By Lawrence Yee
Astro Doughnuts, 2309 Main St., Santa Monica astrodoughnuts.com
Donuts and fried chicken arenâ€™t the first things that come to mind when you think of health-conscious Santa Monica, but Astro Doughnuts partner Art Levitt hopes standing out from the crowd will have visitors flocking to its new Main Street location.
â€śWeâ€™ve been looking at Santa Monica for years,â€ť says Levitt, a Santa Monica resident. â€śWe found the right real estate where we could carve out a niche and make it feel really good.â€ť
Feeling really good is what Astroâ€™s indulgent menu is all about â€” especially the shopâ€™s signature CBD donut, available to diners 21 or older. Each CBD donut contains 60 milligrams of cannabidiol oil, a non-psychoactive cannabis compound that relaxes the body without causing a conventional â€śhigh,â€ť mixed into the buttercream frosting.
â€śFinding out the way to maintain the CBD oil in the donut so it doesnâ€™t lose its potency was interesting,â€ť explained chef Jason Prado. â€śI actually use an isolate, a purer form of it. Being a purer form, itâ€™s easier to make a compound. I melt down the butter and actually infuse the CBD into it. Thatâ€™s how it stays at a higher potency.â€ť
Because itâ€™s ingested orally, the typically soothing effects of the CBD usually take about an hour to settle in. The donut itself has no discernable scent or taste other than rich chocolate with a hint of mint. Itâ€™ll be one of four mainstay flavors alongside vanilla, maple bacon and peanut butter and jelly.
The four other doughnut flavors on the menu are seasonal and will change monthly. The crĂ¨me brĂ»lĂ©e donut has a caramelized sugar top, which shatters to reveal a fluffy, custard-filled center. The coconut almond donut, dusted with shredded coconut and a drizzle of dark chocolate, tastes like an Almond Joy.
Levitt is mindful not to exclude the customers that may be in the neighborhood for one of the many yoga and Pilates studios. Astroâ€™s offers four vegan donut flavors made-to-order in a separate fryer.
â€śWe got a special fryer just for vegans,â€ť Levitt explains. â€śNot being a vegan, I didnâ€™t realize you actually have to check the recipes of the recipe ingredients and how itâ€™s made and where itâ€™s made. That actually took us months to do.â€ť
Healthier menu items include roasted Brussels sprouts, a portobello mushroom wrap, and several salads â€” including a vegan one. The vegan options will be exclusive to the Main Street store (Astroâ€™s DTLA location opened two years ago, followed by a food truck thatâ€™s been making the rounds at Abbot Kinney First Fridays).
Locally sourced beer and wine will also be unique to the Westside, and go well when paired with Astroâ€™s other specialty: fried chicken.
Crispy, golden chicken can be ordered by the piece or in a sandwich. Bun options include a buttery house recipe, a savory cheddar biscuit and, of course, a donut. Try hot sauce and honey butter or sausage gravy as toppings for breakfast (until 11 a.m.), or add-ons such as cheese, bacon, kimchi coleslaw (also served as a side) and pickled jalapenos for lunch.
Indulge in a snack to go or take your time outside on the back patio. To sweeten its Thursday (March 28) grand opening, Astro is giving each customer a free moon pie donut on opening day, and each hour one diner will randomly receive a â€śGolden Doughnutâ€ť â€” a confection with edible gold filling and the promise of free doughnuts for a year!