Anthony Bourdain in Texas: A Complete Guide

Texas holds an outside place in the minds of most Americans – and visitors to America –, but we can’t pretend it’s unwarranted. A large figure in U.S. history with a culture all its own, the Lone Star State is proudly different, and this undoubtedly drew lifelong New Yorker Tony Bourdain to visit time and again.

Anthony Bourdain visited Texas many times, to film episodes of A Cook’s Tour (season 2, episode 7, “The BBQ Triangle”), No Reservations (season 2, episode 8, “US/Mexico Border,” season 4, episode 15, “US Southwest,” season 6, episode 15, “Heartland,” and season 9, episode 1, “Austin”), and Parts Unknown (season 8, episode 5, “Houston” and season 12, episode 5, “West Texas”).

Anthony Bourdain in Texas Hero

While he didn’t visit the entirety of the contiguous U.S.’s largest state, he did sample the essentials: surprisingly diverse Houston, quirky Austin, and the wilds of West Texas – plus border towns that highlight how similar we are to our southern neighbors.

If you’re curious about all of the places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Texas, this guide is a good starting point. Below you’ll find a recap of the different destinations he visited, some (or all) of the restaurants he ate at which are still open today, and links to the guides I’ve published about each one. Use this as a jumping-off point to explore Texas beyond your preconceived notions (as we know Tony would want us to do).

Austin

Some people might say that Austin isn’t really Texas, and based on my own travels, I half agree: Austin is definitely unique, but it still has Texas roots, and the cuisine is deeply connected to what Texas does best: big portions, big flavors, and a unique blend of cultures.

Anthony Bourdain visited Austin twice, both as part of No Reservations (the show during which he made the vast majority of his Texas trips). Here are the restaurants from his two visits that are still open today:

Be sure to read the full recap of both of Tony’s trips to Austin and what he ate at each one.

Houston

Houston is my personal favorite city in Texas, and I’m glad that Tony spent some time here. As the fourth-largest by population and widely considered the most diverse city in the country, Houston has a ton to offer – in both culture and cuisine, of course.

Here’s where Bourdain visited in Houston during his one episode filmed there:

Each of these is still open today, so you should definitely check out my guide to the places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Houston if you want to visit and eat well too.

West Texas

West Texas is a destination in its own right; if you’ve never been, it’s hard to explain just how different this region is from the rest of the state. It’s probably for this reason that Tony planned a trip here late in his career. (Unfortunately, it is one of the Parts Unknown season 12 episodes without voiceover.)

If you want to visit West Texas too, here’s where Bourdain ate:

You can see all the details of each place and the different foods he tried in my guide to the places visited by Anthony Bourdain in West Texas.

Other Places Anthony Bourdain Ate in Texas

In addition to dedicated episodes to the areas listed above, Tony made trips to other parts of Texas that are worth mentioning.

TB’s Bar & Grill (Del Río) (CLOSED)

Anthony Bourdain in Texas - Chicken Fried Steak

Located in Del Río, Texas, TB’s Bar & Grill is one of Tony’s stops in his journey across the border as part of the “US/Mexico Border” (No Reservations, season 2, episode 13). The bar is well-known for its Corona Chicken, but Tony starts with the salsa and chips, basically tortilla chips with tomato salsa. 

The chips are followed by the famous Corona Chicken, which is a marinated chicken breast filled with onions, jalapeño, and cheese, then wrapped in bacon and grilled. Next, he tries the  Chicken Fried Steak, a tip of sirloin thinly sliced, battered, and fried, then topped with gravy.

Tokyo Garden (Laredo)

Anthony Bourdain in Texas - Sushi

Tokyo Garden is one of the great examples of how gastronomy brings together people from all walks of life – especially at the US/Mexico border (No Reservations, season 2, episode 13).

This Japanese restaurant in Laredo, Texas, is run by a Chinese woman and has a Mexican sushi chef. Tony tries two dishes here. First, he gets sushi and fresh veal. Then, the manager invites him to try a snake whisky. He also enjoys a few shots of sake and a bottle of Sapporo, a Japanese beer.

The Big Texan (Amarillo)

Anthony Bourdain in Texas - Steak

As part of his journey from California to Texas in the “US Southwest” episode of No Reservations (season 4, episode 15), Bourdain makes a stop in Amarillo; specifically, he stops to refuel at The Big Texan which is known for its 72oz steak challenge.

While Tony isn’t able to complete the challenge, it definitely underscores the common phrase that everything is bigger in Texas – at times ridiculously so!

The Point (Palacios)

Anthony Bourdain in Texas - Brisket Pho

As the general store in Palacios, The Point is the place that epitomizes the opportunity available for immigrants in southeast Texas: it’s owned and operated by first-generation immigrants, and many of the ingredients used in various recipes are supplied by immigrants too – including the shrimp Tony helps catch and pick during his day in town.

Sitting down with the owners, Bourdain sits to listen to their origin story and dreams for future generations over big bowls of pho with brisket, eye-round beef, meatballs, and tripe; ceviche with freshly caught shrimp; and tacos with eggs, jalapeños, and tomatoes.

The Rusty Star (Waco) (CLOSED)

Anthony Bourdain in Texas - Brisket

The final stop of his “US Southwest” tour (No Reservations, season 4, episode 15) is Waco, Texas. Better known for some of its darkest chapters, Waco is also a place where Texans generally want to live and let live – whatever that might mean.

There, Bourdain meets up with friend Ted Nugent (yes, that Ted Nugent) to visit his property, shoot guns, and – of course – eat. The pair head to The Rusty Star for brisket with beans, rice, sausage, and ribs with a beer, but unfortunately the restaurant has closed in the 15+ years since Tony’s visit.

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

Skyline Chili Review - 3-Way

Valerie is a travel writer currently based in Cleveland, but her favorite destinations are Alaska, London, and Jordan – only one of which Bourdain ever visited! You can find her writing on Lonely Planet, Forbes, and her travel blog, Valerie & Valise.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *