Santa Maria Style Barbecue dates back to the 19th century ranchero era  in the Santa Maria Valley, so it’s no surprise that many of the region’s Mexican restaurants find a way to incorporate our local barbecue tradition–and the signature tri-tip cut–into their own regional flavors.

Take Pasion Comida Mexicana, a newer restaurant in Santa Maria Valley’s Old Town Orcutt district. Here, the “Tri Tip Steak Tampiqueno” is a popular dinner entrée. The dish offers up marinated and grilled hand-cut steaks served with a cheese enchilada and guacamole. The lunch menu is just as mouth- watering with its “Red Chili Rubbed Tri-Tip,” which comes with a char-grilled onion, salsa negro and queso anejo.

Owner Cynthia Segura calls the restaurant “traditional Mexican food with a modern twist.” Hailing from San Antonio, Texas, Segura has made “Texas style” the restaurant’s theme. This includes lots of spice, and hot sauces in many dishes, plus a dining atmosphere that resonates with the warmth of leather, hard wood and cozy colors.

“We eat with passion,” Segura says. And it’s no surprise that this enthusiasm also enfolds a Santa Maria Valley legacy, good ‘ole tri-tip.