Over the course of his career, Anthony Bourdain did a great job of spotlighting small destinations in addition to the world’s biggest cities and hotspots. It’s safe to say that – despite being home to 2.9 million inhabitants, Salvador de Bahia in Brazil probably fits more into that former category – it’s certainly not on the main tourist track for most visitors (though it does welcome nearly 1 million visitors each year for its Carnival season!).
Anthony Bourdain actually visited the Brazilian state of Bahia twice: to film season 2 (episode 3) of A Cook’s Tour, and again much later to film season 3 (episode 8) of Parts Unknown. This was in addition to his other explorations of the country (including Minas Gerais, Rio, São Paulo, and the Amazon!). It also influenced his love of northeastern Brazilian cuisine, which he seeks out in other cities too, since it’s considered the part of the country where the best chefs come from.
If you’re planning a trip to Brazil, I recommend putting Bahia on your list – even if visiting those other, bigger cities too. With this guide to the places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Salvador de Bahia, you can at least rest assured that you’ll eat very well as you explore this lesser-visited part of the country – relatively speaking.
A Cook’s Tour (2002)
Bourdain makes his first trip to Brazil early in his career – in season 2 of A Cook’s Tour he dedicates two episodes to the country, first visiting Salvador de Bahia followed by Rio de Janeiro and neighboring Niterói. Here’s where he ate in the first of those cities.
Feira de São Joaquim
To kick things off, Bourdain heads to one of the most reliable places to start exploring the cuisine of any new destination: the market. In this case, he heads to Feira de São Joaquim.
First, he tries a plate of grilled meats, followed by beef stew (possibly mocotó, but it looks more like porridge) and “mystery meat” that looks like some sausage, offal, and fatty cuts, cooked to perfection and priced cheaply.
Sorriso da Dada
At the restaurant of one of Brazil’s most famous chefs (at the time), Tony digs into some delicious home-style food that’s considered the “standard” for Bahian cuisine: red fish in banana leaf, crab salad, and seafood and coconut stew called moqueca.
He also tries a series of caipirinhas in different flavors, including cashew, pineapple, and passionfruit.
Sorveteria da Ribeira
At Sorveteria da Ribeira, a popular ice cream shop for locals, Bourdain sucks up his lack of interest in this particular dessert (actually he doesn’t love most desserts!) and tries a few different flavors including passion fruit, jackfruit, durian, and mongava, before settling on burnt coconut and chocolate… which he doesn’t enjoy at all!
Barraca Biruta Tehe
At a beachside bar, Barraca Biruta Tehe, Tony grabs a table to enjoy the day as locals do.
In addition to ordering drinks from the bar, a number of food vendors swing by too. He tries a “cheese-cicle” (cheese on a stick, toasted over a pot of coals), sugar cane, shrimp skewers, hard-boiled quail eggs with salt, fresh cashews.
He then chooses off the main menu: deep-friend small fish and a whole roasted fish with farofa and tomato form the main part of his meal.
Acarajé da Dinha
After a day at the beach, Bourdain makes his first visit to Acarajé da Dinha – it’s one of the few places he returns and names on his second visit.
Here he tries acarajé for the first time; this falafel-like wad of black-eyed peas is seasoned with brown brine shrimp and onions, and deep-fried to crispy and golden with some chili in dendê oil. On the top, you got vatapá, which is sort of a shrimp curry paste. And your tomato salad.
Parts Unknown (2014)
Unfortunately, by the time Tony returned to Bahia, he was more sensitive about over-exposing the small dining spots he visited – the “Bourdain effect” was well documented in causing great little places to be “ruined” by the popularity of fans (like you and me) visiting them en masse. As such, he doesn’t name any new places in this visit, instead just re-visiting one of the places from his first trip and leaving the others unnamed – I’ve done a bit of research to try and identify them, but if you know and/or have visited Bahia and can verify/correct me, please do in the comments at the end of this post.
In the land of caipirinhas, it’s no surprise that the first thing Tony does when he gets to Bahia is sipping a glass – four, to be precise – of caipirinha. He pairs these refreshing drinks with a dish of fried beef with plenty of absorbing starches, like farofa.
Mercado da Sete Portas (?)
Meeting up with Brazilian artist, Belo Borba, Bourdain goes the extra mile and eats a blowfish moqueca – a Brazilian stew that can poison you if not prepared properly. In this case, they do prepare it correctly, with lemon, coriander, onion, tomato, coconut milk, and dendê oil; then cover and simmer.
Of course, there are drinks too, Tony has straight cachaça.
Praia do Rio Vermelho (?)
Tony visits a Bahia beach and meets local fishermen who go to the sea and later bring their catch to sell to wholesalers. While learning about their business, he enjoys a delicious meal.
Today, the catch of the day is the big red snapper. How to prepare it properly? Rub with sea salt, lemon, and olive oil. Grill over charcoal. Enjoy view. But the lunch wouldn’t be complete without a spicy salsa made of garlic, tomato, onion, and peppers.
Acarajé da Dinha
Tony has had acarajé before – and exactly at this same place! Returning to try this carb-heavy dish, he also adds fried shrimp – camarão frito – to his order this time.
Have any questions about the places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Salvador de Bahia? Let me know in the comments below!