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A Visual Tour Of Bourdain’s Pittsburgh Food-Odyssey On ‘Parts Unknown’


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Pittsburgh, or Iron City, is one of those places in middle America that gets overlooked far too often. It’s a town that loves its sports, food, and neighborhoods. Anthony Bourdain has always been a big proponent of America’s lesser-visited corners of the country. He’s adept at shining a light on those darker corners of the American experience and shattering all your assumptions about a place. And he does this perfectly on the latest episode of ‘Parts Unknown‘ which finds the traveling raconteur in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Bourdain laments in the episode, “all over western Pennsylvania … people face the same struggles as beleaguered, deindustrialized areas across the country. How do you move into the future and hold onto what you love about the past?” The answer seems to be by embracing the service industry — which brings amazing food along with it — and embracing the tech industry — which brings the economics that allows people to pay for said food and services. And it’s working in Pittsburgh. Steel is no longer the be-all-and-end-all of the city’s existence. They’ve diversified and still held onto the immigrant traditions that make Pittsburgh, well, Pittsburgh.

Let’s dive into all the delicious food and drinks Bourdain and his cohorts enjoyed on this episode of ‘Parts Unknown’ in the glorious city of Pittsburgh, PA.

Grandma B’s Cafe

Bourdain met up with legendary Civil Rights crusader Sala Udin for a sandwich and fries at the famed diner Grandma B’s. They talked Pittsburgh’s unique demography which gave a nice entry point into the city and its people. Plus, the food looked as comforting as a down blanket on a cold winter day.

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Jozsa Corner

Pittsburgh, like many cities across America’s midwest, is peppered with varied Central European diasporas. Jozsa Corner is one of those spots where you’re transported straight back to the old country — in this case Hungary. 74-year-old Alexander “Jozsa” Bodnar runs a tiny kitchen that puts out resplendent Hungarian staples for everyone to enjoy. It’s the sort of food that sticks to your ribs and satisfies the soul.

Kelly’s Bar & Lounge

Always the sports geek, Bourdain met up with local pro wrestlers Brittany Baker and Adam Cole to talk the finer points of pro wrestling and the nuances of the performance art on a grand scale. Baker and Cole compared the entertainment to more ‘Game of Thrones’ than a sport while they dined on Polish kielbasas, pierogis, and the Kelly’s Bar’s famous “Molten Mac n’ Cheese.”

Superior Motors

Superior Motors is one of several fine dining establishments that have popped up in Pittsburgh over the past few years — most following in the footsteps of Sonja Finn’s Dinette. Superior Motors gave Bourdain and viewers a glimpse into what regional cuisine looks like through a fine dining lens. Fish from Lake Eerie were highlighted along with local beef, herbs, and vegetables. It was as local as local gets and looked delicious.

Squirrel Hill Cafe

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I’ve found my heaven 🐿

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Bourdain met up with fellow author Stewart O’Nan in a dive bar to eat cheeseburgers and drink some beer. The two talked about how the death of the steel industry in the 1980s transformed Pittsburgh into an attractive place for malcontents to flock to while reinventing the city.

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Glam Day part 2

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Hidy’s Cafe

Bourdain dropped into Hidy’s Cafe out in Braddock, PA, about 10 miles down the Monongahela River from Pittsburgh. He met up with documentarian Tony Bub who has spent his life making documentary films about minorities in the steel industry and the death of the industry-based working class in the Pittsburgh area.

Home-cooked Meal from Justin Severino and Sonja Finn

Bourdain always hangs out with the best chefs in any city or far-flung locale he finds himself in. In this case, Bourdain sat down for a home-cooked meal with Justin Severino of Cure and Sonja Finn of Dinette — two of Pittsburgh’s gastro-pioneers. They noshed on a meal of pork ribs, grilled hearts of escarole and turnips, pork drippings gravy, and piles of sausages while the chefs gave Bourdain a lesson of Pittsburgh’s food scene history (and histrionics).

And while there are no photos of the feast, we decided to post up some photos from Cure and Dinette to get your mouth watering.

Bocce Ball Picnic

Lastly, Bourdain partakes in some Bocce Ball. Pittsburgh takes Bocce very, very seriously. The city is home to the Major League of Bocce after all. Bourdain partook in some Bocce with the Italian American community after a healthy meal of sausage and peppers and plenty of red wine.

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