17 Restaurants Anthony Bourdain Practically Worshipped

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Who does the culinary world trust more than the late Anthony Bourdain? His uncompromising honesty, integrity, and obsession with food led him to be not only one of the most respected figures in the food world but the most adored. He found a simplistic way to enjoy life, each and every minute of it. Lucky for us, he shared that philosophy with the world through his writing and on screen. As he told the camera during an episode of "No Reservations" while sipping an espresso on the streets of Paris, "Eat a ham sandwich. Really eat a ham sandwich."

After years of cooking his way around New York City, Bourdain shifted to television and hosted a handful of acclaimed programs on Food Network, the Travel Channel, and even CNN. Throughout his 16 years of taking viewers all around the world trying diverse cuisines and exploring cultures, it's safe to say his opinion comes highly respected. His notorious affinity for both five stars and dive bars has won him a trustworthy badge of endorsement, and he certainly wasn't shy about speaking his mind. Although his life was cut short, he left behind a rich legacy that will live on forever, partly in the form of beloved restaurants. If Bourdain practically worshipped it, then we're sure we will too.

Le Dôme Café - Paris

Anthony Bourdain speaks of Le Dôme Café as if it's a work of French art; the old-world decor, dim lighting, no fuss goodness. "Le Dôme is an old classic. And I mean classic with a capital C," Bourdain says as he gets comfy in a booth. He experienced the Parisian gem back in 2012 during season two of "The Layover." After a harrowing interaction with his greatest fear, a mime, he recovered by ducking into the timeless brasserie in the 6th arrondissement.

Like a kid on Christmas morning, his eyes widened at the sight of the Royal Deluxe Seafood Tower hitting the table; a large array of clams, shrimp, langoustine, crabs, periwinkle, whelks, and oysters. Bourdain dove into shell after shell, savoring every last salty bite. The seafood is so succulent it doesn't seem to require many accouterments, but he dunks the whelk, or bulots, in a bit of mayo without question.

The majestic tower is served alongside an array of tools that could overwhelm most, but not Bourdain. His delight was palpable, as he confidently stated with a shell in hand, "If there are two things you do in Paris, this is one of them." Despite its luxury price, Bourdain has no problem getting his hands dirty. That's the way to do it, he says. 

Joe's Kansas City (Oklahoma Joe's) - Kansas City

In 2005, Anthony Bourdain made his TV hosting debut with his travel show, "A Cook's Tour." Much like his later shows, his first program had a crew following him from city to city, sampling different cuisines and chatting with locals. As he was just coming into his own, "A Cook's Tour" has a certain panache that evokes nostalgia and a no-nonsense attitude. During season two, Anthony, or Tony to his close friends, jetted off to indulge in Kansas City barbecue.

Bourdain kicks off "The BBQ Triangle" episode with an ode to America's greatest gift to the world: BBQ. He chats with real country folk about what it takes to make the most flavorful grilled, smokey meats around. The consensus is that fuel, seasoning, and a chef's expertise are what make a perfect barbecue platter. Oklahoma Joe's, now Joe's Kansas City, is no stranger to that formula. While devouring brisket, pulled pork, and mouth-watering ribs, Bourdain notes that each bite is of a "quality that meets the high standards even of Kansas City natives." As a barbecue capital of the world, this comes in high praise. "It's the best barbecue in Kansas City, which makes it the best barbecue in the world."

Ganbara - San Sebastián

Anthony Bourdain explored an endless amount of cities, whether during one of his many shows or on his own time, but a few spots became frequent destinations for him. The Basque country definitely makes that list, and the city of San Sebastián makes an even more elite collection for Bourdain, the best places to eat in all of Europe. In season nine of his final show, "Parts Unknown," Bourdain traveled to San Sebastián once again and headed straight for his go-to spot, Ganbara. As he said, "I come here every time, like a heat-seeking missile."

Tucked away in northern Spain, Ganbara serves traditional Basque cuisine in cozy digs. Here, a sip of beer pairs nicely with an assortment of pinchos, the Basque country's take on tapas. As a chef, Bourdain finds comfort in watching others work, and he knows the sense of camaraderie in the kitchen. It didn't take long for Bourdain to bond with the staff during his first visit years back, but it's not just the warm company that keeps him returning. It's the incredibly fresh seafood and Basque specialties made to perfection.

Le Continental - Quebec

The moment Anthony Bourdain took a seat at Le Continental, excitement could be seen all over his face. The Quebec City restaurant encompasses everything Bourdain adores. "Le Continental is the kind of place about which I am unreservedly sentimental," he said. "Classic, unironic cuisine Ancienne, meaning dishes you haven't seen since, like, forever." Always thrilled to try new things, there's comfort in tasting familiarity, and that's clear with each bite at Restaurant Le Continental.

While relishing in the old-world aesthetics, Bourdain watches his server toss a Caesar salad tableside. Never shy with praise, in this episode of "No Reservations," it's quite apparent that Bourdain's having a borderline out-of-body experience. He indulges in other "French continental ocean liner classics," including steak tartar and a whole Dover sole. He was particularly impressed with how clean the fish had been deboned, an admiration that only a fellow chef would have. "I love this place. I'm so happy. It's very comfortable. There's continuity in this world," Bourdain states while savoring his final bites.

Brauerei zur Malzmühle - Cologne

German gastronomy is often overlooked alongside its more popular neighbors. Bourdain has always been a root-for-the-underdog type of guy, and that energy is what helped him uncover some of the world's most incredible culinary treasures, one being Brauerei zur Malzmühle. During season seven of "Parts Unknown," he visited Cologne, Germany, which he notes is often considered the ugly duckling of German cities. The historical city was heavily impacted during WWII. The postwar architecture has its critics, but Bourdain is not one of them. "I never saw Cologne as ugly at all. I always saw it as charming, in the least patronizing sense of the word."

He kicked off his German food tour at Brauerei zur Malzmühle, a hybrid brewery restaurant serving up traditional flavors of the region. After clinking their cold glasses of Kölsch together, Bourdain and his brewery mentor of the day, Heinz Grüne, dove into all the Cologne classics. He seemed to fall more in love with the city's cuisine with each bite, but the himmel und erde, or heaven on earth, brought him into another dimension. The unique dish consists of blood sausage, fried onions, mashed potatoes, and applesauce. Bourdain articulated his love for this meal by affirming that anyone who doesn't like it doesn't make his "will save from drowning list."

Osteria dal 1931 - Rome

No one appreciated enjoyment quite like Anthony Bourdain. When experiencing all his most favored culinary adventures, he would take his time eating to completely lose himself in the moment. So when a simple plate of prosciutto and artichokes at Osteria dal 1931 caused his heart to melt, you know it's something truly special. "I love this place. I want to die here already, and I might yet," he said while taking in every last bite.

The Roman eatery has been around since 1931 and has kept its charm all these years. The warm wooden interiors, checkered tablecloths, and Banfi Chianti are reminiscent of early Rome, complete with an Anna Magnani portrait on the wall. Each plate practically left Bourdain speechless, which is not something that was easily done. Bourdain was no stranger to Rome, having eaten his way through the city on three of his shows over the years. Even with his frequent trips, he managed to suss out new eateries each time, and clearly, with his Osteria dal 1931 review, each visit was better than the last.

Piccolo Napoli - Sicily

When the "Parts Unknown" crew headed south to tour Italy's largest island, Sicily, Anthony Bourdain had high hopes for the Mediterranean oasis. He was not disappointed after stepping into Piccolo Napoli. "This is what I've been waiting for. This is what I wanted Sicily to be, something to soothe my shattered soul," he declared.

Bourdain emphasizes the unique Sicilian culture as he wanders through the city's sunny, winding roads. He notes it almost feels like a country of its own, influenced by a wide array of regions that have helped shape its distinct cuisine. After a long night of birthday festivities in Palermo, Bourdain was happy to dive right back in with Piccolo Napoli's panellis, caponata, and olives. As he said, these are "the kind of things I deeply love. The kind of simple good things that make me happy." While every plate spoke to him, the spaghetti al nero di seppie won him over.

Banh Mi Phuong - Hoi An, Vietnam

Vietnam held a huge place in Bourdain's heart. He always spoke of his first trip there so fondly, describing it as a life-changing experience. "It just seemed like another planet; a delicious one that sort of sucked me in and never let go," he told Saigon Kiss Tours. He was dedicated to sharing everything that Vietnam has to offer with the world, which is evident from his eight episodes devoted to the country. It was on "No Reservations" in 2009 that Bourdain experienced a banh mi of epic proportions just outside a modest stall in Hoi An.

Bourdain was truly in awe of this banh mi. "That's a symphony in a sandwich," he said in disbelief. "The baguette alone is something of a miracle: how do they stay so crunchy, crispy, and fresh on the outside, and so airy and perfect in the inside?" It might not have directly been the sandwich that reeled him in, but it did spark his announcement that he was going to stick around in Vietnam for a year or so, which tracks with the episode's title, "Vietnam: There's No Place Like Home."

Sukiyabashi Jiro - Tokyo

Viewers could see that Anthony Bourdain's eyes lit up whenever he stepped off the plane in Tokyo. He regularly shared that it was his favorite city, so it seems fitting that one of his most memorable meals was enjoyed here. His dinner at Sukiyabashi Jiro may have only lasted 20 minutes, but the experience lasted a lifetime. As he told Piers Morgan years later, he would have chosen that sushi experience as his last meal. Many have dubbed Sukiyabashi Jiro as the best sushi in the world, and Bourdain agreed almost immediately. Hidden within an unsuspecting office building, the tiny restaurant only seats a few lucky patrons along the counter.

Eighty-two at the time of Bourdain's "No Reservations" visit, Jiro Ono's sushi-making looks like child's play. Ingredients, technique, and timing are the three pillars of perfect sushi preparation, and Jiro has mastered them over his decades in the kitchen. Without hesitation, Bourdain stated that the 15-course menu was "the best sushi of my life."

The French Laundry - Yountville, California

In Anthony Bourdain's iconic Men's Health piece, 13 Places to Eat Before You Die, he references some restaurants that left quite an impact on both his heart and his taste buds. When you've had as many meals as someone like Bourdain, uttering the words "best" is a bold claim. "The best sit-down, multicourse, white-tablecloth meal of my life was at the French Laundry," Bourdain stated without question.

Bourdain is not the only one with this opinion, and far from it. The French Laundry has been doted as the world's best restaurant by well-respected critics from all over the globe. Chef Thomas Keller is the mastermind behind the restaurant and was also a great inspiration to Tony, who first experienced the restaurant during season one of "A Cook's Tour." He could hardly contain his excitement as he was trekking through Napa Valley, giddy to arrive at the famed restaurant in Yountville. Nearly halfway through his meal, he attempts to articulate his elation before giving up, "I think I promised you stunned silence. So far, so good."

Swan Oyster Depot - San Francisco

"Anyone who doesn't have a great time in San Francisco is pretty much dead to me," Bourdain asserted in his season 6 Bay Area episode of "Parts Unknown." He was a big fan of the golden city, and he loved it specifically for its quirks. As he fondly described, it has "a two-fisted, heavy drinking, three Martini, big stakes, heavy smokin', old school '20s mentality." Swan Oyster Depot is a local institution that fits the bill. The dining area is tucked within a fish market, so you can expect the freshest seafood in a fun, lively environment.

As Tony points out on his way over to his favorite spot, he'll never visit San Francisco without stopping by Swan Oyster Depot. "True love cannot be denied," he declares. The restaurant, so to say, is a small, casual counter serving up shellfish and cold beers. Bourdain always goes for the crab back, an off-menu item that may have been conjured up just for him. It's a crab shell filled with what Bourdain refers to as "unicorn juice" but also known as the liver, fat, and innards of the crab. Bourdain dunks thick bread right in the buttery mix with glee.

Barney Greengrass - New York City

Anthony Bourdain's first show, "A Cook's Tour," wouldn't be complete without a love letter to New York City. This special episode titled "My Hometown Favorites" felt like following your cool friend around the city, hopping from one place to another at all hours of the night, chatting with cabbies, and discovering new eats on every corner. This wouldn't be complete without a trip to an iconic New York Jewish deli, and Bourdain chooses the long-standing Upper West Side spot, Barney Greengrass.

As he says with conviction, "If God made anything better, he kept it for himself." Bourdain's idea of a perfect morning included The New York Times, cigarettes, and Barney Greengrass. He typically goes for the sturgeon platter because "They don't call [Barney] the sturgeon king for nothing." The extensive menu makes it borderline impossible to make one choice, so Bourdain usually doesn't even bother. During "A Cook's Tour," he threw on an order of Nova eggs and onions to really treat himself.

St. John - London

In his influential 2011 piece, "13 Places to Eat Before You Die" for Men's Health, Anthony Bourdain led with this London establishment and must have revisited it a dozen times thereafter. In 2016, in the wake of Brexit, Bourdain headed to London for an episode of "Parts Unknown," where he saw one of his favorite cities in a different light. With uncertainty abounding, the only cure was the warmth of friends and food. At that moment, it had to be St. John, one of his "favorite restaurants on Earth" run by one of the chefs he respected and loved most.

That highly praised chef is Fergus Henderson, who is known for spearheading the nose-to-tail movement. "This restaurant helped make a persuasive argument that there is some kind of merit to British cooking," Bourdain says before adding another St. John dinner under his belt. While Anthony Bourdain appeared wowed by everything Henderson created, he extolled roast bone marrow as his perfect dish. Served simply with a dash of salt and crusty bread, it's a perfect example of the way Henderson honored offal. "St. John is as wonderful for what it does as for what it doesn't do: compromise."

In-N-Out - Los Angeles

To some, it might seem absurd to have Michelin-star restaurants fall on the same list as a burger chain like In-N-Out, but Bourdain had zero shame when it came to good, honest, food. Part of the allure was sure to be the exclusivity of it all, considering they can't be found on his home coast, but his love for the California burger joint was much, much more than that. When commenting to Eater what his favorite restaurant in Los Angeles was, he would be quick to answer: In-N-Out.

Whenever he flew through LAX, a bag of burgers was a must. In the brief interview, he commented on the faulty association fast food has with inferior taste, scoffing as he would likely choose In-N-Out over dozens of five-star establishments any day. Bourdain notes that others agree, noting that he receives "nothing but love and admiration" when carrying a bag from the chain. While peeling apart the layers of his In-N-Out burger, he breaks down the formula for a perfect burger; decent bun, quality meat, fresh greens, crisp garnishes, and good cheese.

Pastrami Queen - New York City

As a die-hard New Yorker, Bourdain had endless love for his city. While he spent most of his childhood across the Hudson in New Jersey, once he started making a name for himself as a chef in the city, he called New York home. "The first thing I get when I'm back in New York is a pastrami sandwich," Bourdain once told Variety. But as far and wide he traveled, Bourdain didn't desire just any pastrami sandwich. He told eager readers in an "AMA" on Reddit a decade ago, "The sandwiches I crave most when I'm abroad are a pastrami on rye from Pastrami Queen in New York."

For Variety, Bourdain noted it as a "Really good pastrami sandwich – if not the best, among the very best. Just a good, nice mix of fat and lean. It's the real deal, served warm on fresh, soft rye bread with the right kind of mustard."

Bourdain would refer to this meal as quintessential New York, and with good reason. Beyond the classic New York fare, Pastrami Queen is all about its neighborhood. Their infamous hot pastrami sandwich wouldn't be complete if not sandwiched between two pieces of fresh rye from Orwashers Bakery, an Upper East Side staple.

Hot Doug's - Chicago

As he told Insider, Tony loved a "dirty water hot dog" as much as the next New Yorker, but when asked where the best hot dog really was, he would sadly betray his city. As he boldly stated during his "No Reservations" trip to the windy city, Chicago has a better hot dog than NYC. In his unfortunate choice of words, he loves "meat in tube form," and at the time, Hot Doug's Sausage Superstore was the place to go.

Chicago is known for its self-named dog, which is topped with yellow mustard, relish, tomato wedges, chopped onions, a pickle spear, celery salt, and traditionally hot peppers. While celebrated by Chicagoans today, the hot dog was initially dubbed the "Depression Sandwich," considering it was so hearty and cost a mere nickel. Bourdain contrasted the classic dog with a unique specialty of Hot Doug's, the fois gras dog. Last but not least, he couldn't forget an order of fries, which are the crowning glory, sizzled in duck fat. Sadly, this location of Hot Doug's closed its doors in 2014, but the Chicago dog lives on at Wrigley Field, especially in Bourdain's honor.

Salumi - Seattle

There aren't many places that made Bourdain's heart sing, like Salumi, a small neighborhood sandwich shop in Seattle. The shop cures and braises all the meats one could imagine in-house, and they work them into a variety of unreal sandwiches. Founded by the humble parents of Mario Batali, Salumi is a true Italian mom-and-pop shop. It changed hands over the years but has kept its expertise and charm, remaining one of Seattle's go-to sandwich spots.

Bourdain delved into the Pacific Northwest in a 2007 episode of "No Reservations," where he shared his steadfast love for Salumi. It was his last stop on the Seattle tour, and he introduced the deli as a "shining beacon of hope, pointing towards the future." Bourdain chatted with Batali's parents back in the kitchen, beaming as he asked about the iconic little haven they had created. As Bourdain started slicing meats and tossing pieces in his mouth, he passionately announced, "It's perfect. A brilliantly burning bright spot in a world of mediocrity. This food speaks directly to my soul." Once the lunch rush passed, Bourdain sat down with the Salumi family for an incredible feast of aged meats, salads, homemade pasta, and then some, grinning ear to ear. "This is the way to eat. And the way to end my journey," he said warmly.