Let us start by getting the good news right out there: Ugly Drum is back and they’ve brought their pastrami with them! They’ve also brought house made hot dogs (with fixins!) and papaya slushees for good measure, and they’ll have it all for the next few Sundays from 10:00am to 6:00pm at the eagerly awaited Smorgasburg at the Alameda Produce Market in Downtown LA. They’re joined by lots of other great food artisans, as the LA Times can tell you. Do what’s good for you and grab some friends to go check it out!
Now for the backstory, which die-hard Mendo fans will remember well. It all started when former Mendo Chef Judy Han (of previous Foodie Friends fame!) attended an Ugly Drum pop-up at Chef Bryant Ng’s restaurant The Spice Table several years ago. She had known Ugly Drum chefs Joe Marcos and Erik Black from their time at Campanile, Literati II, Osteria Mozza, and Rustic Canyon (these guys are legit!) and when she tried their smoked meats she was thoroughly impressed. In 2014 after The Spice Table closed, we had the opportunity to invite Erik and Joe into our kitchen to collaborate on a special pastrami sandwich together.
It was a limited-time labor of love on our menu, and we had lots of fun introducing our guests to Erik and Joe’s real-deal, 12 hour house smoked pastrami through our series of rotating pop-ups at Mendocino Farms locations all around LA and Orange Counties. When the time came for these chefs to pack up their knives and move on to their next project, we (and our guests!) were sad to see them (and their pastrami!) go.
A new version of that pastrami is now back exclusively at Smorgasburg, and you can get it straight from the hands of the smokers themselves. They’re serving it straight up on rye with deli mustard, but if you ask for it “Mendo Style” they’ll hit it with the “Moppin’ Mustard Sauce” that was part of our collaborative sandwich set. Get it while you can because, like all good things, this newest Ugly Drum appearance might not last forever!