Anthony Bourdain’s love of food took him all over the world, from big cities to small outposts in faraway lands—but he also proved you don’t need to travel to other continents to find mouth-watering cuisine. He found it right in his old stomping grounds of New Jersey.
In a 2015 episode of Parts Unknown, Bourdain ventured through New Jersey to ten of his favorite eateries, and now New Jersey is paying homage to the late legend by officially naming those ten spots as part of the Anthony Bourdain Food Trail.
“The hero sandwich of my youth. Steamer clams. Jersey Italian. Birch beer. The smell of dune grass. Vanilla salt water taffy. Fried clam strips. These things should be eternal. They are eternal,” Bourdain wrote on the Parts Unknown blog.
A statewide tribute
For Bourdain, New Jersey represented his roots. In the episode he says, “I’m a sucker for nostalgia. You can’t go back. I can’t go back. I wouldn’t, even if I could. I sure don’t want to ever have to be a teenager again. But those tastes and smells of childhood, they work still.”
Just weeks after Bourdain’s tragic passing, New Jersey Assemblyman Paul Moriarty started work to officially make those tastes and smells eternal—as well as Bourdain’s legacy in the state.
The assembly resolution talks at length about Bourdain’s contributions to the culinary world and his beloved New Jersey.
“Given Bourdain’s love of his native State and his prominence as one of New Jersey’s best known chefs, it is appropriate to remember and honor Bourdain by establishing a suitable tribute to him and the great foods he loved in New Jersey,” the resolution states.
Now, with state legislators’ approval, the Anthony Bourdain Food Trail is officially a thing in the Garden State. While the marketing and implementation of the trail haven’t been kicked off yet by the NJ Division of Travel and Tourism, we do know the ten food spots to comprise the trail for anyone wanting to get a head start.
Where to go and what to eat
Each of the ten places was featured in Bourdain’s New Jersey episode, and every stop offers eaters something delicious—from seafood to saltwater taffy.
At Donkey’s Place in Camden, you can order a New Jersey cheesesteak so amazing Bourdain boldly pronounced it better than any cheesesteak in Philly.
The good sandwiches on the trail don’t end at Donkey’s Place, though. At Frank’s Deli in Asbury Park, you can eat like Bourdain with a “Jersey Sandwich.” That’s sliced ham, provolone cheese, onions, tomato, lettuce, peppers, oil, and vinegar. Then finish out the sandwich component of the trail with a cheeseburger and hot dog from Hiram’s Roadstand in Fort Lee, a New Jersey institution since the 1920s.
While most don’t instantly think of New Jersey as a seafood destination, Bourdain showed it was possible to find amazing clams, crabs, oysters, and lobster in the Garden State. Grab some swordfish and lump crab meat at Atlantic City’s Knife and Fork Inn, or oysters and lobster from Dock’s Oyster House. Founded in 1897 by Harry “Dock” Dougherty, the restaurant is now in its fourth generation of family ownership, all with the same commitment to serving high-quality food.
And, of course, top it all off with dessert—New Jersey style—at James’ Salt Water Taffy on the boardwalk in Atlantic City. Salt water taffy was actually invented right there on the Atlantic City boardwalk in the late 1800s, supposedly the result of a candy maker’s shop being flooded with seawater.