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Anthony Bourdain's Chicago Episode Had Nary A Deep-Dish Pizza

By Mae Rice in Food on May 2, 2016 5:20PM


Anthony Bourdain's Chicago episode of Parts Unknown aired at 9 p.m. Sunday night—and Bourdain explained its glaring lack of deep-dish pizza, Chicago dogs and Italian beef in an essay for CNN.

"We've done all those things," Bourdain writes, of the classic Chicago dishes. He wanted to try something a bit different with this episode. "It's not a 'fair' show, it's not comprehensive, it's not the 'best' of the city, or what you need to know or any of those things."

Instead, the show has its roots at one of Bourdain's favorite Chicago bars: Old Town Alehouse, a dive bar that made our list of the best Chicago dives last month.

Old Town's owner, Bruce Elliott, has a blog called Geriatric Genius that Roger Ebert followed loyally while he was alive, Bourdain writes, and Bourdain has taken a shine to it, too. He describes it as an un-PC (and, at times, poorly spelled) portal into the lives of a "spellbinding array of characters."

Sample paragraph, from a post called "Cigarettes And Whiskey, And Wild Wild Woman!":

Last night the Old Town Ale House was lively. While I was chatting with Lee, Russian Mike came in with a middle-aged fellow he plays cards with. After moving a few stools around Mike and his card playing friend sat down on the other side of me. About a half hour later the Cougar walked in. She looked sexy in a leopard skin dress that showed her perky tits to great advantage. After I complimented her outfit she pointed at her skinned knee and said that she fell down a flight of stairs. "I was texting and not paying attention." Later I found out from Russian Mike she was texting her ex-boyfriend about gold futures.

The cast of characters at Old Town is "the beating heart of this [Chicago] show," Bourdain writes, though the episode also featured Lupe Fiasco, chef Stephanie Izard of Girl & the Goat, and of course, "ass-burning" Sze Chuan food.

For more on Bourdain's Chicago episode, check out Eater's round-up of the show's ten best Bourdain one-liners, including: "Bar people do not live as long as vegan joggers. However, they have more fun."