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Santa Maria is the Barbecue Hall of Fame location 


 
The Santa Maria Style of Beef Barbecue is both a tradition and a way of life to the people of the Santa Maria Valley--the featured event at all festive occasions, both public and private.

In the early days of the huge ranches, the rancheros, with their friends, gathered frequently under the oaks of this serene little valley for Spanish barbecues. The present Santa Maria Style Barbecue grew out of this tradition, and achieved its "style" some 50 years ago when local residents began to string their beef on skewers and cook it over the hot coals of a  red oak fire. 

 

The tradition has been carried on through the years by the many groups and organizations in the Santa Maria Valley who have made the barbecue a specialty for all major events. Visitors to the city having the good fortune to be exposed to this gourmet's delight, return again and again to enjoy a unique experience in eating. 

 

The only secret of the Santa Maria Style Barbecue is its simplicity. It consists of prime top sirloin, about three inches thick, cooked over a fire of coals from the Santa Maria Valley red oak wood. Salt, pepper and garlic salt are the only seasonings used. The steaks are strung on flat steel rods,  which are gradually lowered over a bed of red hot coals. Cooking time is usually about 45 minutes. 

 

Sunset Magazine calls tri-tip "the Best Barbeque in the World" and the California Visitor's Guide raves this is the "#1 food not to miss while visiting California. 

 

The Santa Maria technique, while supremely simple, appears unique to the Santa Maria Valley. But in Santa Maria, almost every home has a backyard barbecue pit, and every backyard chef prepares his barbecue in exactly the same style. Whether for two people or 2,000, an authentic Santa Maria Style Barbecue requires that all the meat be prepared, cooked and served at one time. It cannot be prepared ahead or permitted to "wilt". The technique of proper barbecuing lies in expert timing--the secret, perhaps, which restricts it to the Santa Maria Valley.