We went to California recently to visit hubby’s side of the family. After getting picked up at the airport and on the way to my in-laws’ place, we passed by produce stands that sell artichokes. Admittedly, I only eat artichokes when it’s part of a dish when we eat out. But since I kept seeing so many signs, I was curious – what on earth was the big deal about artichokes? I just ignore that vegetable when we buy our produce.

Then I found out that Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom declared the artichoke as California’s official vegetable back in 2013. What’s more, Castroville, CA prides itself as the Artichoke Center of the World. (Guess there’s no competition.) There’s even the upcoming 57th Annual Artichoke Festival on June 4 and 5, 2016 at the Monterey County Fairgrounds.

After all that, it only made sense that we try their artichokes, right? My in-laws ended up bringing us to the Giant Artichoke Family Restaurant in Castroville, so yay!

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In case you’re wondering why it’s called the Giant Artichoke, check this out!

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Ever seen an artichoke that size? Naturally, I would not leave the place without having my picture taken with it.

We headed to the Giant Artichoke Restaurant for appetizers only. We were off to another restaurant for lunch.

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Here’s the first appetizer: Freshly Steamed Artichoke with ranch and mayo dressing. Pretty straightforward. Steaming the artichoke yielded an artichoke heart that was so delicious and tender. I can definitely try this at home.

Freshly Steamed Artichoke with ranch and mayo dressing
Freshly Steamed Artichoke with ranch and mayo dressing

Check out this Artichoke Sampler! It had Artichoke Nachos, Fire Roasted Artichoke, Castroville Roll and Deep Fried Artichoke Hearts with Jalapeno and Artichoke Dip. Everything in this sampler was so good!

Artichoke Sampler
Artichoke Sampler

So yeah, this happened.

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Verdict: I never realized how versatile artichokes are until I went to this restaurant. Had we gone there for lunch, I would’ve tried The Giant Artichoke Burger for kicks. According to the menu, it’s “Homemade meatless patty made with artichoke hearts & spinach”. Do I recommend a visit to this restaurant? For the novelty, go. For the food, go. In other words, if you’re in Castroville, just go. While they do serve other dishes without artichokes, it’s still pretty fun to go to a restaurant that highlights one particular vegetable. Now that’s just unusual.

Address:
Giant Artichoke Restaurant
11261 Merritt St, Castroville, CA 95012

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