Sunset magazine’s new 10-page spread on Santa Maria Style Barbecue is not only an instant landmark in the historical record and popular appreciation of our regional culinary tradition, it’s also a great conversation starter…

For example, reporter Brian Bullock of the Santa Maria Times used the occasion of Sunset’s piece to pen his own magnificent story on Santa Maria BBQ, connecting with local barbecue legends to add yet another layer to the story.

He writes, “In Sunset magazine’s August edition, readers find out about 86-year-old Ike Simas and the other old-timers who helped popularize the mouth-watering, stomach-stuffing spread that has made Santa Maria as synonymous with barbecue as Napa is to wines.”

Along the way, he quotes Susan Righetti, founder of Susie Q’s Brand and co-owner of the Far Western Tavern, about what makes Santa Maria BBQ special: “To me, I think it’s a combination of things. It’s well-aged beef, the way we season it, and it’s the wood. Pinquito beans are part of it, too. We have a very unique side dish.”

He also quotes the spirited Simas: “’I’m not blowing smoke. I’m telling the truth,’” Simas fittingly said when asked about his part in popularizing the traditional barbecue…Simas has been barbecuing Santa Maria style almost as long as he can remember. He learned it from his older brother Butch — there were seven boys in his family…Through their years of deep-pit barbecuing, the Simas brothers including Elmer, Melvin and Vern — brothers Arthur and Isidor didn’t barbecue — Larry Turner, Tom Sartain and Jerry Lloyd have made the Santa Maria Elks Lodge the unofficial home of Santa Maria-style barbecue.”

Click here to read Bullock’s piece for a tasty look at what Sunset has declared “The West’s Best BBQ Town.”