Cornmeal Crusted Calamari from Kitchen 56

Calamari Asian Slaw Kitchen 56.jpg
Erica O'Neil
Last year we marked the hundred day countdown to Best of Phoenix by sharing our 100 Favorite Dishes with you. Now we're back - with the 2011 edition. Have a suggestion for a dish you'd like us to try? Leave it in the comments section or email laura.hahnefeld@newtimes.com.

81: Cornmeal Crusted Calamari from Kitchen 56

There's a reason fried calamari can be spotted on just about every American-style menu. It's freakin' delicious. Although at times it can resemble poorly seasoned rubber bands rather than a tender delight. At Kitchen 56, this classic appetizer is anything but boring, and it can be enjoyed in full view of the beautiful Camelback Mountain skyline. Bonus! You may even get to see Grannie medivac-ed off the mountain as the mercury starts to rise.

Calamari rings and little tentacle beasties were liberally coated in a sweet, cornmeal crust and deep fried. Those toasty squidlings were then infused with a blast of salty, umami flavor in the form of a miso caramel. The anointed squid were served atop a bed of Asian-inspired slaw that created a crunchy, utterly addictive upgrade compared to plain old fried calamari.

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88: Chicken Lo Mein from Desert Jade

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85: Wild Mushroom Ravioli from Merc Bar

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Stomach full? Get some eye candy for dessert over on Jackalope Ranch with our Imagine PHX series.

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