Tattoos and dive bars: 5 times Anthony Bourdain understood Miami

Anthony Bourdain: Jose Andres risked everything to take a principled stand

Anthony Bourdain talks about chef Jose Andres during a South Beach Wine and Food Festival event.
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Anthony Bourdain talks about chef Jose Andres during a South Beach Wine and Food Festival event.

Anthony Bourdain loved Miami.

The chef had been visiting Miami over the years, both under the radar and beneath the bright lights of television cameras. Bourdain, who took his own life in 2017 at age 61, had many memorable moments in the Magic City.

These are just some of the ones we’ll remember the most.

He talked music with Questlove at Yardbird

Bourdain knew how to do Miami. In a 2015 episode of “Parts Unknown,” he had dinner at Yardbird with Questlove and cow-foot soup at B&M Market in Little Haiti with Michelle Bernstein. “I live at this place,” Questlove told him, of the restaurant and Miami.

He asked Questlove what makes Miami’s musical sound different. Take a listen.

He got several tattoos here

Bourdain tattoo
Anthony Bourdain got a tattoo of a skull during an episode of TLC’s “Miami Ink,” which aired in 2008.

Beneath his collar, Bourdain was a collage of tattoos. At least twice, he let the cameras roll as he got inked in Miami, both at 305 Ink (which later became Love Hate Tattoo). Once, during a 2008 episode of TLC’s reality show “Miami Ink,” he got a skull tattooed on his right shoulder to balance the ouroboros on his left shoulder. It was his fourth.

“I was looking to balance a tattoo I’d had done in Malaysia with something that’s a little bit grimmer and more about mortality,” he said during the episode.

He loved our dive bars

Bourdain Mac’s Club Deuce
During the filming of an episode for the Travel Channel, Bourdain hit up Mac’s The Deuce in the middle of the day. Travel Channel

No surprise. Bourdain was a true gourmand who could appreciate all the particulars of a gourmet meal or well-crafted drink. But he also loved the grit. Mac’s Club Deuce on South Beach is famous for remaining a recalcitrant dive bar in the heart of the glitz. Bourdain loved that.

“One of the last true dive bars on South Beach, this place never seems to change. It’s a glorious refuge…” he said on an episode of Travel Channel’s “No Reservations.” “For me, it’s always about the Deuce.”

Several Miami chefs have organized themselves on social media to toast to Bourdain at The Deuce Friday between 11:30 p.m. and midnight.

He once cancelled a shoot because of publicity

The draw of Bourdain’s television shows is how impromptu and guerrilla they appear. In 2011, Eater Miami wrote that he was filming an episode of “24-Hour Layover” at De Rodriguez Cuba on Ocean and shortly thereafter, Bourdain tweeted that he had cancelled the shoot.

“The publicity has made the kind of shoot we wanted impossible,” Eater wrote, quoting his tweet. “We try for natural. Not your fault. But the publicity would make it very difficult to shoot.”

He “got” Cuba and Miamians appreciated that

What Cuba would Bourdain see — and which would he espouse to a national television audience when he featured Cuba in an episode of CNN’s “Parts Unknown?” In fact, he saw the real Cuba, and later wrote about it in an essay for the show.

Yes, he saw the beauty of the island and of the people. But he also understood the oppressive Cuban government that made his experience an exception to the lives of average Cubans.

Change in Cuba, he wrote, “is long overdue.

“It’s ludicrous that ordinary Cubans, 100 miles from our shores, have been excluded from the international conversation, deprived for so long of basic internet access, social media—even the ability to watch American baseball on TV. All that will change.”