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  11 December 2017  |  Vol: 4 facebooktwitterrss  
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The Smiling Moose Deli Meets Walley World

“It’s a quest. It’s a quest for fun…” – Clark W. Griswold

Our day of national independence is but hours away, the Montana heat found its July gear weeks ago, and you’re already stressing about how to occupy Audrey and Rusty for the long, long hours between dawn and dusk. They eat so-o-o much!  Make no mistake, the dog days of summer are upon us.

Take a breath, parentals of Bozeman, and allow me to introduce the Smiling Moose Deli, the town’s new grub-spot on West Main Street. In full candor, the unassuming building may not be as worthy a destination for a cross-country tour as our historic downtown, but a parking lot steps away from the door is high-value when you’re herding the easily distracted, the hormonally challenged, the occasionally claws-and-fangs class—otherwise known as your loving children.
First thing you’ll notice upon entering the polished interior of the Smiling Moose is the menu. (Okay, you may first notice the cool, shadowy oasis—like a more colorful Chipotle with the dimmer turned down—but that reaction is directly proportional to the thermo reading outside.) Back to the menu: all the options are spelled out on the big board overhead with homemade sandwiches and deli options… and it continues to the right for salads and wraps and soups… in fact, the menu is like a Magna Carta wanna-be leaping to the adjacent wall to make room for the kiddie options and daily specials. (I’m exhausted just saying that; this parenting gig is not for the faint.)

The Smiling Moose and local owner Sharon Stachlowski cover plenty of terra firma with the offerings—not quite the “fifty yards” of sand that the Griswold patriarch cleared with the Family Truckster, but a lot of ground, nonetheless. For your first fly-by, there are a few items on the list that deserve extra illumination. The house-specialty Mighty Mo series (with an undeniable likeness to the Walley World mascot, I might add) has a few savory variations of the cheeseburger “grinder”-style sandwich, even a veggie version. The Smiling Moose also presents a tempting list of hot and cold sandwiches, in sizes regular or large. If I was forced to pick just one from each or face the fish-eyed stare of Aunt Edna, I’d go with either the Parisian (hot) or the Sidecar (cold), since they both come with the slightly sinful pesto mayo.

The Smiling Moose maintains a proper deli, too, meaning you can style your own sandwich or salad, any old way you want. My BFF who’s GF reports that the gluten-free bread, salads, and soups almighty meet the snuff of the Celiac Club. On my most recent visit, I had the House Harvest salad, and the dried cranberries and trimmings of chicken breast atop of bed of quality greens all sang in perfect harmony with the hot afternoon.

Since many of us are also a little faint of income these days, I'll parlay on the Smiling Moose’s affordability. They’ve got a Monday special on the Mighty Mo that should be considered as an open invitation for the first-timer. Equally encouraging for all us coupon-cutters is the meal-deal in the current Smart Shopper. For the kiddies, there’s mac & cheese, a small sandwich, a pizza bagel, a quesadilla (the list goes on) all available daily and starting at—get this—$3.79. And if you’re trying to put the hose to a wildfire schedule, call ahead or order online for a quick pick-up at the drive-thru. The Smiling Moose serves breakfast and even caters, which might be just the ticket for block parties and birthday parties and it’s-summer-and-we-just-want-to-party parties.

For the pennywise nod of approval, the spic-and-span conditions, the youthful friendliness of the staff (yes, really)—all these are the hallmarks of a locally owned and managed business. Each one of them is present at the Smiling Moose and stacked on top of one another, the venue lives up to highest of Mr. Griswold’s hopes for a d*** fun environment.

Just like Clark said, “You’re all gonna have so much fun, you’ll be whistling Zipp-a-Dee Doo-Dah out of your…”

And if you’re worried about me channeling voices from Grand Forks, North Dakota, well, this is the first franchise I’ve covered, and like anything else there’s good ones and bad ones. The Smiling Moose deserves credit for reviving a bland stretch of blacktop off West Main Street and a job well done.  -TBM

Editor’s Note: For locavores who give no quarter when it comes eating out, the rumor mill has been grinding-grinding-grinding this past month with at least six new eateries for Bozeman. Highlights include The Mint (Belgrade) ownership who’ve been pulling tape and smoking calculators around the former Aircraft Printers location, Campagno’s is opening a wood-fired pizza venue in the revamped Granary Building off North Rouse, the Bridger Brewing Company has plans next to T&C on South 11th, Damasco’s at Peach/Wallace, Cider House behind Heeb’s Grocery, Boodles???, and there’s even whispers about the vacancy next to Colombo’s Pizza & Pasta.

It’s safe to say Bev Ridge is gonna be a busy gal.

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