In March, my esteemed colleague Tan Vinh wrote about how there were only two ways to score a pizza at Moto, West Seattle’s hot new pizzeria. First, you could make an online order. Downside? You’ll have to wait until June to get your pizza. If the pizza craving strikes with more immediacy, the other option is to show up the day you’re hoping for pizza to grab one of the limited doughs owner Lee Kindell keeps on hand for walk-ups — with the caveat that you might as well “bring your sleeping bag and camp out overnight.”
Call it what you want (Luck? The pizza gods smiling down on me?), but at 3:40 p.m. one recent Wednesday, I was the first person standing on the postage-stamp-sized lawn in front of the adorable tiny house (complete with “Up”-style balloons escaping from the chimney) that’s home to Moto. Kindell appeared with a friendly smile that filled his face, and called me a “die-hard” before quickly masking up and assuring me there was pizza available for walk-ups that day.
Indeed, I was able to score two of his 8-by-10-inch Detroit-style pies — a cheese ($9) and a Root ($14), topped with a mushroom mix, black olives, onion and pickled walnut — right as the restaurant opened at 4 p.m. and was on my way before 4:30 p.m. There were only three other pizza hopefuls while I was there, so maybe the initial extreme buzz has died a bit?
Regardless of how you got your hands on this pizza, it is very, very good (and this coming from someone who is still hearing about the aftershocks caused by my last pizza proclamation in Pierce County). The thick crust is sturdy yet airy with a delightful ring of crisp, nearly burnt cheese around the edges that was so irresistible my kid was breaking off the edges as soon as I had it out of the box. The pickled walnut on the Root added a little crunch that I loved, giving the black olives and mushrooms an elevated kick. I’ll be back once I’m able to sit at one of the sweet little bistro chairs on the lawn for the crab pizza and a side of soft serve.
Moto: 4-9 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday; 4526 42nd Ave. S.W., Seattle; 206-420-8880; motoseattle.com
If you’re not in the mood for pizza, here are three other spots I loved in West Seattle recently.
Noon-7 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday; 2530 Alki Ave. S.W., Seattle; instagram.com/tacontainer_seattle
This petite matte-black shipping-container-turned-taco-window has prime placement directly across from the beach, sandwiched between a Wheel Fun Rentals and Ampersand Cafe. Opening hours are listed as noon to 7 p.m., but we’re operating on beach time here, so things are loose. The day I visited, the window didn’t open until 12:30 p.m. There are four street-style double-tortilla’d tacos offered each day; beef ($3), chicken ($3), wild mushroom ($4) and a rotating special — this ranges from chorizo to wild venison — and you can add truffle oil, avocado or charred jalapeño to any taco for a small upcharge. The tacos come topped with chopped cilantro and red onion, but the self-ordering kiosk makes it easy to modify your taco order or add additional items. I ordered one of each taco; my favorites were the chicken, featuring tender hunks of marinated juicy chicken thigh, and the smoky chorizo. A tangy mild green salsa came on the side, plus a handful of corn chips and limes.
Thai Chicken Rice
5-9 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday; 4611 36th Ave. S.W., Seattle; 206-554-9442; thaichickenrice.us
The best khao man gai I’ve had in the Seattle area is hiding in this little commercial kitchen, only open for pickup. You know you’re in the right place when you see a small red sign that says, “Mobile Order Pick Up Here,” hanging on a rough stone wall above a small free-standing kiosk with an iPad, Ring doorbell and hand-sanitizer dispenser. Order at the kiosk or in advance for pickup. Right now the menu is small; khao man gai ($12.95) and khao man gai tod (the fried chicken version), curry puffs ($8.95), fried chicken wings ($7.95) and spring rolls ($6.95), but an Instagram post hints at an expanded menu to come. The curry puffs are plump with curried potatoes encased in an incredibly flaky fried crust. The poached and fried versions of the khao man gai both feature flavorful rice, almost slick with chicken fat. The poached chicken is tender and juicy while the fried chicken is fatty and crispy. Both come with a rich broth, a slice of daikon bobbing in its depths. The poached chicken is served with a cup of dipping sauce packed with so much ginger and garlic your nose will pleasantly clear. The fried chicken comes with a (not too) sweet-and-sour sauce. Portion sizes are generous but you really won’t want to share.
10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday, 4-9 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday; 5401 California Ave. S.W., Seattle; 206-432-9554; boxbarseattle.com
The menu is completely plant-based at this little space, currently open to 21+ patrons for limited dine-in and takeout. I loved the portobello French dip ($13), featuring a baguette stacked high with thick balsamic-marinated portobello mushroom slices, caramelized onions and a ridiculously creamy vegan cheese. It came with a side of vegan au jus, but it wasn’t needed. Also great was the kale salad ($13) with miso, lemon and garlic dressing, dusted with hemp parmesan and crunchy croutons, and the wonderfully rich chocolate mousse pie ($8), with a fudgy Theo’s chocolate mousse, crumbly dark-chocolate cookie crust and a dollop of coconut cream.