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Anthony Bourdain's 'Parts Unknown' Extols Chicago's Lack of 'Douchery'

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Bourdain really, really likes the Old Town Ale House

Two white men, one tall, the other short and wearing a fedora, stand in front of a cafeteria counter.
Anthony Bourdain and Old Town Ale House owner Bruce Cameron Elliott at Valois
Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

For those scoring at home, Anthony Bourdain took only two shots at Chicago-style deep-dish pizza in his love letter to the city posted via Medium on Sunday in conjunction with the latest episode of "Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown." The show also debuted Sunday night, with Bourdain trying to give viewers a portrait of Chicago few actually experience.

"If you're gonna cry that I 'missed' an iconic feature of Chicago life ”— or that there are better Italian restaurants than Topo Gigio, then you missed the point and can move right on over to Travel Channel where somebody is pretending to like deep-dish pizza right now."

There's not much eating on the show. Bourdain said the episode focuses on the city's character, and he centers much on the Old Town Ale House, the late-night dive with a 4 a.m. liquor license around the corner from Second City. Bourdain remains enamored by the atmosphere, considering back in 2012, he visited the bar for an episode of "The Layover" that aired on pizza-loving Travel Channel four years ago. This time around, Bourdain focuses on the artwork from bar own Bruce Cameron Elliott. Every true Chicago night-owl knows about the raucous paintings featuring subjects like former-Gov. Rod Blagojevich and former GOP VP nominee Sarah Palin.

On the episode, which Eater National recaps with the one-liners, Bourdain shares a Chinese meal with Stephanie Izard, who opened her Chinese restaurant Duck Duck Goat after the filming and unveiled her Sunday dim sum service over the weekend. He also ventures to Hyde Park and eats at Valois Restaurant.

He opened his essay with some great praise for the city. Perhaps its the Midwestern stereotypical kindness, but Bourdain seems to feel the city's less douchey than New York and Los Angeles, writing Chicago shares that trait with Glasgow. Though plenty of Chicagoans know where the city's douche zones lie, and how to navigate past these areas.

"You wake up in Chicago, pull back the curtain and you KNOW where you are. You could be nowhere else. You are in a big, brash, muscular, broad shouldered motherfuckin' city. A metropolis, completely non-neurotic, ever-moving, big hearted but cold blooded machine with millions of moving parts —a beast that will, if disrespected or not taken seriously, roll over you without remorse."

Former Chicago Tribune writer and "For Grace" filmmaker Kevin Pang noticed the essay on Sunday and shared his own thoughts, and thanked Bourdain for trying to dig a little deeper.

Check out Bourdain talking to CNN's Anderson Cooper about the Chicago episode below.

Duck Duck Goat

857 West Fulton Market, , IL 60607 (312) 902-3825 Visit Website

Old Town Ale House

219 West North Avenue, , IL 60610 (312) 944-7020 Visit Website


1518 E 53rd St, Chicago, IL 60615 (773) 667-0647 Visit Website