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Happy hour bite: Billy Can Can creates an octopus twist on the classic hushpuppy

The new Pulpo Puppies are inspired by Japanese takoyaki.

Homemade cornbread batter deep-fried around a filling of … octopus?

Billy Can Can restaurant in Victory Park unveiled its new happy hour menu this summer and added a new dish — pulpo puppies.

While chef Matt Ford’s dish might seem a bit random at a modern saloon-style Texas steakhouse, it is anything but.

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A while back, Ford said they had a young boy, around the age of 7, come into the restaurant wanting shrimp. The parents asked if the restaurant could serve him some, whether it was boiled or in a shrimp cocktail.

Ford made the boy a little shrimp basket, complete with french fries, but felt like he needed to add a little bit more flair.


“I was like, ‘You know what, screw it,’ and I grabbed some of the cornbread batter. Then, I ate one of them and I was like, ‘Wait that’s good,’” Ford said.

While this seemed like an interesting comfort dish to serve, he didn’t want to add hush puppies to the menu based on just one interaction.

Ford said that many of the ingredients he uses are expensive, and because of that, he tries to find ways to use them up. The octopus for the restaurant’s regular pulpo negro dish is sourced from Spain, and it was difficult for the chef to use in its entirety.


Ford thought to himself, “I need to make something out of this. I need to find an elevated way to use it,” he said.

Later, during a food discussion with colleagues, someone mentioned takoyaki, which is a fried Japanese octopus ball made with a wheat-based flour.

Next thing you know, chef Ford was chopping up octopus. He added it to his cornbread batter, and the octopus hush puppies were born. They are now served with comeback sauce and house hot sauce.

In his kitchen, there were a few cooks who were hesitant, but others contributed by calling the dish pulpo puppies. The name has officially stuck.


“I kinda resisted [the name] at first, but you kind of have to embrace if it’s taking its own character,” Ford said with a chuckle.

This is the first time since the restaurant opened in 2018 that the restaurant has updated its happy hour menu, other than for seasonal changes. Ford says that the pulpo puppies will probably be around for a while.

Other new happy hour dishes include barbecue short rib sliders with blue cheese coleslaw, baked oysters topped with poblano and Texas peach chimichurri for summer, and a smoked fish dish with chips. New cocktails include the Garden Gimlet (gin, lime, simple syrup, fresh cucumber and seasonal herbs); Gold Rush (whiskey, honey and fresh lemon); and Grapefruit Ricky (vodka, fresh grapefruit, lime, sugar and soda).

Happy hour bites are available Monday through Friday from 5 to 7 p.m.


Billy Can Can is located at 2386 Victory Park Lane.