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Jul 21, 2010 03:04 PM

Central Coast Red Oak Wood - where to buy?

Not sure if this is should go in Home Cooking but it is SO area specific that I think it belongs here...

We're making a family camping pilgimage to the central coast next week (we will be at Lopez Lake near Arroyo Grande/Pismo Beach - between Santa Maria and San Luis Obispo) and I expect to be doing a lot of outdoor cooking for 10 or more of us. I'd like to pick up some red oak wood to properly do the tri-tips in the Santa Maria BBQ style....where can i best get a lot of the wood (and some to take home?

Am I best using regular charcoal and mixing in some "chips, or should I just burn down some larger pieces?

FWIW, we've hit two of the Holy Grail....Jocko's and Far Western Tavern. Hoping to make it to The Hitching Post this time around as well as of course to the Thursday night Farmer's market in SLO.

Far Western Tavern
899 Guadalupe St, Guadalupe, CA

Hitching Post
3325 Point Sal Rd, Casmalia, CA 93429

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  1. Give a call to Robin's Firewood and check at 805-886-3589. They are in Nipomo.

    1. I make at least one trip a year down from Oakland to eat at the FW & Jockos and fill the trunk with red oak.

      I use chunks produced by Nick's Firewood, sold in red-and-white checked 0.5 cubic ft. bags marked "Red Oak BBQ" at area Vons supermarkets- you'll probably find the Grover Beach Vons on W. Grand most convenient to reach from camp (that's where I stocked up last time). They also stock Nick's firewood, though I haven't seen those clearly labeled as red oak.

      I use a mix of mesquite lump charcoal and chunks, placing 3 or 4 fist-sized chunks of oak in the middle of the charcoal chimney for a 25-30% ratio of oak to mesquite. This is because I want the oak as a heat source rather than a smoke source. The surface of the oak carbonizes, so by the time the coals are ready they are producing a thin, blue column of smoke rather than a thick, gray plume. If you've ever looked in on the pits at Jocko's or had tri-tip from the roadside community fundraiser stands that used to dot Santa Maria proper (alas), you know that this is not "low and slow" smoked BBQ.

      Chips would produce too much smoke, but if you buy the bags of Nick's you'll find you have a supply of splinters/chips settled toward the bottom of the bag. I give those away to my heretical gas grilling friends.

      Enjoy your trip, I'll be down next month myself- nearly out of wood!

      1 Reply
      1. re: Pius Avocado III

        Thanks to both for the, I'm getting hungry for it already.

      2. No chips or charcoal...burn the big log stuff into hot coals.

        Sometimes if you're lucky you'll see loads of it sitting by the roadside for free.
        I've bought it at the 7-11 in Pismo Beach.
        Also Scolari's grocery store.

        99 South Dolliver Street, Pismo Beach

        Scolari's Food & Drug Co
        555 5 Cities Drive, Pismo Beach, CA 93449-4098

        1. Check out the tri tip at Costco in SLO. I was there two weeks ago and they had cryovac "untrimmed" tri-tip for $3.99/lb. Very little you have to trim off those pieces if anything. The Costco in Santa Maria should have it also. Whatever you don't use bring it home.

          1. There's also a nice older man in Oceano, on Highway 1 near 26th st. who sells firewood--everything from pine to oak, by the box or by the cord. He's an old-timer, the kind who does business with a handshake.

            You know his place by the Corvair parked out front on his corner lot. We bought a cord from him and he was a pleasure to deal with, real old-school. Took the trouble to get at the older, seasoned wood at the back of the pile, though it took some work.