WATCH | It might be hard to find perfectly smoked, juicy and tender Central Texas-style smoked brisket outside of Texas, but this secret backyard BBQ joint in Los Angeles is an outstanding exception (trust me, I'm from Texas).
Trudy's Underground Barbecue is a driveway operation that actually isn't so much of a secret anymore. Within six months of launching, the joint run by a pitmaster named Burt Bakman now has more than 6,400 followers and is frequently visited by celebrities, plus fans who travel from outside of Los Angeles just to get barbecue.
Right now, the only way to find the joint is through social media: Request barbecue by the pound on Instagram and if you're lucky, you'll receive a message back with an address.
With about a hundred messages trickling in each week, Bakman says he can't always accommodate everyone. Since it's a one-man operation with a mid-sized smoker, he can invite around 50-60 people one day a week.
"My family and neighbors have been supportive, so it's great. It just takes a toll. It's a 24-hour dance," said Bakman, who typically spends Fridays smoking brisket all day then cooks ribs through the night without a break for 24 hours.
So why does Texas barbecue mean so much to the Angeleno, enough to take away his weekends and time with his three daughters?
It all started with Bakman's first visit to Franklin Barbecue in Austin, TX a few years ago. The well-traveled and cultured real estate agent by day and now a pitmaster by night, says his first time eating brisket left an unforgettable impression on him.
"I've had barbecue all over the world - but I just never had barbecue like that."
He kept going back after that, zealously plowing through the list of all the top barbecue joints in the state.
Bakman has now been to Texas ten times for barbecue. And the conversation was always the same -- why couldn't he get the same barbecue in Los Angeles?
"I got home, I got a small smoker, started to cook. Ruined briskets, ruined chickens, just ruined all of these things I tried to cook."
Despite the learning curve, Bakman never gave up. Eventually, he got a bigger smoker, which he named after Tootsie Tomanetz, the legendary 82-year-old pitmaster of Snow's BBQ in Lexington, TX. Soon after that, Trudy's was born.
"Brisket really is the cut that makes you earn it," he said. "Even though you think the basic of it is the same of post oak wood, salt, and pepper, they still all come out different."
Singer Kelis dropped by one Saturday afternoon for some barbecue.