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‘Parts Unknown’ New Jersey: Just the One-Liners

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The 25 best lines from Anthony Bourdain's trip back home to New Jersey.

Parts Unknown/CNN
Hillary Dixler Canavan is Eater's restaurant editor and the author of the publication's debut book, Eater: 100 Essential Restaurant Recipes From the Authority on Where to Eat and Why It Matters (Abrams, September 2023). Her work focuses on dining trends and the people changing the industry — and scouting the next hot restaurant you need to try on Eater's annual Best New Restaurant list.

On last night's Parts Unknown, host and culinary adventurer Anthony Bourdain returned to his home state of New Jersey with his brother Chris. After stopping at a Fort Lee hot dog stand that's been serving top-notch burgers and dogs since the '20s, Bourdain heads south. He explores Long Beach Island, where he and his brother spent summers as children. He goes to Atlantic City to find a city reeling from the aftermath of one casino failure after another, and to Asbury Park, home of the Boss and a slowly recuperating seaside community. Then there's Camden, a once-thriving manufacturing city where now more than one-third of the population lives below the poverty line. In the scenic Pine Barrens, residents live a more off-grid life.

Foodwise, Bourdain focuses on decades-old institutions this episode. Whether it's fried clams at Kubel's on Long Beach Island or Jersey-style Italian sandwiches at Frank's Deli in Asbury Park, Bourdain highlights the restaurants and operators who are "courageous enough to not change." In his surprisingly optimistic hopes for the future of Jersey's seaside community, he returns to a point he makes about classic eats: "Good is indeed good forever."

Below, the 25 best quotes from the episode:

1. On his home state New Jersey: "A cultural petri dish from which regularly issues forth greatness."

2. On New Jersey's beaches: "They're not all crawling with roid-raging trolls with reality shows."

3. On New Jersey: "To know Jersey is to love her."

4. On Hiram's Roadstand in Fort Lee: "My happy place. Sometimes I just need that old-time flavor, you know?"

5. On passing the tradition to his offspring: "It's a great point of pride and personal satisfaction that I've convinced my daughter that these are the finest hot dogs in the land."

6. On why he keeps coming back to Hiram's: "I come here to feed my soul from the cultural wellspring that is New Jersey. It's the antidote to every other place."

7. On the enduring perfection of a Hiram's hot dog: "There's not a lot of people in this world courageous enough to not change."

8. On dining down the shore in the off-season: "Well, our options are limited shall we say."

9. On remembering his childhood summers spent down the shore: "I was up to every variety of criminal, anti-social behavior down here."

10. On the hardships of being a tween down the shore: "I didn't smoke dope down here. I was looking for dope, but as a 12-year-old, it's hard to come by."

Photo: Parts Unknown/CNN

Photo: Parts Unknown/CNN

11. On clams with drawn butter: "No matter where I find them now, they always bring me back here."

12. On receiving a table full of fried fish and fried clam strips: "So far, so great. I'm happy."

13. On lifeguards: "They were representatives of the Man."

14. On old Atlantic City boardwalk "joke shops:" "It was a wonderland of juvenile delinquency."

15. On a surprising optimistic view of the future: "Atlantic City could be chic, easily, because the bones, the skeleton of this city are beautiful."

Photo: Parts Uknown/CNN

Photo: Parts Unknown/CNN

16. On young people's taste: "For very young people, particularly now, beautiful old things — a beautiful old restaurant with really great food — is much more interesting than a glass box with really good food."

17. On how restaurants can rejuvenate a city: "Dock's Oyster House, an establishment that survived Prohibition, the Great Depression, two world wars, numerous declines and rebirths — still here, still great. A symbol of what Atlantic City was and should be again, could be again."

18. On allowing casino gambling in Atlantic City: "It sure sounded like a good idea."

19. On Revel, the casino that opened in 2012 and closed a mere two years later: "If you're looking for an example of lemming-like lurch towards a shiny new cliff face from which to tumble, look no further than this $2.4 billion goat rodeo."

20. On a catch-22: "Some nice crab cakes at Dock's, a big freaking lobster stuffed with crab imperial, pommes soufflées — those things are bad for business. The business of taking your money."

21. On his first bite of the Jersey cheesesteak at Donkey's Place: "Man, this should be like a national landmark right away."

22. On the Jersey vs. Philly cheesesteak debate you never knew existed: "I learned something here today — Jersey cheesesteaks. I'm not saying they're better than Philadelphia. Yeah, I am actually, so there."

23. On the mythic Jersey devil: "It's sounds like My Little Pony with a forked tail."

24. On the classic sandwiches at Frank's Deli in Asbury Park: "As I always like to say, good is good forever."

25. On salt water taffy: "I hate sweets, but I'm a sucker for nostalgia."