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Mendocino Farms Officially Unveils El Segundo Smokehouse Ahead of January Pastrami Debut

Mendocino Farms' El Segundo-based smokehouse is officially up and running, with plans to serve pastrami come January.

Elizabeth Daniels
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

More news this morning on the future of smoked meat in Los Angeles. Mendocino Farms, the growing California fast-casual brand, has had their sights set on improving their smoked meat offerings for some time, most notably with a recent pastrami collaboration co-hosted by the Ugly Drum team.

Those two —Erik Black and Joe Marcos— fed plenty of people their off-the-cuff pastrami in sandwiches and as part of special dinners at a few Mendocino’s from downtown to the Valley, but with both busy working on several other projects and Mendocino anxious to ramp up production, it became necessary to bring in a heavy-hitter. That’s where Billy Durney, pitmaster behind Brooklyn’s Hometown Bar-B-Que, came in, helping to launch an El Segundo-based smokehouse to serve the chain’s growing demand.

Durney himself has been in town this week to oversee production of the pastrami at the new facility, which currently holds two convection smokers capable of running a dozen full briskets each in nonstop twelve hour shifts, and relies on a blend of woods to maximize flavor consistency. The finished pastrami version promises to be more akin the smoked meat sandwiches of Brooklyn’s Mile End or Schwartz’s in Montreal, with guest getting a bit of both the fattier point and meatier flat portion of the brisket in one sandwich.

Durney and Mendocino’s Mario del Pero confirm that the pastrami ramp-up is nearly complete, with an array of new menu smokehouse menu items officially debuting in January at all of their locations. It turns out the El Segundo location, while not open to the public, is pretty strategic, given Mendocino’s expansion into Orange County. Come the new year, expect the aforementioned thick-cut pastrami, plus pulled pork, smoked turkey and eventually some sausages and Texas-style brisket, with one of New York City’s best barbecue masters overseeing it all.