Inspired by the versatile firm flesh of cephalopods from the depths, chefs are twisting classic combinations, creating light, savory accompaniments to L.A.'s hot summer days and nights. Try one to taste the sea.


Crisply grilled after being braised and marinated, Moroccan octopus crowns layers of sliced fingerling potatoes, celery, leeks, scallions and chives, all doused in a lemon vinaigrette. Sit at the cool, marble-topped mozzarella bar to watch staff and -- most nights -- owner Nancy Silverton construct the restaurant's No. 1-selling antipasti. 6602 Melrose Ave., L.A. (323) 297-0100


House-made ponzu and a dash of sesame seeds moisten the soft chill bites of origami-thin tako (octopus). Usually they're placed purposefully on a bed of daikon sprouts; sometimes chef may elaborate with salad greens, miso, lemon slices, shredded carrots and grated daikon for zest. 333 S. Alameda St., No. 317, Little Tokyo, (213) 687-0777


Seasoned perfectly -- chef-owner and "Top Chef" judge Tom Colicchio wouldn't have it any other way -- the charred Peruvian octopus is served family style on an elegant copper platter. Chickpea polenta dotted with chorizo chips and thick, double-strained Greek yogurt are the harmonious counterparts. A star sighting is often a memorable add-on. 10100 Constellation Blvd., Century City, (310) 279-4180


Think deconstructed Caesar when considering chef Craig Strong's Monterey Bay baby calamari salad. Each element stands alone: the never-frozen, crouton-stuffed wee squid, the Scarborough Farms arugula with lemon oil, the Parmesan crisp and dabs of aioli. Combine at your pleasure. The Langham Huntington Hotel & Spa, 1401 S. Oak Knoll Ave., Pasadena, (626) 585-6218


Perch on planked stools around convivial tables at this tapas bar that captures a true Barcelona vibe. On Saturdays, check the chalkboard for the calamari and arroz negro special -- squid ink darkens the Spanish Bomba paella rice that absorbs the flavorful mix of squid, shrimp and soffritto. 109 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica, (310) 458-2012


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