Note from 10Best: The restaurants listed in this article may be limited to takeout or delivery only at the moment. Call ahead to find out what’s available.
As a globetrotting chef and TV personality, Anthony Bourdain dined with celebrities and ate at Zagat-rated restaurants, but no matter where he went, he still craved the humble foods of his youth. He revisited those foods during the season five New Jersey episode of “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown.”
Following his death in 2018, the state created the Anthony Bourdain Food Trail to spotlight 10 of the restaurants featured in that episode, and although one of them (Tony & Ruth Steaks in Camden) no longer participates, you can still retrace Bourdain’s tasty route.
Hiram’s Roadstand | Fort Lee
Whenever Bourdain’s mother, Gladys, didn’t feel like cooking, the family drove from their home in Leonia to neighboring Fort Lee for rippers – deep-fried hot dogs that had ruptured while sizzling in oil – at Hiram’s Roadstand. The chef’s “happy place” is also known for its chili, which is slathered liberally on chili dogs and fries.
When dine-in service is available again, you can sit at the counter where Bourdain placed his order during the episode or at one of the restaurant’s few tables, where he consumed two hot dogs, fries and a cheeseburger.
Lucille’s Country Cooking | Warren Grove
This neighborly diner uses the same recipes and ingredients Lucille Bates-Wickward did when she opened Lucille’s Country Cooking in 1975. Bourdain sat at the far end of the bar and sampled a cup of chili, two eggs over easy (not the scrambled eggs pre-ordered for him), home fries, scrapple, rye toast and a slice of homemade blueberry pie.
Don’t leave without a T-shirt proclaiming “I ate with the Jersey Devil,” the legendary creature thought to inhabit the area.
Long Beach Island
While not an official trail stop, Bourdain spent many summers with his family on Long Beach Island and reminisces about eating fried clams and having his first kiss there in the episode. Visit during October for Chowderfest, when local restaurants hand out samples of their best clam chowders.
The second-place finisher in the 2019 New England chowder category, Hotel LBI, makes a good base for exploring the Anthony Bourdain Food Trail.
Kubel’s | Barnegat Light
The oldest tavern on Long Beach Island, Kubel’s specializes in fresh seafood, including Bourdain’s favorite: clams. Order fried clam strips, clam chowder, steamed garlic clams, and fish and chips to replicate the meal he shared with his brother, Christopher. (Unfortunately, the lobster mac and cheese they ate was a special.)
Bourdain sat in a booth just off the bar where his picture is propped against the window frame now. Waitstaff can regale you with tales of his visit.
Donkey’s Place | Camden
Forget Philly cheesesteaks. The area’s best cheesesteak – the one Bourdain believed should be “a national landmark” – is at Donkey’s Place, just across the Delaware River in Camden, New Jersey. Bourdain once again sat at the bar as he devoured a cheesesteak with extra beef, onions and cheese on a poppy seed Kaiser roll.
When you visit, (if you’re able to dine in) choose a seat near the end of the bar to watch the sandwich’s rapid-fire production, and add some hot relish, like Bourdain did, to spice things up.
Tony’s Baltimore Grill | Atlantic City
Known locally as “The Grill,” this no-frills Italian joint serves the best pizza in Atlantic City – just ask any cab driver or casino worker. The secret? Climate and water lend the perfect taste and bite to the crust, and the kitchen adds raw instead of cooked sausage to its pizzas, which flavors the entire pie.
Bourdain sampled a sausage pizza and spaghetti with giant meatballs in the Tony’s Baltimore Grill dining room during the episode.
James’ Original Salt Water Taffy | Atlantic City
Salt water taffy was perfected on the Atlantic City Boardwalk, so even though Bourdain didn’t like sweets, he made a point to stop at James’ Original Salt Water Taffy. If you come during the winter, the boardwalk location may be closed, but the one inside the Tropicana is always open.
Whichever one you drop by, fill a bag with the original molasses flavor, classics like vanilla and chocolate and more creative options like pina colada. The store also sells former rival Fralinger’s Original Salt Water Taffy.
Dock’s Oyster House | Atlantic City
Harry “call me Dock” Dougherty opened Atlantic City’s first seafood restaurant in 1897, and although the location has changed and expanded, not much else has since. In fact, the Dougherty family still operates Dock’s Oyster House and another trail stop, Knife & Fork Inn.
Bourdain enjoyed fresh-shucked oysters, a huge lobster stuffed with crab meat, and pommes soufflés (potato slices fried first until they puff and a second time to make them crisp) at a table. We recommend sitting at the new bar, though, if you’re able.
Knife & Fork Inn | Atlantic City
Originally a men’s club during the Prohibition, Knife & Fork Inn retains that “Boardwalk Empire” vibe it had when the inspiration for the fictional Nucky Thompson, political boss Enoch “Nucky” Johnson, dined here. Bourdain shocked staff during his visit by ordering the special, pretzel-crusted swordfish over lump crab meat, instead of the restaurant’s signature dish, lobster thermidor.
When you go, order the lobster or a classic like filet Oscar or herb-crusted rack of lamb.
Frank’s Deli & Restaurant | Asbury Park
Bourdain sat at Table 9 and ordered the #4 sandwich – provolone, salami, boiled ham, capicola and pepperoni on a homemade Italian bread – when he joined musician Southside Johnny at Frank’s Deli & Restaurant.
The deli’s claim to fame, though, is its pork roll breakfast sandwich, made with a slice of a ham-like meat product known as pork roll (or Taylor ham), a fried egg and cheese.
Save room for the heavenly jelly-filled donut, which, like the deli’s other breads, rolls and pastries, is made onsite.