The history of asparagus is said to date back to the first century, where it was first found growing wild in Europe. And while the ancient Greeks and Romans may have enjoyed a crisp bite of this flowering perennial plant, it’s doubtful they were fully exploring the full depth of possibility when it comes to preparing the spring crop.

Not that a lack of creativity is a bad thing when it comes to asparagus. Many believe a simple roasting with a sprinkle of sea salt and ground black pepper is all you need to get maximum enjoyment out of this favorite vegetable. We can’t argue with “them;—roasted asparagus is delicious, especially when you pair it with a few additional ingredients, like the lemon thyme emulsion, golden balsamic reduction, and maldon salt at The Chef’s Table in Rocklin. Or the accompaniments of carbonara, cured egg yolk, and greens at Tripel in Playa del Rey.

But, we love this time of year, when asparagus is at its sweetest and chefs take liberties with the veggie, combining ingenuity and technique to take asparagus to new heights of seasonal bliss. Here’s a look at some of the spots up and down the coast where you can get your fix.

 

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA

Press Club

San Francisco

San Francisco Wine Bar and Lounge, Press Club, may be well-known for its beverages, but their menu offers standout choices to much on as well. Their tasty take on asparagus has burrata, delta asparagus, Niçoise olives, fennel pollen, and lemon agrumato.

Ca’ Momi Osteria

Napa, California 

If you’ve never poached asparagus before, you will after devouring the asparagus salad at this authentic, locally sourced Italian food and wine concept. It also features organic boiled egg, frisée, and lemon and egg vinaigrette. Or, have your asparagus on crust; the primavera pizza is a spring specialty with organic asparagus, organic mozzarella, organic soft-yolk egg, parmigiano reggiano, and organic san marzano dop tomatoes.

 

CENTRAL CALIFORNIA

Downey’s

Santa Barbara

This New American restaurant on Santa Barbara’s State Street focuses on local and organic fare, and their market asparagus soup with creme fraiche and chives is as good a reason as any to hit the city’s main drag.

The Kitchen

Sacramento

The Kitchen’s Sacramento location gives it great access to some of the best asparagus crops in the country. After all, “As many Sacramentans know, asparagus grows extremely well in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta region, so much so that our neighbor Stockton holds a famous Asparagus Festival every year,” they said. The restaurant takes advantage of that access this month with a butter poached beef tenderloin with creamed Bloomsdale spinach, “Tobacco” and Manhattan jus, and smoked purple asparagus.

 

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA 

Gjelina

Venice

This Westside favorite’s version of asparagus pizza is as popular as its Abbot Kinney Boulevard location, with shaved asparagus, confit leek, garlic, sottocenere (a specialty cheese), and parmesan (You can also add an egg, which, of course, you will.).

Fig And Olive

West Hollywood

You have numerous asparagus choices at this popular Melrose restaurant (other locations include Newport Beach, Chicago, Washington DC, and New York City), from the burrata and asparagus appetizer with snow peas, hazelnut, arugula, micro-basil, and blood orange dressing; to the crostini that pairs asparagus with pea, ricotta, and lemon Crostini; to the French omelet with asparagus and goat cheese.

Coasterra

San Diego

Asparagus gets the upscale Mexican treatment at Coasterra, a Bayfront eatery on San Diego’s Harbor Island. The macha adobo branzino features asparagus with chorizo, Yukon gold potatoes, asparagus, guajillo, and crab compound butter.