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‘The Zimmern List’ Offers Tours of America’s Great Food Cities

A smart new travel show and more TV recommendations for the weekend

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Photo: The Travel Channel/Zimmern List

This post originally appeared on March 16, 2018, in “Eat, Drink, Watch” — the weekly newsletter for people who want to order takeout and watch TV. Browse the archives and subscribe now.

Congratulations on making it through another busy week. Now it’s time to kick back and catch up on all the great food TV shows you might have missed. Here are recommendations on what to watch (and cook!) this weekend, plus a roundup of the week’s entertainment news.

Another side of Andrew Zimmern

Photo: Travel Channel/The Zimmern List

Andrew Zimmern is perhaps best known as the guy who travels the world eating bugs and offal in rural communities on Bizarre Foods. But on his new Travel Channel series, The Zimmern List, the TV host gets to show off his knowledge of what’s good to eat in America’s hottest food cities. It’s not a particularly novel concept, but Zimmern has a great knack for articulating just why, exactly, these restaurants are so special:

  • “Some of these dishes have become such cultish hits in this town that people talk about them the way they talk about seeing a great movie,” Zimmern says before diving into a plate of grilled pig jowl at Night + Market Song in Los Angeles.
  • “It seems a little ridiculous for me to take a bite of the simplest thing and wax poetic, but the simplest things are the easiest to mess up,” the host explains while holding a piece of jam-slathered toast at Sqirl.
  • “The most important part of eating here is actually consuming the amazing barbecue,” Zimmern remarks, while sitting in front of a huge meat plate at Franklin Barbecue. “The second most important part is actually the conviviality that you have sharing this moment.”
  • “A lot of the best chefs who have worked or are working in this town have come from food trucks, and here at 5000 Burnet, it’s just truck after truck dishing out excellence with an international perspective,” the host says while ambling through a popular Austin food trailer park.

These insights, while not always profound, cut right to the core of why people love these places.

All of the restaurants that appear in the first two episodes of the show — focusing on Los Angeles and Austin, respectively — are popular establishments that have been covered extensively by publications like Eater. But in these episodes, Zimmern presents dining itineraries that span myriad cuisines, with a good mix of trend-setting establishments and older institutions. Zimmern also spends some time talking with people make the food, as well as the people who line up to eat it.

Like Netflix’s recent arrival Somebody Feed Phil, all the food in The Zimmern List pops off the screen. But unlike that show, while watching The Zimmern List, you actually feel like you’re getting some intel from a real expert. The first two episodes of the show are now available to purchase on iTunes and Amazon Video, and new episodes are airing on the Travel Channel on Tuesday nights at 9 p.m. — next week, Andrew heads to Portland, ME and New Orleans.

Do you have a favorite travel show episode, and have you ever been inspired by it to embark on your own culinary experience? Reply to this email or head over to the Eat Drink Watch Facebook group to discuss.

Streaming selections du jour

Photo: ABC/The Goldbergs

The Goldbergs, “Adam Spielberg”

Watch it on: Hulu, ABC

The gist: This recent episode of ABC’s hit sitcom uses an argument about junk food as the catalyst for a hilarious — and cinematic! — road trip. The episode begins with teenage son Barry Goldberg (Troy Gentile) trying to convince his dad Murray (Jeff Goldberg) that the best cheesesteaks are not found in nearby Philadelphia, but rather at a restaurant called Donkey’s Place in a distant hamlet of New Jersey. After Murray dismisses this claim as pure blasphemy, Barry convinces his dad to join him on a nightime journey to Jersey to track down this mythical sandwich. Their plan hits a couple of snags along the way, and the episode ends with Barry accidentally reenacting the “forbidden temple” scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark inside a bus station, with the cheesesteak standing in for the gold idol.

Top Chef: Colorado, “Finale”

Watch it on: Amazon, iTunes, YouTube, Google Play

The gist: The latest season of Bravo’s cooking competition show boiled down to a face-off between two very talented chefs who, coincidentally, both grew up on the South Side of Chicago. Adrienne Cheatham prepared clever riffs on Southern staples, while Joe Flamm cooked up a meal of sophisticated Italian-inspired dishes. Ultimately, Flamm got higher marks, but, as the judges noted, these were two of the best finale meals in the history of the show. Even if you didn’t watch the rest of the season, it’s worth checking out this episode if only to get introduced to these two chefs who will hopefully parlay their Top Chef experience into even bigger and better things.

And in other entertainment news…

Have a great weekend, and if you’re looking for something to hearty to cook, consider making this chile Colorado from Wes Avila’s Guerilla Tacos cookbook.