If you appreciate classic, fresh, delicious food steeped in tradition, we’ve got the trip for you.
To truly experience the authenticity of Santa Maria Style barbecue, you’ll need at least two days. Check out our affordable stay options and make your reservations now as you work on planning your trip.
Barbecue is done differently in Santa Maria Valley. The history of traditional Santa Maria Style barbecue dates back more than 150 years and has been perfected ever since. When we say come hungry, we mean it. Here, beef tri-tip is seasoned with black pepper, salt and garlic and grilled over coals of native red oak. It’s dense, filling and sure to leave you both satisfied and with some leftovers. If you’re in the mood to go at your own pace, and be welcomed like family, bring your appetite and experience a weekend of meals prepared Santa Maria Style.
Your Trip at a Glance
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Begin your barbecue tasting experience with lunch at a Santa Maria Valley classic, The Garden Room at the Historic Santa Maria Inn. While the tri-tip is staple order for dinner, you can try it with salad or slaw for lunch, giving you the perfect intro to the Santa Maria Style experience.
After lunch, make the quick, 15-minute drive south of Santa Maria to Orcutt, a small town with antique charm. At the Old Town Market in Orcutt, you can pick up everything you need to prepare your own Santa Maria Style feast back at home. Here, you can purchase Santa Maria Style seasoning, raw pinquito beans, red oak chips and more, all the necessities to grill Santa Maria Style tri-tip on your own.
Next, go check out Naughty Oak Brewing Company, a locally-owned and operated craft brewery. The craft beer scene on the Central Coast is booming, and Naughty Oak is a great hub for beer in Santa Maria Valley. With clever names like Gold Digger or Anthony Hopkins, you’re in for a treat when it comes time to order. What’s even better, you can always order a flight of beer to taste a few without the full tap commitment.
Finally, stroll down East Clark Avenue to head to your next destination for dinner, Far Western Tavern, one of Santa Maria Valley’s most iconic barbecue locations. The 1958 classics portion of their menu celebrates the tried and true menu items from the restaurant’s original location that opened that year in the Palace Hotel building in Guadalupe. Classics include multiple cuts of beef, pork, ribs and chicken. Their 2012 contemporary menu features new veggie and steak varieties, including their renown oak grilled tri-tip. Be sure to order a glass of local Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir, which will pair perfectly with your steak and is grown in vineyards right down the street. (Psst! Here’s the Wine Itinerary if you’re curious!)
The Swiss, in Santa Maria, is one of the region’s oldest barbecue restaurants. Lucky for you, they serve classic breakfast on Sunday morning from 8:30 to noon. There’s no better way to begin your day than with a delicious breakfast, done Santa Maria Style of course.
By now, you’re probably in the mood for some fresh air. Take your full belly and head out to Guadalupe for a fresh coastal breeze and an easy walk out at Oso Flaco. Wander through the beautiful tree-lined road that leads to a foot bridge that crosses over Oso Flaco Lake and will take you all the way out to the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes. This 1.7 mile out and back path is good for all skill levels and is accessible year-round.
When your appetite kicks in again, finish your day at one of Santa Maria Valley’s most famous restaurants, The Hitching Post in Casmalia. Driving from Guadalupe, this classic destination is a scenic 35 minute drive down Highway 1. The Hitching Post serves Santa Maria Style cuisine paired with local wines and beer. If this restaurant sounds familiar, it’s because its sister location, the Hitching Post II, served as a set for the 2004 movie “Sideways.” Be sure to make a reservation, because the Hitching Post I is a true local favorite.
Now, with two days under your belt in Santa Maria Valley, you’ve just scratched the surface. There’s so much to do from here. Check out a full list of the amazing barbecue restaurants in Santa Maria Valley you still need to try.
We hope you’re able to carve out more time to kick your feet up and stay a while. Santa Maria Valley is the perfect home base where you can eat, drink and do more for less on the Central California coast. Along with our legendary barbecue, we have 24 hiking trails, 34 tasting rooms and 13 beaches all within a beautiful 30-minute drive. Hit the road and explore it all #SantaMariaStyle.