Celebrate the LA RAMS this Sunday

Trejo’s Coffee and Los Angeles Rams donuts

Celebrate the Los Angeles Rams’ NFC Championship Game on Sunday, Jan. 20, against the New Orleans Saints. Bring some of Los Angeles Rams fan Danny Trejo’s donuts to your football viewing party. The glazed football-shaped donuts features the Rams’ colors and player numbers, including a #16 donut for Jared Goff, #30 donut for Todd Gurley, #99 donut for Aaron Donald, #35 donut for C.J. Anderson and #29 donut for Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson. They will be baked and available on Sunday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. 6785 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, (323)462-4600.

Cal Mare’s Culinary NFL Playoff Deal

Cal Mare’s Chef Adam Sobel is among the headlining names cooking at the official Culinary Kickoff Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta, and leading up to the big game, Chef Adam is so excited to cheer on the Los Angeles Rams this Sunday. If they win  against the Saints, Cal Mare will serve $0.53 pizzas (nodding to Super Bowl’s 53rd year) to enjoy during aperitivo hour on Monday, January 21, between 4-7 p.m. The limited-time pizza deal includes a choice of their wood-fired MARGHERITA PIZZA with Fior di Latte and Basil, as well as SCAMORZA PIZZA with Broccoli, Olive, and Roasted Garlic. The offer is for dine-in customers only and available to the first 100 guests; first come, first served. 8500 Beverly Blvd. #115 (Ground Floor) (424)332-4595.

 

 

Trejo’s Cantina is Muy Bueno

The bar in the front of Trejo’s newest cantina in Pasadena was standing room only, as was the large dining room. Theatre patrons were sipping one last drink, before seeing the first show of the Pasadena Playhouse season – Our Town. Located adjacent to the playhouse, the cantina makes sure theatre patrons are finished before the 8 p.m. curtain.

IMG_5557

The face of Danny Trejo, the actor and namesake of the new restaurant is featured throughout the dining room. Best known for his roles in movies including “Machete” and “From Dusk till Dawn,” he’s one of the driving forces behind this venture, which continues to expand. Trejo told me once, “I’d rather shoot for the moon and miss, then aim for the gutter and make it.” In my opinion he isn’t missing at all.

IMG_6359

The first Trejo’s Tacos on La Brea Ave. opened in 2016 by partners Trejo, Jeff Georgino and film producer Ash Shah. Georgino and Shah met while roommates at the University of Southern California. Shah and Trejo became friends on the set of the movie “Bad Ass.” Together they make quite a team.

IMG_3673

Soon after the success of Trejo’s Tacos, they opened Trejo’s Cantina in Hollywood on Cahuenga Ave. Next they started cruising around Los Angeles in Trejo’s Truck with the actor’s face displayed on the black food truck. Making stops throughout the City of Angels, the chefs prepared savory tacos filled with brisket, pork, cauliflower, and grilled chicken that they paired with horchata and refreshing agua frescas.

IMG_6342

Next they painted a bright pink Trejo’s Coffee & Donuts logo on Santa Monica Blvd. and started selling creative donuts with flavors that include margarita, Coco Loco, Low Rider and the Maple Pig with bacon. The coffee drinks are all made with Trejo Coffee.

Now they opened another cantina in the historic Pasadena area, offering sit down service, with heartier menu items and a full bar.

IMG_5561

At the bar, most of the beers are on draft except two served with a can, the Stone IPA and a Dos XX Lager. Besides cerveza, they also offer a variety of unique margaritas with names that include The Good Stuff made with Grand Marnier, Pink Señorita made with Blanco tequila, strawberry lemonade, triple sec and fresh lime, and The Jalapeño rimmed with Tajin, a seasoning powder made with chile peppers, lime, and salt. It will leave your lips tingling.

Since Danny Trejo stopped drinking years ago, he offers a variety of non alcoholic beverages for his guests. They make date sweetened horchata, a variety of fresh aguas frescas, Mexican Coke and a Cochata made with Trejo Coffee cold brew mixed with horchata.

Manager Thomas Fuchs welcomed us and sat us near the kitchen along the banquette decorated with colorful Mexican blankets hanging on the back wall.

IMG_2329

The first thing we noticed, as a basket of chips and salsa were delivered to our table is that they are different here than other Mexican restaurants. The chips stay extra crispy in a chip warmer, before sprinkled with sea salt and decorated with lime zest shavings. The chunky brick red colored salsa is made the night before with roasted tomatoes and tomatillos. The fresh guacamole is made each morning using serrano chiles, chopped pistachios, lemon and chopped onions, offering an appealing crunch.

IMG_5583

Looking at the menu, Thomas recommended the Brussels Sprouts, quesadilla and street corn for starters, “They are like no other,” he said. The Brussels Sprouts are dusted in corn starch and flash fried before dazzled with a red chimichurri sauce. When the street corn arrived in a bowl, we noticed perfectly grilled corn kernels cut off the cob and topped with chipotle cream and popcorn.

What makes Trejo’s quesadilla different is that it’s stuffed with crispy deep fried chicken, Mexican slaw and chilies. It’s served with a tangy, hot chipotle crema dipping sauce.

IMG_2506

Since the Trejo team is known for their Trejo’s street tacos, we ordered a couple for the table. On the menu there are multiple meat, vegetarian and vegan options. For meat lovers they make slowly cooked carnitas with red onions; brisket; and steak asada tacos. For seafood tacos they make blackened salmon, Baja fish and spicy shrimp. They also make a grilled chicken with achiote, slaw and pico de gallo.

I was curious about the young Jackfruit taco. Where else can you order a Jackfruit taco? It arrived in a soft corn tortilla with Mexican slaw, avocado cream, crunchy tortilla strips and pico de gallo. Jackfruit has become a new superfood in the vegan world. It’s a healthy and sustainable vegan meat replacement that offers sweet and earthy flavors. It tastes a little bit like pineapple, hearts of palm and kimchi, with a texture similar to pulled pork. The vegan Mexi-falafel taco has three fried beans, chilies and spice spheres that are topped with shredded kale, pickled pink onion swirls and dollops of cashew cream.

IMG_2343

My husband ordered the chicken fajitas served in a black skillet with a padded chili pepper hot pad on the handle, to prevent servers and guests from burning their hand. The grilled chicken is served with grilled lime wedges, sliced onions, Greenville peppers and an aluminum wrapped package filled with flour tortillas.

Looking at the table next to us, we noticed the burritos are massive here. They make five different types. They steak asada is filled with cheese, beans, rice, Mexican slaw, pepita pesto and pico de gallo. It comes dry, but for a few dollars more you can order it wet and topped with guacamole. They also make a carnitas burrito filled with pineapple, hot sauce, slaw and pico de gallo. Others include a fried chicken burrito, spicy shrimp and Mexi-falafel burrito.

Our server Nikki shared with us that she likes Trejo’s Cantina Mexican food, because it’s organic and non-GMO. “You can eat two or three tacos and not feel uncomfortable, because they are healthier,” she said. “The vegan and vegetarian options are terrific.”

Once the Pasadena Playhouse doors opened for the show, we noticed half of the diners stroll out into the Pasadena Playhouse courtyard. Their tables were cleared quickly and new diners sat down.

IMG_2346

Needing a quick dessert before the show, we ordered the cinnamon churros. They arrived hot, fat and crispy around the edges. Dipping them into the chocolate and strawberry sauce, we remarked that these are not the standard churros you find at most restaurants.

IMG_5556

Danny Trejo and his team are soaring high with another successful cantina. $$ 1556 N. Cahuenga Blvd. (323)461-8226 and 37 S. El Molino Ave. (626)792-4441. Trejo’s Tacos – 1048 S. La Brea Ave. (323)938-TACO and Trejo’s Coffee & Donuts – 6785 Santa Monica Blvd. (323)462-4600.

This review was also featured in the Beverly Press and Park LaBrea News – Oct. 12, 2107 –  http://beverlypress.com/2017/10/trejos-cantina-is-muy-bueno/

 

2016 Most Facinating People

This year I had the opportunity to interview celebrities, chefs, volunteers and who touched my heart with a quote they shared. Here are 10 of the most fascinating people I met this year –

Photo by Jill Weinlein
Frances Ford Coppola – Photo by Jill Weinlein
  1. Frances Ford Coppola – The night I met Coppola, he was receiving a special honor and award at the 25th annual UCLA TFT Film Festival Directors Spotlight along with a talented group of film students. Sitting in a large theater at the Director’s Guild of America on Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood, I watched UCLA Dean Teri Scwartz honor Francis Ford Coppola with the Distinguished Vanguard Director Award Presentation. She enlightened guests with the history of Coppola’s career and had her team put together a short compilation of Coppola’s films that included Apocalypse Now, Bram Stroker’s Dracula, The Cotton Club, Finian’s Rainbow, The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, The Godfather Part III, The Outsiders, Peggy Sue Got Married and You’re a Big Boy Now. While a graduate student at UCLA, Coppola won a Samuel Goldwyn Award for the best screenplay. After this honor he was hired to write scripts for Seven Arts. Read more – http://luxebeatmag.com/legendary-film-director-francis-ford-coppola/.

    Wayne Brady - Photo by Jill Weinlein
    Wayne Brady – Photo by Jill Weinlein
  2. Wayne Brady – Growing up in Florida, Wayne Brady knew he wanted to be an actor, He acted in high school and enjoyed improvisation (which he is brilliant at). I interviewed Brady at The Wallis Theatre in Beverly Hills.  Here’s the full interview http://thestagereview.net/2016/11/11/wayne-brady-tries-sondheim-first-time-wallis/.

    Director and Actors Rob Reiner
    Director and Actors Rob Reiner
  3. Rob Reiner – While dining at the elegant BOA Steakhouse for lunch I always spot an actor and model visiting Ford Models office, Abrams Artists or Atlas Entertainment and Media Talent Group located in the 14-story building. It’s also on the bottom level of the private, members-only Soho House that resides at the top of the two-story penthouse. One day, I saw actor, comedian, producer and director Rob Reiner. He stopped at our table and shared with me that he has two movies coming out in 2016 -2017. Read my review of BOA Steakhouse – https://dineandtravel.me/2016/04/10/dine-like-a-celebrity-at-boa-steakhouse-on-sunset/

    Author Simone Leslie with writer.
    Author Simone Leslie with writer.
  4. Author Simone Leslie – I was fortunate to lunch with this beautiful writer Simone Leslie and our mutual friend and public relations wizard Cherry Hepburn at The Front Yard in North Hollywood. Leslie is an Australian author who wrote the book – It’s OK To Be Beautiful: Heavenly Whispers To A Broken Heart. This beauty started modeling at 15 years old, yet was shy and insecure. She constantly heard negative voices, that left her almost suicidal. “If you don’t believe you are worthy, you will self sabotage yourself,” Leslie shared. After years of studying psychology, she wrote a book to help people create a shift in the core programming levels of their brain that will bring healing and wholeness. Her short stories are a revelation from heartache to love life and oneself. Her book can be viewed and purchases at http://www.putnamandsmithpublishing.com or go to http://www.simoneleslie.com.

    William and Elizabeth Shatner
    William and Elizabeth Shatner
  5. William and Elizabeth Shatner – It’s a beautiful love story of Hollywood movie and television star William Shatner meeting a beautiful woman named Elizabeth. Quickly the two realized they had a lot in common with their mutual admiration for horses and helping those in need. They married in 2001 and got to work helping others. Every year the Shatners host the Hollywood Charity Horse Show in Burbank, raising money for children’s and veterans’ charities. Priceline.com (Will’s been a spokesperson for the Priceline.com since 1997) and the generous people at Wells Fargo help host this fundraising party by bringing together horses, riders, a great dinner, one-of-a-kind auction items and superstar entertainment, which has included in past years Brad Paisley, Ben Folds, Lyle Lovett, Willie Nelson, Randy Travis, Sarah McLachlan, Sheryl Crow, Joe Walsh and Vince Gill. Read more – https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/william-elizabeth-shatner-give-back-jill-weinlein.

    Actress Saycon Sengbloh
    Actress Saycon Sengbloh
  6. Actress Saycon Sengbloh – I had the opportunity to meet and interview Broadway veteran Saycon Sengbloh at a rehearsal of Merrily We Roll Along. Sengbloh was nominated for a Tony Award last year for her role in Danai Gurira’s Eclipsed. Recently she starred in Michael Arden’s production of Stephen Sondheim’s masterwork Merrily We Roll Along at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts. Here’s my interview – http://thestagereview.net/2016/11/29/catching-up-with-saycon-sengbloh/

    Chef Mario Batali
    Chef Mario Batali
  7. Chef Mario Batali – Mario Battle the chef and  restauranteur has over 25 different restaurants located in Boston, New York, Boston, Connecticut, Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Singapore. They are all operated by Batali and Bastianich Hospitality Group which co-develops the restaurants with chefs, GMs and wine directors. “It’s like a franchise, where the people involved have part equity,” Batali said. “Their ownership is crucial to the map of the program. It gives everyone accountability to help the restaurant succeed.” Here’s more of my review – https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-mario-batali-successful-jill-weinlein.

    The Academy presented a screening of "Heat" on Wednesday, September 7, 2016. Pictured (left to right): Director/Producer/Writer Michael Mann, Actor Robert De Niro, Actor Al Pacino and Moderator Christopher Nolan.
    Director/Producer/Writer Michael Mann, Actor Robert De Niro, Actor Al Pacino and Moderator Christopher Nolan.
  8. Meeting the Director and Cast of HEAT – I pinched myself sitting in front of Al Pacino, Robert De Niro and Michael Mann as they discussed how they made the classic movie – HEAT. Oscar nominee Christopher Nolan led the discussion. Actors Val Kilmer, Tom Sizemore and Amy Brenneman were also present. I learned that Pacino and De Niro previously worked together in 1974 on Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather Part II” before being reunited in “Heat,” which is set in Los Angeles. – Here’s my article https://dineandtravel.me/2016/09/28/meeting-the-cast-of-michal-manns-heat/.

    Artist Gage John Lazare - Photo by Jill Weinlein
    Artist Gage John Lazare – Photo by Jill Weinlein
  9. Gage John Lazare –  I attended a special painting session at The London West Hollywood near Beverly Hills, and was warmly welcomed by the creative artist Gage John Lazare. Raised in Kahnawake, near Montreal, Canada, he now he lives in New York City and travels around the world, creating his own pieces and collaborating with other artists and designers. I took a seat in front of a small easel holding a blank white canvas. A package of paint brushes in various sizes and package of paints and a palette were nearby. Here’s what I learned – https://dineandtravel.me/2016/08/31/outdoor-paint-class-at-the-london-hotel/.

    Actor and Restauranteur Danny Trejo with writer.
    Actor and Restauranteur Danny Trejo with writer.
  10. Danny Trejo – When I asked Danny Trejo what advice he gives the youth of today? He replied, “I would rather shoot for the moon and miss, than aim for the gutter and make it.” Read more – https://dineandtravel.me/2016/08/30/trejo-taco-truck-is-roaming-los-angeles/.

Trejo Taco Truck is Roaming Los Angeles

Photo by Jill Weinlein
Photo by Jill Weinlein

I wrote a glowing review of Danny Trejo’s newest endeavor Trejo’s Tacos, when I took my friend Taylor Carbonetti after it opened on La Brea Blvd., in April 2016. (https://dineandtravel.me/2016/04/29/terrific-trejos-tacos/). We noticed it’s revitalizing the area of La Brea Blvd. below Wilshire Blvd and the 10 freeway.

Since Carbonetti is a fan of Danny Trejo’s movies, she excitedly joined me. Unfortunetly, Trejo was filming the day we dined, yet we still had a great time eating tacos and talking to the chef and staff.

More and more brick and mortar restaurants get their start as a pop-up or food truck. The chefs work hard-driving all over Southern California to get their cuisine and name known to foodies and food truck aficionados. Once they raise enough capital, they find a location and open a store front or stand alone restaurant.

Photo by Jill Weinlein
Photo by Jill Weinlein

Danny Trejo and his partners in the restaurant, Jeff Georgino and Ash Shah do things differently. They opened Trejo’s Tacos on La Brea and within one day, lines of people wrapped around the corner eager to meet Danny Trejo and eat tacos, tostadas and really good gucamole. It became an overnight sensation. Soon they bought a food truck, painted it black with the Trejo’s Taco logo and started roaming the streets of So Cal as of August 30, 2016. Inside the truck is a leopard skin interior and fuzzy dice.

When I received an invitation to attend a preview of the truck at the American Legion Hall in Hollywood Blvd. on Highland Avenue last night (August 29, 2016), plus eat tacos and meet Trejo and his new Executive chef – John Carlos Kuramoto, I immediately text Carbonetti.

We were gitty when we saw Trejo talking to a couple near the truck. Walking up to the truck window, we ordered four different street tacos and found a table. Minutes later, Danny Trejo came over to chat with us. We learned about his family, restaurants and movie career. Here is what I discovered –

Photo by Jill Weinlein
Photo of Danny Trejo with son Gilbert and wife Taylor. Photo by Jill Weinlein

FAMILY

Danny’s son Gilbert brought his new bride Taylor to the Food Truck Tasting event. They recently were married at this location, the Hollywood American Legion Hall. “When I pulled up to the wedding, I asked Gilbert why they selected this location,” Trejo told me. His son said, “Dad if it wasn’t for the U.S. Armed Forces, I might not be able to be here today and getting married. It’s a great party venue.”

We also learned that when Gilbert fell in love with make-up artist Taylor she said, “If you give me the moon and the stars, then I will marry you.” Gilbert made a moon and stars from paper mache and hung them on the curtains. What a romantic son!

 

10906322_1612764348951313_1543608115880210866_n
(Photo from JC’s Facebook page)

NEW CHEF

Trejo Taco has a new Executive Chef and he is a cutie! John Carlos (JC) Kuramoto heads the kitchen of the La Brea restaurant and now the food truck too. Soon he will also be getting the new Cahuenga Blvd. Trejo’s Taco brick and mortar up and running by the end of September.

This talented chef started cooking at the age of 16. He has worked in the kitchens of Campanile on La Brea and Michael’s in Santa Monica. “I’ve always wanted to cook tacos,” said Chef JC. “I’m half Mexican and half Japanese, so I love spicy ‘In your face’ Mexican food with acidity from a squeeze of lime.”

Growing up he enjoyed tamales and sushi, “I like to make the subtle balance of fusion flavors in my dishes,” said the chef. It’s a winning combination!

Photo by Jill Weinlein
Photo by Jill Weinlein

Here are four of the non-traditional Mexican tacos I enjoyed while talking to Chef JC –

  1. PULLED BEEF BRISKET – tortilla strips with pico de gallo and cotija cheese.
  2. Vegan RAINBOW CAULIFLOWER – white, yellow and purple cauliflower dressed with cashew cream, pickled onions in clove and allspice), corn and micro cilantro.
  3. GRILLED CHICKEN made with achiote, cabbage slaw, pico de gallo and salsa verde.
  4. CARNITAS – slowly cooked with red onions.
IMG_3674
Photo by Jill Weinlein

Chef JC added the tri color vegan cauliflower tacos to the menu, when he started working at Trejo’s Tacos three months ago. “They outsell our vegan tofu tacos now,” said Chef JC. He also added bowls to the menu. There is a Steak Asada, Grilled Chicken and Rainbow Cauliflower bowl. “Danny ate heavy Mexican food growing up. Now he enjoys our lighter and healthier food,” added the chef.

My favorite shrimp tostada with a squeeze of citrus is still at the La Brea location, yet now there is also a vegan quinoa tostada with a squeeze of citrus, lettuce, cherry tomato, Hass avocado and serrano pepper.

On the truck is friendly Jimmy one of the chefs. “I can’t wait to wake up every morning and get on the truck,” said Jimmy. “People drive up to our truck, honk and take photos. I think they hope Danny is inside,” Jimmy told me. “I feel like a celebrity working on this truck.”

IMG_3707
Writer with Danny Trejo

PEARLS OF WISDOM

When I asked Danny Trejo what advice he gives the youth of today? He replied, “I would rather shoot for the moon and miss, than aim for the gutter and make it.”

Don’t expect Danny to be at his restaurant or food truck every day. Next week he is going to be at Comic Con 2016 in Salt Lake City (Labor Day weekend) – http://saltlakecomiccon.com. Then he flies up to Calgary to shoot a new movie – Dead Again in Tombstone. Whenever he is back in LA he loves to hang out at Trejo’s Tacos and chat with his fans.“I am so excited about this food truck,” said Trejo. “I can’t wait to be out on the road with it, serving all our fans on the go.”

To find Trejo’s Truck, which will also be used for catering and special events, follow @trejostruck on Instagram and Twitter, or visit http://www.trejostacos.com

LOCATIONS –

1048 S. La Brea, Los Angeles (323)938-TACO – Open Monday through Sunday 11 a.m to 9 p.m.

OPENING SOON -1556 N Cahuenga, Los Angeles, CA 90028.

%d bloggers like this: