Exploring Anthony Bourdain’s Nineteen Best New York City Restaurants


Brian Kennett

Brian Kennett

Amateur Chef and Traveling Foodie Extraordinaire

Bourdain's NINETEEN Favourite Dining Spots in New York City...

If the main man, Anthony Bourdain, were to whisper his home city of New York City culinary secrets to you, he’d reveal these nineteen hidden gems. The man who took the world on a continuous gastronomic adventure unveiled his top NYC restaurant picks once and her they are. But this isn’t your typical list: it’s a culinary treasure hunt guided by the irreverent spirit of Bourdain himself. You may remember I had the most incredible opportunity to meet Anthony in Singapore, and boy did he inspire me.

Anthony Bourdain’s favorite NYC restaurants are truly a tantalizing mix of the city’s culinary diversity and hidden culinary jewels. I remember most of these from watching his TV shows. Baked in my memory and some. 

In this Islifearecipe blog, we’ll dive into Bourdain’s ultimate list of top NYC restaurants, each a testament to his adventurous palate and love for authentic experiences in his home city. From the unassuming street vendors to the Michelin-starred wonders, you’ll discover why these establishments held a special place in Anthony’s heart.

Get ready to embark on a mouthwatering journey through the Big Apple as we explore the flavors that Anthony Bourdain cherished, all while savoring elements of his wit and wisdom along the way. If you’re a foodie looking for some good old NYC restaurant recommendations, join us on this delectable ride through Bourdain’s culinary map of the city that never sleeps.

Table of Contents

Anthony Bourdain

New York City, a bustling metropolis, has always been a place of culinary innovation and tradition, and one of my most favorite places on the planet. I am so very fortunate to have many friends and a sister and family living in NYC, so very lucky to have visited many times to date.

And, the late great Anthony Bourdain, a legendary figure in the world of food and travel, had a special connection with the city he both loved and loved to hate. His journey through the diverse and ever-evolving New York food scene left an indelible mark. In this blog, Islifearecipe pays tribute to Bourdain’s memory by virtually revisiting some of his favorite New York City restaurants. Let’s get going: ENJOY!!!

Photos are all courtesy of the relevant restaurant Facebook and/or Instagram site.

Les Halles New York


Les Halles was a renowned French restaurant located in New York City. It gained fame partly due to its association with celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, who worked there as an executive chef and later wrote about his experiences. Unfortunately, Les Halles closed its doors, but it reopened as “La Brasserie” in Manhattan in 2022, paying homage to its roots and preserving its legacy under a new name. The restaurant was known for its classic French cuisine, and its reopening brought back some of the iconic dishes that made it famous.

Thee is a rather wonderful cookbook from the great man, containing some of the classic French cuisines that Le Halles was serving up. It is one of my favorite cookbooks and publications from Anthony Bourdain.

Funnily enough, Anthony was working as the executive chef at Brasserie Les Halles when he rocked the restaurant industry by publishing his book: Kitchen Confidential. Another classic piece of literature from the great man.


veselka restaurant nyv anthony bourdain

During Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown” trip to the Lower East Side of Manhattan, he visits Veselka, a very typical Ukrainian restaurant noted for its borscht and a variety of pierogis: potato-based dumplings (I got stuck into these dishes in Warsaw, Poland. Absolutely delicious. Strangely, Bourdain doesn’t say anything about the food in this episode. 

Journalist and author Danny Fields is dining along with Anthony Bourdain. “Without Danny Fields, there would be no punk rock,” says Bourdain, clearly showing off his love for punk music in particular. This episode is filled with evidence of his admiration for Fields. 

Fortunately for Veselka, the restaurant didn’t really need the publicity back then and actually doesn’t now. New Yorkers have poured support into Veselka and the adjacent Ukrainian community ever since Russia invaded Ukraine in early 2022. The restaurant has even longer lines than before now, nicely done New York.

Veselka is a renowned Ukrainian East Village restaurant located in New York City. Established in 1954 by Ukrainian immigrants, it has remained a three-generation family-owned business, preserving the legacy of its founders. Veselka is well-known for its Ukrainian cuisine and has a rich history of providing authentic food and service to its patrons. The restaurant has gained recognition both locally and nationally for its commitment to Ukrainian culinary traditions and its welcoming atmosphere.

What does Veselka Restaurant have to say about itself?

SINCE 1954, VESELKA HAS BEEN SERVING UP UKRAINIAN FOOD FROM THE SAME LOCATION IN THE HEART OF THE EAST VILLAGE Veselka, which means rainbow in Ukrainian, was founded by Volodymyr and Olha Darmochwal in 1954. Volodymyr and his wife were Ukrainian refugees in the late 1940s and found a home in the Little Ukraine neighborhood of the lower east side of Manhattan. Ever since then, Veselka has grown from a small newsstand into a 24 hour gathering place, serving up Ukrainian soul food with traditional dishes like Pierogi/Varenyky, Stuffed Cabbage, Potato Pancakes, Blintzes and Goulash to the delight of locals and visitors alike. The restaurant, now owned and operated by Volodymyr's grandson, Jason Birchard, was owned and operated by Tom Birchard for many years, the son in law of the original founders. Throughout the restaurant’s 69 year history, it has been expanded several times, been featured in many prominent films (such as Ocean’s 8, Trainwreck and Juno) along with numerous features in local and national publications. Veselka is, put simply, an institution of New York City. Beyond the acclaim and popularity amongst it's customers, Veselka continues to be a pillar in the local Ukrainian community. Ukrainians mostly comprise it's staff and the ownership remain very active in the local community, supporting the Ukrainian National Institute, Razom for Ukraine, and local St. George's Church via food and monetary donations on a regular basis.

Barney Greengrass: just down the road in Anthony Bourdain neighborhood

barney greengrass anthony bourdain

Barney Greengrass, is a very famous Jewish deli nestled in what used to be Bourdain’s neighborhood, and gives a glimpse into New York’s rich culinary history. Established way back in 1908, it has remained a time capsule, where the essence of the past lingers in every dish they serve. Bourdain, in his usual amiable style, once stated that there are three essential ingredients for a balanced breakfast: “New York Times, Barney Greengrass, and cigarettes.” I do so miss watching Anthony.

Here, you can savor a sturgeon platter, complete with nova eggs and caramelized onions, all served on a plain freshly baked bagel: wowser. Bourdain had a love for sturgeon, which he coined the “king of smoked fish.” I did some research on Barney Greengrass for this blog including looking at some interior photos. Yes, a visit to Barney Greengrass is a journey back in time. It’s literally like a time capsule, just with incredible food.

Barney Greengrass is now a seriously well-known Jewish deli located on the Upper West Side of New York City. It has a long history, with over a century of operation, making it an iconic establishment in the city. The deli is renowned for its hand-chosen fish specialties, particularly its smoked fish, chopped herring, and Sturgeon.

Sadly though it has not all been plain sailing, as the deli has had its share of ups and downs, as noted in a news article. It temporarily closed due to bad publicity and issues with health inspections but later reopened.

Barney Greengrass is also a place with historical significance, even attracting famous figures like author Philip Roth, who frequented the establishment for its chopped herring.

It’s also mentioned in the MICHELIN Guide, highlighting its reputation in the culinary world.

What does Barney Greengrass have to say about itself?

When my grandfather, Barney Greengrass, first opened his doors in Harlem in 1908, he had but one desire – to operate a “food store for those who demand the best.” In 1929, he moved the store to its present location on Amsterdam Avenue. His customers followed him and his popularity grew. Soon all of New York knew him as “The Sturgeon King.” Today, the store on Amsterdam Avenue at 86th Street retains the “Greengrass” character, looking much like it did back in Barney's day. After three generations, our family is still dedicated to our founder's original aim; to cater to those who demand the best by serving the finest foods available. Our customers are our friends, traveling from all over the world to feast on delicacies that have become a New York way of life. We ship our fine foods anywhere in the U.S. You can call us or visit our website today and have your order delivered directly to your home or office tomorrow. We pack our fresh foods with frozen gel packs and take every precaution to ensure that your order is just right when it arives. If you do not see a particular item on the following pages, or on our website, please inquire with us by phone, as almost anything can be shipped. We invite you to become a part of a hundred and five year tradition, and experience our commitment to setting the New York standard. Gary Greengrass.

Murray's Cheese

murrays cheese anthony bourdain

Murray’s Cheese, as Bourdain declared on the show, is where chefs go for the best cheese in New York. Nestled in the heart of town, this cheese shop boasts a staggering variety of cheese, which adds weight to the statement of the city’s amazing gastronomic diversity. Bourdain, an advocate for pungent cheeses, reveled in the stinkier and runnier varieties: funnily enough just like my Wifey.

Murray’s Cheese began life as a local gem, but it has now expanded its reach across the good old United States. Today, you can find Murray’s Cheese in various supermarkets, ensuring that everyone can experience the rich world of cheese that Bourdain so adores. I just showed my wife the website, and I think she’s now booking a flight to get into the store.

Murray’s Cheese is a renowned destination for gourmet cheeses, meats, charcuterie, and specialty foods in New York City. It is also known for offering classes, catering services, and more. Founded in Greenwich Village, it has become an iconic establishment for cheese enthusiasts. Murray’s Cheese has a flagship store located at 254 Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village, New York City: Bourdain’s favorite locale.

In addition to its physical store, Murray’s Cheese has expanded its presence to include Murray’s Cheese Bar, where you can enjoy a dining experience featuring their exceptional cheese selections.

Murray’s Cheese’s reputation extends beyond its physical locations, and it is celebrated for its commitment to offering high-quality cheeses and related products through online channels.

It has played a significant role in promoting and educating people about the world of artisanal and gourmet cheeses. Cheese Ambassadors: I love that.

What does Murray's Cheese NYC have to say about itself?

Born in Greenwich Village in 1962, the heart of our business still resides in New York City with many ways to experience Murray's Cheese locally. At the counter, our cheese experts and mongers serve thousands of neighborhood regulars, commuters, and tourists alike every year at our three locations—the Bleecker Street flagship retail experience, a beloved neighborhood fixture, our shop in Grand Central Terminal, and our new location in Long Island City. For dining out, we operate two New York City restaurants: Murray’s Mac & Cheese, with fast casual fare located in our Bleecker Street store, and Murray’s Cheese Bar, a sit-down restaurant featuring cheese flights and dishes by expert mongers and seasoned chefs. Our Murray's Cheese Bar location opened in Spring 2020, moving to it's new home in Long Island City. For those eager to learn more, we offer robust education and events programming and, for those looking to serve more, we provide catering of expertly crafted cheese boards and freshly made dishes. Oh, did we mention we also age our own cheese? Yeah, we do that too. We have state-of-the-art cheese caves in Long Island City. Because we like to share, we wanted to bring our exceptional cheese to people outside of New York too. So, we made Murray's products available online at murrayscheese.com and in-store with a curated selection of specialty cheese in more than a thousant Kroger and Kroger-owned stores nationwide (and, growing every day!). And, through our wholesale business, you might enjoy Murray's cheese at more than 600 restaurants across the country.

Papaya King

papaya king anthony bourdain

On the Upper East Side of Manhattan, Papaya King stands as a beacon of culinary nostalgia. In Bourdain’s words, it’s “a shining light in an otherwise lackluster neighborhood.” What makes this place special is its classic combination: papaya drink with a hot dog. Bourdain’s delight in this pairing is evident as he orders a hot dog with sauerkraut and another with onions, accompanied by a refreshing papaya drink. He so loves his meat in a tube form.

Despite the changing times, Papaya King remains true to its roots, offering a taste of timeless deliciousness and snappy frankfurters.

The corner spot serving snappy hot dogs and tropical drinks is a cornerstone of Manhattan folklore, opened in 1932. Papaya King has recently had to move because the developer behind billionaires’ row near Central Park, bought the location and indicated the restaurant would be demolished: grrrrrrr.

Papaya King is such a famous hot dog and tropical drink franchise in New York City. It has been an iconic part of the city’s culinary scene for many years. Recently, there have been significant developments related to Papaya King:

After concerns about the potential closure of Papaya King, it was saved from extinction, and the restaurant relocated to a new location on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. This move allowed it to continue serving its famous hot dogs and tropical drinks to its loyal customers.

Papaya King has reopened just across the street from its previous location, ensuring that fans of their hot dogs and drinks can continue to enjoy their offerings in a familiar setting.

Papaya King is just so famous as a hot dog and tropical drink joint in New York City, that it had to be saved. It has a rich history dating back several decades. In recent news, Papaya King faced challenges as its 90-year-old location was slated for closure and relocation to a new site on the Upper East Side of Manhattan [4]. However, it was reported that Papaya King would be saved from extinction and reopen just across the street from its original location. This news came after years of concerns about the fate of this iconic establishment.

Its unique blend of flavors and history has made it a cherished institution in the city’s culinary landscape.

Corner Bistro

corner-bistro anthony bourdain

Bourdain loved the virtues of this lonely bar, a place where he enjoyed a quiet unwind and reflection. Anthony’s search for such sanctuaries led him to Corner Bistro in the West Village. Here, he found solace in the combination of a good jukebox and excellent bar food, with a particular focus on their iconic burger. I can just imagine him sitting there people-watching and just chilling.

For Bourdain, hamburgers were to him the “ultimate bar food,” and Corner Bistro was serving up the best in the city, so he said. Described as robust, honest, greasy, and undeniably good, the bar’s burger left a big mark on Bourdain’s consistent culinary journey through New York.

Corner Bistro is a West Village bar in New York City known for its Bohemian ambiance and is especially famous for its burgers. While opinions on the quality of their burgers may vary, it remains an iconic spot in the West Village neighborhood, attracting both locals and tourists for its unique atmosphere and dining experience.

If you’re in the area and looking for a taste of the neighborhood’s history and charm, Corner Bistro is worth a visit.

It is situated at 331 W 4th St, at the corner of Jane and West 4th, New York, NY 10014. The restaurant has been a staple in the city and holds a special place in the hearts of many New Yorkers, particularly due to its acclaimed burgers, which some have deemed the best in the city. The Corner Bistro is praised for its unpretentious, affordable, and unassuming ambiance, making it a West Village icon. The restaurant has received positive reviews for its wonderful food offered at reasonable prices.

What does Corner Bistro NYC have to say about itself?

CORNER BISTRO, the last of the bohemian bars in West Greenwich Village, has been serving customers since the earlier part of this century. The original ambience is pretty much unchanged, and we like to keep it that way.

Rudy's Bar and Grill

rudy's bar and grill nyc

Rudy’s Bar and Grill, nestled in Hell’s Kitchen, captured Bourdain’s attention for its iconic jukebox and a unique offering: the free hot dog. Bourdain, initially embarrassed to be drawn primarily by the prospect of a complimentary hot dog, couldn’t resist its allure.

Today, Rudy’s continues to offer cheap beer and free hot dogs, a tradition dating back to 1933. It’s a place where you can experience the essence of a bygone New York, where a simple hot dog and mustard can evoke a sense of nostalgia.

Rudy’s Bar and Grill is a well-known establishment located in New York City. It is renowned for its affordable beer options. Rudy’s is a popular dive bar that has been a part of the New York City scene for years.

You can find more information about Rudy’s Bar and Grill on their official website, rudysbarnyc.com, which highlights their offerings.

What does Rudy's Bar and Grill have to say about itself?

Come on in, darlin’. Dive into New York’s most famous dive bar, right through the original wood door, carved down the center with the name of the first owners, the Rudy family. Feels like you’ve stepped back in time, doesn’t it? Maybe even as far as the Hell’s Kitchen rumor that this joint was first a speakeasy in 1919, frequented by the likes of Al Capone...

Gray's Papaya

gray's papaya nyc

In his “No Reservations” era, Bourdain’s tone shifted from nostalgia to frustration at the changing face of New York. He shared the loss of the city’s sleaze and sought solace in late-night snacks. Gray’s Papaya, a hot dog and papaya shack, became his refuge after a night out drinking.

For Bourdain, the papaya drink was the perfect accompaniment to a glistening wiener, AKA meat in a tube form. He fondly recalled ordering the recession special, which included two hot dogs and a medium tropical drink. While prices may have changed since then, the allure of Gray’s Papaya endures.

Gray’s Papaya is a well-known hot dog establishment located in New York City. It is famous for its affordable and delicious hot dogs, often referred to as “the best hot dog anywhere uptown.” Gray’s Papaya has been a beloved institution in the city for many years.

The menu at Gray’s Papaya typically includes hot dogs and tropical fruit drinks.

Gray’s Papaya has a rich history in New York City and is considered a part of its culinary heritage. It’s a go-to spot for both locals and tourists looking for a quick and tasty bite. Who doesn’t love meat in a tube form, as Mr. Bourdain would quip?

What does Gray's Papaya have to say about itself?

The best hotdog anywhere!!!

Russ & Daughters

russ & daughters anthony bourdain

Russ & Daughters is one famous and storied appetizing store, that holds a special place in the heart of New York City. Established in 1907, it has preserved its slow, deliberate service and commitment to cured fish. Bourdain, during his visit, marveled at the timeless appeal of a bagel with cream cheese and lox: I believe Phil Rosenthal also visited here in ‘Somebody Feed Phil’.

As the business has expanded to multiple locations, it continues to pay homage to its century-old traditions. Russ & Daughters remains a testament to the enduring love for classic New York combinations.

Russ & Daughters is a renowned culinary and cultural icon in New York City. It is celebrated for its exceptional appetizing foods, including smoked fish, caviar, bagels, bialys, and babka. The establishment is well-known for its commitment to delivering the highest quality traditional baked goods and delicacies: no wonder Tony loved it so.

In addition to its flagship location, Russ & Daughters has expanded to different venues, including the Russ & Daughters Cafe, known for serving some of the best Jewish comfort food in NYC. This extension allows visitors to savor a wider range of delectable dishes.

What does Russ and Daughters have to say about itself?

“Appetizing” is a Jewish food tradition that is most typical among American Jews, and it is particularly local to New York and New Yorkers. The word “appetizer” is derived from the Latin “appete,” meaning "to desire, covet, or long for.” Used as a noun, “appetizing” is most easily understood as "the foods one eats with bagels.” Its primary components are a variety of smoked and cured salmon, homemade salads, and cream cheeses. Eastern European Jews started meals with cold appetizers, known in Yiddish as the “forshpayz.” In New York, the popularity of forshpayzn among Eastern European Jewish immigrants led to the creation of the institution known as the appetizing store.   Appetizing also originated from Jewish dietary laws, which dictate that meat and dairy products cannot be eaten or sold together. As a result, two different types of stores sprang up in order to cater to the Jewish population. Stores selling cured and pickled meats became known as delicatessens, while shops that sold fish and dairy products became appetizing stores.   In New York City, until the 1960's, there were appetizing stores in every borough and in almost every neighborhood. On the Lower East Side alone there were, at one point, thirty appetizing shops. Though one of the last of its kind, Russ & Daughters is committed to preserving and promoting this important food culture. So, now that you know, please don't call us a deli!   To be literal, the dictionary definition of “appetizing” is, “appealing to the appetite especially in appearance or aroma; also, appealing to one's taste.” And that applies to Russ & Daughters as well.

Ray's Candy Store

ray's candy store nyc

Bourdain’s death by suicide was discovered in 2018. At the time of his death, he had been partway through filming Season 12 of his show “Parts Unknown;” in memoriam, the remaining episodes that were fully filmed were released post-mortem, lacking Bourdain’s classic narration. The final episode of the season focused on the Lower East Side, making it a fitting last word on Bourdain’s favorite places to eat in the city he grew up in.

In the show, Bourdain spends less time talking about the food and more time talking about people and history. He visits Ray’s Candy Store with drummer Harley Flanagan. In the few moments they spend at Ray’s, Bourdain orders a chocolate egg cream. Flanagan thanks Ray for the egg cream. Bourdain says, “That is a superb egg cream.”

According to the New York Post, Ray’s fell on hard times during Covid, and the business was saved by a community fundraising effort that raised over \$50,000.

Ray’s Candy Store surely is a beloved institution in New York City, particularly in the East Village. It has been a neighborhood fixture for decades, known for its classic American fare, including hot dogs, burgers, and especially its wide range of fried snacks.

Ray’s Candy Store is not just a place to grab a snack; it’s a piece of New York City’s history and a testament to the enduring charm of local, family-owned businesses.

Just on Mr. Bourdain, you simply must watch the film RoadRunner for the balance of fond memories and quite literally heart-breaking moments in the great man’s life: the ‘signs were there’, sadly.

What does Ray's Candy Store have to say about itself?

Serving up NYC's BEST fries, shakes, soft serve, fried Oreos + more! Open late!

Katz's Delicatessen

katz's delicatessen anthony bourdain

Bourdain recommends Katz’s Delicatessen in “Disappearing Manhattan.” Opened in 1888, this Jewish deli is famous for its meats — ruben, corn beef, and, of course, pastrami. Bourdain calls Katz’s a “celebrity all its own” and “that most quintessential of New York establishments.”

Katz’s Delicatessen, often referred to as Katz’s, is an iconic Jewish delicatessen located in New York City. It is one of the oldest delis in New York and is renowned for its classic Jewish deli fare, including pastrami and corned beef sandwiches.

“Maybe because everybody loves Katz’s and because everybody remembers Meg Ryan faking an orgasm here, New Yorkers tend to roll their eyes a little when outsiders gush about the place,” Bourdain says. “But, you only need to walk over to the counter, take a long lingering look at that heap of steaming pastrami, corn beef, and brisket, take a deep breath, and you remember again what it means to be alive, to be proud, to be a New Yorker.”

Anthony’s favorite order was pastrami on rye, and in the show, it fell apart in his hands. See, there’s this structural integrity problem in the sandwich, which is a good thing,” Bourdain says, smiling wryly. 

Eisenberg's Sandwich Shop

eisenberg's sandwich shop

Sadly, Islifearecipe notes that all Eisenberg’s Sandwich Shop New York locations are currently closed, and they just have ‘pop-ups’ in San Francisco.

A special episode in Season 5: “Disappearing Manhattan”, features this wonderful lunch counter across from the Flatiron building, one of my favorite buildings in this incredible city, called Eisenberg’s Sandwich Shop. This opened way back in 1929 during the prohibition era. Therefore they only serve non-alcoholic beverages.

Taxi driver, Fat Dave is back by Anthony’s side for this eating trip. They share an egg cream and a lime rickey, which is an old-fashioned mocktail recipe based on a gin rickey (without the gin, of course). Bourdain says, “The lime rickey, I don’t even know what the hell they are, all I know is that I love them. Maybe, what, lime juice, cherry syrup, and seltzer? Considering the alarming color, it’s a truly delicious thing.”

Next up, Bourdain orders a sandwich. Sublime tuna salad on white and prices are pretty much along 1985 lines,” he says. These days, we wouldn’t go so far as to say that the prices are entirely stuck in time, but you’re still definitely going to get a deal at Eisenberg’s. 

Eisenberg’s Sandwich Shop is such a renowned establishment with a rich history. Eisenberg’s is known for its classic, old-school diner atmosphere and a menu that features a wide variety of sandwiches, including classic deli-style sandwiches like pastrami and corned beef, as well as breakfast options and burgers.

In recent news, there was a mention of the “Next Chapter of Eisenberg’s Sandwich Shop,” which indicates a continuation of its legacy in the culinary scene of New York City, as reported by Eater in September 2022.

What does Eisenberg's Sandwich Shop have to say about itself?

Opened in 1929, this classic New York City eatery sits across the street from the iconic Flatiron Building and serves delicious Jewish deli-style food. Eisenberg’s has been open for over 90 years and still maintains its original vintage charm, attracting loyal customers for its hearty American fare and old-school atmosphere. Locals and tourists from all walks of life gather shoulder to shoulder at our 30 foot long dining counter, enjoying our classic dishes while watching the cooks across the counter perform with effortless grace.

Hop Kee

bourdain-hop kee

The Hop Kee experience is purely nostalgic. I think maybe we lost something,” Bourdain recounts in this episode about old-school Cantonese restaurants, the type where you can order those classic Chinese American dishes: fried rice, egg rolls, etc. He dines at one such restaurant called Hop Kee with chef Chris Cheung. 

Bourdain gets super-excited about the menu, “They still got the good old stuff at this place, the gluey faux-Cantonese I can’t help but be sentimental about.” He orders wonton soup, egg roll, BBQ spare ribs, pork fried rice, and sweet and pungent pork, adding, “I happen to like MSG, by the way.

Then Cheung reveals the secrets of what he called the “phantom menu.” He orders dishes that he ate as a youngster, knowing that the Chefs can and will prepare for him. Bourdain takes a few bites of what Cheung has ordered and states, “So my whole childhood was a hollow sham.”

Hop Kee is a well-known Chinese restaurant located in New York City, specifically at 21 Mott St. It has gained popularity for its delicious Chinese cuisine and holds a place as a slice of history in modern Manhattan. The restaurant has been reviewed extensively on platforms like TripAdvisor and Yelp, where you can find customer feedback and ratings.


bourdain in sophies bar

Bourdain’s “Disappearing Manhattan” episode from the “No Reservations” series ends at dive bar Sophie’s, located in the East Village. He visits with the author Nick Tosches, whom he calls “the truly legendary, notorious figure in the history of everything that was ever cool.” What’s the draw for them both, according to Bourdain? “Sophie’s, in the East Village, remains a good place to stop time.”

“Is there any place left in New York where an old guy can have a drink in the afternoon and, you know, be a little depressed?” he asks Tosches. See what I mean about ‘the signs’. In RoadRunne there are final scenes of filming in France with Eric Ripert and all Anthony talks about is death… It’s truly just such a sad film to watch.

They spend their midday drink commiserating about where all the good bars have gone and how even the spirits on the shelves have changed. They also discuss which song should be readily available on the jukebox in a utopian dive bar, and they both concur on Sinatra. Classic!!!

Sophie’s Bar N.Y.C. is a notable establishment in New York City. It’s a dive bar with a rich history, having survived for over 100 years.

What does Sophie's Bar have to say about itself?

Sophie's, one of the best dive bars in NYC!

Shake Shack

shake shack nyc

The very first Shake Shack was just a hot dog stand in Madison Square Park. After opening in 2001, it attracted the attention of many tastemakers like Bourdain and experienced truly rapid expansion. Now, the chain has gone fully international, including over here in Singapore, and I will concur with Mr Bourdain: they’re pretty damn good…

In a 2016 interview with the Daily Beast, Bourdain proudly proclaims his love for this particular fast-food burger: “Chances are, the first thing I’m doing when I get back if I’ve been away for 12 days … I’m calling Seamless to get me some Shake Shack.” Bourdain explains that his normal order is a double cheeseburger served “naked,” without lettuce or tomato. ” He says, “I’ll have two of those and I’m happy. I’m singing America, f*** yeah!” 

This isn’t the first time he lauded restauranteur Danny Meyer’s chain. In 2011, he told The New York Times, “When a Shake Shack opened a block from my house, I dropped to my knees and wept with gratitude.” Nicely done Tony B, haha.

Shake Shack is an American fast-casual restaurant chain based in New York City. It was initially established as a hot dog cart inside Madison Square Park in 2001 and has since gained popularity. Shake Shack is renowned for its high-quality fast food offerings, including burgers made from 100% all-natural Angus beef, frozen custards, shakes, hot dogs, fries, and a selection of beer and wine. One of its signature items is the ShackBurger, which has earned widespread acclaim. In each new location, Shake Shack customizes its beverage menu to incorporate local flavors.

Shake Shack’s commitment to quality is evident in its use of premium ingredients, such as cage-free eggs and Nielsen-Massey pure vanilla extract for its concretes and custards. Additionally, chocolates and toppings are sourced from reputable suppliers like Mast Brothers and Guittard. The chain has expanded to various locations globally, including Singapore, where it has gained popularity.

What does Shake Shack have to say about itself?

When Shake Shack started as a hot dog cart in New York City's Madison Square Park, our mission was simple: raise funds for a public art project. As we grew into a global business, our mission to Stand For Something Good expanded to include taking care of our team, sourcing premium ingredients from partners with the same dedication to quality, designing our Shacks responsibly, supporting our communities through donations, events, and volunteering—and much more. Doing good is in our roots, a part of our DNA since day one. 20 years later, we're still continuing to expand and evolve our mission to Stand For Something Good in everything we do.

John's of 12th St

john's of 12th street with Bourdain

This iconic Italian restaurant featured in the Lower East Side episode of “Parts Unknown”: John’s of 12th Street, an Italian spot serving only the most classic Italian American dishes. Just the most iconic dishes such as pasta with meat sauce, eggplant alla parmigiana, chicken scallopini — you know it, the works. They have also recently expanded the menu to include a whole vegan section of the menu (never mind).

Bourdain visits John’s of 12th Street with the artist and personal friend Joe Coleman. They talk about ’80s New York: Coleman’s art and his angry performances, their time using hard drugs, the cultural shift of the AIDS epidemic, and the friends that went missing along the way.

Bourdain eats pesto with spaghetti, a simple dish, as he chats with his friend. This is the love most of us have of Bourdain, you feel like you’re watching his life and personal interactions over his shoulder. He’s allowed us in…

What does John's of 12th Street have to say about itself?

We've been serving traditional gravy and red-sauce Italian food made with the best ingredients since 1908, and we love what we do. And we are proud to offer a full VEGAN menu, crafted with care by our chef and brilliant kitchen staff. Rich in history, savory food, a place to enjoy good friends and good times.

White Castle

FirstChain White Castle

Bourdain was a man of genuinely democratic tastes, including his experience of the Shake Shack burger. “Is this the world’s greatest hamburger? Far from it, my friends,” Bourdain declared in Season 4, Episode 2 of “Parts Unknown,” just before savoring a White Castle burger. There’s nothing Bourdain respected more than establishments that had stood the test of time, and White Castle is the epitome of that.

In fact, in some ways, White Castle paved the way for fast food burgers; the square, smaller burgers White Castle served that we’ve come to know as sliders allowed for an expedited cooking time. The cutesy packaging made it easy to take them away, thereby setting the tone for other fast-food burger joints. 

Regardless of the history of the institution, Bourdain’s connection with White Castle was wholly personal. He explained in the episode, “If you grew up with White Castle, like I did, … this connects with some deep, dinosaur part of the brain, evoking a powerful emotional response.”

White Castle, a well-known fast-food restaurant chain, has a presence in New York City. One of its locations can be found at 525 8th Ave in the Garment District of New York City, as listed on TripAdvisor and QSR Magazine. White Castle is famous for its small, square-shaped hamburgers, often referred to as “sliders,” and has a loyal following due to its unique flavor.

What does White Castle have to say about itself?

In 1921, Billy Ingram launched a family-owned business with $700 and an idea, selling five-cent, small, square hamburgers so easy to eat, they were dubbed Sliders and sold by the sack. In 2014, Time® Magazine declared our iconic Original Slider® the most influential burger of all time. Today our family-owned business sells the same humble, 100 percent USDA beef patty with onions and pickle, creating memorable moments for Craver generations everywhere. The only thing better than polishing off a Sack of Sliders alone, is doing it with friends. Could it get any better than that? White Castle. Because The Crave Is A Powerful Thing®.

Emilio's Ballato

bourdain in Emilio's Ballato_ with blondie

Bourdain’s “Lower East Side” episode contains a few good, old-fashioned Italian joints. The first of these is Emilio’s Ballato, a Southern Italian restaurant that first opened in 1956 under the care of John Ballato. Since then, the restaurant has changed hands; now, it’s operated by Emilio Vitolo, who hails from Napoli. Despite being owned exclusively by Southern Italians, this place is famous for its Bolognese — go figure.

In this episode, Bourdain gets caught up in music history again. He visits Emilio’s Ballato with Debbie Harry and Chris Stein, members of the band Blondie. Bourdain compliments their kindness and willingness to take other lesser-known artists like Fab 5 Freddy along with them on the rise to the top. “You introduced the notion that street art was really art,” Bourdain says. Harry claims her band’s part in heralding the genre of rap: She says that they created the first song with a short rap verse included in it and “made it viably commercial.”

Emilio’s Ballato is a renowned Italian restaurant located in Soho, New York City. Established in 1956, it has become a beloved dining destination with a rich history. The restaurant has gained recognition not only for its delicious Italian cuisine but also for its status as a cultural institution.

Emilio’s Ballato has a storied past, having served as a favorite dining spot for celebrities, artists, and political figures. It has hosted famous patrons such as Frank Sinatra, President Kennedy, and more, making it a part of New York’s cultural heritage.

The restaurant is known for its authentic Italian dishes, including pasta, seafood, and classic Italian desserts. Their menu reflects a commitment to traditional Italian flavors and recipes.

Emilio’s Ballato has received recognition from various sources. It is featured in the MICHELIN Guide, highlighting its culinary excellence. Additionally, it has been reviewed and recommended by publications like The Infatuation and New York Magazine.

What does Emilio Ballato have to say for itself?

In 1956, John Ballato opened a restaurant in what is now the Nolita neighborhood of Manhattan. After more than 60 years, his originally modest dreams have been blown out of the water, as Ballato’s has become one of Manhattan’s heavy hitters in the world of Italian American comfort food. Now owned and operated by the Vitolo family, Ballato’s has been likened to the incredibly exclusive “Rao’s, but you can get in,” says New York Times writer Jeff Gordinier. Mario Vitolo, son of owner Emilio, credits their success to their commitment to “always using the finest ingredients and never compromising.” Ballato’s has been described by many as embodying the “Sunday dinner with Grandma” environment. This is all accredited to the Executive Chef Anthony Vitolo getting the finest ingredients and creating wholesome meals to all walks of life who drops by, including their regular cast of devoted celebrities, musicians, and politicians, including a few former presidents! Having spent his entire life cooking, owner Emilio Vitolo seeks to bring a taste of his native Naples to Manhattan. Today, he can be found at his usual table at the front of the restaurant greeting all of his loyal fans and first time customers.

Keens Steakhouse

keens steakhouse anthony bourdain

In his “No Reservations” series, Bourdain explored the disappearing Manhattan, reflecting on the city’s transformation. Keens Steakhouse, established in 1885, emerged as a symbol of old-school New York dining, and Anthony described it as a place deeply rooted in the traditions of beefsteak parties and smoky rooms.

During his visit, Bourdain and guest Josh Ozersky savored a jumbo shrimp cocktail, a king’s cut prime rib, mutton chops, and creamed spinach – man oh man I wish I could have been there with them that day. 

Keens Steakhouse is a renowned USDA Prime-only steakhouse located in New York City. It is known for its legendary reputation and an extensive collection of Single Malt Scotch whiskey. Keens Steakhouse has a rich history and owns the largest collection of churchwarden pipes in the world, many of which were once held by prominent figures such as Albert Einstein and Babe Ruth.

The restaurant is famous not only for its steaks but also for its signature dish, the Mutton Chop, which is celebrated and has a dedicated recipe associated with it.

Keens Steakhouse is located in Midtown Manhattan and is a popular dining destination for celebrities, locals, and tourists.

What does Keens Steakhouse have to say about itself?

Keens Steakhouse owns the largest collection of churchwarden pipes in the world. The tradition of checking one's pipe at the inn had its origins in 17th century Merrie Old England where travelers kept their clay at their favorite inn - the thin stemmed pipe being too fragile to be carried in purse or saddlebag. Pipe smoking was known since Elizabethan times to be beneficial for dissipating "evil homourse of the brain." Keens's pipe tradition began in the early 20th century. The hard clay churchwarden pipes were brought from the Netherlands and as many as 50,000 were ordered every three years. A pipe warden registered and stored the pipes, while pipe boys returned the pipes from storage to the patrons. The membership roster of the Pipe Club contained over ninety thousand names, including those of Teddy Roosevelt, Babe Ruth, Will Rogers, Billy Rose, Grace Moore, Albert Einstein, George M. Cohan, J.P. Morgan, Stanford White, John Barrymore, David Belasco, Adlai Stevenson, General Douglas MacArthur and "Buffalo Bill" Cody.

Our conclusions of Anothy Bourdain's Top Nineteen Restaurants in New York

In conclusion, Anthony Bourdain’s favorite nineteen restaurants in New York City reflect his profound connection to the city’s diverse culinary landscape. From timeless classics to hidden gems, Bourdain’s choices tell a story of his culinary journey through the heart of the Big Apple.

Bourdain’s love for Barney Greengrass, a Jewish deli steeped in history, showcases his appreciation for traditional flavors. He cherished Murray’s Cheese for its cheese variety, a testament to the city’s culinary diversity. Papaya King’s iconic combo of papaya drink and hot dogs (tube-formed meat) held a special place in his heart, emphasizing his affection for classic New York fare.

Corner Bistro and Rudy’s Bar and Grill were his refuge, celebrating the simplicity of a good bar burger and the charm of a free hot dog. Gray’s Papaya represented late-night cravings, offering a taste of nostalgia in a changing city.

Keens Steakhouse and Katz’s Delicatessen embodied the essence of old New York, with hearty steaks and legendary pastrami sandwiches. Russ & Daughters paid homage to timeless appetizing traditions, while Eisenberg’s Sandwich Shop offered a taste of prohibition-era beverages.

Bourdain’s restaurant choices are not just about food; they were a window into the soul of a city that he both loved and critiqued. Through these establishments, he celebrated the rich tapestry of flavors that define New York City’s culinary identity. Enjoy!!!

People also asked about dining in New York City

Q1: What are some iconic dishes to try in the New York dining scene?

A1: New York is known for its iconic dishes like pizza, bagels with cream cheese and lox, hot dogs, pastrami sandwiches, and classic cheesecake. Be sure to try these when exploring the city’s culinary offerings.

Q2: Where can I find the best pizza in New York?

A2: New York City is famous for its pizza. You can find some of the best slices at iconic pizzerias like Joe’s Pizza in Greenwich Village, Grimaldi’s in Brooklyn, or Di Fara Pizza in Midwood.

Q3: What are the must-visit restaurants with a view in New York?

A3: For stunning views of the city, consider dining at One Dine at One World Observatory, The River Café under the Brooklyn Bridge, or The View Restaurant & Lounge at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square.

Q4: Are there any unique dining experiences in New York?

A4: Yes, New York offers unique dining experiences like rooftop bars, underground speakeasies, and themed restaurants. Explore places like Gallow Green, Please Don’t Tell (PDT), or Jekyll & Hyde Club for something different.

Q5: What’s the average cost of dining out in New York?

A5: Dining costs can vary widely in New York. On average, you can expect to spend between $15 to $50 per person at mid-range restaurants. Fine dining establishments can be significantly more expensive.

Q6: Where can I find the trendiest places to eat in New York?

A6: To experience the trendiest dining spots, explore neighborhoods like Williamsburg in Brooklyn, SoHo in Manhattan, and Long Island City in Queens. These areas often have the latest food trends and innovative eateries.

Q7: Are there food tours or culinary events in New York?

A7: Yes, New York offers various food tours and culinary events, including food festivals, walking tours, and cooking classes. Checkout websites like “Food Tours of New York” for information on upcoming events.

Q8: What’s the best time to visit New York for food festivals and food-related events?

A8: Spring and summer are ideal times to visit New York for food festivals and outdoor food events. You’ll find events like Smorgasburg (a food market) and outdoor food festivals during these seasons.

Q9: Can you recommend some hidden gem restaurants in New York?

A9: Some hidden gems in New York include Shabu Tatsu for Japanese hot pot, Joe’s Shanghai for soup dumplings, and Xi’an Famous Foods for hand-pulled noodles. These places offer unique and delicious experiences.

Q10: Are there vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurants in New York?

A10: Yes, New York has a growing number of vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurants. Check out places like Superiority Burger, Avant Garden, and by CHLOE for plant-based options.

Remember that the dining scene in New York is constantly evolving, so it’s a good idea to check recent reviews and recommendations to discover the latest culinary delights in the city.

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