Mendocino Farms Launches “Pastrami Project” Smokehouse

Southern California’s largest smokehouse opens in El Segundo this month

Is L.A. having a pastrami moment? In addition to new-wave delicatessen Wexler’s Deli, fans of the cured and smoked meat will soon be able to find hand-crafted pastrami sandwiches at every location of local mini-chain Mendocino Farms.

It’s all thanks to the recently announced Pastrami Project, a collaboration that involves Mendocino Farms head chef Judy Han, Drago Bakery and Ugly Drum BBQ founders Erik Black and Joe Marcos. The most important component is the opening of the largest smokehouse in Southern California in El Segundo later this month, where each day slabs of prime brisket will be cured, rubbed with spices, and smoked for 12 hours using pecan wood chips. The pastrami will then supply local branches of Mendocino Farms. Drago Bakery, an offshoot of Drago Centro downtown, will be baking fresh rye bread daily for the sandwiches.

Mendocino Farms co-owner Mario del Pero and Judy Han have long been fans of the artisan pastrami created by former Mozza chefs Black and Marcos, hosting several Ugly Drum pop-up dinners over the past year, telling Digest back in April, “as soon as we tasted it…we knew we had to put it in a sandwich.”

Now it seems that del Pero has done one better, creating an entire space that will be able to produce enough pastrami to satiate the appetite of hungry sandwich lovers across town. According to Black and Marcos’ blog, the sandwich collaboration between Ugly Drum and Mendocino Farm is a classic, made with thick-cut, pecan-smoked pastrami, sweet creamy apple coleslaw on deli rye, and a side of “moppin’ mustard sauce.”

For now, you can only find the pastrami sandwich at the Sherman Oaks location—where it’s prepared in-house—but soon del Pero hopes to have pastrami available at all six Souther California locations in January. In the meantime, check out this video by Life & Thyme that showcases the Pastrami Project in a greater, more mouth-watering detail.