World Famous Santa Maria Style BBQ

Santa Maria Valley

Santa Maria valley is known for its beautiful scenery and its barbecue.

One of the best things to do on the Central Coast is to, of course, eat Santa Maria-style barbecue. Good ol’ Santa Maria-style barbecue has a reputation for being one of the number one things to do in the area. When you visit the Central Coast, you want to make sure to taste the clam chowder, the locally brewed beer and Hispanic-influenced cuisine.  But when it comes to dining in the area, Santa Maria-style barbeque is a definite must!

Our little tradition has made such a huge noise, that it’s even been to the White House! One Santa Maria resident said, “I went to the Orange County Fair, and saw a Santa Maria-style Tri-Tip food truck!”. Move over, Texas, because the city of Santa Maria has been deemed, the “Barbecue Capital of the World”, by some.

Santa Maria Style BBQ PitOak wood and and open fire is what gives Santa Maria-style BBQ its flavor.

What’s the secret, you ask? Mr. Jim Glines, a local barbecue expert, tells us it boils down to the cut, quality, aging and cooking of the meat. Not just that, but cooking the meat with Oak wood, on an open fire, is what creates Santa Maria-style barbecue fans. The tradition began in the 19th century, when local rancheros would host Spanish-style feasts. The barbecues of the time, consisted of an earthen pit, iron rods to hang meat and red oak coals to sit at the bottom of the opening.

By the 1920’s, the Santa Maria Country Club and the Elks Lodge played a key role in maintaining the barbecuing tradition, by hosting “Stag Barbecues”. These events would serve up to 700 guests! By the 1950’s, restaurants began serving Santa Maria-style barbecue and became local and historical landmarks. Some of these include, R.H. Tesene’s The Beacon Outpost, Jocko’s Steak House in Nipomo, The Far Western Tavern, The Hitching Post in Casmalia, Ranch House, Shaw’s Steak House and the Swiss Chalet.

Santa Maria Country Club

Visit the Santa Maria Country Club to experience some great Santa Maria-Style BBQ.

According to Glines, the original cut for Santa Maria-style barbecue was bone-in ribeye. But, by the 1940’s, the prices for meat increased and slowly, tradition began to accept the sirloin as the choice cut for Santa Maria Style cooking. By the 1960’s, this changed, yet again, and the tri-tip became more commonly associated with the Santa Maria-style barbecue. Some, however, only consider bone-in ribeye meat, aged, seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic salt and cooked over red oak, as the real deal.

Come check out R.H. Tesene’s brand collection and learn more about the Santa Maria-style barbecue and its history in the community, at the Discovery MuseumSunset Magazine deemed Santa Maria, the town with The West’s Best Barbeque. After a hearty meal at a delicious, Central Coast steak house, you’ll be sure to have satisfied your Santa Maria-style craving for barbeque.