Asparagus might be the quintessential spring vegetable — and one of the earliest. Thick stalks or thin, asparagus makes an early appearance and is a perennial gift that keeps on giving to growers year after year. Succulent or tender and crisp, asparagus can play both supporting or starring roles, depending on the plate. Its versatility lies in its capacity for complementing a wide range of flavors, which is why you’ll find it featured in everything from salads and soup to pizza and sushi. Check out these amazing asparagus dishes to available right now at restaurants across the nation.
O Ku, Atlanta, Georgia
O Ku sushi offers traditional as well as modern and creative specialty rolls including some with seasonal ingredients such as the Lobster Temaki. Three buttered lobster hand rolls each come with a rainbow of green asparagus, finely shredded red beets, and a sprinkle of black volcano salt. Make a reservation at O Ku.
Indaco, Charleston, South Carolina
Easygoing asparagus also pairs particularly well with sweet creamy cheeses. Chef Kevin Getzewich of Charleston’s beloved rustic Italian eatery Indaco artfully arranges burrata with pickled strawberries, grilled and shaved asparagus, asparagus aioli, and a dusting of housemade granola. It’s a stunningly beautiful dish with modern Southern accents. Make a reservation at Indaco.
Fig and Olive, West Hollywood, California
Inspired by the cuisine of the French Riviera, Fig and Olive adds asparagus to their spring menu in several different dishes. The Primavera Risotto made with Arborio rice features fresh green asparagus along with green peas, pea shoots, parmesan, garlic, and shallots. It’s fresh, healthful, and comforting all at the same time. Make a reservation at Fig and Olive.
Volta, San Francisco, California
Chef Staffan Terje and Umberto Gibin’s latest restaurant features modern French and Scandinavian flavors and occasionally deconstructed classics. The Hearts of Palm & Asparagus Salad is a solid example; it’s a seasonal dish of smoked salmon with blood orange and fried shallot sauce vierge. Make a reservation at Volta.
La Pecora Bianca, New York, New York
Recently opened La Pecora Bianca features wholesome seasonal dishes made from locally sourced ingredients including this very Italian-inspired vegetable dish. Fresh asparagus is served with watercress, soft-boiled egg, pine nuts, and lemon ($12). Make a reservation at La Pecora Bianca.
Brezza Cucina, Atlanta, Georgia
Jonathan Waxman’s Brezza Cucina offers eggs for brunch, sometimes on pizza and sometimes with pasta. But a current favorite is the charcoal grilled fresh asparagus paired with fried eggs and smoked salmon and topped with salsa verde. It’s a fresher approach to breakfast than Eggs Benedict but strikes some of the same savory notes. The dish changes seasonally and sometimes includes prosciutto rather than smoked salmon. Make a reservation at Brezza Cucina.
Yebo Beach Haus, Atlanta, Georgia
This hot new restaurant in Buckhead offers South African flavors with an American flair. Biltong, a type of dried cured beef (think jerky!) accents the Shaved Asparagus Salad with heirloom tomatoes, radish, and poached egg for a combination that’s at once herbal, juicy, snappy, and lush. Make a reservation at Yebo Beach Haus.
Ca’ Momi Osteria, Napa, California
Expanding from their presence in the Oxbow Market, Ca’ Momi takes particular pride in their pizzas and holds certifications from both the Verace Pizza Napoletana and Associazione Pizzaiuoli Napoletani. While the Margherita might be the most classic, in spring their primavera pizza is the way to go. It’s topped with poached asparagus, an organic soft yolk egg, and Parmigiano Reggiano. Make a reservation at Ca’ Momi Osteria.
La Cave, Las Vegas, Nevada
Asparagus, which thrives in maritime habitats, is a great companion ingredient for seafood. ”When I think about spring, I think about the beach,” says chef Billy DeMarco. “The Opakapaka is like a Hawaiian snapper; it is very light. We grill it and serve it on top of grilled asparagus with a miso-yuzu butter. Nothing says warm weather like a simple grilled fish.” Make a reservation at La Cave.
EPIC Steak, San Francisco, California
This waterfront restaurant changes up the menu often and has recently featured asparagus salads and asparagus with a poached egg. Right now, they are offering a side dish of Roscoe’s Asparagus with Romesco, a sauce that hails from Spain, made from roasted red peppers, almonds, garlic, and olive oil. Chef Parke Ulrich says, “This is a great dish for the spring and summer season. Asparagus is very green, grassy, and herbal, and it has a touch of wood smoke from being roasted in the wood oven. The romesco pairs well because it is nutty, sweet, spicy, and creamy.” Make a reservation at EPIC steak.
Press Club, San Francisco, California
In a chic subterranean maze of tasting rooms and lounges, Press Club not only offers all kinds of wine but terrific little bites. This spring, a Chilled Asparagus Velouté features house-cured preserved lemon. It’s a zingy and fresh soup perfect for warm days or to pair with Grüner Veltliner or perhaps an unoaked Chardonnay. Make a reservation at Press Club.
Amy Sherman is a San Francisco-based writer, editor, blogger, and cookbook author. She is the publisher of the food blog Cooking with Amy. She currently contributes to numerous online publications including Food Network, Fodor’s and Refinery 29 and never says no to a warm donut. Follow her @cookingwithamy.
Photo credits: Heidi Geldhauser (O Ku and Yebo Beach Haus); Joe Tseren (La Cave); Kelly McGill (Brezza Cucina).