Given its recent tumultuous history, for Libya to be functioning as a country at all is astounding, and Anthony Bourdain learns upon visiting that the country is recovering from conflict and making the most of its food choices. Though his visit was over a decade ago now, Tony shows us a side of Libya many visitors never see – and certainly one those of us never get to know.
Anthony Bourdain visited Libya once, to film season 1 (episode 6) of Parts Unknown; it was his only on-screen visit to the North African country and likely the only one he made during his travels. (If you know otherwise, please let me know!)
If you’re planning a trip to Libya, you might want to follow in Tony’s footsteps and eat at some of the places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Libya. Below you’ll find a list of those places – both formal restaurants and informal/local dining experiences he had. Hopefully, this will guide you to at least try Libyan foods you might not otherwise even if you can’t visit these exact places.
Ready to dive into the list? صحه و عافيه (Bon appetit!)
Barracuda Restaurant (Tripoli)
For his first stop in the capital city of Tripoli, Bourdain visits the Barracuda restaurant. A typical seafood establishment, Barracuda eschews traditional menus, instead laying out the fish available on large tables out front. Customers pick out what interests them from the daily catch, and the restaurant cooks to your preference.
For his choices, Anthony selects grilled dote, and stuffed calamari Libyan style, filled with seafood and served in a tomato sauce.
Uncle Kentaki (Tripoli)
After a quick stop for coffee and a waterpipe at a coffeehouse, Bourdain next visits a traditional yet strangely different establishment.
An unabashedly shameless copy of KFC, Uncle Kentaki and similar fast-food establishments in Libya mean more to the locals than just a calorie-heavy meal; they are representative of the country healing itself and embracing more modern stylings.
Here, as to be expected, Tony opts for the fried chicken, not all too dissimilar to the KFC offering.
Unknown Street Vendor (Tripoli)
Anthony next tries a typical Libyan breakfast of sfenj. Sfenj, or sfinz, is a fried pastry made with a dough consisting of flour, sugar, yeast, salt, and water, resembling an overstretched donut with an egg on top.
A starch bomb of the highest grade, the dish also comes with a choice of toppings, including cheese and chili paste.
Beach BBQ (Misrata)
Perhaps one of the biggest advocates for BBQ, Bourdain’s opinion rings true here in the coastal city of Misrata as he enjoys a beachside meal.
As is often the case in this part of the world, a whole sheep is butchered and cooked over an open flame. The lamb meat is grilled with a few vegetables and served together with a stew made with kidneys, liver, and heart.
This is all served family style, and eaten from a communal bowl, always with the right hand. There is also a pasta ragu, a leftover from the days of Italian colonial occupation.
Unknown Roadside Vendor (en route to Tripoli)
For his final dish in Libya, Anthony Bourdain indulges his street meat tastes at a security checkpoint on the road back to Tripoli. Here, an unnamed roadside vendor is offering up something unmissable – liver sandwiches, lightly grilled and served on a bread roll.
“When they were talking about a high-risk environment,” Bourdain quips, “I think they were talking about this… it’s good!”
Have any questions about the places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Libya? Let me know in the comments below!