Anthony Bourdain's Least Favorite Chain Restaurant On The Planet

Anthony Bourdain was no snob. Despite traveling around the world, dining at some of the finest restaurants, and eating food made by some of the most iconic chefs, Bourdain was not above patronizing fast food chain restaurants. In fact, one of his absolute favorite places to eat, as he shared with Eater, was In-N-Out Burger in Los Angeles. But there was one chain that was his least favorite on the entire planet — somewhere he would not eat unless there was nowhere else, and even then he probably wouldn't. That place was Johnny Rockets.

Johnny Rockets has been an American fast food establishment since 1986. Specializing mainly in burgers and ice cream shakes, the chain has multiple locations across the United States and 26 other nations. The atmosphere strives to be fun, like a vintage soda fountain, complete with old jukeboxes and a bright 1950s color scheme. So, with this atmosphere of supposed nostalgia and good, all-American food, what was it about the place that Bourdain disliked so much? According to Thrillist, it was a highly personal experience that brought about his dislike for the international chain.

A moment of perfect misery

In a 2016 interview with Conan O'Brien (via YouTube), Bourdain recalled, "Nothing was as soul-destroying as my airport Johnny Rockets experience ... They throw a cold burger halfway on a bun, reach into the basket for some pre-cooked fries — they don't even dunk it in the grease — they throw a limp pickle on ... They slid it across at me and we all stood there silently for a second, kind of sharing this moment of perfect misery." Needless to say, the experience ruined Bourdain's week.

According to Thrillist, it struck him that, even though the workers there were likely making minimum wage, they simply didn't care about the product or the customer. And, to the criticism that he wouldn't care either if placed in the same situation, Bourdain responded, "Much of my career, I was paid minimum wage, or close to it. I never took home more than $1,000 a week ... You know, I had a little pride. I tried a little hard."

And Bourdain is a perfect example of someone lifting themselves up by their bootstraps to achieve success. Going from barely making ends meet to becoming arguably the most iconic modern food personalities – whose opinion continues to hold great value – did not happen overnight.