The Best Episodes of Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown
Last Updated: Feb 8, 2019
Bourdain traveled across the globe to uncover little-known areas of the world and celebrate diverse cultures by exploring food and dining rituals. Known for his curiosity, candor, and acerbic wit, Bourdain took viewers off the beaten path of tourist destinations – including some war-torn parts of the world – and met with a variety of local citizens to offer a window into their lifestyles, and occasionally communed with an internationally lauded chef on his journey. We can all hope to find ourselves to enjoy a life as amazing as Anthony Bourdain did. Rest in peace.
#1 - Asturias, Spain
Season 12 - Episode 2
Bourdain travels to the enchanted region of Asturias, Spain with chef and humanitarian Jose Andres, as he makes a return to his homeland. The people of Asturias embody the rugged environment of the region with a hard working ‘do it yourself’ spirit. Bourdain and Andres hike to a remote village in the mountains for traditional fabada, ocean cliffs for gooseneck barnacles, and secret cheese caves in undisclosed locations. Bourdain also enjoys pitu de caleya with local musician Pablo Und Destruktion while he’s served on the last worker’s class movement. And in true Jose Andres form, he saves a special surprise for the end.
#2 - Bhutan
Season 11 - Episode 8
Bourdain and film director Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream, Black Swan) tour the remote South Asian Kingdom of Bhutan and travel on the winding East/West highway known for its spectacular views of the Himalayan Mountains. The seasoned explorers share a meal with yak herders, visit the capitol city of Thimphu for traditional Bhutanese cuisine, drive to Punakha to explore the village of legendary divine monk Drupka Kinley, and visit Bumthang for a bamboo archery competition.
#3 - Lyon, France
Season 3 - Episode 3
In this food-centric episode, Bourdain accompanies world-renowned chef/restaurateur Daniel Boulud as they travel back to Boulud’s hometown of Lyon, France for a “once-in-a-lifetime” pilgrimage to the city’s rich food culture and legendary chefs, with a focus on Nouvelle Cuisine innovator Paul Bocuse.
#4 - Kenya
Season 12 - Episode 1
Bourdain introduces his fellow CNN Original Series host W. Kamau Bell (United Shades of America) to the distinctive sights, tastes, and sounds of Kenya. It is Bell’s first trip to the African continent, and to a country that holds a personal connection for him. In Nairobi, they talk to locals about the country’s growth and economic challenges, as well as the continual fight for identity and self-definition of Kenyans. Bourdain and Bell also take a Matatu party bus ride, share a meal of goat’s head soup and visit a boxing academy devoted to teaching young women, and promoting female empowerment. Leaving Nairobi the pair travel to Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and visit with a Maasai community actively engaged in conservation. Through the eyes of Bourdain and Bell, and their first experiences with this highly dynamic deeply, soulful and beautiful country we ask, what will a future Kenya… for Kenyans…. by Kenyans…look like?
#6 - Copenhagen
Season 2 - Episode 4
This episode explores the food and natural beauty of Copenhagen, the economic and cultural center of Denmark. Home to famed chef Rene Redzepi and his brainchild Noma – regarded by critics as one of the world’s best restaurants – Parts Unknown delves into the city’s cuisine and the new Nordic creativity that infuses Redzepi’s work at Noma.
#7 - Thailand
Season 3 - Episode 7
Bourdain and his crew head to the Chiang Mai province of Northern Thailand along with celebrated chef and Thai food specialist Andy Ricker (Pok Pok restaurants) to explore the country’s distinctive eating and drinking scene that varies by region and season.
#8 - Berlin
Season 11 - Episode 6
In Berlin – an anomaly among German metropolises – Bourdain encounters an extremely accepting society, teeming with unbridled creativity, despite a grim history. Against the backdrop of Berlin Wall remnants, the host communes with musician Anton Newcombe (Brian Jonestown Massacre) for a home-cooked meal, and electronic artist Ellen Allien over a lunch of sausage made from chicken, pigs feet and sage at Michelberger. Bourdain also mixes in with photographers, club bouncers, cabaret owners, and historians, to discuss this city’s unparalleled culture.
#9 - Shanghai
Season 4 - Episode 1
In the season premiere of Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown, the host explores Shanghai by savoring classic, home-style cuisine at restaurants that include Chun and Fuchun Xiaolong, and converses with locals who give their take on their country’s booming economy and expanding global influence.
#10 - Behind the Scenes
Season 12 - Episode 6
Bourdain’s relationship with his crew, the team that traveled with him and slogged through the trenches, was like no other in his life. In this episode the people who made Parts Unknown select moments from their episodes and pull back the curtain, to talk about collaboration, creative freedom, moments when Bourdain had their back or called them out, the times when he was caught off guard or forgot the cameras were even there.
#11 - Mexico City
Season 3 - Episode 4
Bourdain travels to Mexico City, Oaxaca, and Cuernavaca to commune with local residents who express their passion through food, art, and the struggle for an improved quality of life. Addressing the latter issue, Bourdain talks with journalist Anabel Hernandez on the impact of the area’s drug trade-related violence.
#12 - Russia
Season 3 - Episode 5
On the eve of the Olympic games in Sochi, Bourdain takes his first trip in nearly 10 years to Russia, accompanied by his longtime traveling partner Zamir Gotta. Looking through the lens of a now Putin-controlled Russia, Bourdain confers with prominent locals, visits Moscow’s historic Metropol Hotel, takes the Grand Express train to St. Petersburg, and explores the drinking and dining scene.
#13 - Bahia, Brazil
Season 3 - Episode 8
Parts Unknown tours Bahia, known as the “African heart of Brazil” and internationally recognized for its Afro-Brazilian music, art, design and food. A look at the dance/martial art of Capoeira, the region’s legendary food vendors, Salvadoran fishing neighborhoods, and a BBQ on the beach are featured.
#14 - Antarctica
Season 9 - Episode 5
Bourdain travels to the bottom of the world to experience the serene beauty and mystery of the driest, coldest, windiest place on earth. Taken under the wings of such hearty residents as scientists, contractors and the U.S. military, Bourdain’s adventures include a helicopter view of the largest active volcano in the southern hemisphere, a snowmobile drive over 8 ft. thick sea ice, a visit with a colony of Adele penguins, and a trip the South Pole.
#15 - San Sebastian
Season 9 - Episode 2
Bourdain visits the coastal city of San Sebastian in the Basque Country, famous for its spectacular views and incomparable fresh seafood. Alongside friend and renowned chef Juan Mari Arzak, Bourdain dines at favorite haunt Ganbara for its popular dish of seared wild mushrooms and foie gras with raw egg yolk, and is given a taste of the finest Basque delicacies prepared simply, including grilled turbot at famed restaurant Elkano, in Getaria.
#16 - Seattle
Season 10 - Episode 7
Bourdain immerses himself in the “boom or bust” city of Seattle. Two industries are reshaping the city and its culture – tech and the newly legalized cannabis industry. Bourdain gets the skinny on the “tech bro” invasion of Capitol Hill, throws back a dozen succulent oysters at the Taylor Shellfish Company and enjoys fish & chips at the Pacific Inn Pub with band members of The Gods Themselves. Along the way, he also hangs out with legendary Seattle rocker, Mark Lanegan and mad food scientist, Nathan Myhrvold.
#17 - Spain
Season 2 - Episode 2
Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown explores Andalucía during Semana Santa (Holy Week, leading up to Easter), a time filled with great pageantry and excitement. Featured in this episode is Bourdain’s longtime Director of Photography Zach Zamboni, who lives part-time in Granada and shows the host sights off the beaten path.
#18 - Sichuan with Eric Ripert
Season 8 - Episode 3
Michelin star chef, and all around good sport, Eric Ripert is introduced to China and Sichuan province by host and good friend Bourdain. Bourdain takes Ripert to the Sichuan province capital, Chengdu, testing his endurance with mouth-numbing, sinisterly spicy meals (like green peppercorn fish). They also visit the world’s largest stone Buddha, seek out a local favorite rabbit head snack, and visit a legendary distillery for some Baijiu, a fermented sorghum wine. Ripert will never forget this trip.
#19 - Japan with Masa
Season 8 - Episode 6
Guided by world-renowned chef Masa Takayama, Bourdain’s return trip to Japan begins with a tour of outdoor food markets in Kanazawa where they sample uni, steak-sized oysters, and grilled eel liver, followed by a conversation with an ex-geisha at her teahouse, and comes full circle with a special omakase experience at Tokyo’s acclaimed Ginza restaurant, Sushi Koi, where Masa trained as an apprentice.
#20 - Hanoi
Season 8 - Episode 1
Inspired by Graham Greene's words “... whatever you’re looking for, you will find here...” Bourdain joins the throngs of locals as he motorbikes through Vietnam’s capital, traverses its rapidly changing cityscape, and indulges in its singular cuisine with president Barack Obama, who, over a dish of Bun Cha, shares personal stories and reflects on his own international travels.
#22 - Punjab, India
Season 3 - Episode 1
In the season premiere of Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown, the host dives into the ever-changing state of Punjab with a trip to Amritsar, sampling cuisine at the dhabas (roadside restaurants), a gurpurb festival (Sikh celebration), and a free community vegetarian restaurant, while meeting with local residents who give their perspectives on life in this sometimes contentious region of India, bordering Pakistan.
#23 - Trinidad
Season 9 - Episode 7
A trip to the Caribbean uncovers how the island of Trinidad has turned a history of colonialism and slavery into a non-stop celebration of multicultural food, music and good times. Bourdain visits Port of Spain, a vibrant city of African, Indian, Chinese and Middle Eastern influence, where he dines on curried duck, doubles (floppy Indian bread topped with curry chickpeas, mango) and fish in tahini sauce with Trinidadians of contrasting cultures. While the Carnival lifestyle revolves around liming (hanging out) and whining (dancing), Bourdain questions the extent to which this non-stop bacchanal distracts residents from the the country’s growing list of social ills.
#24 - Far West Texas
Season 12 - Episode 5
Bourdain travels to the untamed land of Big Bend, Texas near the Mexican border; an area that pits man against nature and in which the land usually wins. Bourdain shares meals with working cowboys who have made peace with the rough terrain, and meets with an anthropologist who decoded prehistoric landmark, the White Shaman wall painting.
#25 - Bourdain’s Impact
Season 12 - Episode 4
This episode explores how Anthony Bourdain’s unique perspective and voice altered the world of food, travel and culture and in the process reinvented how audiences watched television and engaged intimately and actively with the world around them.