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Overhead view of a dozen doughnuts, each a different flavor, lined up in three rows of four on wax paper in a cardboard box.
An assortment of doughnuts from Donut Villa Diner
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

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A Classic Malden Diner’s Expansion Brings Doughnut Cheeseburgers to Cambridge

Donut Villa Diner celebrates its grand opening in Central Square on June 11

Doughnut cheeseburgers have arrived in Cambridge’s Central Square. Donut Villa Diner — a decades-old diner in Malden — has expanded to 20 Prospect St., Cambridge, the former home of the Field, an Irish pub that closed in summer 2020. While the neon-bedecked new location has been quietly operating for a few weeks now, it’s celebrating its grand opening this Friday, June 11, and the first 100 diners will each get a free doughnut.

Retro-style bright red and white booths line a restaurant wall, which is decorated with a bunch of vintage diner signs
Donut Villa Diner’s new Cambridge location

Those familiar with the Malden location will find that much is the same at the Cambridge location. There are doughnuts, of course, that are hand-cut daily and served on their own or as part of over-the-top dishes like a doughnut cheeseburger, doughnut French toast, and doughnut Benedict. There’s also plenty of other breakfast and lunch food, not to mention a full vegan menu that Donut Villa Diner introduced in recent months. (There are vegan doughnuts available, too.) But the Cambridge location has a couple things the Malden one doesn’t: dinner and booze.

A coffee cup-shaped vintage sign says “Our famous breakfast served anytime!” and hangs on a white wall near a window
A vintage-looking arrow-shaped sign has cursive text that says “take a box home!” It hangs from the ceiling of a brightly lit restaurant in front of a large window

“What goes better with brunch than a mimosa or bloody mary?” says owner Erin Bashllari. As for dinner, he says it’ll include easy-to-share items like quesadillas, nachos, and tacos, as well as typical American diner food, like turkey dinners and pasta. Breakfast will be available all day, too, in true diner fashion.

A white wall of a restaurant is decorated with vintage diner-themed signs and a neon doughnut. The tops of red and white booths are visible at the bottom of the photo.

Bashllari and his parents took over the original Malden location of Donut Villa Diner in 2017, breathing new life into the 40-plus-year-old breakfast and lunch spot. Bashllari, a nurse, had always worked in the restaurant industry on the side, and he and his father had always wanted to open a place.

“About three years ago, we said it’s now or never,” Bashllari tells Eater, and they bought Donut Villa Diner. “After a few months, we realized that we had something. We have the doughnuts; we have the diner. People love both of those, so why not see where it goes?”

Closeup overhead shot of a honey dip doughnut. Two different doughnuts are visible on the edges of the photo, one on each side of the honey dip.
Closeup overhead of a chocolate frosted doughnut with chocolate sprinkles

Although 2020 was a difficult time to keep a restaurant running, let alone consider expanding, Bashllari and his wife Khadija decided to look for a second location, eventually finding the Prospect Street space in Central Square, which happened to be where they met and where they lived for the last seven years. Aside from the sentimental reasons, the space boasted a patio, an understandable plus when shopping for a restaurant space in the middle of a pandemic.

Three neon signs are visible in a restaurant with one bright red wall and white accents. One sign, arrow-shaped, says doughnuts, another says diner, and a third is a man in a diner cook’s outfit holding a stack of doughnuts.

Khadija, who loves interior design, took the lead on finding all the vintage signage that decorates the walls at Donut Villa Diner, collecting pieces online, at flea markets, and in vintage shops. The neon signs were custom-made by Neon Williams, a Somerville-based neon shop that has been around for the better part of a century. It’s one of the only local places to get custom neon, but it was also a perfect fit for Donut Villa Diner.

Interior view of a diner with stools lining a counter with teal accents. A bright red wall is in the back with neon signage depicting a diner cook holding a stack of doughnuts.
Red and white booths in a diner, with a neon diner sign on the red wall behind

“Fun fact: They have a diner inside of their house,” says Bashllari. “An old-school diner. They love diners, they love doughnuts, and they love neon.”

Donut Villa Diner’s new location is currently open from 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekends; stay tuned for extended hours — including the aforementioned dinner service — soon. Takeout, with online ordering, is available.

A white box of doughnuts with black Donut Villa Diner branding sits on a white table. Red and white booth seats are visible on either side.

Be sure to try the classic honey dip doughnut; it’s the bestseller “without a question,” says Bashllari. But he’s also partial to the Nutella hazelnut, stuffed with Bavarian cream and topped with hazelnuts, and the Samoa, like the Girl Scout cookie. And there are over a dozen other varieties to try, from black raspberry jelly to pistachio.

Closeup on several doughnuts on wax paper. The main doughnut in focus is topped with white frosting and Oreo cookie crumbles.

Donut Villa Diner (Cambridge)

20 Prospect St., Cambridge, MA 02139 (617) 714-5018 Visit Website

Donut Villa Diner (Malden)

1 Highland Ave., Malden, MA 02148 (781) 322-3028 Visit Website
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