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Looking for the best Seattle (fried) calamari

Just moved back to Seattle from the Southeast, and am looking for the quintessential fried calamari.

In my other hometown (Durham, NC), a Greek restaurant served calamari in an extremely light, non-greasy, subtle-but-slightly-nutty batter, and made very sure to serve it FAST to your table. The squid rings were fork-tender at first, only firming up to chewy halfway through the (enormous!) plate - if I was eating alone. Otherwise, they were gone well before any hint of chewy-ness set in. For a dip, I either got a tremendously delicious tzatziki, or smuggled in a harissa aoli from one of the restaurants down the block (shameless, I know, but worth the cloak-and-dagger).

This was by far the very best calamari I've ever had the pleasure of even hearing about, and now I'm ruined, dreaming about the glorious days of light, golden cephalopod rings.

So, chowhounds - can anything in Seattle compare?


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  1. This summer I made it out to the Greek Festival at St. Demetrios Church. One of the more popular booths there had good calimari. I do not remember the name of the booth, however.

    If anybody knows the name of the company/restaurant that owned this booth, I would definitely suggest it as a place to try.

    1. This is going down a different path, but Shanghai Garden makes a good fried squid dish. Lightly battered fried squid pieces tossed with white pepper, green onions, garlic and jalapenos (?) served with a similar soy dipping sauce and cilantro on the side.

      My little girls fav... actually she's now 17. Dang I'm getting old! lol.

      1. Yanni's Greek Restaurant on Greenwood Ave. serves just what you're describing. Also, the deep-fried calamari at Twist in Belltown has a unique curry-spiced crust on their calamari.

        1 Reply
        1. re: staffstuff

          Oooh, they both sound wonderful. I'll have to try Yanni's.

        2. Actually, I can't think of a place that I've been, and that serves fried calamari, that hasn't been good. We just had it at La Taverna and it was yummy. We love it at Brasa. Yanni's is a very generous portion, good but little greasier.

          1. Out of all of the places that I've eaten it, I'm most partial to Nell's version.

            2 Replies
            1. re: BallardFoodie

              Heads-up...Nell's version is not deep-fried...it's sauteed without a coating in herbs...nothing interesting texture-wise and rather bland IMO.

              1. re: staffstuff

                It's been a while since we've been there (17 month old tends to do that to you) and it sounds like they've changed it. Too bad. I always thought they had the best aioli. Perhaps my mind is reminiscing back to Saleh's.

            2. I've had a great version of calamari at Toyota Sushi in Lake City. They use tiny baby squid so you get lots of little leg "bouquets" which I really enjoy.

              1. If you are willing to go north, Waterfront Fish market in Everett has good Calamari with a good aoli.

                They are a take away stand only, open during lunch. If you a re looking for really good fresh, the market next door has that as well. They also carry really cheap and good 5 lb frozen blocks of calamari that you can take home and experiment with.

                3 Replies
                1. re: wallyz

                  Terracotta Red in Everett has astonishing fried calamari, done up with spices and onions and a lime dipping sauce. Zowie.

                  1. re: Freida

                    Hmm- must have been better than when i went. I was disappointed with most of the things I tried at Terracotta Red, including the Calamari. I may have to give it another shot.

                    1. re: wallyz

                      Perhaps we're easily pleased when it comes to Everett restaurants, but we liked everything we had there, especially the pork belly appetizer and the calamari. The duck in the Shanghai noodles was really nicely done, too. We're planning a return visit to try some other things.

                2. If your willing to give up fried for sauteed, AND if you like spicy hot food, I would highly recommend the calamari at the Capitol Grill (downtown Seattle). We were there a couple weeks ago and it was the best calamari we'd ever had! Warning - it is served with jalapenos and red peppers and you will be breathing fire. But it was awesome!

                  1. Had the calamari at Smash in Wallingford again this weekend. Nicely done with a spicey pepperoncini aioli.

                    1. I won't risk a stab at "best," but I will say I had a damn tasty batch--hefty order of fries and sauce included, altogether $7.66--at Pike Street Fish Fry yesterday. Light and tender, a little piquant. Which is not to say that the loud rap music on the PA, with its seemingly endless string of "motherf'rs," "ho's," and "bitches" enhanced the experience any (are you listening, Pike Street Fish Fry?).

                      1. My vote goes to a new restaurant in town, Taberna Del Alabardero. I believe it is the one on their Tapas menu. It was so deliciously tender and not greasy or heavy. They are in Belltown in the old Cascadia space.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: aprildoodles

                          I finally was able to try the calamari at Taberna del Alabardero - SPECTACULAR recommendation, aprildoodles! These guys have calamari *down*. Not exactly the same as my old NC haunt because of the thickness - thickest calamari I've ever had, but equal to Niko's in extreme tenderness (not even the faintest hint of chewiness), and perfection in cooking. We speculated at the table that they must have fried them while still frozen - there'd be no other way to get them so crispy on the outside without going chewy inside.

                          The tapas portion was larger than I expected, even. Great aioli to go with it. Going to frequent here more often - virtually all the food was died-and-gone-to-heaven delicious!

                          (Tried Pike St. Fish Fry previously, on Barry Foy's rec - PSFF suffers from apparently well-known variability - we must have had a *very* off night. Heavy, greasy, icky seafood.)

                          1. re: evergreengirl

                            Leave it to a Spanish restaurant to nail the squid. They are the masters...if you have a Spanish joint the first thing you need to make sure of is the tchipriones.

                        2. This is spectacularly random, as I know what kind of calamari you are probably after, but the tempura calamari at Sushi Bay (Dexter, between Mercer and Fremont) is kind of fantastic.

                          My favorite calamari was at the old Fremont Trattoria, which has sadly been laid to rest.

                          1. Two historical notes on calamari: (1) Although the now-demised Adriatica went through some ups and downs and a number of chef changes, in its prime it served the best deep-fried calamari in Seattle, hands-down. The preparation was exquisitely simple and, as I can attest, can be easily replicated at home. The squid are cleaned and then kept in ice water long enough to get them very cold. They are then LIGHTLY dusted in flour seasoned with salt, white pepper, and paprika (shake off all the excess flour). Finally, they are deep fried QUICKLY in peanut oil. By the time the foam from the flour subsides, the calamari are done – roughly about a minute or less. The squid at Adriatica were served with a classic Greek skordalia sauce. Simple, yet divine. (2) Although I am in general a fan of Chef Philip Mihalski’s cooking at Nell’s, and although he keeps pan-fried calamari on the menu from the wondrous days of Saleh al Lago, I agree that they are usually not quite as good as they were under the masterful touch of Saleh Joudeh, despite the fact that Mihalski worked as sous-chef to Chef Joudeh.

                            1. just discovered another good calamari: Greenlake Bar & Grill..they serve it w. a yummy chipolte sauce.

                              1. I'm partial to the salt and pepper calamari during happy hour at the Triple Door. It's served with a vinegar-based spicy dipping sauce.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Erika L

                                  St Clouds in Madrona has a pan fried version that I really enjoy. It comes with a roasted yellow pepper-sriracha sauce.

                                  1. re: Erika L

                                    I agree with the one Erika mentions, its quite good. Solid portion too.

                                  2. Friends swear by the calamari at Flying Fish. Part of the happy hour menu, as well, daily 4-6 pm.

                                    1. Salt and Pepper Squid at the Seagarden in the International District. 'nuf said.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: seatowner

                                        Another great Sn'P example. The scallops are good as well. I think its the hot pepper topping that does it for me.