Anthony Bourdain in New Jersey: 18 Spots Where Tony Ate

When you think of New Jersey, what comes to mind? For many of us, it might not be much – or only what we’ve seen on TV and in movies, such as the wildly popular and acclaimed show, The Sopranos. While pop culture certainly represents one aspect of New Jersey, that’s of course not all – New Jersey is also the state where Anthony Bourdain’s grew up, which is probably what makes it most interesting to anyone reading.

Anthony Bourdain filmed in New Jersey twice, to film season 1 (episode 3) of No Reservations, and again for season 5 (episode 5) of Parts Unknown. While these were his only two on-screen appearances in the Garden State, it’s safe to say Tony visited Jersey many times, given that he grew up there, lived in New York City, and had family in the area too.

Anthony Bourdain in New Jersey Hero

Whether you’re planning a trip or call the state home, you might be curious about the places visited by Anthony Bourdain in New Jersey. You’re in luck: below you’ll find a full list of all the spots Bourdain ate at in New Jersey, and all of them are still open today! (The same cannot be said for many destinations that he visited, even later in his television career.)

So grab your fork, set aside your notions about what New Jersey is all about, and dig in: this is Tony’s home turf, and a pilgrimage is well worth it.

Want to watch the episodes where Anthony Bourdain visits New Jersey?
The No Reservations episode is available on Amazon, Hulu, and Apple TV, and the Parts Unknown episode is available on Amazon and Apple TV.

In this post, I promote travel to a destination that is the traditional lands of the Lenapehoking (Lenni-Lenape) 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.

No Reservations (2005)

Anthony Bourdain’s first trip to New Jersey happened early in his career – very early! It actually is right at the beginning of season 1 of No Reservations, and gives you a good look at his early perspective, as well as how far he grew by the second visit he makes.

Hiram’s

Anthony Bourdain in New Jersey - Hot Dogs

Operating out of Fort Lee, New Jersey, Bourdain first revisits a staple of his childhood, the historical Hiram’s hot dog stand. Hiram’s prides itself on tradition and has rarely changed its menu items and service traditions since 1932, providing a truly nostalgic and comforting environment.

Tony orders two hot dogs, but these are not your ordinary hot dogs; they are “Rippers.” They are deep-fried hot dogs, causing them to tear in the middle of the casing and provide a perfect catalyst for mustard or any other condiment you want to add to its center.

Satin Dolls Restaurant

After a bus tour through “Sopranoland,” or where the hit HBO series “The Sopranos” was filmed, Tony decides to ditch the bus tour and settle in at the Satin Dolls Nightclub – or as Sopranos fans know it, the Bada Bing Club.

This nightclub/strip club was home to many iconic scenes from the show and Bourdain decides to try their Italian sub while drinking a whiskey and a bottle of beer. The New Jersey Italian subs are piled high with different meats, no mayo, no mustard, and a heap of shredded lettuce, tomato, and onion. 

Howard Johnson’s

Anthony Bourdain in New Jersey - Grilled Cheese

Tony next walks through the Asbury Park ruins and boardwalk, the birthplace of Bruce Springsteen and countless other musicians, before stopping at Howard Johnson’s, a chain restaurant that he hasn’t been to since he was a child.

His best advice for eating at a HoJo’s is to “play it safe, very safe.” Tony plays it the safest I’ve ever seen and orders himself a grilled cheese sandwich with potato chips and a bottle of Heineken. 

Klein’s Fish Market & Waterside Café

Anthony Bourdain in New Jersey - Female Lobster

Right on the river in Belmar, New Jersey, Bourdain next visits Klein’s Fish Market & Waterside Café for a plethora of deep-fried seafood plates.

His first order is a plate of fried Oysters with lemon juice and tartar. Next up are two cuts of grilled Swordfish steaks, a baked potato with butter and sour cream, and creamy coleslaw. After the swordfish, Anthony gets the “female” lobster with drawn butter. The “female” lobster is a go-to for Anthony due to the fact that they carry roe in their shells, otherwise referred to as lobster caviar, giving it a richer and more textured taste. 

Bobolink Dairy

Bobolink Dairy owners Jonathan and Nina White make everything from scratch from their self-sustaining farm, offer various cheeses and baked goods, and even run their own outdoor pizza oven.

Here, Tony has a breakfast pizza made with rosemary dough, various cheeses, red onion, and fried eggs on top. Anthony also does a taste test of some of the cheeses that they offer, a 2-year-old Cave-aged Cheddar, a slice of Drumm, and a slice of Jean-Louis cheese which Bourdain regards as “extraordinary.” 

Baumgart’s Café

Anthony Bourdain in New Jersey - Sushi Rolls

One of Bourdain’s high school hangout spots is Baumgart’s Café, an Asian-American ice cream joint that serves everything from Chocolate Soda to Sushi. Here, he orders a glass of chocolate ice cream soda and a chocolate egg cream. After downing his drinks, he orders the broiled eel and tuna sushi roll – quite a mix of culinary experiences!

Mitsuwa Marketplace

After shopping through Mitsuwa’s Japanese marketplace, Bourdain decides to check out their food court. This isn’t like your average shopping mall or market food court, though, they have multiple vendors serving things like egg sandwiches, bento boxes, and boba.

Tony lands on a cup of the purple Tarot Bubble Tea, probably because he’s eaten quite a lot by now.

Soft Tofu Restaurant

Anthony Bourdain in New Jersey - Korean Food

At this point in Tony’s career, he claims to know “next to nothing” about Korean food, and the title of this restaurant made him even more wary. (This obviously changes as he later devotes an entire episode to Los AngelesKoreatown neighborhood!)

Luckily, he brought his friend, Nari, who knows quite a bit about Korean cuisine. They order two plates of the spare ribs alongside several Korean condiments (banchan), as is their custom, and a piping hot bowl of sour and spicy soup with a fried egg. Although Tony has a general distaste for tofu, he thoroughly enjoyed the spicy tofu soup. 

Gencarelli’s Bakery

Anthony Bourdain in New Jersey - Sfogliatelle

Lastly, Tony meets up with fellow chef Mario Batali; at the time, the two were friends. The pair stop by Gencarelli’s for some sweets and treats.

Bourdain and Batali share the sfogliatelle, a southern Italian pastry otherwise known as “lobster tails” due to its thin and flaky layers, filled with ricotta and powdered sugar on top. After that, they get a dozen cannolis fresh out of the kitchen; the ultimate grand finale of New Jersey cuisine!

Parts Unknown (2015)

Bourdain’s second visit to New Jersey – at least on-screen – occurred quite late in his career, making both episodes an excellent set of bookends to see how much he grew as a professional and person exploring the world – even close to the place he once called home.

Hiram’s

Where better to start out an episode returning to his home turf than at the same restaurant he started at last time? It’s Hiram’s, of course!

This time, Tony orders a draft beer and a plate of French fries that he douses in ketchup to start. Next, he orders the cheeseburger, which is simply meat, cheese, and diced onion that Anthony dresses up with red relish, just like his dad used to. Tony also gets the plain hot dog, dressed with yellow mustard.

Hiram’s is a place Tony goes to “feed his soul,” and refers to it as the “antidote to every other place.”

Kubel’s Bar

Anthony Bourdain in New Jersey - Clam Chowder

Down the Jersey Shore in Barnegat Light sits this shoreside seafood restaurant offering fresh seafood and classic American dishes. Tony and his brother, Christopher, drop into Kubel’s Bar to reminisce about summers spent in Barnegat and see how the food has changed since the 50s.

Tony then starts off with a cup of clam chowder and an ice-cold beer before moving on to the fresh clams – covered in drawn butter and garlic –, fish and chips, and a plate of deep-fried clam strips with their respective dipping sauces. 

Knife & Fork Inn

Since 1912, this Atlantic City restaurant and former gentlemen’s club has been slinging steak, seafood, and lots and lots of booze.

At the Knife & Fork Inn, Bourdain orders the iceberg wedge salad with bleu cheese crumbles and a glass of white wine before moving on to his main dish; his main dish is a pretzel-crusted swordfish steak over lump crab meat and some cooked greens. Indulgent? Yes. Institutional? Also yes.

Dock’s Oyster House

Anthony Bourdain in New Jersey - Fried Crab Cakes

Dock’s Oyster House is a pre-prohibition seafood joint that has been operating non-stop since 1897 and provides an elegant, yet warm and inviting atmosphere. Here, Tony gets a dark beer and a plate of fried crab cakes before shifting to the “big freakin’ lobster,” stuffed with crab imperial and plum souffle. 

Tony’s Baltimore Grill

Anthony Bourdain in New Jersey - Spaghetti and Meatballs

After a comedy show at the Borgata, Tony pops over to Tony’s Baltimore Grill – no relation! – with Jersey comedians Rich Vos and Bonnie McFarlane.

Although Tony’s Baltimore Grill focuses heavily on their pizzas, their Italian comfort plates are just as delicious. Bourdain keeps it classic with an order of spaghetti and meatballs.

Tony & Ruth’s Steaks

Located in Camden, Tony & Ruth’s – again, no relation! – operates a diner-style place serving everything from pancakes to cheesesteaks. Here, Tony starts his day off with a plate of rice and beans topped with two fried eggs. 

Donkey’s Place

Donkey’s has been churning out Jersey-style Cheesesteaks for over 75 years, originally opened by Olympic Boxer, Leon Lucas (aka Donkey) and now run by his son, Robert.

Here, Bourdain gets their signature “Jersey Cheesesteak.” Unlike the hoagie rolls generally associated with a Philly Cheesesteak, this cheesesteak is served on a round, poppy-seed Kaiser roll, and topped with browned onions, melted American cheese, and a little bit of hot pepper.

After devouring this “unbelievably good” cheesesteak, Tony tells us that Donkey’s is worth driving through a blizzard for and offers a better cheesesteak than Philadelphia. (Them’s fighting words!)

Lucille’s

Out in the more rural Warren Grove, Bourdain grabs his next breakfast at Lucille’s Country Cooking. Here, he starts off with a small cup of chili and oyster crackers before getting a country plate of hash browns, eggs, sausage, and toast; New Jersey has some interesting breakfast choices!

Frank’s Deli 

Heading next back to Asbury Park, Tony drops into Frank’s Deli for a classic Jersey sandwich. This cold cut consists of a huge sesame-seed roll with layers of sliced ham, pepperoni, salami, and provolone, topped with a pile of lettuce, onions, and tomato and finally dressed with oil, vinegar, and hot peppers. 

James’ Salt Water Taffy

Anthony Bourdain in New Jersey - Salt Water Taffy

Last but not least, Bourdain ends much as he began, and pays another visit to a childhood staple for him: James’ Taffy.

A classic taffy setup, James’ is a pick-your-own and pay-by-weight at the counter. Tony goes for the molasses, peanut, vanilla, wintergreen, and peppermint, all flavors that he distinctly recalls from growing up in Jersey.

Have any questions about these places visited by Anthony Bourdain in New Jersey? Let me know in the comment below!

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Ricky has worked off and on in the restaurant industry since high school, filling positions from host to line cook to sous chef all in California and Kentucky. He has always had a desire for food and travel, so discovering Anthony’s writings and shows years back was like meeting a great new friend.

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