While tri-tip has become synonymous with Santa Maria Style Barbecue in recent decades, it’s not the only cut available to those who want to enjoy or prepare an authentic Santa Maria BBQ meal.

Indeed, some visitors actually complain when they learn that a local restaurant doesn’t offer tri-tip, saying that it’s not true Santa Maria Barbecue—all the while looking at a menu featuring top block sirloin or prime rib, the two founding cuts of this regional culinary tradition.

Yes, it’s true. Prime rib roast was prevalent in the early days of Santa Maria Style Barbecue, and top block sirloin is another enduring cut from the past. Then, in the 1950s, a Santa Maria butcher popularized the tri-tip cut. Soon, tri-tip was lifted from carnivorous obscurity and became an integral part of the authentic Santa Maria Style Barbecue experience.

But as wonderful as tri-tip is, don’t forget that there’s more than one cut when it comes to savoring Santa Maria BBQ!