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Hole-In-The-Wall Shop Serves The Cutest Mini Donuts Ever

Miniature donuts were one of my favorite snacks as a kids. One mini donut shop regularly set up tents at the local swim meets I swam at, making it easy to feed my growing addiction for these light, airy treats. Mini donuts tend to be lighter and fluffier than a traditional donut, but also pack more of a yeasty flavor and make for a great shareable snack.

What’s the secret to the unique texture of a mini-donut? Their smaller size allows them to cook quicker and absorb much less oil, which keeps the donut’s inside light and fluffy.

I haven’t had mini donuts in a long time, but this little hole-in-the-wall in downtown Santa Ana is definitely the place for me to refuel my obsession for these cute little treats.

Downtown Donuts, nestled into a tiny little corner in Downtown Santa Ana, makes some of the lightest and fluffiest mini-donuts I’ve ever tried. A dozen of these dainty donuts cost just six bucks here, making for an affordable and fun breakfast on the go.

Downtown Donuts specializes in these mini-donuts, but also utilizes a variety of toppings and dips to make each donut experience unique and fun. These are simple add-ons, like a blackberry jam or powdered sugar, but they add the little extra dimension to the mini-donut experience to keep you coming back.

The hole-in-the-wall also makes specialized frosted donuts with all kinds of glittery sprinkles, adding a touch of art to an otherwise humble little donut.

If you’re looking for a fun, new spin on the traditional donut, give Downtown Donuts a go.


2016’s Best Breakfast Burrito Is Wrapped In Bacon And Topped With Strawberry Salsa

Cafe Calacas sits on a quaint corner across the street from The Ronald Reagan Federal Building in the Historic Arts District of Downtown Santa Ana, surrounded by the city’s historic Art Deco-era style architecture. However, just by looking at the traditional, Dia de Los Muertos-themed storefront, you wouldn’t be able to tell how far the quaint eatery is pushing the limits of traditional Mexican cuisine.

Even though there’s still a few weeks left in the year, Cafe Calacas’ strawberry guilallo salsa topped, bacon-wrapped breakfast burrito takes the prize for the best breakfast burrito of 2016.

The creators of the queso fundido chorizo brioche donut have debuted another breakfast delicacy, that could very well shame any other breakfast burritos out of existence.

Starting with their El Famoso Breakfast Burrito, which is served with your choice of ham, bacon or sausage, Calacas neatly wraps the El Famoso in a brown sugar and syrup glazed-bacon and grills the it to perfection.

To top it off, a nice thick layer of Cafe Calacas’ strawberry guilallo salsa and guacamole are added. If your mouth isn’t watering yet, it should be.

Currently, the strawberry guilallo salsa topped, bacon-wrapped breakfast burrito is only available at the cafe during brunch time once a week, on Sundays. Should be plenty of time for you to mark your calendars to take on this champ of a burrito.

Features Hit-Or-Miss

This Man Baked Cookies To Save Himself From Homelessness

The popularity of Jason Mercado’s simple, yet delicious cookies have reached Hollywood for Oscar parties and have even been served at the BET Awards, but their path to popularity was different than the norm.

Mercado doesn’t have a business degree, and is not a trained chef — he credits his talent to The Food Network and Google.

Even through years of drug addiction and jail time, he has remained convinced that he was predestined to bake, starting with the first batch of Tollhouse cookies he baked as a child.

“This is what was supposed to happen. I was supposed to bake those cookies at 11, I was supposed to go to jail, I was supposed to be an addict — because everything I’ve done now, has gotten me where I’m at in my life.”

Now at 44 years old, and more than a decade sober, Mercado owns a successful cookie and dessert company, Sweet Mission Cookie Co. Unfortunately, the cookie didn’t always crumble so perfectly.


In 2013, Jason moved from Philadelphia to California — flat broke, a drug-related felony on his record — just to risk starting his own company, under the most unstable circumstances imaginable.

“I started the company when I was homeless. When I left Philadelphia, I had backpack full of clothes, a duffle bag full of food and $60 cash in my pocket.”

Homelessness is a real issue in our society. While mental health and addiction can directly contribute to individual situations, Mercado’s story illustrates the difficult circumstances average people can face when struggling to find employment, pay rent, and make ends meet.

It’s easy to dismiss the real issue, but regardless of an individual’s level of homelessness, the problem still exists. Mercado never spent time panhandling, or begging, yet his story showcases how easily individuals can slip through the cracks without a proper support system.

At 40, Mercado was laid off from his managerial position at Starbucks. He found himself living on the streets of Philadelphia, a city he had called home for more than a decade. In order to survive, Mercado joined the Occupy Philadelphia movement. Although he wasn’t politically motivated, he didn’t want to miss his only method for survival.

His imposing 6′ 3” frame arrived at the Occupy encampment, about three weeks after the Philadelphia 99 percenters had started to stage their protests. Mercado recalls seeing waves of people spilling onto the front lawn of Philadelphia City Hall, building makeshift shelters, dropping off food, clothing, and other goods to help sustain those protesting inside this giant tent city.

“For lack of a better term, I was an occupier. I slept in a tent — actually I slept in a tent with two other people. This is on the grounds of Philadelphia City Hall, not the back, the front of City Hall. It was crazy.”

It was through this chaos where Mercado found time to ideate a plan for his own cookie business. Mercado explained that while living within Occupy, his day to day activities went along normally. He admits there was probably people he met on a daily that had no idea he was homeless.

“As far as living in the tent, probably about 2 and a half months, maybe a little less time. I think at the time I was stuck on the idea of starting this business, I went about my daily life, just without a permanent place to stay.”

However, even during this politically charged protest underway, Mercado admits some of the Occupiers became less and less concerned with the movement. As a recovering addict, he admits seeing drug and alcohol use throughout the encampment. Although he abstained from using, Mercado said he felt Occupiers had lost their focus and the concept of the Occupy movement began to dissolve.

“I think when it first started, it was a real cause for it. I think as it went along, it drifted. It transitioned from Occupy, to almost like a party atmosphere. To be honest, it didn’t bother me, because I already knew what I wanted to do.”

While living as an Occupier, Jason was told about an extended education class, offering a course on business startup basics. He knew very well he wouldn’t be able to pay the fees — but he enrolled without hesitation.

“I didn’t have the money at the time, but something just told me, ‘Just sign up.'”

With a bit of luck, he secured a scholarship with the program and was able to get his fees waived. Still he needed more room to bake.


While living in homeless shelters and using local kitchen space to bake, Mercado started gaining notoriety by selling his cookies under the company name, ‘Just Cookies’ in Philly. He had saved up to about $2,000 when he was ripped off by a business partner. Floundering at this point, he tried to secure a loan, but was denied.

Mercado then headed to California for a fresh start.

He found a sober living home in Huntington Beach, Calif., where he found a job as a dishwasher at Taco Bell, then located a humble commissary kitchen space to bake cookies in.


About four months after arriving in California, he received a phone call from someone who found him on Facebook, wanting to hire him for what he would pleasantly find out to be a pretty special event.

“I was invited to do an Oscar’s post-party at the W Hotel in Hollywood. I was shocked but had my guard up at the same time. I didn’t even know where I was going to bake at.”

The order required at least 1,500 cookies. With a little extra help, he baked 2,500. Later that year, Sweet Mission Cookies was booked for the BET Awards. Local press started noticing Mercado’s story shortly after and the rest is history.


Now, three years after arriving in California, Mercado still works part time at Taco Bell, the place that gave him his first California paycheck, with the alternative of  Sweet Mission Cookie Company’s continued growth. He operates his cookie business out of the 4th Street Market in Santa Ana, Calif., where he works as The East End Kitchen Coordinator and Event Planner.

However, the way he makes his money is different than how he makes a living. Mercado bakes to inspire others.

He sees the shape of a cookie as a metaphor. To him, it’s a personal philosophy for ‘completeness’. It has now become his mission to help others who may find themselves struggling, like he was, to find their path off the streets.

“I always tell people, ‘A cookie is round and it represents ‘completeness’ — being able to make a complete turnaround, starting over again.”

Mercado does not take his success for granted and is dedicated helping others. Currently he is working to form a non-profit, aptly named, The Sweet Mission Project, which hosts pop-up meals that feed the less fortunate.

The casual optimism that Mercado exudes showcases his drive to accomplish great things. He’s thankful for his experiences, and accepts that not everything is meant to be mainstream.

“I created my destiny — against being an addict, against being homeless, against the bank — I stuck with what I believed in and as long as I had that belief in myself, I knew it was going to work.”

As a one man team, Mercado does not rate his success by monetary units. He carries a larger than life attitude with a kind, but determined work-ethic and modest entrepreneurial attitude.

The term ‘trailblazer,’ according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is defined as, “a person that makes a new track through wild country. A pioneer, or an innovator.”

Mercado is such, a living example of what can be accomplished when sacrifices are made. He also lives to empower and inspire. Moreover, Mercado is a survivor who is still working to give back to the community that has enabled him to accomplish his goals.


Inside The ‘Mexican Hooters’ Joint Hillary Clinton Decided Not To Eat At

Someone passed a tip to us that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton could potentially be enjoying a private meal at Hector’s On Broadway, in Downtown Santa Ana, Calif., on Friday. Hector’s on Broadway is only steps away from the Foodbeast offices, so naturally, we walked over to investigate.

There are a few reasons we’re familiar with Hector’s On Broadway — not only do we love eating there for lunch,  we think it should be officially recognized as the Mexican HOOTERS.

Just check out their Instagram page. Es en fuego. Mucho fuego.

@mariscoshector_3 @mariscoshector @hectorsonbroadway @mariscoshector

A photo posted by Mariscos Hector (@mariscoshector) on

We got there around 2 p.m., as fellow Foodbeast staff writer Isai Rocha and I witnessed what looked like a few Santa Ana Police officers, and other men who were described to us as Secret Service officers, standing in front of Hector’s, pointing down the street, and up toward the rooftops of the buildings lining 4th Street in Santa Ana.

secret service

We were able to speak with Oscar Olivares, the general manager of Hector’s on Broadway and he confirmed a tentative plan to have Hillary Clinton in for a private meal at some point Friday, June 3.

The private meal would have happened after Clinton made an appearance at the Old Courthouse Museum in Santa Ana, and Olivares added that the event would not be announced publicly.


The Mariscos Hector franchise is fairly well-known throughout Southern California and while the Santa Ana location has only been open for a few weeks, they were a prime lunch candidate for potentially the first female President of the United States.

At 5 p.m., Thursday I received a phone call from Olivares that Clinton’s camp gave word that Hector’s On Broadway was no longer the selected location. Instead, the Clinton camp chose Crave — the hipster salad place down the street.

Bad choice, Hillary. In a city where US Census data estimated the population to be more than 78 percent latino or hispanic — Hector’s on Broadway would have been a great spot.

We assume Clinton’s staff might have stumbled onto one of Mariscos Hector’s titillating social media pages and decided it probably wasn’t the best scene for the 68-year-old former first lady of the United States.






Although we’d be willing to bet that her hubby Bill would have had a good time here.

“We do what we think is fun,” Olivares said. “The Mayor of Santa Ana has been in. It’s been great.”

Hillary will “DAB” on TV, ride Brooklyn’s dirty-ass subways and eat Chipotle’s E. coli special, but a Mexican restaurant with beautiful servers is where she drew the line? If not Hector’s, they could have thrown a rock over their heads and found a dope taco truck in Santa Ana.

Hey, at least she’ll have a great view of the Ronald Regan Federal Building.

So, unfortunately, Hector’s was out, but the Clinton camp stayed in the Santa Ana area, finding the much safer, vegan-friendly Crave, so we walked over to the restaurant to see what we’d find.

Not only did we find the burly men described to us as Secret Service agents, but hanging on Crave’s front door was a sign that read, “Crave Restaurant will be CLOSED on Friday, 6/3/16, for a private event.”  

20160602_173810 (2016-06-03T01_06_10.023)

In fear of getting tasered by Hillary’s goons, we slowly walked up to the men and introduced ourselves, hoping for some inside info, but we were greeted with an abrupt, “There’s no comment at this point,” as one of the members of the group said.

He declined to give his name, position or business card, which is pretty hardcore secretive.

About an hour later, we returned to try and speak to someone at Crave, but the most they could give us was that they’d be closed, and that apparently the whole street would be closed off Friday.

One cool thing to come out of this, was learning that our very own Foodbeast chef Linh Nguyen will likely be the one cooking up the dishes for Mrs. Clinton.

Still, even though the presidential elections aren’t for a few months, if Hillary’s camp would have selected Hector’s on Broadway, I would have gladly said, “I’m with her.”

Contributing reporting and photography by Isai Rocha 


This Crunchwrap Burger Has a Beef Patty Encased in a Crispy, Flaky Toritlla


Tabu, a new burger joint that opened in our Santa Ana, California neighborhood a few months ago, has a history of disappointment and pleasant surprises. Once a former taco spot slinging mini empanadas, Tabu took over, renovating everything from the dingy interior to it’s menu. Yet while we had high hopes upon first walking in, the meat for the burgers and tamales they prided themselves on were too dry and nearly every item felt a little too ambitious — overpowering their dishes with spices and gobs of cheese while the basics still had to be mastered. In the end, the dishes felt like they were trying to run before they could walk.

Now, I’m happily eating my words. We heard that Tabu had a limited-time item on their menu dubbed the “Crunchwrap Burger”. Amused by the nod to Taco Bell, we headed over and ordered some to go for the office. The first bite? In order: a light flavor of queso fresco cheese, a creamy guacamole layer, flaky croissant-like tortilla, warm cheddar cheese, savory meaty beef, one last feel of crispy tortilla.

It’s what you expect them to serve in heaven, next to the iced whiskey lemonade and vintage Playboy magazines.

While the Crunchwrap Burger was Tabu’s “Burger of the Month” for June, I just checked and they’re still serving it for July. I only wish I could hoard them all, stockpiling these beefy wonders like cookie butter.

Well, lucky you.



Tabu Burgers & Bites

306 W 4th St Santa Ana, CA 92701

(714) 600-2244


In Spite of Ban, Restaurant Hosts Decadent Foie Gras Burger Eating Challenge

It’s the Shut the Duck Up Burger, a mouthwatering thumb in the air at the foie gras ban in California created by chef Jason Quinn of The Playground restaurant in Orange County.

The new burger comes as a double instance of his popular, now off-the-menu Playground Burger that many call the best burger they’ve ever had. For those unfamiliar, the Playground Burger traditionally comes with a Wagyu chuck & dry-age ribeye torchon patty, Tomme de Savoie and a ration of maple-bourbon onions. With Quinn’s latest creation, he doubles the brand’s trademark patty, and tops it all with some beautifully prepared foie gras.

While it remains illegal to sell foie in California restaurants, loopholes remain intact that allow establishments to basically give the meat away through their own creative means. As an added statement, The Playground, along with clothing brand Orisue (and full disclosure, Foodbeast will be there too) will be hosting a 10-person, high-end eating contest featuring the decadent new burger, along with a side of fries and a frosty craft brew.

Coined Gluttons and Glory, the event will take place August 11th at 9:30 p.m. If you’re in the area, make sure to swing by and make sure you grab a good seat, you won’t want to miss a second of this foie gras overload.

Photography by: PhilGorgeous