Anthony Bourdain in Brooklyn: 14 Spots Where Tony Ate

Long derided as a hotbed of hipster activity, Anthony Bourdain nevertheless finds the food on offer in Brooklyn to be both varied and close to his heart, and discovers that his journeys there over the years have given somewhat of an answer to the question, “Where does the service industry go to eat at the end of the day?”

Anthony Bourdain filmed in Brooklyn several times, which resulted in portions of a few episodes and one dedicated episode, all of No Reservations: season 3 (episode 8, “New York City”), season 5 (episode 19, “Outer Boroughs”), and season 9 (episode 10, “Brooklyn”).

Anthony Bourdain in Brooklyn Hero

While it’s an understatement to say there are great places to eat in this particular NYC Borough, Tony’s fans – like you – might be curious about the places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Brooklyn. Below you’ll find a complete list – everywhere Bourdain ate in Brooklyn throughout all the episodes he filmed there. So let’s cross the bridge and dig right in!

Want to watch the episode where Anthony Bourdain visits Brooklyn?
The “New York City” episode is available on Amazon and Apple TV; the “Outer Boroughs” episode is available on Amazon and Apple TV; and the “Brooklyn” episode is available on Amazon, Hulu, and Apple TV.

In this post, I promote travel to a destination that is the traditional lands of the Canarsie and Munsee Lenape peoples, among others. With respect, I make a formal land acknowledgment, extending my appreciation and respect to the past and present people of these lands. To learn more about the peoples who call these lands home, I invite you to explore Native Land.

Where Anthony Bourdain Ate in Brooklyn

Before jumping into the list, I thought it would be helpful to have a map to orient you to the places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Brooklyn. 

Anthony Bourdain in Brooklyn Map
Click to interact with the map

Ready to learn about each one and what Tony ate there? Read on!

No Reservations (2007)

As mentioned above, there are three episodes that – in part or in full – cover Brooklyn. The first one is the season 3 episode of No Reservations, titled “New York City,” and offers a few options in the borough – along with others covered in other parts of my New York City series.

Cafe Glechik (CLOSED)

Anthony Bourdain in Brooklyn - Pelmeni

Located in Brighton Beach in Brooklyn, an area nicknamed Little Russia for its high population of Russian-speaking immigrants, Café Glechik is a small family-style joint that gets the food of the motherland just right.

Alongside Gary Shteyngart, Russian transplant and local author, Bourdain tries a variety of brusquely served, lovingly prepared dishes.

There is rabbit in white sauce, pelmeni – which are traditional Russian dumplings similar to small ravioli stuffed with meat and cheese served in a light broth –, and a green borscht soup made with spinach.

This being a Russian area, naturally, there are shots of vodka on the side to help things go down smoothly.

National Nightclub & Restaurant (CLOSED)

With the vodka warming the soul, Bourdain and Gary next travel through a bizarro fabulous time warp of kitsch, pomp, and circumstance.

The National Nightclub is a glitzy, glamorous restaurant and banquet hall that provides authentic Russian food and over-the-top entertainment, like a poor man’s Vegas frozen in the year 1979.

With more vodka on hand, the duo enjoys a prize menu consisting of classics like herring, knishes, chicken Kyiv, and caviar.

No Reservations (2009)

Bourdain’s second episode filmed (in part) in Brooklyn is the season 5 “Outer Boroughs” episode that also included Queens and Staten Island. Here, Tony dives even deeper into the foodie scene in this borough.

East Harbor Seafood Palace

Anthony Bourdain in Brooklyn - Dim Sum

Returning to the Sunset Park area of Brooklyn for a later episode of No Reservations, Bourdain meets with chef Chris Cheung as together they visit the East Harbor Seafood Palace, a chaotic, high-turnover restaurant, with cluttered tables where you might not know your fellow diners.

Here, breakfast Dim Sum is the specialty. There is a starter of deep-fried bread wrapped in rice rolls, meatballs filled with pork, crunchy, sticky duck feet, slices of tripe, and deep-fried rice flour balls stuffed with pork and mushrooms, giving a texture difference as dim sum food is mostly steamed not fried.

Crunchy, sticky duck, and chicken feet are next, followed by Har Gow (Dim Sum shrimp dumplings), which Cheung comments is the mark of a good dim sum chef.

Tortilleria Mexicana Los Hermanos

Bourdain next meets up with Les Halles chef Carlos Llaguno to visit a traditional tortilleria: Tortelleria Mexicana Los Hermanos. A far cry from the mainstream TexMex style restaurants so prevalent, you won’t find cubed chicken breast, orange cheese, or nachos here. There is no sour cream and definitely no bottomless margaritas.

Instead, there is a hot plate serving beef, chicken, chorizo, quesadillas, and double-wrapped tacos just like back in Mexico, all topped with queso fresco.

Marlow & Sons

Anthony Bourdain in Brooklyn - Oysters

Tony’s next guest is Peter Meehan*, one-time writer of the Under $25 column for the New York Times, as he visits Marlow & Sons restaurant. The restaurant’s owners also own a local butcher, ensuring only the finest cuts of meat grace their tables.

With the food so surprising, so shockingly good, Tony becomes somewhat despondent with how little he has engaged with the Five Boroughs during his time in NYC.

Thankfully his mood lifts when serving begins. A simple starter of Witch Duck oysters from Fishers Island New York is followed up by a surefire Bourdain winner of pan-seared beef heart with toasted country bread, bone marrow toast, and salsa Verde.

*Meehan later came under fire for aggressive and sexually inappropriate management and behavior during his food writing career; you can learn more about that here.


Anthony Bourdain in Brooklyn - Rib Eye and Bone Marrow

Diner plays host to the “best burger in New York”, according to Meehan, though in this restaurant housed in a converted 90-year-old Pullman dining car, Bourdain eschews the obvious choice and instead opts for something more adventurous.

For starters, a fresh green salad together with Brussels sprouts and grits, and a pig’s head fettuccine topped with a soft-boiled quail’s egg. Finally, the main course of a generous rib eye steak, slathered with bone marrow butter.

No Reservations (2012)

Lastly, Bourdain returns once more to film a dedicated episode about Brooklyn, which was released in season 9 of No Reservations. This episode dives the deepest of all, showing the diversity and deliciousness of the borough, and enticing everyone to make that journey across the bridge.


Anthony Bourdain in Brooklyn - Jamaican Curried Goat

Visiting the Crown Heights area of Brooklyn for No Reservations in 2012, Bourdain is joined by Brooklyn native and actor Michael Kenneth Williams, best known for his role as Omar Little on The Wire. Learning that “Brooklyn is not a Borough, it’s a blood type”, he experiences more of the culture, food, and flavor, from the Italian to Russian to Caribbean communities.

The first stop is Gloria’s, specializing in Caribbean cuisine, where they order a selection of West Indian staples, including oxtail, curried goat, mac and cheese, rice & peas, and callaloo.

Oxtail is the cheapest cut of meat, but once again the cheapest is prepared the best. The marinade for this consists of thyme, peppers, scallions, celery, and shadow benny, a leafy herb native to the West Indies and Central America with an intense flavor similar to cilantro. These are all blended together to make a marinade for the ox tail, which is then seared and braised.

For the curry, the goat is tossed around with curry powder, tomato paste, scotch bonnet peppers, and cumin, before being cooked in a tomato sauce and served with the rice & peas.

Callaloo is the name used in the Caribbean to refer to the large green leaves of the taro, dasheen, tannia, amaranth, or yautia root. The Caribbean country you are in determines which vegetable is used as “callaloo.” In most preparations, it is cooked as you would prepare turnips or collard greens.

There is also sea moss, a mix of powdered dried deepwater seaweed, mixed with milk, cinnamon, and other spices, which serves as a cool and refreshing chaser to the spicy meal.


Anthony Bourdain in Brooklyn - Muu Kham Waan

The next stop is Pok Pok NY, a restaurant owned by chef Andy Ricker that serves up some of the best ‘authentic’ northern Thai flavors outside of Thailand, where Bourdain is met by restauranteur and provocateur Eddie Huang.

On offer from Pok Pok’s changing menu is Kai Yaang Tua (roasted hen stuffed and seasoned with lemongrass, garlic, pepper, and cilantro, then rotisseried), spicy green papaya salad (prepared with a traditional pestle and mortar known as a pok pok, from which the restaurant derives its name), Muu Kham Waan (pork neck rubbed with garlic, coriander root, and black pepper, which is then grilled and served with a sauce of spicy chili, lime, and garlic), and Laap Meuang (spicy hand mixed pork mixed with aromatics, spices, herbs, cracklings, and crispy shallots).

Randazzo’s Clam Bar

Anthony Bourdain in Brooklyn - Clams on Half Shell

Tony turns his attention to Sheep’s Head Bay, and Randazzo’s, a clam bar that also offers red sauce Italian American classics, where he is joined by guests who are more than familiar with this style of cooking, Mario Carbone and Rich Torrisi of Torrisi’s Italian Specialties in Manhattan.

The food on the menus here is of the kind that would warm the heart of many an Italian American. Clam served simply, shucked on a half shell with lemon and red sauce, fried calamari rings with more red sauce, a sumptuous lobster fra diavolo (lobster, shrimp, mussels, clams, and a spicy marinara), tossed with well-cooked pasta and served in generous portions, and finally a shrimp parmesan, a single plate of which is large enough to make small children cry at its approach.


Anthony Bourdain in Brooklyn - Pizza

Bourdain is naturally suspicious of Bushwick, with its rightly held position as being hipster ground central. Together with Talib Kweli, rapper with Black Star, they visit Roberta’s, which looks from the outside like a rundown chop shop, but inside hides a deceptively delicious pizza restaurant.

However, as innovative as this locale is, being run like a commune, growing their own vegetables on the roof, baking their own bread, maintaining beehives, and serving craft beer, it’s not the pizza that they are there for…


Anthony Bourdain in Brooklyn - Razor Clam Pasta

Up the back stairs of Robertas and across the roof is Blanca, a truly hidden treasure of a restaurant, offering Michelin-tasting menus in a small, reservation-only loft space with an open kitchen.

With only one serving a day of their eight-course tasting menu, choice (and table space) is limited, but the food on offer here more than makes up for it.

For Bourdain’s visit, the innovative array of dishes is a sight to behold. There are veal sweetbreads with lime, pasta with razor clams, and celtuce, a cross between celery and lettuce from Asia, served with kefir, kumquat, and tuna flake, something that not even Bourdain has heard of.

Meat-wise, we have raviolo with Nduja, a type of spreadable sausage made from lard, finely chopped pancetta, and guanciale, a cured meat made from pork cheeks. There is also crispy grilled duck, and finally wagyu, grilled and sliced and served with hearts of palm and sun gold tomato and vincotto, a dark, sweet, thick paste produced in rural areas of Italy.

Vincotto itself is made by slow cooking and reduction over many hours of non-fermented grape must until it has been reduced to about one-fifth of its original volume and the sugars present have caramelized.

Primorski Restaurant (CLOSED)

Anthony Bourdain in Brooklyn - Khachapuri

Brighton Beach, as previously mentioned, is known for its Eastern European population including Russians and Georgians, and the food on offer reflects that. Ably assisted by long-time partner in crime Zamir, the dynamic duo first enjoy some beachside khachapuri, a traditional Georgian dish of cheese-filled bread, and vodka, before heading to Primorski for dinner.

Recommended by Zamir, Primorski is similar to the National as another swinging entertainment establishment in Brighton Beach, providing top-flight entertainment, delicious Georgian delicacies, and, of course, more vodka.

The main courses tonight to accompany the interesting cabaret lineup include blini (a small type of pancake) with caviar, dolma (grape leaves stuffed with ground lamb and rice, served with a yogurt sauce), yet more vodka, and a whole roasted pig.

Brooklyn Fare

Anthony Bourdain in Brooklyn - Alaskan King Crab Legs

Taking a break from the vodka, Bourdain travels back to downtown Brooklyn to meet with another long-time friend, Eric Ripert. This time, the two are visiting Brooklyn Fare, a restaurant that looks like a grocery shop, hiding a three-star Michelin restaurant in the back, with single service and an open kitchen table format similar to Blanca.

The course count here, however, is 26, and the dishes are too numerous to list in their entirety. Of particular note, however, are the sweet pea soup, oysters with cucumber, fluke with radish and radish flower, whitebait with crispy scales, and Shima-aji (aka Striped Jack) with crispy ginger, a flavor combination with Ripert notes is particularly inspired.

There is also Alaskan king crab, octopus with cucumber and smoked paprika, king salmon with trout roe, wild Japanese sea bream, Japanese mackerel with jícama (otherwise known as Mexican turnip, a native Mexican vine), Hokkaido Sea urchin with black truffle and brioche (a favorite of Bourdain’s), and finally lightly smoked cod roe with crispy potato and caviar.

Jay & Lloyd’s Kosher Deli & Family Restaurant (CLOSED)

To end on such a meal would be doing a disservice to Brooklyn, however, so instead of the triple star Michelin glory, Bourdain opts for something closer to home.

The sandwich is a New York staple in many shapes and forms, and at Jay & Lloyd’s, a Jewish deli so old school it’s practically a dinosaur, Tony finds perhaps the perfect encapsulation of it – chopped liver, pastrami, rye bread, enjoyed with a cream soda.

As the sun sets on this chapter of New York eating, Bourdain reflects on the place of food in the world, and offers a now legendary piece of advice:

If I’m an advocate for anything, it’s to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. The extent to which you can walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food, it’s a plus for everybody.  Open your mind, get up off the couch, move.

What more can I say to that?

Have any questions about the places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Brooklyn? Let me know in the comments below.

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Matt Young is a street food fanatic and world traveler, currently splitting his time between Europe and South East Asia.

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