The traditional cuts of Santa Maria Style Barbecue are top-block sirloin and tri-tip, a triangular bottom sirloin cut that originated in the Santa Maria Valley. The meat is rolled in a mixture of salt, pepper and garlic salt before being barbecued over coals of red oak, a native local oak species that contributes a smoky, hearty flavor.
The classic Santa Maria Style Barbecue menu, which was copyrighted by the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce in 1978, also includes fresh salsa, grilled French bread dipped in sweet melted butter, tossed green salad and slow-cooked pinquito beans. Macaroni and cheese is also considered an early staple of the menu.
Pinquitos are small pink beans with a long history in the Santa Maria Valley. No one is quite sure how they first came to the region, but they certainly found a perfect home amid the valley’s fertile soils and mild coastal climate. To this day, pinquito beans are a commercial crop exclusive to California’s Central Coast.
For the most authentic Santa Maria Style Barbecue experience, enjoy your meal with a Pinot Noir, Syrah or other fine wine from the Santa Maria Valley, and finish it off with a dessert featuring fresh, locally grown strawberries.