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Mar 13, 2001 08:02 PM

The Hitching Post

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I've read about The Hitching Post in Casmalia, Calif., central valley.My mouth waters at the thought of a good steak - since my wife doesn't eat red meat, I rarely make the effort. They specialize in Santa Maria style barbeque. Is this place worth the long ride on a weekend afternoon. Any menu suggestions?

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  1. I, too, had long looked forward to my first visit to the Hitching Post. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, but if you really want a great steak, go to Ruths' Chris.

    Notwithstanding the prime aged beef issues, it is a very casual, rustic place with an unsophisticated menu and mien (I mean that in the positive sense) that attracts many locals who probably don't know that it appears on various "best of" lists.

    Our meal there, a few months back, was an early Sunday dinner. We arrived early and had to wait in the bar. It was a special treat to watch a couple dozen local winemakers gathering in the banquet room just off the bar to toast and send off a friend. They had all brought bottles of their own product to share and sample at what, I am sure, was a great meal that I would have loved to be a part of.

    Instead, we repaired to a table in the dining room with a nice view of the furiously hot grill, as we enjoyed the old relish tray and ordered a bottle of the Reserve Pinot Noir bottled by the restaurant's owner. It was wonderful.

    We drank it as we ate our steaks amidst a group of non-drinking sixty-somethings on a bus tour that, much to our charming and personable waitress's legitimate lament, wanted individual checks! It's that kind of place.

    1. They do not fire up the wood burning grill at lunch only at dinner. They are also not open for lunch on the weekends.

      1. I prefer Jocko's in Nipomo (where I ate last night, by the way) to The Hitching Post for Santa Maria BBQ, but none of the Santa Maria BBQ places is, by itself, worth a drive all the way from Los Angeles, IMHO.

        11 Replies
        1. re: Tom Armitage

          Outlaws in Marina Del Rey claims to have Santa Maria-style BBQ - anybody out there care to comment on how close they come to the real thing? I have always liked Outlaws, but haven't been to The Hitching Post to compare.

          1. re: Richard Foss

            The closest thing to Santa Maria BBQ in Marina Del Rey is Washington St. Bar and Grill on Washington just West of Lincoln. It is not as good as the real thing but the real thing is not all that big of a deal anyway. Outlaws is about as close to Santa Maria BBQ as Marina Del Rey (actually Playa Del Rey) is to Santa Maria (not very close).

          2. re: Tom Armitage

            Dead on. What we have in Santa Maria is a clear case of the emperor's new barbecue.

            1. re: Mr Grub
              Dr. Winston O'Boogie

              Can't agree with that. Santa Maria barbecue is terrific, and worth the trip! Especially from the roadside Q'ers. It's not really barbecue, tho, as most people think of it. No matter, don't miss it.

            2. re: Tom Armitage

              Tom - you can't be home already ... are you posting this from the computer at the Baywood Inn?

              [ For those following along, my girlfriend and I had been eating with Tom and his wife the last few days on a very short visit through L.A., and we spent our last evening eating at Jocko's. ]

              We ate at Hitching Post on Friday 3/16. I would say I like both places. I found the steak at HP to have more in-your-face flavors than Jocko's. The fries at HP are superior. The baked potato is better at Jocko's. I also had the smoked duck breast served with an apricot-ginger sauce as a combo with my steak. Stick to the steak. The rack of pork baby back ribs were excellent too.

              Tried HP's own 1997 Pinot Noir "Highliner" (a combination of grapes from Bien Nacido and Sanford). It was a dense and rich wine with loads of fruit. Very lovely with my steak.

              1. re: Gary Cheong

                We are heading up to the Santa Barbara area this weekend and I am trying to locate THE Jocko's, do any of these qualify?

                Little Jocko's 603 E Main St Santa Maria, CA (805) 925-5556
                Little Jocko's 150 S Frontage Rd Nipomo, CA (805) 929-3885
                Jocko's Steak House 125 N Thompson Ave Nipomo, CA (805) 929-3686

                Thanks in advance!

                1. re: Heather

                  Jocko's Steak House is the one. You should know it's slightly more than an hour drive from Santa Barbara.

                  1. re: Heather

                    I think it's the one with the N. Thompson Ave. address in Nipomo (L.A. Hound Tom Armitage drove us there in his car, so I'm not sure. Hopefully he'll see this message and confirm)

                    You should, however, plan to go there for dinner -- that's when the steaks are cooked in the pit.

                    If you have time, you might also want to do a comparison by eating at the Hitching Post in Buellton.

                    I hope you will enjoy it as much as we did.

                    1. re: Gary Cheong

                      Both Gary and Jim are right. It's Jocko's Steak House at 125 N. Thompson Ave. in Nipomo. Take the Tefft St. exit off of Highway 101, then drive east on Tefft to N. Thompson. Jocko's Steak House is on the northwest corner of Tefft and Thompson. The decor is very downscale, but, damn, those steaks are good. Plus, at Jocko's (unlike the Hitching Post) you get the traditional Santa Maria BBQ accompaniments of salsa and pinquito beans. I'd also recommend bringing your own bottle of wine to go with the steak. There's no corkage fee, and the wines available at Jocko's won't measure up to the steak.

                      1. re: Tom Armitage

                        Thanks for giving the driving directions, Tom. I would hate for her to miss Jocko's.

                        Also a very good suggestion about bringing her own wines. Wish I could give her a bottle of that Super Tuscan we drank that night -- it went so perfectly with our steaks.

                    2. re: Heather

                      Thank you all for the explicit instructions, it’s exactly what I come to chowhound for. I would hate to come back from a road trip to find that I went to the *wrong* Jocko’s! I will keep my eyes peeled for a good Pinot, thanks for the heads up, Tom.

                      Mousse-Odile for breakfast and Super Rica at least once should round out the trip just fine. A lot of chow for just two days!

                2. I would recommend it highly, with the following caveat: Go to the one in Buellton. It's easier to get to, and a little more progressive as far as the menu goes. There will be selections for the non meat eater, and a far better dessert menu, IMO
                  Also, no lunch, only dinner.
                  BTW, a poster below describes a scene that is fairly common at the Buellton location, that is, local winemakers sampling their wares. I've never seen that at the Casmalia location, and am willing to bet that the poster was in Buellton.

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