The mollusk of the moment is crawling its way through Chicago, and the chefs preparing it are finding inspiration across the map—Mexico, Spain, Italy, Greece. Here are the city’s six best takes on tentacles.
Slow-cooked and charred tentacles curl around grilled bread, arugula, and a slab of decadent pork belly to deliver mouthfuls that are at once peppery, rich, and smoky. A long way from any BLT you might know? Likely. Will you care? Doubtful. $13
Prep your palate for baby octopuses steamed and overflowing in a dish of sweet curry sauce. A kick follows each buoyant bite, but don’t blame the sea creatures—look instead to the spice they pack. $4.95
Aaron Lirette braises baby octopus before charring it on a Japanese bincho grill and layering it like cursive atop an attentive brushstroke of spicy romesco sauce and tangy blood orange suprêmes. The result? An Instagram-worthy—then instantly gone—work of art. $14
High-quality ingredients make up for a no-frills presentation that’s suitable for the everyday octopus craving. After a tenderizing char-grill, tentacles are dressed with the house extra virgin olive oil, vinegar, and oregano handpicked from the mountains of southern Greece. $9.95
Inspired by visits to friends’ taquerias, Pat Sheerin created this posole spinoff, a bowl made powerful by coriander, cumin, and chili threads. Soft masa dumplings meet crunchy corn nubs and seared octopus, creating a textural playground that requires all silverware. $13
Change typifies Brian Huston’s daily offerings: His octopus prep that today employs black garlic, caperberry gremolata, and potatoes might be recast tomorrow with chickpeas, pickled green tomatoes, and aïoli. Happily, the online menu (boltwoodevanston.com) stays as up-to-date as the ingredients. $18