A staple in Greek cooking and many other coastal cuisines around the world, octopus is usually prepared through methods such as grilling, searing, and poaching, and the meat takes on the rich taste of the sea. When cooked perfectly, octopus is known for its tender, yet firm, texture and delicate flavor. Served raw, it takes on the flavors of the ingredients it is paired with.
Whether enjoyed in a Mediterranean-style grilled octopus salad, a carpaccio, or a Spanish pulpo a la gallega, octopus is an exciting ingredient that takes some skill to prepare. If you're hesitant to try cooking or preparing octopus at home, a smart first step is to try different styles of preparation to see which you prefer. From there, you can try to make it at home, or just keep dining out on the tender dish.
When looking for the best octopus at restaurant chains around the U.S., you should focus on freshness and creative preparations that highlight this unique ingredient. Fortunately, you can find a bounty of styles, all of which you should sample, including a raw dish, grilled tentacles, and even plank-seared octopus.
Barcelona Wine Bar
This growing wine bar chain, with locations in Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Washington, D.C., offers a fantastic wine program, along with tapas shaped by Mediterranean, Spanish, and South American influences. The rustic menu is perfect for sharing, and you should always order the grilled pulpo with potatoes, which comes kissed with fennel.
Another growing tapas wine bar, Boqueria has locations in Boston, Chicago, Connecticut, Nashville, and New York, and the Pulpo a la Plancha is a must order at your next happy hour. One of the best ways to prepare octopus is searing, and the flavorful kisses of sear are incredible paired with Manzanilla olives and olive oil crushed potatoes.
A favorite of celebrities, Major Food Group's Carbone has seven locations around the globe, including Dallas, Las Vegas, and New York. But it's more than a see-and-be-seen spot, with a hearty Italian menu that draws in diners from around the country. The Italian restaurant offers an octopus pizzaiolo, which features charred cephalopod mingled with both cherry and Italian hot peppers. This hearty appetizer delivers a nice kick of heat!
Firefly Tapas Kitchen and Bar
Since 2019, this Las Vegas-area micro chain has served Spanish tapa and excellent paella in a casual, fun environment. Firefly was founded by the former head chef of the beloved Mon Ami Gabi at the Paris Hotel, and the food is high quality. One of the best items on the menu, the pulpo asado, sees grilled octopus paired with potato, paprika vinaigrette, and grilled lemon, and comes finished with chili oil. It's a must-try when visiting Sin City.
This upscale California-based chain, with 18 locations in the Golden State and Las Vegas, has a slightly different take on octopus. The Italian restaurant serves mafaldine pasta (the wide curly edged noodle) with a decadent ragu of octopus, squid, and shrimp in light tomato sauce with white wine and capers.
Jaleo by José Andrés
Don't resist this fabulous dish, Pulpo a la Gallega, which is on the menu at the famous chef's flagship Jaleo restaurants in Chicago, Las Vegas, Washington, D.C., and Disney Springs in Orlando, Fla. Served tapas style, the octopus is poached to perfection in olive oil, along with potatoes and spiced with pimenton, the smoked Spanish paprika.
Legal Sea Foods
Starting as a family-owned fish market in Cambridge, Mass., Legal Sea Foods has always focused on the freshest, most sustainable seafood when selecting product to serve at its 25-plus locations. The chain has evolved from its early days serving classic New England-style fried seafood to whipping up lobster rolls, sushi, and even dishes like tender grilled octopus. This hearty tentacle appetizer is served with salt-boiled potato, olive tapenade, cauliflower, and a saffron aioli.
McCormick & Schmick's
One of the top fine-dining seafood chains in the country, McCormick & Schmick's 20-plus locations serve a tender, smoky charred octopus appetizer that's not to be missed. The flavor profile on this dish changes with the seasons, but it's always cooked to gentle perfection. Currently, it's served with Cajun spices, a garlic parmesan aioli, and avocado pico.
Sushi chef Nobu Matsuhisa moved to Los Angeles in 1987 and opened his namesake restaurant. Actor Robert De Niro became a regular customer, and in 1994, the two, along with other investors, opened the first Nobu in New York City. Today, the celeb-favorite spot has over 50 restaurants worldwide. The menu melds Japanese and Peruvian cooking, so it's not surprising to see octopus carpaccio among the many enticing options. This must-order dish sees thinly sliced octopus topped with dry miso and fresh chives.