Hot Toppings Pizza
BY MIKE PUCKETT
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Hot Toppings is located in Southwest Houston on Westheimer, just west of Hillcroft/ S. Voss.
When I first noticed all the recommendations Good Eats Houston was getting about this new pizza joint, I was intrigued. The description I was reading the most was that Hot Toppings gets you in and out, while serving up a really good pizza.
When I heard that Hot Toppings was fast casual, I must say it wasn’t the buzz word I was looking for. I am not in tune with family dining. When I say “Family Style”, I mean a group of friends and foodies sharing different dishes while we enjoy craft beer, cocktails and wine. Ha!
So, fast casual restaurants aren’t exactly what I am looking for. I dine for the experience and entertainment, hoping that the night will never end. I am looking for a cool pizza joint, with creativity in every slice. A place where I can get a craft beer or a glass of wine and catch up with friends and family.
My biggest concern with the format was how the pizza might take a hit for speed.
Thanks to the Good Eats Houston Foodie Group, my eyes are now open and I have seen the proverbial light! I better understand the challenges families with young children face when dining out. Don’t get it twisted… I just said I better understand; I don’t claim to know. Ha!
From my understanding, there are a number of factors families must think about: budget, time, attention span and pleasing picky eaters. Well, let’s just say that Hot Toppings puts all of your worries to bed.
At Hot Toppings, the options to design your own pie were unlimited. Everyone gets exactly what they want – no compromises needed – at very affordable prices.
Oh, and they have Top Texas Craft Beer! The key words here for me were “unlimited options” and “craft beer”, but if you have been following me very long… this should come as no surprise.
When you walk through the door, the first thing you notice is a beautiful Houston mural with the words: “Simple, human… fun! Be Someone”. I couldn’t have written it better myself.
These words truly define the experience here at Hot Toppings. You simply walk up to the counter, pick your size, crust, sauce, cheese, meat and toppings. You get the pleasure of watching them build your masterpiece and cook it right in front of you. Approximately 3 minutes later… you are enjoying a hot personal pizza you designed! Is that something you would be interested in?
Of course, we ordered some Top Texas Craft Beers. I got one of my favorites – 8th Wonder Rocket Fuel. If you haven’t tried Rocket Fuel from 8th Wonder, then get ready for an experience all in itself. Rocket Fuel is a Vietnamese Coffee Porter infused with cold-brew coffee and milk sugar… I will leave it at that.
We ordered some Garlic Stix to see what they were all about. Well, they were all about garlic, oregano, butter, cheese… and the same crust used to make the pizzas. We loved it and it’s great for groups.
You know I always order a salad with my meals – and I think it’s best with pizza. I enjoy switching back and forth between the two – all the flavors work very well together and it also creates a creamy palate cleanse.
The salad was wonderful and used the same fresh ingredients that my pizza was made with. You can order one of their specialty salads or make your own. I ordered the large salad… and large is an understatement! If you are looking for a personal salad, make sure and order a small… or bring your bunny along. Ha!
We ordered 4 pies to go-round. They were perfect, and we named them too! This is great – little Jimmy can have his own pizza named after himself. Or, in this case, little Puckett.
Puckett’s Pie was meticulously designed with the flavors that most come to mind when I think of pizza: olive oil, mozzarella /provolone blend, Parmesan, pepperoni, chorizo, garlic, mushrooms, red pepper and jalapenos. Not only was this cheesy pizza spicy, but the olive oil substitute allowed the flavor or the meats to become more pronounced. If you LOVE flavor, then try this pie!
Hunt’s Pie was built with the carnivore in mind. This rich and hearty pizza was hand-crafted with marinara, mozzarella, bacon, pepperoni, Italian sausage, garlic and jalapenos. I have to say, this pie was good. Really good! This is the type of slice that goes great with salad. The meat and marinara mix can be really rich – so a bite of salad allows your palate to simmer down a bit before the next rich and cheesy bite!
Next up was the Classic Margherita served with marinara sauce: a simple pie with mozzarella, tomatoes and basil. I first started eating this style on the reg when I moved to Southern California. Light and flavorful, it’s just the perfect slice on your way to the beach or, in this case, back to the office. Ha!
Now, for the surprise of the day! I asked one of the owners, Dave, which Hot Toppings pizza was the most unusually great! He didn’t hesitate and started naming off toppings. Let’s call it Dave’s Choice.
At first, this incredible pizza had me perplexed. But the flavor compatibility of these unique toppings is quite intriguing.
Dave’s Choice was constructed with a BBQ sauce base, mozzarella /provolone blend, pulled chicken, cranberries and walnuts then drizzled with honey mustard. You must try this combo – it’s really something special. I never would have thought to drizzle honey mustard on pizza. But when you think about it, people dip it in ranch. So, why not?
This sweet and savory slice profoundly promotes what Hot Toppings is all about! Searching out your own culinary creativity and casually consulting every taste bud along the way. And at the same time, little Jimmy can have his own personal cheese pizza. We are ALL happy!
No meal goes down without dessert, right? Well, at Hot Toppings this is certainly true!
We finished everything off with Sweet Goodness. And, wow! Another creative play here built with the same materials as the Garlic Stix. But this time they worked with cinnamon and sugar dipped in three incredible sauces: cream cheese, chocolate and raspberry. Take a look at the photography and see what I thought about this one. A smile… from ear to ear!
Hot Toppings is the perfect place for everyone… literally everyone. That is the beauty of it all.
The mural reads “Simple, human… fun! Be Someone”. Well, simply put, if you are human and enjoy a fun dining experience then “Be Someone”. Be someone who walks through those doors. Be someone who is back to work on time without compromising a great lunch. Be someone that provides a great experience for every age group in your family. Be someone who supports a local business. Be someone… be you!
PHOTOGRAPHY: MIKE PUCKETT
Hot Toppings Pizza
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