Visit Santa Maria Valley encourages travelers, digital nomads and culinary adventure seekers to gather around the grill and turn up the heat for National Barbecue Month in May.
Santa Maria Style Barbecue started in the mid-19th century when the rancheros gathered to help each other brand their calves each spring. As a thank-you to his fellow vaqueros — America’s first cowboys — the host would prepare a Spanish-style barbecue, consisting of beef barbecued over a red-oak fire, served with Pinquito beans, bread, salsa and homemade desserts.
The present-day Santa Maria Style Barbecue grew out of this tradition when locals began to string their beef on skewers and cook it over the hot coals of a red-oak fire. The meat, either top-block sirloin or tri-tip, is rolled in a mixture of salt, pepper, and garlic powder and slow-roasted over native red-oak, giving it a hearty, smoky flavor. Served with salsa, French bread dipped in melted sweet butter, Pinquito beans, and a fresh green salad, Sunset Magazine named this Valley classic feast the best barbecue in the world, and the California Visitor’s Guide dubbed it the number one food not to miss while visiting California.
Here are several ways to pepper the month of May:
Follow the Barbecue Trail
Visitors to Santa Maria Valley can enjoy this complimentary map of scrumptious barbecue pit stops along your Central California Coast road trip excursion. If guests prefer to dine-in, outdoor and indoor seating options are available. It is best to call the restaurant prior to your visit to ensure the latest information on COVID-19 guidelines.
- The Hitching Post – The Casmalia location is one of the Valley’s most famous and a true local’s favorite.
- Far Western Tavern – The menu celebrates the tried and true dishes from the restaurant’s original location, which opened in the Palace Hotel building in Guadalupe in 1958. California ranch-inspired cuisine includes multiple cuts of beef, pork, ribs and chicken.
- Jocko’s Steakhouse – Since 1926, Jocko’s has served up good food in an unpretentious environment and is known for its generous portions.
- Rancho Nipomo BBQ – Barbecue, Cal-Mex fare and beers fill up this rustic, mission-style hangout.
- Shaw’s Steakhouse and Tavern – A true gem in Santa Maria, this is as authentic as it gets for Santa Maria Style Barbecue.
A Sizzle Video
We encourage you to keep dreaming about your next Central Coast getaway. Season your imagination by watching a Santa Maria Style Barbecue video to see what this unofficial fifth regional style of barbecue is all about. It’s a simple, yet delicious, tradition.
Grill With a Local
Jaime Flores, founder of the Santa Maria Valley Barbecue Festival, will show you how to make a bountiful meal from your grill or your kitchen. In this video, he will demonstrate how to make Santa Maria Style Barbecue using ingredients from your local grocery store so you can bring the style to your very own home.
Download the Complimentary Santa Maria Style Barbecue Cookbook
Next, order your Instacart ingredients to make a hearty and filling Santa Maria Style Barbecue family recipe at home. Set up your tablets and download this free cookbook to access the Santa Maria Style tradition. You can use many types of beef, including tri-tip, steaks or top sirloin. If you are a pescatarian or vegetarian, Santa Maria Style seasoning can top seafood or vegetables to make your meal memorable. Susie Q’s Santa Maria Style seasoning, salsa, Pinquito beans and California red oak chips can be ordered online and shipped right to you.
Barbecue + Wine is Saucy and Divine
Santa Maria Style Barbecue and locally produced wines are the perfect pairing. Typically, Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir and Rhone-style varietals like Syrah will hold up to the bold flavors of barbecue. The Santa Maria Valley soil, climate and other native local conditions shape the wine’s character. With the marine climate and dry sandy-loam soils, it’s not hard to find wines that exhibit a strong sense of place. Wines from Riverbench, Foxen and cnagy complement such a meal and can be purchased online. If dessert is on the menu, strawberries are the ideal finale. As one of North America’s most prolific strawberry producers, Santa Maria Valley berries are abundant this time of year.