Some spots have a signature dish. Others have a signature vibe. Others still, have a signature time. At Pie Hole on Eighth Street, that time is half past drunk o'clock. Though the pizza joint does steady weekday business--slinging slices to the lunch crowd and poppin' PBRs for the happy hour hounds--it really shines during the weekend's wee hours, when it's open until 4 a.m.
On a recent Friday night, after last calls echoed and died through downtown dives, the party moved to Pie Hole. A line snaked out the door of the small space, growing more and more shitshow as the clock edged toward 2:30 a.m. Inside, the open kitchen hummed with the heat of a couple of ovens working on overdrive and the hustle of four or so dreaded/tattooed employees chopping toppings, slicing pies and ringing up the greasy, cheesy gutbombs that drunk dreams are made of.
Pie Hole isn't made for lingering--it's a slice and split kind of place. The walls are shellacked in stickers and cartoonish graffiti, and the handful of tables are often littered with greasy paper plates and abandoned crusts. Though a few arcade machines--Super Mario Bros., Metal Slug, Galaga--crowd around the unisex bathroom, serious gamers might be offended by all the heedless elbow bumping.
As I eyed the six or so rotating by-the-slice pizzas behind Pie Hole's plexiglass shield--everything from plain cheese to potato bacon--the gurgle of too many beers in my stomach started to keep time with Ghostland Observatory blasting through the speakers. Turning to my equally sauced neighbors in line, I asked what they were hoping to get from their pizza experience.
"I want a nice slice of pizza to settle my stomach after all the drinking I've done to allow me to go home and go to sleep," said one dude. "Hot shit on a plate with a little bit of peppery sauciness," said the girl behind him.
When I finally got my hot shit on a plate--mozzarella, sun-dried tomatoes, tofu and pesto ($2.36)--and doctored it up with Sriracha and Parmesan, my date and I decided to escape the chaos and move to an outside bench. Folding the piping hot, thin-crust New York-style pie in half, I scarfed down the greasy mess in a few bites. Turning to my date a few seconds later, I asked for a reminder of what was on my pizza. Though Pie Hole pizza is about as memorable as a passing bar conversation, it fills a definite niche in downtown after-hours dining culture. As one guy in line put it: "Pie Hole's where you go when you're done drinkin', right?"