The LA Barbecue Everyone Wants — But Very Few Can Get
By Jean Trinh
If you’re in LA and able to get your hands on some of Burt Bakman’s Central Texas-style brisket, consider yourself lucky: The best barbecue in Los Angeles isn’t easy to come by. But that wasn’t going to stop me from trying.
Trudy’s Underground Barbecue isn’t even technically a business, though donations are accepted. These cookouts are invite-only and the best way to get in is by communicating with Bakman on Instagram. I message him after seeing his stories about what he was preparing for the week and we chat about our love for barbecue and art. Eventually, he invites me to his cookout, asks for my order, and sends me an address.
For Bakman, real estate agent by day and pitmaster by night, these cookouts are a labor of love. His slabs of brisket come out of his custom-built smoker jiggling, moist and tender; his spare ribs are encrusted in a rich, complex bark.
“Barbecue and cooking are my art,” says Bakman. “Other people may have their art and I enjoy talking to them about our creativity and inspirations.”
Bakman used to host his casual Saturday afternoon gatherings in his own Studio City driveway but recently moved them to a friend’s backyard in Sherman Oaks to change up the experience for himself and his guests. When I arrive, he wraps my order in a peach-paper package and prepares a small brisket sandwich sample. I drop some cash in a box in return. Some guests take their food to go, but I stick around and devour mine on site while mingling with others who just couldn’t wait to dig in.
“There’s more to it than just barbecue,” Bakman says. “There’s music [playing] and [guests] hanging out. It brings all these people together who would otherwise not have met.”
Bakman plans on opening Slab BBQ restaurant with The h.wood Group on West Third Street this spring, which will be available on Postmates. But until then, you’ll find him in the backyard, smoking meats low and slow. And when his new joint finally opens, his barbecue won’t seem so unattainable anymore. Everyone will be invited to see what’s cooking under the hood.
Here are some of Trudy’s favorite BBQ joints on Postmates to keep you occupied: