As one of 2017’s most ubiquitous menu items, grilled octopus is a trend that’s already got its legs wrapped around 2018. Charred, grilled, or in a zesty Mediterranean carpaccio, there are myriad ways to enjoy it — but here are some of the top octopus dishes that caught our eye this year.
Departure Restaurant + Lounge, Denver, Colorado
Straight from Asia to the Mile High City comes a flavor combination just as unique as the method in which it’s cooked. After being braised with lemongrass, cilantro, and ginger until tender, it’s then grilled over Japanese white charcoal and served with a butternut squash puree seasoned with Thai chili and maple syrup. The piece de resistance is a dried chili tamarind sauce with honey, chili, ginger, tamarind, and banana, which is then sprinkled with cilantro and maitake mushrooms. Make a reservation at Departure Restaurant + Lounge.
Stones Throw, San Francisco, California
Straight from Iberia to San Francisco’s trendy Russian Hill neighborhood high in the Bay Area clouds comes crispy Spanish octopus with potato-chorizo croquetta, saffron aioli, and scallion chimichurri. It’s one of a slew of new dishes chef de cuisine David Zboray has whipped up with executive chef Jason Halverson. Pair it with a selection from the eatery’s extensive beer list. Make a reservation at Stones Throw.
Doretta Taverna & Raw Bar, Boston, Massachusetts
With days spent lazing in the sun, jumping into the ocean, and savoring Greek cuisine harkening back to his family’s days on the islands generations before, chef Brendan Pelley couldn’t help but be inspired by his travels abroad. He brings a bit of the Mediterranean to Boston’s blustery winter with grilled octopus with capers, sweet onions, lemon emulsion, and parsley. Make a reservation at Doretta Taverna & Raw Bar.
Ka’ana Kitchen at Andaz Maui, Wailea, Hawaii
It’s no surprise that Maui would be swimming with plucked-from-the-ocean seafood options, so executive chef Isaac Bancaco has his no shortage of options for fish-to-dish bites like grilled octopus with Big Island chevre, watercress, asparagus. Served with a side of Instaworthy views including an infinity-edge pool at Wailea Resort, lagoon, and the Pacific Ocean, it’s just as much a feast for the eyes. Make a reservation at Ka’ana Kitchen at Andaz Maui.
Brabo-Lorien Hotel & Spa, Alexandria, Virginia
French-born executive chef Sebastien Rondier grew up in the Basque region of France and is no stranger to Spanish cuisine. His octopus is first braised and then grilled for the perfect tender texture. It’s then plated alongside a green emulsion and sautéed mushrooms. Rondier updates this signature dish quarterly to keep up with the changing seasons, so get it while it’s hot. Make a reservation at Brabo-Lorien Hotel & Spa.
Diplomat Prime, Hollywood, Florida
Looking for something a little lighter than typical steakhouse fare? Chef Nicolay Adinaguev brings it, with an octopus appetizer atop a healthy edamame hummus with black olive, French feta, and daikon radish. Trust us when we say it gives the 48-day, in-house dry-aged prime beef a run for its money. Make a reservation at Diplomat Prime.
La Mar Cebicheria Peruana, San Francisco, California
Forget the ceviche and try something new at La Mar, where chef Gastón Acurio serves up Peruvian seafood in a gorgeous space overlooking the pier and Treasure Island. His hearty Casuela de Pulpo dish features grilled Spanish octopus glazed with chimichurri sauce atop organic potato stew in aji amarillo and finished with watercress salad. Make a reservation at La Mar Cebicheria Peruana.
Nico Osteria, Chicago, Illinois
Chef de cuisine Bill Montagne serves up surf ‘n turf in the form of bacon-braised octopus with smoked paprika for a little extra soul. Red onion and olive oil form the rich marinade, with shallot, garlic, fennel, preserved Meyer lemon, olives, and oregano rounding out the palate. Montagne says it takes time, but it’s worth it: “While this dish looks beautifully simple, time and patience are required. Complex techniques definitely go into each component transforming a grilled octopus into a nontraditional carpaccio!” Make a reservation at Nico Osteria.