Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > California >
Jan 1, 2012 06:19 PM

Santa Maria Barbecue restaurants with a vegetarian in tow?

My husband's work is taking him to Santa Maria in a few weeks....and I was thinking I would tag along for the ride and maybe to do a little wine tasting in the area. I have always wanted to eat at one of the barbecue places there, and figure this is my chance. But DH is largely vegetarian (he will eat fish and very rarely poultry, but never beef or pork) and didn't seem thrilled by the possibility. So, hounds, help me get my tri-tip fix. Which of the many options is one where he will have some chance of finding something he likes to eat? He would love barbecued oysters, but I think of that as a Northern California specialty. Do the major restaurants frown on someone who just wants the side dishes (he would be perfectly happy with salad and pinto beans, but doesn't want to be subject to a waiter's sneer...). Suggestions, hounds? Perhaps takeout is the secret, and if so any good suggestions for picnic spots?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Janet, the " BBQ Places" have always been transient weekend fundraisers (and these have been curtailed the past few years--weeknds only, along Broadway)or private catered events.

    BBQ tri tip isn't well-suited to restaurant serving because it is a roast from which slices are served, much like prime roast of beef. Tri tip is not something that does well being pulled from the grill (it is open pit BBQ rather than Southern-style enclosed & smoked bbq) and held. But the steaks locally are fairly good. Some places may have Hearst Ranch (the closest thing we have to grass-fed around here). As far as Vegetarian fare, perhaps some fo the Asian restos would do? Not thrilling, I know. But most restaurants will serve local seafood, "snapper"(rock cod) line-caught Black Cod, Channel Island tiger shrimp, etc.

    The "major restaurants" in SM are the more traditional dinner houses like Shaw's and Santa Maria Inn. That said, probably the best places to get open pit grilled beef on the Central Coast would be Jocko's in Nipomo (10 minutes and long table waits), or Rancho Nipomo (8 minutes), Far Western Tavern in Guadalupe (10 minutes) , or the Hitching Post in either Casmalia (35 minutes) or in Buellton(35 minutes).

    No sneering around here, we don't have snooty waiters in general, order what you'd like and I think most places would be happy to oblidge. Bear in mind this is not a sophisticated city dining atmosphere.

    Other dining rec's for SM, as the pickins are slim:

    Atari Ya in the Stowell Center off Battles--best Japanese food in town. No showboating here--congenial and restrained service, will serve sushi rolls sans mayo if requested. Full tradtional menu. Rec the Black Cod special, and the Salmon cheeks.

    Chef Rick's is closed, as he has gone to work at the Far Western as exec chef, preparing for its move to nearby Orcutt this spring. Trattoria Uveltto in Orcutt ( 10 minutes) is updated classic Italian with a good local wine list.

    In the Santa Maria Town Mall there is a nice cafe, the Cental City Market, open for lunch till mid-evening. Highly trained chef, so you'll find some menu items with a Euro flair. Some picnic supplies and frozen versions of their popular deli menu items, plus local wines and olive oils.

    Mexican food in the sit down & tablecloth restaurants is pretty miserable--very Americanized, salty, cheesy and gooey at best. The authentic stuff is from the loncheria trucks and at the various Mexican groceries around town--almost all have a small DeliMex which are all good. My fav is the tiny La Mesa at Blosser and W Main, and La Mia at N. Broadway and Grant near CVS. Excellent simple deli foods. order, and pay at the checkstands, then pick up to go. A couple of decent plastic table Mexican restaurants are La Unica at S Broadway and McCoy Center, near Starbuck's, and Panaderia Carmelita inthe Big Lots/Penny's center at Broadway & Stowell. Maybe you can find some of your own to post about! My favorite lunch truck is Tichita's, parked on East Betteravia about 1 mile east of 101. (on the road to the wineries along the Santa maria River). Senora Rosa a su servicio.

    Not very many picnic spots IN SM, two best city public parks are Presker at north end of Broadway and Waller Park at the other (south) end of Broadway. The prettiest rural picnic spots are out south of Orcutt along the back road to Los Alamos (shoulder of the road). There is also a pretty little park tucked into the canyon behind Los Alamos--something out of the 40's.

    In Los Alamos, ( 10 minutes south) you'll find Bell Street Farms, a Wine Country Picnic outfitter. Good stuff! Also, Full of Life Flatbread serves pizza, salads, etc Fri Sat and Sun nites only. Great old bar in front. Fills early, try the early bird if you can make it.

    Buellton has a brew pub and a great wine tasting bar just off the freeway, east frontage road. There is an active post about it right now. Melanie Wong wrote a note about Lompoc area wine producers from a trip last spring.

    If you can swing it, try to make time for a trip out to Jalama Beach outside of Lompoc. Gorgeous rural drive over unbroken ranchlands to the coast (about 35 minutes from Lompoc) with a scrumptious Jalama Burger & beer waiting for you at the beach shack inside the tiny beach park.

    About 25 minutes north is Pismo Beach with two or three good restaurants, The Lido, Gardens at Sycamore, etc.

    That's all I can think about now, let me know if I can help (I live near Jocko's) with anything. Of course, you'll be close enough to SLO and environs (40 minutes) to catch the Thurs nite Farmer's Market, the beach at Avila, and Edna Valley and Paso Robles wine tasting, etc. Grab some picnic supplies and the binocs for a stroll over Osos Flaco Lake boardwalk to the world-famous Pismo Dunes complex and dibble your piggies in the Pacific. (vistior's center in downtown Guadalupe).

    1. Here's the menu of lunch specials at Far Western Tavern when I passed through in August.

      Bear in mind that beans probably have red meat in them.

      Far Western Tavern
      899 Guadalupe St, Guadalupe, CA

      1. there is some good SYV winery info buried in this post about dining in Santa Barbara:

        1. the Far Western Tavern did a makeover in the kitchen after the long time owner died, and it wouldn't hurt to just call them to see if the chef can accommodate your spouse. it's really a place unique to that region, and we enjoyed our visits despite inconsistencies in the food freshness during the final years of the deceased owner.

          3 Replies
          1. re: moto

            I heard the Far Western Tavern is moving to another town?

            1. re: Mission

              Far Western is moving to Orcutt. Very, very sad demise for several very good restaurants in Guadalupe - particularly the now long-shuttered La Simpatia. Any news on this yet?

              1. re: glbtrtr

                That's too bad,I always liked the mellow vibe of Guadalupe.

                With the historic Far Western moving and La Simpatia shuttered for earthquake retrofit.

                It may make Guadalupe a little to mellow for a visit.

                I'll try to make it there once more before they move.

                Great service, cold beers and tasty food.


          2. Jocko's in Nipomo has great steaks.
            Also, halibut and calamari are on the menu.