The Moxie Café, a new Santa Maria eatery opening in April on West McCoy Lane, is aiming to do just that. Their motto: “Eat Well…Be Well.”
Owned by Hardy Diagnostics, a local company known for its medical supply success story, Moxie has taken health to an expanded level by offering a café menu based on fresh, quality fare. Believing that nutritious food should taste good, The Moxie offers tempting rotisserie chicken; tri-tip; soups; salads; sandwiches; gelato and more . . . all without unnecessary, empty calories. In the words of Moxie: “We pledge to never tempt you with excessive fat and sugar laden meals.” That means no fryers, no sodas, and no junk. Just wholesome good food.
The Moxie “scene” is pretty hip, too. Outfitted with WiFi, charging stations, television screens, a fireplace, patio and private conference rooms, the restaurant encourages customers to hang out and work, or to socialize with a group. Meeting spaces are fully equipped with whiteboards, conference telephones, screens and projectors.
A big Santa Maria welcome to The Moxie Café!
It just figures that Santa Maria barbecue country would inspire a top-shelf meat market. Welcome to Woody’s Butcher Block, a neighborhood market and deli providing premium high-end meats and cheeses.
Proprietor Tim Woodbury brings with him 28 years of experience in the food service industry and a love for quality. He says he would rather be out of stock than provide an inferior product. Woody’s carries only meats selected from the top 20 percent best of the product.
In addition to endless cuts of meat (including tri-tip of course!), artisan cheeses and specialty deli sandwiches, Woody’s offers a range of yummy provisions, including locally made spices and sauces by Cowboy Flavor and Monkey Spit.
“Life happens around the kitchen table,” says Woody, and he wants his customers to make the most of it. Woody’s is located at 700 E. Main Street, Suite 104 in downtown Santa Maria.
The most famous ingredients of the classic Santa Maria Style Barbecue menu are tri-tip beef, native red oak, locally perfected seasoning and homegrown pinquito beans. All of these items originate from right here in the Santa Maria Valley.
But there’s another lesser-known item on the official menu that deserves some recognition: tossed-green salad.
Now, how did salad sneak onto a barbecue menu?
Well, the answer is evident in the rich agricultural landscape of the Santa Maria Valley, which is one of California’s premier farming regions.
In the most recent crop report for Santa Barbara County, lettuce alone accounted for more than 13,000 planted acres. Bell peppers, broccoli, cabbage, celery and spinach are among the other vegetables that are plentiful in the valley.
So it only makes sense that the ranchers and farmers who popularized Santa Maria Style Barbecue also found a way to include local greens as a tried-and-true component of the official menu.
So when firing up the red oak, don’t forget the greens!
Add a locally grown wine and a fresh Santa Maria strawberry dessert and, well, you have one of the world’s most distinctively local dining experiences. Now that’s Santa Maria style.
In the world of wine, there’s a lot of talk about “terroir,” a French term that signifies the influence of place–specifically the soil, climate and other native local conditions that shape a wine’s character. In the Santa Maria Valley wine country, with its cool marine climate and dry sandy-loam soils, it’s not hard to find wines that exhibit a strong sense of place.
Well, the concept of terroir is also fitting when it comes to Santa Maria Style Barbecue, which is based upon local ingredients and methods honed over the past 100 years in the Santa Maria Valley.
So when you pair Santa Maria BBQ with a locally grown wine, you have a meal like no other, with flavors that are truly native.
The question becomes, then, which wine to pair with Santa Maria BBQ? Ultimately, there is no right answer. Food pairing is subjective, and only you can decide what you like.
However, as a general rule, the rich, smoky flavors of Santa Maria Style Barbecue will appeal to heavier reds. In the Santa Maria Valley, that typically leads us to Pinot Noir and Rhone-style varietals such as Syrah.
When it comes to Pinot, a richer style can hold up to the bold flavors of barbecue more readily compared to a more delicate Pinot. And in a cool climate such as ours, Syrah often develops a deep, meaty, peppery character that goes quite well with Santa Maria seasoning and red oak smokiness.
So come on out to the Santa Maria Valley wine country, visit one of our barbecue restaurants, and select a wine that will provide a memorably local dining experience!
In Santa Maria Style Barbecue country, Valentine’s Day menu offerings are not only sweet, they’re smokin’.
Take The Far Western Tavern’s Valentine’s Day “Bull’s Eye,” a whole prime rib that’s red oak grilled and cut into a 14-ounce boneless rib eye steak served with roasted asparagus or mashed potatoes. Of course, that comes with an oyster starter; a lobster bisque; and dessert – all for $85 per couple!
Meanwhile, Central City Market will have a special “Friday Night Flight,” and we’re not talking airlines. On February 14 the Market will feature a flight of “New Wines by the Glass,” ($12 per person) including a talk by a local winemaker and hors d’oeuvres crafted especially to complement each wine.
Speaking of wine, Rancho Sisquoc, one of Santa Maria Valley’s oldest wineries, presents “Romance at the Ranch” on February 15. For $10 per person, the afternoon includes locally made chocolate truffles paired with award winning wines; a chair massage; and live music by singer-songwriter Loren Radis.
Looking to spice things up? Pasion Comida Mexicana’s special V-day menu features a complimentary glass of champagne and starter plus menu selections such as Cream of Jalapeño Soup; Duck Chimichangas; Shrimp Rellenos; and Flourless Chocolate Cake for two with Cilantro Mint Syrup.
Seeking an innovative outing for your valentine? Santa Maria Valley’s own Riverbench Vineyard & Winery, famed for its fine Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, is hosting a Valentine’s Day Archery Lesson on Saturday, February 8 from 10 a.m. to noon. A $15 fee per person includes archery instruction and then wine tasting to follow. The real question is, will Cupid hit the mark? Come and find out!
Santa Maria Style Barbecue dates back to the 19th century ranchero era in the Santa Maria Valley, so it’s no surprise that many of the region’s Mexican restaurants find a way to incorporate our local barbecue tradition–and the signature tri-tip cut–into their own regional flavors.
Take Pasion Comida Mexicana, a newer restaurant in Santa Maria Valley’s Old Town Orcutt district. Here, the “Tri Tip Steak Tampiqueno” is a popular dinner entrée. The dish offers up marinated and grilled hand-cut steaks served with a cheese enchilada and guacamole. The lunch menu is just as mouth- watering with its “Red Chili Rubbed Tri-Tip,” which comes with a char-grilled onion, salsa negro and queso anejo.
Owner Cynthia Segura calls the restaurant “traditional Mexican food with a modern twist.” Hailing from San Antonio, Texas, Segura has made “Texas style” the restaurant’s theme. This includes lots of spice, and hot sauces in many dishes, plus a dining atmosphere that resonates with the warmth of leather, hard wood and cozy colors.
“We eat with passion,” Segura says. And it’s no surprise that this enthusiasm also enfolds a Santa Maria Valley legacy, good ‘ole tri-tip.
When it comes to Santa Maria Style Barbecue, the present and the past are seamlessly connected.
That truism is embodied by The Hitching Post, a landmark of Santa Maria Style Barbecue that has thrived under the same family ownership for more than 60 years in the Santa Maria Valley.
Owner Bill Ostini recently delved into the restaurant’s multigenerational story as part of The Valley Speaks program organized by the Santa Maria Valley Historical Society at the Santa Maria Public Library.
As reported in the Lompoc Record, Ostini’s speech lasted an hour. Along the way, “he recounted how word of Santa Maria-style barbecue spread across the country and, through Vandenberg Air Force Base, the world.” Ostini also noted that the Hitching Post “started with a little barbecue pit built in the ground actually outside of the restaurant itself.”
Evie Geiger, one of the event’s organizers, summed it up perfectly: “Anyone who’s been here for very long, not to mention all the natives — and about half the people here are natives — like a good barbecue. And The Hitching Post has always had excellent barbecue, always.”