stage,” Elwood says. With a mix of savory and sweet, the tour includes visits to Knoke’s Chocolates and Nuts (a tempting staple of the Hudson culinary landscape) and St. Croix Baking Company, where former Four Seasons executive pastry chef Charles Froke creates artistic and delicious pastries. “I encourage people to stop in to see [Froke’s] creations. He’s an artist, and his works are pretty special,” Elwood says. “We’ve seen the food scene grow a lot. With 28 destinations downtown, including distilleries and breweries, there’s always an evolving experience.”
Elwood says this tour is loved by locals and visitors from all over, primarily because the community is a collaboration of small, local businesses with unique culinary approaches which support each other and believe in elevating life and visitor experience in the burgeoning river town. She also suggests out-of-towners consider scheduling a tour on Friday, so they can experience the rest of a weekend with some knowledge of the must-sees and activities taking place. “There’s been so much growth in the last 10 years. Black Rooster Bistro is an upscale dining spot in a more casual environment, with former St. Paul Grill executive chef Rick Frazer at the helm. And Wolfy’s Butcher Shop & Deli features farm-to-fork steaks, deli meats and locally sourced, sustainable products.”
For the Elwoods, Barker’s Bar & Grill holds a special place as one of their first go-to spots when they moved to the area.“We call Barker’s the ‘Cheers of Hudson.’ It was the first place we went for wings—they can’t be beat,” Elwood says.
But she wants to make it very clear—she doesn’t have a favorite. In the constantly evolving culinary scene of Hudson, there’s always something tasty to enjoy.
“It’s hard to pick favorites. They’re all places that we’ve patronized,” Elwood says. “There’s some amazing newcomers as well to the mix. It’s a great mix of old and new.”
Visit hudsonfoodwalk.com to check availability and register for an upcoming tour. A portion of each ticket purchase supports St. Croix Valley Food Bank.