One of the definitive and distinguishing characteristics of Santa Maria Style Barbecue is that, unlike other regional barbecue styles, it doesn’t require you to slather the meat in barbecue sauce.

Indeed, when it comes to Santa Maria BBQ, there’s no sauce whatsoever, but rather a simple yet magical rub based on native tradition. According to the official menu copyrighted by the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce, the seasoning is a mixture one tablespoon of salt with a ½ teaspoon of black pepper and a ½ teaspoon of garlic salt (for a larger stash, you just increase the ingredients proportionately).

Of course, as with all culinary pursuits, there’s always a little room for creativity, too. For example, local Santa Maria BBQ retail food purveyor Susie Q’s Brand adds a whisper of parsley to its blend. The Hitching Post’s BBQ2You, Cowboy Flavor and F. McLintocks are among other local barbecue specialists to offer their own proprietary rubs.

At barbecue competitions and festivals featuring a variety of regional styles, those who specialize in Santa Maria Style Barbecue are often met with puzzled looks from patrons, who ask, “Where’s the sauce?”

Without “rubbing” it in, let’s just say that their skepticism is quickly replaced with wonder as they get their first taste of the magic of Santa Maria-style seasoning.