There’s a reason we’re known as the “Barbecue Capital of the World,” and it all starts with a tried-and-true recipe that’s been passed down for generations. Stroll down Broadway Street on any given day, and you’ll see (and smell) exactly what we’re talking about.
It started in the mid-19th century when the rancheros gathered to help each other brand their calves each spring. As a thank-you to his fellow vaqueros (America’s first cowboys), the host would prepare a Spanish-style barbecue, consisting of beef barbecued over a red-oak fire, served with Pinquito beans, bread, salsa, and homemade desserts.
The present-day Santa Maria Style Barbecue grew out of this tradition, when, some 60 years ago, locals began to string their beef on skewers and cook it over the hot coals of a red-oak fire. The meat, either top-block sirloin or tri-tip, is rolled in a mixture of salt, pepper, and garlic salt and slow roasted over red-oak coals—giving it a hearty, smoky, irresistible flavor. Served with salsa, French bread dipped in melted sweet butter, Pinquito beans, and a fresh green salad, Sunset Magazine, named our Valley’s classic feast the “best barbecue in the world,” and California’s Visitor’s Guide dubbed it the “number one food not to miss while visiting California.”