Barbecue is a matter of taste, which makes it ultimately subjective. Nevertheless, you’ll find no shortage of folks who will declare that Texas or Kansas City or (insert region here) is “the best barbecue!”
So it’s kind of nice to see a story from the Lone Star State that takes a less declarative stance, and that gives props to Santa Maria Style Barbecue along the way.
The story, published by the Houston Chronicle, is titled “The Disputed Champion of Barbecue.” In it, the author wisely states, “I’d like to say that Texas is the undisputed champion of barbecue, but that wouldn’t be quite right. In fact, there’s a fierce dispute about the best style of barbecue in America.”
Along the way, he adds, “Santa Maria-style barbecue is probably the least-known style of barbecue. It originates in the Santa Maria Valley in California, north of Santa Barbara. It is known for using the “tri-tip” cut of beef, simply seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic, and grilled over an open flame.”
And that is true. Santa Maria BBQ is, indeed, the least-known of the major American regional barbecue styles. We like to say that it’s our own little secret here on California’s Central Coast, even though this blog is dedicated to spreading the word far and wide!
We wouldn’t go so far as to say Santa Maria BBQ is “the best” barbecue. We can, however, confidently say that Santa Maria Style Barbecue can hold its own against any other style. But in the end, it’s a matter of individual taste and so there’s no need to declare superiority.
All that said, however, we’re not going to argue with Sunset Magazine crowning Santa Maria as the “West’s Best BBQ Town!”