Calamari… so good when its cooked properly, so bad when its not.
Here are my current picks for Best Calamari based on the restaurants I have personally visited and reviewed. This list will grow and change as necessary. If you know of calamari served at other restaurants that I need to try, please leave me a recommendation in the comments of this post.
#1 Murasaki– These giant, tender pieces of calamari were so big you could almost mistake it for fish, it was cooked perfectly so that the calamari had the right texture and the panko was golden brown. It wasn’t highly seasoned but the perfect texture puts the Calamari into the #1 slot on the TCRb Editor’s Picks. It was served with a flavorful, creamy dipping sauce.
#2 The Six15 Room – The calamari fries at The Six15 Room rank up there with the best. These calamari strips were double-dipped in tempura batter and then fried just perfectly. The batter was crispy yet the calamari was tender and delicious. Thin slices of slightly pickled peppers were arranged on top, adding a slight bite and interesting contrast. A lemony mayonnaise was served for dipping, a light and fresh compliment to the calamari. This is a very close second.
#3 Il Premio ~ The Calamari at Il Premio Italian Steak House ranks up there at 3rd place. The breading was crispy yet the calamari was cooked absolutely perfect. There was a mix of rings and babies. It was served with a basil tartar sauce and lemon wedges.
#4 Orchid Restaurant ~ The calamari at Orchid is also extraordinary. It is cooked just perfectly so the texture is delicate, not tough. It is coated with a panko and is extra crispy in just the right places. The spicy sweet and sour sauce that comes on the side is delicious and has just the right amount of “kick”, a perfect compliment to the calamari.
#5 Shorewood Bar & Grill ~ I much as I was let down by the poor service at Shorewood, I can’t knock their calamari; the squid was cooked perfectly yet the batter was still crispy. It was served over a bed of sauteed banana and pepperoncini peppers, which was a nice tangy accompaniment. I could also taste a hint of lemon and I loved that it had little squids in addition to the rings. Served with a Crab Louie sauce, which was tangy and creamy. Huge portion.
#6 First Course– This calamari was excellent! It was breaded and fried, cooked to the proper texture then served with some kind of smokey mayo. Seriously good calamari.
#7 McCormick & Schmick’s– Delicious! The batter was crunchy but the calamari was cooked perfectly; the rings were tossed with banana peppers and sprinkled with fresh parmesan. The order aame with fire-roasted tomato sauce for dipping.
#8 Enjoy! – The calamari strips at Enjoy! were thick and cooked perfectly without any hint of chewiness. The outside wasn’t as crispy as I like it but since that would mean overcooking it, I’ll take it tender over chewy any day! It was served with two dips, the spicy marinara and a lemon herb aoili. Both were excellent!
Calamari that did not make the cut:
Chianti Grill ~ This was good, but nothing out of the ordinary. The calamari was cooked just right so it was still tender but the breading wasn’t too crispy and was kind of boring in the flavor department. It was served with marinara and also a horseradish dip, which were both good and definitely helped spice up the flavor.
Murray’s Restaurant ~ served with a seasoned mayonnaise. The portion was decently sized for the price. It was cooked just right so that the texture of the calamari was cooked without being chewy, but the breading wasn’t quite crispy enough and easily fell apart. Although I liked it, I probably wouldn’t order this again.
CRAVE~ This calamari at CRAVE was cooked so that it was the right texture inside but the breading wasn’t crispy at all on the outside, which was disappointing to me.