Vaqueros, the cowboys of California’s Central Coast, used to cook their meat over a fire of red oak wood, a tree indigenous to the Santa Maria Valley. Today, the specialty known as tri-tip makes mouths water all over the Golden State. Cut from the bottom sirloin, seasoned with a mixture of salt, pepper, and garlic, and grilled over red oak logs on adjustable grates, tri-tip is the undisputed crux of Santa Maria-style barbecue. The traditional sandwich is dressed with fresh tomato salsa, tucked into toasted and buttered French bread, and sided with ranch-style pinquito beans.
With their mammoth grill next to the front door, BBQ Land in Santa Maria naturally serves the archetypal tri-tip sandwich. The tri-tip is quite juicy on its own, but mingling with the salsa gives the meat an unmistakable savor. The French bread is the perfect vehicle for soaking up the meat juices, and their ranch beans are wonderfully spiced and tender, swimming in their own broth that you’ll want to soak up with a corner of French bread. Their menu also includes grilled chicken, ribs, tacos, and burritos, but their luscious tri-tip will keep us satisfied on every visit.