There are plenty of steakhouses and chop shops in the Santa Maria Valley, but if speed is the name of the game, you could do worse than make a pit-stop at El Pollo Norteño, a small fast-food-style diner in a strip mall in Santa Maria.
'tri-tip' on Serious Eats
If you're from outside of Santa Maria, California, you may not have heard of tri-tip, the large, tender, triangular muscle cut from the bottom sirloin of a steer. If you're from Santa Maria, on the other hand, you can bet your bowl of pinquito beans that you've had more than your share of the cut.
A sweet and spicy rub adds flavor to this otherwise mild but tender cut of beef.
This is a classic Santa Maria style barbecue tri tip with a simple garlic, salt, and pepper rub, cooked over an open fire to medium rare. It's best served with Santa Maria-style Salsa
These are the butcher's cuts. These are the cuts that chefs love to use because not only are they inexpensive, but they've got character. Here is a brief overview of my five favorite inexpensive steaks: the hanger, the tri-tip, the short-rib, the skirt, and the flap meat.
After a week of feasting on rib tips and hot links, one would think that the last thing I'd want to do is eat more barbecue. But I'm reasonably sure I will always make an exception for some tri-tip from Lillie's Q.
Santa Maria's claim to culinary fame is a type of open-flame grilling that dates back to the 19th century. Despite its association with colonial Spain's vaquero culture, this approach was not too different from most American barbecue of the time—a process with three general steps: "Dig hole. Light coals. Apply carcass."
If you're anything like me, chances are you've never stopped to think about the history of fajitas. This sizzling plate of meat and onions served with flour tortillas has always been a given, just like gravy-drenched enchiladas or the ubiquitous combo plates served in places specializing in Tex-Mex. But like any iconic food, there's a story behind that platter, and in this case a fascinating one that Robb Walsh has extensively researched for The Tex-Mex Grill and Backyard Barbacoa Cookbook.
Like novels, sandwiches get bragging rights when they are so thick, they make you stop and think, "wow, that might take you a while, but I bet it's good." At Berkeley's Brazil Fresh Squeeze Café, the veggie sandwich is four-inches thick, and that's only after squeezing it to clear the roof of your mouth