Inside SCV Magazine of the Santa Clarita Valley turns the spotlight on Santa Maria Style Barbecue and the Santa Maria Valley visitor experience in its new July issue.

Writer Eric Harnish and his wife spent two days in the valley: “Start exploring northern Santa Barbara County like we did on a recent weekend and you’ll find a unique Central Coast destination with a vibrant wine country, hidden foodie gems and a glimpse of California’s past.”

Along the way, they dined at the Far Western Tavern, a Santa Maria barbecue landmark: “The signature steak is the 14-ounce Bull’s Eye rib eye, which the menu says it’s ‘very tender and flavorful.’ That’s like saying Yosemite is very scenic. Mine was cooked to perfection, and every bite was red-meat nirvana. Hands down, it was one of the best steaks I’ve eaten. Ever. ”

Eric added, “The Historic Santa Maria Inn served as our base of operations and we settled into a spacious top-floor suite, equipped with a full-size kitchen, fireplace, living room and bedroom…It is a homey destination where guests are made to feel relaxed and welcome. ”

The trip included stops at two local wineries in the Santa Maria Valley wine country, and Eric’s conclusion sums it up perfectly: “As you might expect, the Far Western Tavern is nowhere near the freeway. In fact, their slogan says, ‘Where the pavement ends and the west begins.’ You could say the same thing about Santa Maria: Where the freeway ends, the fun begins. ”

Click here for ideas on planning your own fun and flavorful trip to the Santa Maria Valley!