One of the coolest things about Santa Maria Style Barbecue is how indigenous the menu is to our region.

Indeed, the meat is cooked over coals of red oak, a type of oak that proliferates right here on the Central Coast. The meat is rubbed with a locally developed mix of salt, pepper and garlic salt. One of the signature cuts is tri-tip, a unique triangular cut that was popularized by a local butcher more than 50 years ago. And the menu includes slow-cooked pinquito beans, which are grown exclusively in our region.

Talk about local flavor!

But there’s another item on the official Santa Maria BBQ menu that may seem more generic at first glance, but that can be just as local in practice: tossed green salad.

The notion of tossed green salad may conjure up a plate of random greens purchased at the grocery store—but there’s a chance that those greens might have been grown right here in the Santa Maria Valley!

Indeed, both head lettuce and leaf lettuce are among the top 10 crops grown in Santa Barbara County, which is one of the most agriculturally productive counties on the coast (Santa Barbara County agriculture contributes 2.8 billion to the economy), with most of the farming taking place in the Santa Maria Valley.

And so it is that even your tossed green salad can be part of the uniquely local taste experience that is Santa Maria Style Barbecue, particularly if you are intentional about seeking out locally grown greens.

P.S. To find local greens at their freshest, consider heading out to the farmers markets every Friday in downtown Santa Maria.