with Trejo’s Tacos
On Thursday, January 30th we had the amazing opportunity to drive up the coast and attend the grand opening of Trejo’s Tacos in Santa Monica. Located at 1419 Santa Monica Blvd., the famous chain is not the only restaurant in the building. The mexican restaurant was added as a new member of The Colony, which is an innovative smart kitchen that allows for different types of restaurant foods to be produced out of one area.
Parking at The Colony was a breeze, as there is a parking lot conveniently located in the back. As we turned the street corner and walked up to the event, we noticed a large crowd on the sidewalk and the uplifting sound of mariachi music. There was a merchandise table set up with balloons that read “Trejo’s” floating above. At closer inspection, we were shocked to see Danny Trejo hanging out in the middle of the crowd smiling from ear to ear and greeting guests that arrived. Before we could process what was happening, Mr. Trejo instantly waved us over and we posed for a photo with Machete himself. After the warm welcome, we made our way inside and waited for the event to begin.
The first time you walk inside you will be surprised at the small size of the interior, which includes only a few tables and one counter to order from. Because the amount of options to choose from may be overwhelming, the ordering process is made easy with touch screens located in line before you reach the counter. On the touch screen, you can browse the menus of more than 25 different restaurants, and when you hit submit the cooks will begin working on your order. The Colony includes a variety of cuisines that will satisfy whatever craving you may have, pumping out food such as pizza, pasta, chicken sandwiches, tacos, and more.
After all the guests had settled in, ribbon-cutting ceremony was conducted with city council members and local news publications in attendance. Because Trejo is the star of Machete, it was only fitting that he used the weapon to break through the ribbon. The mariachi band continued to play throughout the celebration, and we were ushered inside where we began the most exciting part of the experience. We were served different variations of the famous tacos and had the opportunity to sit and converse with Trejo. This was the opportunity of a lifetime, and during our luncheon we discussed where his inspiration came from and what some of his favorite items on the menu are.
The tacos that were included in our taste test were the steak asada, carnitas, mushroom asada, and cauliflower. While they all had impeccable flavor, the one that stood out the most was the steak asada taco. This one was unique because it included a not-so-common ingredient: pineapple. The sweet taste of pineapple mixed with the spicy salsa created something amazing that I had never tasted before, and led to me wanting to try more. Another notable item on the menu is the cauliflower taco, which was voted as the number one recipe in Los Angeles by the LA Times and is one of Trejo’s personal favorites.
During our conversation we learned that the restaurant chain began with inspiration from Trejo’s mother. Her homemade meals were loved by Trejo, and he wanted to recreate the meals that were a part of his upbringing. Going from an actor to a restaurant owner is not as easy as it is made out to be. It took finding the perfect team and formula to create a business that is becoming more successful every year.
“Don’t ever try anything without having a good support system. I’ve got a great team. We’ve definitely hit a home run at every spot.”
The success of the restaurant can not only be credited to the taste of the food, but for the expansive and inclusive menu. With a menu full of tacos, burritos, bowls, and more, Trejo’s Tacos offers selections not only for the avid meat eater, but includes options for vegetarians and vegans as well.
“Everybody asks ‘what’s your secret?’… The secret is good food,” Trejo said. “People don’t come back for bad food.”
The chain has locations in Hollywood, La Brea, Woodland Hills, USC, LAX, The Original Farmer’s Market, and Santa Monica, with an additional Hollywood location that serves coffee and donuts. Each Trejo’s Tacos location is within the Los Angeles area, and an Orange County expansion is in the works. As far as expanding outside of California, Trejo feels that it is best that the restaurants stay local.
“Denver Colorado has been asking as well as New York, San Antonio, and Las Vegas,” Trejo said. “The only problem is that you lose your quality control. Everything is fresh… we don’t save anything. When you franchise, some places may try to cut some corners.”
Los Angeles / OC area has been graced by the food made by one of its very own celebrities, so if you are near one of the seven locations you will not regret stopping by.