Hollywood Star Danny Trejo Shows His Sweeter Side With a New Doughnut Restaurant
He’s the East LA boy turned Hollywood tough guy who draws crowds wherever he goes — and that applies to his food as well. Danny Trejo has launched Trejo’s Tacos, Trejo’s Truck, and Trejo’s Cantina, all to resounding success and a cult following, which is why the news of a new doughnut-focused Hollywood location was met with such excitement and hungry anticipation.
Driving along Santa Monica Boulevard, it’s impossible to miss the rambunctiously hot pink building. There’s nothing subtle at all about the location, despite being incredibly modest in its layout. The shop caters exclusively to take-out orders — the surrounding street corner acting as a makeshift dining hall, littered with hungry Instagrammers and carb-seeking diners, sitting at the bus stop benches eagerly (first) photographing and (second) consuming their freshly acquired treasures.
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Ash Shah was formerly one of Trejo’s film producers but now is co-owner of Trejo’s Donuts, and explains how the deviation from Trejo’s previous savory-food-focused projects came about. “I was driving by a doughnut store on a Sunday night and it was raining, and there was a line that was around 60 people deep. And then I drove a little further and saw a Starbucks also with a long line. And then it all fit. I’m like, we should do coffee and doughnuts.” And the rest is a sugar-glazed, rainbow-sprinkled history.
The basic doughnut, Gringo, and the cinnamon doughnut, Low Rider, do it simply, but right. The bakers have mastered the texture, delivering a golden crisp with a slight crunch when biting through the thin outside crust, before delving into the wonderfully soft and fluffy inside. And it’s from this base that the more diverse flavors build.
“We didn’t want to do a standard doughnut that everybody else does,” says Shah. “We didn’t want to compete with Dunkin’ Donuts and Krispy Kreme — we wanted to give it our own spin, just like we did with the taco place, where we didn’t just do traditional tacos — we kinda gave it our own spin. We did that with doughnuts too, in that they’re Mexican inspired.”
It’s an interesting mix of traditional favorites like glazed and powdered doughnuts and the more unusual creations, like the horchata doughnut, the “Maple Pig” maple bacon and brown sugar doughnut, and a margarita version made with tequila — which, in my opinion, truly encapsulates the feisty Mexican tone of the brand. This house doughnut is topped with a sparkling white frosting, and its sweetness is delightfully complemented by lime and a hint of salt. It’s vibrant and unique without being obnoxiously outlandish in its creativity, a characteristic that unfortunately seems to be a recurrence in the recent doughnut boom.
Trejo’s Azul Cake offering, a dense and rich blueberry cake doughnut, glistens with its deep purple glaze and, while heavier than the other flavors, carries a wonderfully fresh taste, offset with a hint of lemon. The vegan banana cake is also a nicely flavorful bite with a full-bodied banana sweetness carried through without being too intense.
One of the less conventional doughnut creations comes in the form of the Nacho doughnut — a cheddar cheese and chives doughnut, infused with a sharp and spicy jalapeño bite. The doughnut resembles more of a bread, which throws you back to memories of buying a freshly baked cheese roll from the humble local bakery.
“I don’t have a huge sweet tooth, so I wanted to go to a doughnut shop and not have to have something sweet,” explains Shah. “I love jalapeño cheddar bagels, and so we thought, let’s take that idea and make it into a doughnut.” Does it taste like a plate of nacho cheese? Not exactly — but it does provide a break from the sweetness overload that comes from your standard doughnut run, and the savory flavors, albeit subtle, are well combined to create memories of a classic fiesta favorite.
Trejo’s Donuts is without question further proof that the doughnut craze is certainly not dissipating any time soon, but also, that there’s an incredibly faithful following for the Trejo brand. With tacos, burritos, doughnuts, and coffee now conquered, we’re left taking guesses at what Danny Trejo’s next Californian food icon will be.