There's a sweet, late-night surprise at the back door of Queenie's Steakhouse in Denton, owned by prominent North Texas chef Tim Love.
Around 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, the restaurant and bar crowd heads around the corner to get hot, fresh, made-to-order doughnuts at the Back Dough, a window with a pink neon sign. The pop-up pastry joint shares the kitchen with Queenie's.
"It's down to the wire every time" to close down the steakhouse side and get the dough rolling in the small kitchen, Love says.
Back Dough has been open for about three years in Denton. One was added at the Lonesome Dove restaurant in Knoxville, Tenn., and another most recently at Love Shack in Fort Worth.
Love got the idea when he was hanging out with friend Charlie Jones, co-founder of the Austin Food and Wine Festival.
"We had had a couple of tequila shots and I said, 'I'm gonna open up a doughnut and pizza shop and call it Back Dough,'" Love says. "But when I thought about it, the back door at Queenie's was the perfect place for this. And since we can't make pizzas because the kitchen is too small, we did doughnuts."
Not all the doughnuts are sweet. The savory options are a big hit as well.
And after perfecting the dough recipe three years ago, the toppings are where chefs Chris Alford and Justin Biggs now get creative.
"It's one of the most fun projects I've ever worked on because it's limitless," Love says.
There are three basic components to the doughnut: the filling (so you get something "oozy," Love says), the glaze and the toppings.
On the sweet side, there's a lemon curd doughnut with vanilla glaze and candied blueberries, and then there's a chocolate mousse doughnut with cajeta cheese.
On the savory side, the chicken wing doughnut with pheasant confit is a top seller, Love says, and so is the pizza doughnut, made with mozzarella fondue, tomato glaze and Spanish chorizo.
Every weekend features a fun theme, like superheroes, retro video games or dead musicians. On musician night, you could order an Elvis with bananas and bacon or a Prince doughnut with raspberry glaze.
Almost every night, there's a line prior to opening.
"It's really a scene, has a great vibe to it," Love says.
Back Dough Denton: The back door at Queenie's Steakhouse, 115 E. Hickory St. 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday. queeniessteakhouse.com/back-dough.
Back Dough Fort Worth: At Love Shack, 110 E. Exchange Ave. 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. loveburgershackfortworth.com.