It’s been just over three years since the celebrated chef, TV host and author Anthony Bourdain tragically took his life and while the world will forever mourn his authenticity, insight into the culinary world and the beauty he found in overlooked gems, we can still uphold his legacy by supporting and enjoying some of his L.A. favorites. By scouring the web, reading interviews and watching episodes of his shows, we have compiled a list of establishments across L.A. that Bourdain loved and frequented.
“To understand L.A. culture is to bear witness to these many historical threads and, along the way, enjoy some exceptional food and entertainment,” Bourdain wrote in his “Perfect Day” segment of his show Unknown Parts.
1. chi SPACCA
In an interview with Thrillist, Bourdain referred to Nancy Silverton’s incredible Italian spot as an “amazing” place which he thoroughly enjoyed. As a self-described “Italian steakhouse on steroids,” it’s obvious which plates demand to be ordered here but don’t overlook the heavenly seafood.
2. Chili John’s
This retro diner’s history stems back to 1900 when a Lithuanian immigrant John Isaac started serving up high-quality southwestern chili at a bar in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Its overwhelming popularity gave rise to Chili John’s in L.A. 1946, where you can still tuck into beans and rice loaded with high-quality. Pull up at the u-shaped bar and get your chili “as you like it.”
For Thai with a twist Night + Market is an absolute must. You really can’t match an experience at the James Beard Award-winning establishment. A world-famous fried chicken sandwich paired with top-notch wines in a perfectly garish setting. What more could you really want? You have the Venice, WeHo or Silver Lake outpost to choose from. Either way, you’re guaranteed to have a good time and good food.
4. Park’s BBQ
Anyone who has been to Park’s knows that this is a la carte meat heaven! L.A. has no shortage of fine Korean BBQ spots and this might just be the best. With pages and pages of options, your best bet is to go for the platters with a curated selection of their offerings. You’ll be treated to a procession of delicious dishes and you’ll somehow always find room for all of it.
The restaurant chain by legendary L.A. actor Danny Trejo was featured in Bourdain’s In Parts Unknown. He dined at Trejo’s Cantina in Hollywood and feasted on Grilled Chicken, Charred Branzino and Crispy Pork Tacos. While these might not be the best tacos in town, they manage to create a healthy, locally sourced take on Mexican street food staples without losing flavor. Also, it’s Machete, guys!
6. Gish Bac
Gish Bac brings the flavors of Tlacolula de Matamoros in Oaxaca, Mexico, to local shores. It’s the holy grail of authentic comida Oaxaqueño in L.A. with its family recipes resulting in life-changing culinary experiences, in a relaxed atmosphere at modest prices. You absolutely have to try the thick mole negro made with 30 ingredients and the Barbacoa de Chivo with meat that literally melts off the bone. Drooling yet?
This iconic spot is located in the historic Olvera Street which is also known as “the birthplace of Los Angeles”. Today, these old, winding streets make up a vibrant Mexican marketplace with “Old Los Angeles” filled with authentic vendors offering everything from food to handmade souvenirs. Cielito Lindo is one such place and it serves up taquitos drenched in their famous avocado sauce.
Of course, it’s no secret that along with all of these incredible places, In-N-Out Burger holds the crown as Bourdain’s favorite place to eat.
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