Broccoli is one of those vegetables that people don’t tend to get too excited about. Perhaps it’s a carryover from childhood, when you weren’t allowed to leave the table without finishing all that mushy, flavorless stuff that had been boiled nearly beyond recognition.
That’s bad news for those who live in California, since it seems like every other restaurant dish has a side of the green stuff. If you’re wondering why you see soooo much broccoli on menus across the state it’s not just because it’s good for you, although, that is certainly a great reason to partake; broccoli is “high in many nutrients, including fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, iron and potassium,” and also “contains more protein than most other vegetables,” according to Healthline.
It’s also a matter of volume. California produces 90 percent of all broccoli in the United States—the most coming out of Monterey County. Winter is prime time for enjoyment, because, “Cool weather concentrates sugars in broccoli the same as it does for artichokes and Brussels sprouts (another Brassica), and also yields more tender stalks,” said SeeCalifornia.
If you think you don’t like broccoli, now is a great time to give it another try. And if you’re already a fan, you’ll love these California restaurant dishes that serve it up in more creative ways than a simple steaming bowl on the side.
San Francisco (locations in Pacific Heights and The Mission, as well as Palo Alto and Burlingame)
This popular farm-to-table neighborhood pizza place is known for its Neapolitan-inspired pies and creative collection of tasty ingredients. The Broccoli Raab pizza isn’t just a restaurant fave—it’s the type of thing pizza lovers rave about online. The combination of caciocavallo, mozzarella, olives, and hot peppers with broccoli raab (rapini) will make you a fan, too.
This urban hotspot is a sister to noted organic Mexican restaurant Nopalita, and the food here is just as exciting. Thankfully, your pork chop (a menu favorite) comes smothered with Broccoli di Ciccio, but if you order anything else, be sure to also get a side of the Grilled Broccoli with lemon, anchovy, and breadcrumbs.
This Vietnamese eatery get high praise for its Beef and Broccoli. If you’re wondering how a dish that is considered a mainstay on many an Asian menu can be elevated to must-have status, consider how Chef Sang Yoon (also of famed burger eatery Father’s Office) uses prime hangar steak and includes grilled gai lan, black bean ghee, and puffed tendon.
Goodbye, avocado toast. We’ll take some Broccoli Toast, a less-caloric-and-every-bit-as-tasty version, with labneh, pumpkin seed, and pomegranate. It’s the perfect dish to introduce yourself to Kismet’s menu, which pairs Middle Eastern flavors with California cuisine.
Rocco’s Deli Italiano
Sometimes, all you need is a big, juicy Italian sandwich, just like they make in New York. If you’re anywhere near Long Beach (Signal Hill or Downtown), you know the place to go to satisfy this craving is Rocco’s Deli Italiano. Sure, you could order the meatball or chicken parm (or a whole host of cold deli sandwiches) but for our money, it’s the Roast Pork and Broccoli Rabe every single time.
We’re not going to lie. The fact that Saint Marc has a bacon bar(!) is reason enough to visit. But you’re going to want to cut all that rich bacon with something fresh, and a side order of Sauteed Broccoli and Cauliflower with chimichurri sauce is the perfect option.
This restaurant is a hit with its indoor/outdoor setting and its unique camping aesthetic, and the food is another reason to visit. Roasted Broccoli takes a yummy left turn here, with chermoula, lime, and candied peanut.
Locations up and down the coast
Cafeteria-style eating may not sound so appealing, but it will once you’ve visited Lemonade, especially if you order the Roasted Broccoli with ricotta cheese and champagne vinaigrette. This vegetarian and gluten-free dish gets all the nutty goodness from roasting the broccoli, and the cheese and dressing bring an extra level of flavor that turns what seems like a simple salad into a reason to dine here again and again.