Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau (MCCVB) announced the launch of its Artichoke Trail, turning the spotlight to the region’s edgiest of veggies in the run-up to National Artichoke Hearts Day on March 16, 2023. The Artichoke Trail incorporates over 20 stops, including restaurants, farm stands, and attractions that highlight the numerous ways visitors can enjoy and experience this unique vegetable in Monterey County.
Nearly two-thirds of the world’s artichokes are grown in Monterey County, which is home to the town of Castroville, dubbed the “Artichoke Capital of the World.” This region, where the rich, fertile soil of the Salinas Valley meets the sands of Monterey Bay, provides the optimal growing conditions for artichokes year-round. Arguably a vegetable that has long been misunderstood, the Artichoke Trail encourages visitors to discover the versatility and importance of this regional delicacy.
“Promoting Monterey County’s vast mosaic of inspiring experiences is all about connecting the dots,” said Rob O’Keefe, president and CEO of MCCVB. “The artichoke is part of our agricultural heritage and a connector between those dots. A vital role in our agricultural industry and a key ingredient to unique culinary experiences throughout our region. The Artichoke Trail is a path to those one-of-a-kind experiences.”
Artichoke Trail stops in Castroville – which celebrates its 160th anniversary this year – make up the trail’s Artichoke Alley. Notable stops found along Artichoke Alley and Highway 1 include:
Walk the Pezzini family farm to demystify the artichoke and learn how to cultivate and prepare the vegetable, then swing by the farm’s on-site food truck, The Choke Coach, to sample the harvest in many forms, including their artichoke po’boy.
Phil’s Fish Market & Eatery (Castroville)
Enjoy Artichoke Provencal with sautéed scallops, shrimp, garlic and wine.
Flying Artichoke restaurant (Salinas)
Chow down on a Choke Burger made with sautéed sliced artichoke hearts, fresh ground beef, Swiss cheese and basil aioli.
Salt Wood Kitchen and Oysterette (Marina)
Delight your taste buds with a sampling of artichoke & dehydrated lemon butter, served with Ad Astra olive bread and local sea salt.
Gusto Handcrafted Pasta & Pizza (Seaside)
Dine on Artichoke-Fontina Ravioli – Ravioli Carciofi e Fontina – made with a black truffle cream sauce, marinated artichoke and white truffle oil.
Old Fisherman’s Grotto (Monterey)
Pick up a grilled Castroville artichoke marinated in balsamic vinaigrette, served with lemon dill aïoli.
Julia’s Vegetarian Restaurant (Pacific Grove)
Sample roasted Globe Artichokes served with a vegan garlic and lemon aïoli.
The Tap Room at The Lodge at Pebble Beach (Pebble Beach)
Snack on crispy artichoke hearts & calamari with green beans, lemon and chipotle aïoli.
Forge in the Forest restaurant (Carmel-by-the-Sea)
Enjoy roasted, charbroiled artichokes marinated in balsamic vinegar, served with Dijon mustard dip.
Baja Cantina Grill & Filling Station (Carmel Valley)
Bite into a Monterey Bay Quesadilla, served with grilled prawns, artichoke hearts, Jack cheese, guacamole, pico de gallo, sour cream, tartar and dill sauce.
Restaurant at Big Sur River Inn (Big Sur)
Dig into a plate of Pasta Castroville, made with fettuccini pasta, artichoke hearts, pesto sauce, zucchini, yellow squash, carrots and mushrooms.
In addition to the year-round trail, visitors are invited to celebrate at Monterey’s annual Artichoke Festival, held this year from June 10-11. In its 63rd year, this festival is a long-standing event in Monterey County, and even crowned Marilyn Monroe (then Norma Jean) as the first Artichoke Queen in 1948. This year’s festival will include an array of family-friendly activities and culinary offerings that are sure to please the most avid artichoke lover, with the theme Thistle Be Fun!