Not many things are better than a freshly grilled ear of corn on a summer day, that sweet goodness bursting straight from the cob. But the versatility of the vegetable—or grain, depending on how you look at it (turns out, the whole cob is a vegetable, but the kernels themselves are not) lends itself to so many different tastes and techniques that you could eat it in a new way every day of August and still not be done.
We’ve highlighted some favorite restaurant dishes across the state that showcase corn in its finest form and weave in some creative options if you’re in the mood to try something new. And, if you need a few more reasons—beyond the taste, of course—to travel up and down the coast, eating every ear and kernel of corn you can while corn is in season, consider this: it’s rich in vitamins A, B, and E, is loaded with minerals and antioxidants, high in fiber, and is said to be able to do everything from aid in digestion to lower blood pressure to help control diabetes.
The restaurant of The Lodge at Sonoma Renaissance Resort & Spa serves modern farm-to-table fare using local ingredients, and you can get a double dose of corn goodness right now. Their sweet corn soup features charred corn, crab, and prosciutto-wrapped fingerlings. Follow it up with saffron lobster risotto featuring Maine lobster with sweet corn and heirloom tomatoes.
This restaurant/wine bar draws inspiration from France and the Mediterranean, and their Summer Risotto reflects that influence with a fresh California twist, combing market tomatoes, California corn, garlic, Comté cheese, and sea beans.
Huitlacoche, otherwise known as corn truffle, may be something you’ve only encountered on Top Chef, but at this Santa Barbara hotspot, you can have it inside a puffy fried Oaxaca cheese quesadilla.
This popular plant-based restaurant has a menu full of vegan Mexican food, and if you love street corn, you’ll love their version with chipotle aioli, pumpkin seed parmesan, and lemon.
Mezcalero’s drink menu is full of Tequila and Mezcal options, but you’ll want to hit the bar and order a Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em, with roasted corn-infused Maestro Dobel tequila, cinnamon, burnt tortilla syrup, byrrh quinquina, fresh celery, and lime juice. Need a nosh? On the food side of the menu is their delicious version of elote, with lime butter, aioli, house seasoning, guajillo pepper, and queso fresco.
This popular South Bay eatery is known for its seasonal fare in a social atmosphere. Order the Maine diver scallops and you’ll be rewarded with creamed corn, charred scallion, fermented chili, and Thai basil.
This Orange County restaurant’s prime rib is from the Stock Yards of Chicago, but the side dish it’s served with may be even more famous. In fact, their creamed corn au gratin is so popular that Summit House incudes a link to the recipe on their website.