Posts filed under ‘Santa Maria Style BBQ’

Bowling for BBQ

rancho-bowlOne of the biggest testaments to Santa Maria Style Barbecue is that several legendary local barbecue restaurants–such as the Hitching Post, Far Western Tavern and Shaw’s Steakhouse–have all been going strong since the 1950s. And to that list, you can also add Rancho Bowl in Santa Maria, a local institution since 1959.

Long known for its Santa Maria Style oak-pit tri-tip sandwiches, Ranch Bowl is now a more delicious experience than ever under the direction of new Executive Chef Brenda Vasquez, a Santa Maria native who attended the Culinary Institute of Arizona.

As noted in this story by Hayley Thomas of the Santa Maria Sun, Vasquez’s menu is “a blend of mid-century diner comfort and modern culinary creation.” It appears to be a hit, as food sales have tripled!

Another attraction is the inimitable ambiance of Rancho Bowl. As Thomas puts it, “The old-school, Santa Maria-style barbecue and banquet room where local folks routinely wed up and party down, the retro-chic bar adorned in black-and-white photos, and the family-owned-and-operated feel keep the spirit of the late owners alive and well.”

Yet while the vibe is authentically old school, the bowling experience is remarkably modern, with 32 remodeled lanes, couches and coffee tables, LCD touch screen consoles with integrated cameras, and flat-screen televisions, not to mention interactive bowling games with Facebook connect.

Rancho Bowl is operated by Victoria Murray, daughter of founder Mili Acquistapace. One hallmark of Santa Maria Style Barbecue is that it is always moving forward, but never abandons its roots–and Rancho Bowl is yet the latest example!


December 15, 2014 at 5:11 pm Leave a comment

More High Desert Sizzle

Twisted TIpsWhat in the heck is going on out in the deserts of California? Something tasty, that’s what!

A few years ago, we reported about a Santa Maria BBQ joint in Palm Desert called Warehouse BBQ.

Now comes word of another Santa Maria BBQ outpost called Twisted Tips BBQ Fusion in Tehachapi, on the mountainous border of the Mojave Desert and San Joaquin Valley approximately 150 miles due east of Santa Maria.

Twisted Tips BBQ Fusion is owned and operated by Mark Hitt. As the story goes: “Mark was born and raised in Santa Maria and grew up with a passion for perfecting Santa Maria-style tri-tip. In 2004, Mark hitched up his BBQ pit and relocated with his family to the beautiful mountain town of Tehachapi. After years of sharing his traditional Santa Maria-style tri-tip BBQ as well as Asian and Mexican-influenced BBQ dishes with close family and friends, he took their advice and decided to share it with the Tehachapi community.”

And so Twisted Tips was born this fall, bringing Santa Maria Style Barbecue to the hungry denizens of Tehachapi!

We have written about Santa Maria BBQ purveyors from Hawaii to New York and in between, but it sounds like something special is really cooking in the southeast of California. It’s just the latest evidence that while Santa Maria BBQ is a local culinary tradition here on the Central Coast, it continues to cultivate good taste across the nation and beyond!

October 14, 2014 at 9:50 pm Leave a comment

Small Town, Mighty Flavor

In the pantheon of regional American barbecue, Santa Maria Style Barbecue tends to fly under the radar compared to other styles such as Texas, Memphis and Kansas City barbecue.

Why is this? A lot of it has to do with the size of the other regions, either geographically or in terms of population. Kansas City and Memphis are both large metropolitan areas, and Texas is the largest state in the lower 48.

By comparison, the City of Santa Maria’s population is barely more than 100,000, and the city resides in the heart of a rural valley, surrounded by ranches, vineyards, open space and shoreline.

Simply put, no matter how much we scream and shout, we’ll never be able to make as much noise as Texas or Kansas City!

But those in the know recognize Santa Maria BBQ as a culinary equal of the larger regional styles, and the latest example comes from restaurateur Rob Serritella, who just opened a new barbecue joint in Santa Monica called Holy Cow (is that an awesome name or what!?).

At Holy Cow, Serritella aims to bend the best of many regional styles, including Santa Maria tri-tip. In this article in the Santa Monica Mirror, he states: “We tried to take the best things from places that do BBQ best like Texas, Memphis, Georgia, and the Carolina’s – not necessarily stick with one particular method, just what we felt people would enjoy the best. I’ve been a tri-tip guy ever since my first trip to Santa Maria…It works stand alone, in a sandwich, or on a salad.”

Serritella says he likes to slow cook his tri-tip, making his preparation more of a hybrid compared to true open-coal Santa Maria BBQ cooking, but it sounds like that’s what his place is all about: mashing up the nation’s best styles, including Santa Maria!

September 23, 2014 at 6:14 pm Leave a comment

Local BBQ Seasoning in The Spotlight

Credit: SLO Tribune

Credit: SLO Tribune

Santa Maria Style Barbecue is the culinary hub of the Santa Maria Valley, but that hub has many spokes as local chefs and food purveyors add creative twists to our regional food traditions.

One example is Monkey Spit, a purveyor of spices and sauces based in the valley’s rural Tepusquet area. Founded by Santa Maria Valley native Paul Smith, Monkey Spit’s offerings are as creative as its brand name, and now find themselves in the spotlight in this recent feature story in the San Luis Obispo Tribune.

Smith started Monkey Spit in 2008, and brought on longtime friend Rudy Stowell as a business partner. Smith’s family roots in Tepusquet date back to the early 1900s.

One Monkey Spit standout is the new Wimpy Chimp seasoning. As story author Katy Budge notes, “Using his family’s longtime recipe for Santa Maria-style seasoning, he developed a slightly different twist on the dry rub, calling it a ‘Nipomo-style’ seasoning named Wimpy Chimp.”

Of course, Nipomo refers to the small town north of Santa Maria, which has its share of Santa Maria BBQ heritage. As Budge notes, Monkey Mop “proved to be such a winner that it brought home competitive awards from such venerable barbecue cities as Kansas City and Mobile, Ala.

Meanwhile, Smith’s sauces barbecue sauces such as Monkey Mop and Atomic Mop represent a departure from the local barbecue style, as Santa Maria Style BBQ is renowned for its sauce-free, dry-rub style. As Budge notes, Monkey Mop “proved to be such a winner that it brought home competitive awards from such venerable barbecue cities as Kansas City and Mobile, Ala.”

A company from Santa Maria winning awards in such saucy barbecue cities as Kansas City and Mobile? Now that’s what you might call monkey business of the highest order!

September 12, 2014 at 6:02 pm Leave a comment

Saluting a Santa Maria BBQ Legend

Tesene BookBring the kids–and your appetite–to the Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum on August 31 as the museum celebrates R.H. Tesene Day.

We recently wrote about how the Discovery Museum provides a creative array of educational exhibits for children, including exhibits on Santa Maria BBQ, local farming and more.

Now the museum is honoring Tesene as one of its founding donors and as a local legend of Santa Maria Style Barbecue. Tesene is also the author of the definitive book on our local barbecue style, simply titled Santa Maria Style Barbecue. This book is nothing less than a landmark record of the origins, customs and history of Santa Maria Style Barbecue.

The family-friendly R.H. Tesene Day event runs from noon to 4 p.m. at the museum. The festivities will include cake and ranching-themed activities.  Admission is free!

Also, Big Joe’s Brats will be selling tri-tip lunches, with a portion of the proceeds going to the Discovery Museum. Come out and enjoy a festive afternoon with true Santa Maria style!

August 22, 2014 at 6:43 pm Leave a comment

Aloha, Santa Maria BBQ

Credit: Garden Island

Credit: Daniel Lane, Garden Island Newspaper

We are always excited to not only spread the good word about Santa Maria Style Barbecue, but to also see it take root in places near and far…

The latest such example to cross our desk is Recessions Original Santa Maria Style BBQ on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, operated by Santa Maria Valley natives Art and Joanne Diaz.

So what, exactly, is Recessions Original Santa Maria Style BBQ? As Marta Lane of the Garden Island newspaper reports, “There is no restaurant. It’s not even a food truck. It’s a $10,000 custom made grill with wheels.”

Now that’s Santa Maria Style Barbecue right there!

The Garden Island tells the story behind Recessions Original Santa Maria Style BBQ: “Art Diaz, his wife, Joanne, and their three children lived in Santa Maria, California. Art Jr. and Jared helped their father with his construction business. On Friday nights, the family went to Central City Farmers Market in the town center and danced to music, looked at art and ate legendary barbecue….Art and Joanne moved to Kauai in the early 1990s. Jared moved here in 2002, where he met and married Lenney. When the economy tanked in 2008, Art Jr. joined his family on Kauai. Missing the food of their home, the Diazes were inspired to open Recessions Original Santa Maria Style BBQ. The name is a nod toward the economic downturn and the family keeps prices low so people can enjoy filling meals.”

In the words of Art Jr.: “It’s our own style and something you can’t find anywhere else on Kauai. We’re not Texas barbecue. We’re not Memphis barbecue. We have our own sweet style.”

Kudos and aloha to the Diaz family for bringing a taste of home to Hawaii!

August 20, 2014 at 6:14 pm Leave a comment

“Triumphest” Tooting Santa Maria BBQ’s Horn

TriumphestEnthusiasts for little British cars are revving up their engines–and their taste buds–as they prepare for “Triumphest,” a three-day auto rally bringing more than 150 Triumph cars to Santa Maria from September 25 – 27.

In addition to an action-packed itinerary of auto rallies, driving events and autocross competition, attendees are looking forward to Santa Maria’s famed barbecue and bucolic wine country. The event sponsor, the Southern California Triumph Owners Association (STOA), is organizing group outings to enjoy the region’s attractions.

The event’s home page touts Santa Maria as a “lovely city nestled in Santa Barbara County, California, approximately 120 miles northwest of Los Angeles. It is most notable for an excellent variety of barbecued meat. Santa Maria-style BBQ is usually used in reference to the seasoning of tri-tip or other meats when rubbed with salt, pepper, and spices and cooked whole on a rotisserie or grilled over local red oak wood. Sunset magazine’s August 2013 issue features a wonderful article on Santa Maria Style BBQ, crowning Santa Maria as The West’s Best BBQ Town.”

The web page even sports a logo depicting Columbus’s ship, the Santa Maria, with Union Jack-decorated sails. Wishing the Triumphest revelers a tasting good time here in California’s BBQ Capital!

August 13, 2014 at 10:50 pm Leave a comment

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