It’s not often that I will revisit a restaurant for a LTP column one year after the initial story, but with Moto Deli now open for dinner it was definitely worth celebrating. If you remember my original column I’m a big fan of Chef Andy Halvorsen and what he has going on in the kitchen at Moto. Now with dinner hours I have the ability to indulge in their culinary goodness with a beer or glass of wine or kombucha, welcoming the potential food pleasure-induced coma instead of avoiding it as a result of post lunch going back to work concerns. I’m not ruling out lunch at Moto as there are definitely ways to eat on the lighter side there, I just prefer to go big and indulge in Andy’s cuisine and chill on the super cool patio.
Before I get into what’s new on the menu, let me clarify that any sandwich they serve for lunch can easily translate into a solid dinner. The Chicago Beef with marinated roast beef, au jus, hot giardiniera on an Italian roll is Andy’s take on one of my favorites, the Chicago Italian Beef. I love this sandwich and it made for a great dinner recently with a side of macaroni salad, spicy pickle spear and chips.
His Hot Chicken sandwich with a fried chicken thigh, spicy cayenne glaze, coleslaw, pickled sweet peppers and crispy shallot on Texas Toast is another lunchtime winner for dinner. Let’s not forget the Cubano, Reuban, Kim-Chicken, BLT, Grilled Cheese and Falafel, which are all super fine options. My point is, this is an all day and into the night menu.
Let’s get into some of the new items though as some of them are quite good. There are a couple of burgers on the menu now including the Moto Burger, a simple American cheese burger, inspired by Chef Andy’s time at The Lodge at Torrey Pines and Jeff Jackson’s famous Drugstore burger there. If you don’t recall, Andy has some extensive culinary experience under his belt, which is one of the big attractions to Moto Deli.
Let’s get back to the burgers though as he also created the Fancyburger, a 1/3-pound blend of chuck, brisket and short rib patty with caramelized onion, agave mustard, blue cheese and bacon served on brioche. The Moto Burger has the same fabulous beef blend by the way. Andy’s fine dining experience is also evident in the new Smoked Trout Rillettes and Chicken Liver Pate.
Next up are the Buffalo Wings and while I am far from a “wings guy,” I am quite smitten with these super sized meaty morsels of goodness. They are described as “large double wings” with spicy buffalo sauce served with celery, carrots and blue cheese. The term double wings refers to the wing with the drumette and tip still attached and that makes for some seriously hearty wings. Andy is a Buffalo native so he knows a thing or two about how to do these right. They come in a three- or six-piece serving and are perfect to share before your sandwiches arrive or just make it a beer and wings night.
Besides the menu changes and expanded hours for dinner Moto has a new and improved patio and beer and wine available. The patio is now covered and heated with a couple of TVs and a children’s play area. Live music happens on Friday evenings, and that will be expanding to other nights as the weather warms up.
Their new draft beer system offers a constantly rotating selection of local craft beers, as well as locally made kombucha from Bambucha Kombucha and root beer from Moonglade. Just a reminder that as kombucha goes, Bambucha Kombucha is as good as it gets, chef crafted, locally made and goes great with most of the menu at Moto Deli. They also have a modest selection of wine that will be expanding as they grow their dinner business. As that dinner business grows, guests can expect to see more seasonal specials and not just sandwiches. Plated entrees like steaks and locally caught fish will be appearing soon.
There is also a “groms” section of the menu featuring a variety of kid-friendly sandwiches and such. Keep an eye on the MotoDeli Facebook and Instagram page for new menu additions. This place is evolving into one of the better coastal dining and drinking options and is worth following.
Find them at 810 N. Coast Highway 101, Encinitas. Call (760) 943-6688 for carry-out orders and visit www.motodeli.com.
Lick the Plate has interviewed over 700 chefs, restaurateurs, growers, brewers and culinary personalities over the past 10 years as a column in The Coast News and in Edible San Diego. He can be heard on KSON, FM94/9 and Sunny98.1. More at www.lick-the-plate.com