Parts Unknown: "Iran"
Season 4, Episode 6
Like Congo before it, the Iran episode of PA did what Bourdain's shows do best: taking on broad, political, and socio-ecological issues through a lens of food and culture. For a country that has occupied so much of the West's headlines over the past few decades, in general, Americans (myself included) know shockingly little about Iran. Not only does this episode shed light on the country, it exposes what life is really like for Iranian people. It's a must-see.
The Layover: "New York"
Season 1, Episode 2
The Layover's premise is basically letting the consummate traveler, Mr. Bourdain, loose in a city to attempt to squeeze a meaningful cultural experience into a 12-30 hour time window. Despite the fact that most real people spend their layovers huddled over $12 beers at the airport bar, The Layover is a quirk-filled spin on Bourdain's more famous travel shows. Here, he hits his hometown of NYC in rapid-fire style, focusing on down and dirty accessible food and drink spots. It's a viable game-plan for real-life tourists. There are so many hot dogs.