“Just across the East River from Manhattan, where I live — just… over there — is an enchanted wonderland, an international crossroads, a stewpot of neighborhoods filled with the languages, cultures, traditions, and flavors of many lands.”

“The No. 7 train winds over and through Queens like a main cable; every stop can seem like another country, another region.”

“I love this place, the ponies, the beer, the looming sense of despair and melancholy. Did I mention they have Jamaican beef patties?”

“I smell victory—or is that horse shit?”

“It’s kind of a ‘come as you’ are situation.”

“Do you ever worry that by celebrating these communities, you are helping to destroy them?”

“When somebody cooks for you, they are saying something. They are telling you about themselves: where they come from, who they are, what makes them happy.”

“A whole hell of a lot of people in Queens—the people who make the borough what it is, who make it such a great place to eat and explore—are very far from the places they once called home. But Queens is home now.”

By the Numbers

  • 100
    Dollars Bourdain put on 2 to win at Aqueduct Racetrack
  • 2
    Number of times Bourdain put money on 2
  • 0
    Dollars won


Yu Garden Dumpling House

46-20 Kissena Blvd.
Flushing, NY 11355

Bourdain had: Tsingtao beer, spicy beef and tripe, boiled pig tongue and tripe marinated in sugar and soy — served cold in chili oil, Lion’s Head (pork, ginger, soy) meatballs, soup dumplings (filled with pork and broth).

Geo Si Gi

152-28 Northern Blvd.
Flushing, NY 11354

Bourdain had: Soju (Korean liquor), gam ja tang (pork neck bone soup), galbi (short ribs).

Neir’s Tavern

Lhasa Fast Food.
Lhasa Fast Food.
Bourdain with Ali Najmi and Heems at Lhasa Fast Food.
Bourdain with Ali Najmi and Heems at Lhasa Fast Food.

87-48 78th St.
Woodhaven, NY 11421

Bourdain had: Beer.

Lhasa Fast Food

37-50 74th St.
Queens, NY 11372

Bourdain ate: Thentuk (hand-pulled noodle soup with chilies and ginger), shapta (chili-fried beef), sha momo (steamed dumplings, stuffed with beef).

Brisas Del Mar Spanish Restaurant

9902 Rockaway Beach Blvd.
Far Rockaway, NY 11694

Africana Restaurant

14612 Liberty Ave.
Jamaica, NY 11435


Sean Basinski: Director of the Urban Justice Center community advocacy group’s Street Vendor Project

Matt Shapiro: Street Vendor Project senior attorney

Heems: AKA Himanshu Suri, rapper and member of the Swet Shop Boys hip hop group

Joshua Smookler: Chef and restaurateur behind Mu Ramen

Cosme Aguilar: Chef and restaurateur behind Casa Enrique

Loycent “Loy” Gordon: New York City Fire Department lieutenant and Neir’s Tavern owner

Evelia Coyotzi: Chef and businesswoman

Ali Najmi: Attorney and community organizer

Josmar Trujillo: Writer and local activist

Laurie Woolever: Co-author with Bourdain of Appetites, A Cookbook

Blessing Osagiede: Chef and restaurateur at Africana Restaurant

Sarah K. Khan: Writer, photographer and filmmaker, often on the intersection between food and culture



President Donald Trump is originally from Queens. But “the values that [he has] been running on are not the Queens values we know,” said attorney and community organizer Ali Najmi at a rally in Queens’ Jackson Heights neighborhood.

Insider intel

Within a single mile in Queens, you can have Tibetan street food, Colombian areas and Chinese barbecue carts, according to Street Vendor Project attorney Matt Shapiro.

To operate a cart in the city, you need a license to serve food and also a license for the cart, Shapiro explained.

Bourdain’s “morning ritual”

Waking up in Manhattan

  • Regular coffee
  • A donut
  • Maybe a cruller, when he’s “feeling wild and crazy”

Over in Queens, however, “the options are endless”