The Best Bizarre Foods Episodes Ranked

Andrew Zimmern has lived a unique life. The host of "Bizarre Foods" grew up in New York, and after spending a year of his life without a home due to substance abuse, the acclaimed host checked himself into a rehabilitation center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Zimmern stayed in the Twin Cities metro area and eventually became one of the most prestigious chefs there before pursuing freelance food writing. The four-time James Beard Award winner later found himself hosting one of the longest-running food shows in history, which only led him to further interesting experiences.

"Bizarre Foods" aired on the Travel Channel for years, and it spawned two spinoffs, "Bizarre Foods America" and "Bizarre Foods: Delicious Destinations," the later of which ended in 2021. Zimmern's time on television took him all over the world to remote and urban places alike, always in search of one thing: food. The show was entertaining, educational, and a great insight into what's considered food and what's considered bizarre.

Along the way, Zimmern did much more than just search for food. The host spoke with people of all backgrounds and statuses, learned the secrets to their recipes, cooked and celebrated with local hosts, and, of course, ate. To pay homage to the fan-favorite show, we've ranked what we think are the best episodes. Before you begin your next "Bizarre Foods" marathon, keep an eye out for these episodes.

11. Arizona

Arizona isn't exactly a culinary mecca, but thanks to its diverse population, "Bizarre Foods" was able to conjure up enough strange fare for an entire episode. And if Andrew Zimmern taught us anything during his time as host, it's that bizarre foods can be found anywhere if you look hard enough. For this episode of "Bizarre Foods," we traveled with Zimmern to the southwestern corner of the United States to see the man himself test out what the Travel Channel describes as "New-Age Food," which essentially amounts to salads and drinks with one unique ingredient served at a wellness spa.

It was entertaining, nevertheless, especially when Zimmern tasted the Szechuan button flower. "That's the craziest feeling ... it basically has taken my entire tongue and made it numb. I can't taste anything," Zimmern said. And in case you were wondering how the taste-tester's tongue weathered after consuming what's been described as "licking a nine-volt battery," Zimmern said, "I would definitely do it again for kicks."

Not every part of the episode was enticing to viewers, though, especially those who live in the area where they were filming. As a writer for the Phoenix New Times pointed out, one segment featured Zimmern searching for Sonoran food with a local restaurant owner who seemed unfamiliar with the food for reasons unknown. "​​Maybe next time Andy will be more thoughtful about his foodie tour guides picks," the review said.

10. Fez, Morocco

There are more episodes of "Bizarre Foods" than there are countries in the world. Although Andrew Zimmern didn't make it to every country across the globe during his tenure on the show, he did start repeating countries, returning to visit and stay in more specific places within their borders. For example, the show's second episode took place in Morocco, and by the end of season 4, Zimmern was back in that same country, this time to explore one of its largest cities, Fez. Viewers of the "Fez, Morocco" episode saw the host try an assortment of meats from camel ribs to pigeon, making for an unforgettable watching experience.

Sure, the main appeal of the show is its title — bizarre foods — but there are dozens of other reasons we enjoy watching, like seeing how he acts in a variety of new experiences. Though he tried to be respectful of other cultural traditions and norms, as we saw in this episode, Zimmern didn't always hit the mark, which he admitted to in a Reddit thread.

"Several times, I've been in homes with observant Muslim families ... I forget that observant Muslim women prefer not to be touched for a variety of very important reasons," Zimmern noted. "I happen to be a big hugger. This has presented some real challenges over the years," he explained, adding, "If anybody wants to have a good laugh, check out our Fez, Morocco show." Done and done.

9. Survival Special

"By the end of today, I need to know how to make a shelter, make fire, and build my own tools for hunting and cooking," Andrew Zimmern said in the "Survival Special" episode of "Bizarre Foods" set in Mexico. We were intrigued by that statement alone, but Zimmern continued by saying, "Along the way, I can practice a little wilderness food shopping." We knew right then the episode was going to be a hit.

An overwhelming number of settings for "Bizarre Foods" are places we're, at best, unfamiliar with, making the episodes entertaining as we are introduced to new environments, cultures, and, of course, foods, but "Survival Special" was unique in that many of us have a frame of reference for the great outdoors. Whether or not we've camped in a Mexican jungle with only a backpack and a film crew and sought to make our own tools like Zimmern, we know what lies there, and that knowledge made this episode an entirely different experience. What was Zimmern going to eat? How was he going to cook it? Would it be a challenge? We needed to know how Zimmern was to survive.

The audience found Zimmern's attempt at living off the land quite funny. "Great episode! It made me laugh," one commenter shared on Reddit. "This episode was hilarious," another noted on the same thread. Zimmern might not be venturing into the woods for critters again any time soon, but if he does, we'd like to bear witness.

8. Minnesota State Fair: Curds, Corn & Cracklins

The end of summer holds different significance for all of us. For many, it's the end of their favorite season, and for others, it's the beginning of the best time of the year. That's right. It's the beginning of state fair season, and no state fair serves bizarre foods quite like Minnesota. Given the title of his television show and the fact that he lives in the Gopher State, it's only right that Andrew Zimmern took "Bizarre Foods" lovers to the Minnesota State Fair to uncover all the strange sightings that he could.

While there, Zimmern had some typical fair fare, including cookies and fried pickles, but one serving in particular struck his fancy and made it onto his list of the best things he's ever eaten while on "Bizarre Foods." Zimmern ate a goat butter burger at the AZ Canteen food truck that he owns. He had this to say about the delicacy: "Goat is eaten around the world, but often, Americans will hesitate before trying it. I might be biased, but the goat burger from my food truck, AZ Canteen, is one of the best things I've ever eaten. The meat comes from my pal Pat LaFrieda, and the roasted tomatoes, charred onion and pickles add the perfect kick of flavor." That's one bizarre food we'd like to try.

7. Ho Chi Minh City: Rat Hearts & Porcupine Parts

Once known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city in Vietnam and hosts millions of tourists every year thanks to its rich history and unique landscape. It's also got some of the most intriguing food offerings of any city in the world. Andrew Zimmern learned that firsthand when he brought "Bizarre Foods" to this Asian culinary hub. Now remember, while on the show Zimmern didn't eat foods that were traditional to the area. Viewers didn't care to watch him try pho or banh mi. Instead, Zimmern gobbled down snails, duck tongues, rats, and porcupines, all foods you likely wouldn't consider having for lunch, at least not in the United States.

But Zimmern had nothing but positive things to say about the food in Ho Chi Minh City. "I love the cuisine of that country," he shared with Mashed in a 2021 interview. Zimmern went on to add, "I had that same experience in Chengdu, China, and in Paris, France — other cities that are real temples of gastronomy. To be able to have food in those places at that level of execution is something that I will never, ever, ever forget. I think I'm the luckiest guy in the whole world." Take it from Zimmern, Ho Chi Minh City is the place to visit if you want good Vietnamese food.

6. Spain

If Arizona, the jungle, and the Minnesota State Fair didn't come to mind when you first thought of places around the world to find unique food, perhaps Spain did. And if it didn't, Andrew Zimmern proved you wrong in one of the early episodes of "Bizarre Foods."

While in the European country, Zimmern snacked on pig brains and bull testicles, and he fully braced us for what to expect in the coming 200-plus episodes of the show. Never before on television had we seen someone eat foods such as these, but we immediately wanted more. As a New York Times writer put it, "'Bizarre Foods' would be disappointing if it weren't disgusting. But it transcends its own repulsiveness." The writer called out one scene in the "Spain" episode in particular: "In Madrid he dined on suckling pig, cutting his lip as he sucked out the brain, and praising the eyes: 'wonderful, especially schmeared on a little bit of bread.'"

5. Iceland

Andrew Zimmern has eaten a lot of bizarre foods, from bugs to brains. You'd be hard pressed to find an edible oddity the man hasn't tasted, which makes his own list of the most bizarre foods he's ever eaten particularly interesting. Among that list are coral worms and horse ribs, both of which many of us have never even considered eating, but one stands out as particularly bizarre, and that's a food he tried on the "Iceland" episode of the show. While there, Zimmern had loads of different bites, as he does, but he has the seemingly strongest memory of eating hakarl, or fermented shark.

As Zimmern explained on his blog, "Made from the Greenlandic shark, the meat is poisonous when fresh, so in order to eat it, Icelanders let it spoil in the ground for months and then out in the elements for a few more to dry." He went on to say, "It's a revolting dish to many first timers ... While the smell of the putrefied shark itself could make the faint-hearted ill, the taste is ultimately sweet, nutty and faintly fishy ... if you like ammoniated wax." We'd probably fall into the category of those who find hakarl revolting, but we applaud Zimmern for trying it.

4. Bolivia

Landlocked in South America, Bolivia has just over 12 million residents, per Statista. Its capital city, La Paz, has stunning mountain views, and, per the "Bizarre Foods" episode, one-of-a-kind foods and traditions that were fascinating to learn about while watching Andrew Zimmern's trip on the Travel Channel. While there, Zimmern took part in a llama fetus burning ceremony, and he ate bull penis soup and booger juice. Although the episode didn't prompt us to immediately book a one-way flight to La Paz to try Bolivia's indulgences, it did open our minds to the possibility, which is part of the reason Zimmern hosted his show.

This episode did inspire another viewer, though. As one blogger shared, "My immediate response to this 'Bizarre Foods' episode was 'Yep, Bolivia is definitely on my go-to list.'" And we're definitely with this viewer on that point — Bolivia would be a fabulous place to visit. Overall, the viewer gave the episode 4 out of 4 sheep testicles, a rating scale of their own creation. And while we're not sold on every food Zimmern ate, we agree that this episode was one of the best in the show's history — educational, entertaining, and beyond epic.

3. Cowboy Life in Texas

"The problem that we always try to solve with the show is this notion that the world needs more patience, tolerance, and understanding with each other. And if I could pick one place on Earth where people need more patience, tolerance, and understanding with each other, it's America in 2017," Andrew Zimmern told Esquire in an interview ahead of the season 10 premiere of "Bizarre Foods." In keeping with his mission to imbue those characteristics in more American citizens, aside from visiting Cuba, Zimmern stayed in the United States for all of season 10. Our favorite episode from that season, one of our favorites from the entire series, was "Cowboy Life in Texas."

A Texas cowboy is just one personification of the quintessential American, and it was entertaining as heck to watch Zimmern speak with and learn from those living the lifestyle in modern times. The food wasn't particularly bizarre — it was mostly meat that you could probably get ahold of yourself — but after hundreds of episodes, Zimmern was running out of bizarre foods to eat. As he noted in his Esquire interview, the focus of the show shifted in season 10, and "Cowboy Life in Texas" was a great introduction of the new scope.

2. Philadelphia: Shad, Krak & Kishke

A hundred episodes is a huge television milestone, but 200 episodes is even greater. When "Bizarre Foods" reached this monumental point in its syndication, we knew we were in for a treat, a very bizarre treat. And what we got was peak "Bizarre Foods" — an episode in an unexpected location (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) with foods that make you wonder how Zimmern isn't projectile vomiting (pork intestines) as well as some things we'd actually like to eat (candy and doughnuts). We learned that the City of Brotherly Love has a diverse culinary scene, boasting everything from West African to German fare, and that no matter where you go to eat, you're going to be satisfied.

The episode was promoted by various media outlets like People and TV Insider as viewers across the nation were excited to see what Zimmern was going to put in his mouth next. Zimmern got to enjoy one of his favorite foods, a type of fish called shad, and he noted how special the moment was. "To have folks who live shad ... cooking for you, and to have a new ingredient — or a new dish made with one of my favorite ingredients — shad cakes, doesn't get any better," he said.

1. Kalahari

Some of the very best episodes come from the very beginning of Andrew Zimmern's "Bizarre Foods" journey. We had yet to fully understand Zimmern and his affinity for the unusual, and while we weren't salivating from the foods Zimmern was trying, we were salivating at the thought of another episode. You can't deny Zimmern's show is one of the most interesting to ever grace your TV screen — at least by food show standards — and we always loved watching Zimmern fully engaged with the events in which he was participating and the foods he was eating. 

That's why we put the "Kalahari" episode at the top of our ranking. We didn't know it at the time, but it would end up featuring one of the best things Zimmern said he's ever eaten from among the hundreds of shows he's done.

While in Kalahari, Botswana, Zimmern joined a tribe of hunter-gatherers called the Ju'hoansi for a porcupine hunt. During an exclusive Mashed interview with the host, Zimmern described the process for preparing the porcupine. "They would take this giant blanket of fur and skin and build this big fire," he said. "And when it was coals, they would throw it onto it and they would let it blacken on both sides." They then divvied up pieces for everyone to taste. We love to watch someone indulge in something they didn't know they would love.