Synopsis: Bourdain explores “big, brash, muscular” Chicago, a place that seems to lack anything resembling “douchery.” Bruce Cameron Elliott, a fixture of the local drinking scene, along with other hometown heroes, show Tony around a city that remains optimistic in the face of “an appalling murder rate” and “questionable leadership.”

“It’s tough, it’s big, it’s intimidating, and everyone’s got a story.”

On the unique character of the city of Chicago:

  • “Someone asks you ‘Where are you from?’ and you answer Chicago, nobody is going to give you a patronizing response like ‘Oh, Chicago’s charming.’ More likely, it’ll go ‘Wow, Chicago’ or ‘Oh, Chicago.’”
  • “Maybe the first thing you think of when you think about Chicago isn’t ass-burning Sichuan food, but maybe it should be.”
  • “Despite an appalling murder rate and questionable leadership, Chicagoans aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.”
  • “Is there less douchery in Chicago?”

On gun violence in Chicago:

  • “However much you might love Chicago, want to celebrate its general awesomeness, its character, its architecture, its food, there’s no getting away from the ugly fact that Chicago’s South Side is the murder capital of America.”

“If you’re funny in America, chances are you spent some formative years here, getting the shit hammered out of you, learning, one hopes, in the parlance of the trade, to ‘kill.’”

On the delights of the breaded fried-steak sandwich:

  • “That’s like 4 pounds.”
  • “That is a thing of beauty.”

“The long, festering dispute across from me only makes my food taste better.”

On the Sox vs. Cubs rivalry

  • Anthony Bourdain: “So to what do you attribute this quality of deep, deep, bordering-on-murderous hatred?” Bruce Cameron Elliott: “Any team can have a bad century. The Cubs are working on having two bad centuries.”
  • Chicago is famously a sports town. The Bulls, the Bears, the Cubs, the White Sox. To you and me they’re just names, but to many Chicagoans a cause, a defining lifestyle choice.”

Bruce Cameron Elliott: “The thing about Chicago is you can’t get away with being a fake or a phony.”

Guest Quotes

  • Lupe Fiasco: “It’s a beautiful place, but you have to redefine what beauty means to you.”
  • Steve Albini: “Making a living hasn’t been what it’s about, ever, in Chicago. Keeping the ball in the air is what it’s about, just making sure that things keep going, remain viable and sustainable.”
  • Bruce Cameron Elliott: “I think you’ve got to make at least a little effort to not be a pussy.”