It’s been nearly six years since the world lost Anthony Bourdain, the renowned chef, author, and creative genius behind some of the most engaging travel and culinary shows. His adventures, which took him to all corners of the globe, allowed countless individuals to live vicariously through his experiences, sharing meals and mingling with people from diverse backgrounds. Bourdain had a knack for storytelling that broadened our horizons and shifted our perspectives, making him feel like a close friend to many.

In this Wego feature, we’re diving into some of the most beloved and acclaimed episodes of Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations. These episodes not only stand out as fantastic in their own right but could also inspire an incredible travel itinerary for your next vacation. So, without further ado, let’s dive into these episodes!


In the thrilling kickoff of this iconic series, Tony embarks on a quest to debunk the myth that the French are anything but fabulous. Venturing into the heart of Paris, France, renowned as the epicenter of romance and gourmet delights, it serves as the perfect backdrop for a show set in a country known for its passion and culinary prowess, where each mouthful carries a story of its own.

Before immersing himself in the city’s culinary treasures and cultural landmarks, Bourdain takes the time to brush up on his French skills. You might consider doing the same to truly experience the local perspective firsthand. But even if French isn’t your strong suit, fear not. The warm and welcoming nature of the French people ensures you’re in for a treat, regardless of your language proficiency. So, whether you’re fluent in French or simply armed with a smile and a “bonjour,” rest assured, you’re in good hands.

His exploration goes beyond mere gastronomy, delving into the local way of life and attitudes towards food. His first pitstop? A charming café named Le Royal is conveniently situated near the iconic Eiffel Tower. Just like Bourdain, savoring a hot beverage with a croissant is an essential Parisian experience that beckons every visitor to France. With its abundance of cozy neighborhood cafes, Paris practically begs to be explored one coffee shop at a time. 

Let’s not forget the abundance of bars awaiting discovery. While it’s tempting to follow in Bourdain’s footsteps and sample a variety of libations from local haunts, it’s wise to exercise moderation, especially when it comes to the notorious Absinthe. As Bourdain humorously demonstrates, one too many rounds could lead to a predicament straight out of an Oscar Wilde tale at room number 16.

The episode provides a glimpse into the city’s vibrant culinary scene and its profound impact on both locals and tourists. And it’s no exaggeration; France, and Paris in particular, offer an enriching and invigorating experience like no other. As Bourdain eloquently puts it, the French have an unparalleled knack for indulging in life’s pleasures, whether it’s food, art, or fragrances. There’s much to learn from their approach because, let’s face it, they definitely don’t suck!

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“Any excuse will do to come here,” Tony declares as he lands in Tokyo on a rainy day. His fondness for Japan is well-known, and the rain only adds to the city’s allure. He is captivated by the Japanese people’s ability to focus on a task with unwavering dedication and sincerity. It’s akin to witnessing a masterclass in concentration, and Tony is all in.

But it’s not just the work ethic that enthralls him; it’s the entire ambiance – the friendly faces, the warm welcomes, and the meticulous attention to detail that make every moment special. From the delicate craftsmanship of ancient soba noodles to the complex dance of mixology in Shibuya’s trendiest bars (even if waiting for that award-winning cocktail has him impatiently tapping his toes), Japan has a unique way of transforming the mundane into the extraordinary.

As he relishes the melt-in-your-mouth monkfish and absorbs the silent symphony of Japanese communication, Tony finds himself swept up in Tokyo’s vibrant energy. The city is a living testament to the hustle and bustle of modern life, yet within its neon-lit streets lie cozy hideaways and secret spots waiting to be discovered.

Tony had envisioned a future for Japan that blends tradition and technology, where the ordinary is destined to become extraordinary. Even a decade and a half after the episode first aired, this sentiment about Japan remains true. With every corner of Japan brimming with optimism, growth, and the tantalizing aroma of delectable cuisine, it’s evident that this place is truly special.

So, why wait? Japan is a unique destination that undoubtedly deserves a spot on everyone’s travel bucket list.

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In Season 7, Episode 4 of his acclaimed show, Tony pays a vibrant visit to Vienna, a city rich with iconic landmarks and unique architecture. As he sets foot in this historic city, Bourdain, known for his appreciation of history, expects a journey into a bygone era. However, he finds himself pleasantly surprised by the city’s lively atmosphere.

His exploration begins with the renowned Riesenrad, the world’s tallest Ferris wheel from 1920 to 1985. This iconic landmark, immortalized in classic films like The Third Man, captivates Bourdain, particularly the unforgettable lines delivered by Orson Welles that continue to send shivers down viewers’ spines.

Despite his initial skepticism about Vienna’s pastries, Bourdain experiences a delightful transformation in his taste buds after indulging in the decadent Sachertorte at the infamous Hotel Sacher. For cake lovers, a visit to Hotel Sacher is an absolute must. Embracing the festive spirit during his Christmas visit, Bourdain meanders through the Christkindlmarkt, located opposite the Schonbrunn Palace. Amidst the chilly air, he warms his palate with steaming bowls of Gulasch, a hearty meat stew that perfectly complements the winter weather.

The Naschmarkt emerges as a culinary paradise, boasting around 120 stalls overflowing with delicious offerings from diverse cuisines. Drawn to quality meats, Bourdain finds himself enchanted by Urbanek, a stall where he indulges in pork and cheese, savoring every flavorful bite. The market offers a chance to discover numerous cuisines and dishes that showcase the bold flavors and inventive culinary traditions of the region. All in all, Vienna stands as an irresistible playground of sumptuous culinary treasures and iconic attractions waiting to be explored.

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Tony’s fascination with India continues as he sets off on a whirlwind journey, immersing himself in the rich tapestry of culture, religion, and cuisine that characterizes each city and state. From the bustling streets to the serene countryside, India presents itself as a treasure chest of flavors and traditions ripe for exploration.

Turning his attention to the southern regions of India, Tony plunges into the dynamic world of street food. He watches with expert precision as a skilled artisan tosses parotta dough into the air, a spectacle that has become synonymous with the region. Amidst the hustle and bustle, Tony savors the culinary delights of Kerala, relishing the robust flavors of Kerala kadala curry alongside a variety of tantalizing dishes, including beef, quail, and mackerel fry. Each bite is a symphony of spices, creating a culinary orchestra in the mouth.

Fortuitously, Tony finds himself in the company of Malayalam cinema superstar Mammooty. Despite the actor’s busy schedule, Tony secures a spot in his caravan, sharing a modest meal of fish curry and puttu specially prepared on set. Puttu, a staple of Kerala, proves to be a culinary revelation, enhancing every dish it accompanies with its unique finesse.

Keen to delve deeper, Tony explores the local toddy shops, which are celebrated for their mouthwatering meat savories. In Kerala, these establishments, affectionately known as “naadan kallu shaap,” serve up authentic flavors that captivate the senses. Tony’s culinary journey continues with an encounter with tapioca, a common ingredient found across Kerala’s menus, perfectly paired with succulent beef.

As the sun sets, Tony immerses himself in the “chaaya kada” (tea shop) culture of Kerala, describing it as a “critical part of the social fabric.” Here, amidst lively conversations, gossip, and steaming cups of tea, stories unfold, and friendships bloom. Tony’s exploration culminates in a traditional Kerala wedding Sadhya, a royal feast served on banana leaves adorned with over 30 delectable dishes. It’s more than just a meal; it’s a celebration of love and connection, bridging the gap between the server and the served.

What distinguishes Tony from other travel enthusiasts is his unwavering commitment to unraveling the intricacies of different cultures and customs. With a keen eye for detail, he navigates through the complexities of Kerala’s caste system and temple traditions, shedding light on the nuances that often escape the casual observer. But beyond mere observation, Tony’s true mastery lies in his storytelling prowess, weaving narratives that resonate long after the journey ends.

For those who have been touched by Tony’s infectious passion for travel and food, his legacy continues to inspire countless others to embark on their own adventures.

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While the playful title of this article may have piqued your interest, don’t be too hasty! If you’re a genuine admirer of Tony’s adventures, you’ll know that adhering strictly to an itinerary wasn’t his style. As Tony sagely advised, “If you let your senses lead the way instead of your schedule, you’ll uncover joy in the most unexpected places.” So, toss that itinerary out the window and let spontaneity be your compass as you dive headfirst into the wild, wonderful world of travel!


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