A new plant-based pizzeria named Hot Tongue is now open for business on the northeast end of Silver Lake, right on Glendale Boulevard near Fletcher Drive in that busy corridor near Whole Foods, Astro Diner, and Modern Eats. The three-week-old Hot Tongue’s pizzas are built with vegan cheeses and naturally leavened organic dough that are all made in-house.
Hot Tongue owner Alex Koons is a former musician who came to LA to pursue his dreams before reconfiguring his plans while working as a delivery driver at Purgatory Pizza. Koons became manager and eventually partner at the shop, developing an obsession with pizza dough along the way. As it turns out, Koons has a knack for making a blistery, airy, thin-crust pizza, and wanted to expand deeper into vegan pizzas beyond what Purgatory already offered. Note: Hot Tongue is also the name of Koons’s former band, a nod to the hot tongue sandwich from Langer’s Deli.
There’s more than just thin crust at Hot Tongue, too. The Detroit-style pie is gluten-free, while Hot Tongue’s Sicilian thick crust takes three days to prepare; the latter is covered in garlic, marinara sauce, a drizzle of pesto, with almond ricotta and fresh basil. Diners can also order garlic knots and a kale salad with a shiitake mushroom bacon, while the thin crust variety can be customized beyond the standard margherita. Hot Tongue’s white pie starts with a garlic olive oil base and adds almond ricotta, caramelized onion, mushroom, oregano, and almond parmesan, all on an everything bagel crust. And in a move that’ll prove to be popular, these plant-based pies come by the slice as well.
Koons originally signed a lease for Hot Tongue in mid-2020, but navigating COVID-19, reliable contractors, inspectors, and overall building a business delayed the opening until February 18. The casual strip-mall storefront is impossible to miss with a pink neon 1980s, rock-and-roll-inspired lettering that glows like a beacon at night, with surrealist modern artwork that fits the space by local artist Deladeso. For the time being, Hot Tongue chose to avoid third-party delivery apps, so staff members deliver pizzas within a five-mile radius.
Koons hopes Hot Tongue appeals beyond the plant-based community. “I don’t want to be known for something because it’s vegan,” he says, “I just want people to come enjoy a slice as much as they would with dairy or meat on one and not say ‘This isn’t normal pizza.’ It 100 percent is, it just has a different kind of balance.”
Hot Tongue Pizza’s hours are 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. daily at the storefront at 2590 Glendale Boulevard.