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Running Tab: Now is a great time for octopus on the menu

My 10-year-old nephew Shawn here in Spokane has had quite the list of favorite foods in his young life. It started with macaroni and cheese and pizza, which is fairly typical, then evolved, surprisingly, into seafood, specifically shrimp and crab.

When we celebrated Shawn’s 10th birthday at Ethan Stowell’s new Tavolata downtown in May, he tried octopus for the first time, loved it and has been requesting it ever since.

Not to worry that Shawn is atypical, however; during brunch Sunday at Downriver Grill, he informed us that his favorite food now is chicken, from fried chicken to his mom’s “delicious” baked chicken.

Crazy kid! If you’d like to join Shawn in his octopus obsession, here are five noteworthy options in town:

Baba

Adam Hegsted’s Baba in Kendall Yards offers wood-charred octopus, one of the newest items on the Mediterranean restaurant’s menu, and it blew me away.

It not only is one of the largest octopus portions in town, but it also is served with vegetables that complement the seafood perfectly. It is a must-order at Baba. One of my dinner guests tried octopus for the first time, and she loved it.

If you go: 1242 W. Summit Parkway, (509) 443-4410 and babaspokane.com

Candle in the Woods

The tricky part of David Adlard’s fine-dining restaurant Candle in the Woods is that no two of the inventive menus are ever the same, as the small dishes are at the whim of the chef-owner and the season.

But consider yourself lucky if the milk-braised octopus is on the menu, as it melts in your mouth. And to think it was created by one of Adlard’s teenage chefs in the kitchen!

If you go: 5751 ID-54, Athol, (208) 664-0135 and candleinthewoods.com

Honey Eatery & Social Club

Here’s another tricky one at Hegsted’s downtown Coeur d’Alene hot spot: the oil-poached Spanish octopus was served by Honey Eatery at 2021 Crave in August.

A quick search of the menu, however, shows it is not being served, but there is always hope … if you request the restaurant to add it to its menu, fingers crossed. The dish was the favorite of quite a few attendees at the one-night-only food-and-drink dine around this time around.

If you go: 317 Sherman Ave., Coeur d’Alene, (208) 930-1514 and honeyeateryandsocialclub.com

Tavolata

Tavolata’s grilled octopus is now a sentimental favorite because of Shawn’s newfound love for the delicacy, but it also is one of the lighter preparations on this list, with its use of yogurt and mint as ingredients.

If I’m at Tavolata with Shawn, I fully expect to hear the question: “May I order the octopus, Uncle Don?” Of course, the answer is yes … as long as Uncle Don gets his Old Fashioned.

If you go: 221 N. Wall St., (509) 606-5600 and ethanstowellrestaurants.com

Zona Blanca

Chad White’s Zona Blanca offers pulpo con sikil pak (charred Spanish octopus with smoked squash). It is one of my favorite menu items at Zona Blanca, as I love octopus and squash.

It’s one of the best pairings around right now, alongside the Kid Laroi and Justin Bieber’s super-catchy “Stay” in heavy rotation on radio. Pro tip: Zona Blanca doesn’t skimp on spice, so be certain to partake at White’s James Beard Award-nominated downtown ceviche bar.

If you go: 157 S. Howard St., (509) 241-3385 and limefishsalt.com

Please let me know if you’ve had noteworthy octopus in town by emailing me at donc@spokesman.com.

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