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Any places doing Santa Maria style tri-tip BBQ in LA or OC?

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By "Santa Maria style tri-tip" I mean slow smoked with red oak. I'd really like to try this when I'm LA and OC next weekend, going to Santa Maria won't be feasible for some time.

There was a bbq catering company at the Palm Springs street fair yesterday that was doing it and it was really good, even though they could only smoke it for an hour. The pitmaster said he's pretty sure there's a couple of places in LA or OC, but didn't know any names.

Any suggestions greatly appreciated. Thanks!

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  1. Lou's Red Oak BBQ in Huntington Beach is one of the few that cooks it in this style in OC.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Professor Salt

      Thanks! I'm actually going to be in Huntington Beach next weekend. Have you been there, are they any good?

      1. re: texicali63

        I went there. It wasn't the worst thing. It was actually OK, I just wouldn't ever go back for more of it. Too many better things to eat.

        1. re: texicali63

          Been years since I've been. It's ok, but nothing I crave. Wish I could tell you a better option, but I don't know of any.

      2. http://www.ranchotogobbq.com/Home_Pag...

        1 Reply
        1. re: Servorg

          Re. Rancho to Go BBQ. The tri tip is good here. Not amazing or outstanding but good by LA standards. I'm pretty sure he smokes more than 1 hour.

          If available. Get the pastrami.

        2. thanks everyone!

          1. I take it from the lack of responses that the Santa Maria BBQ place in Culver City isn't around anymore?

            It never got rave reviews, but it was a lot closer than Nipomo.

            Mr Taster

            1 Reply
            1. re: Mr Taster

              Yea. That place closed down about a year ago.

            2. Santa Maria style Tri-Tip is not smoked, it is grilled over open flame. As such, it is not cooked "Low & Slow" but is grilled over what would be considered "High Heat". One hour seems like a long time, but the size of the meat and how high the grill is set over the fire would dictate cooking time. The meat is done whenever it reaches the desired "Doneness"(Temperature).

              Tri-Tip can be slow smoked, but that is not "Santa Maria" style, and IMO the relatively well marbled cut does not need slow cooking to be it's best, especially because of the cross grain carving of the cooked roast. Grilling over Red Oak(a strong flavored wood) is enough to impart a smoky flavor.

              12 Replies
              1. re: DWB

                Good info, thank you. The only thing I'm curious about is whether in fact it wouldn't benefit from the low/slow treatment. I've had it three times so far, and two of those times it was very chewy and rubbery, despite being cut what I would call "deli-style" like roast beef. The flavor was good, however, tasted like steak.

                The third time it was really good, and they were indeed grilling it over medium heat using red oak. I never did ask the guy if he closed the lid at any point, I just assumed he did. I'll have to ask him next time I'm there.

                I need to make a trip to Santa Maria!

                1. re: texicali63

                  You only need to go as far as Buelton. https://hitchingpost2.com/restaurant....

                  1. re: Grog

                    Link 404'd. What's the restaurant's name?

                    Never mind I got it. Thanks!

                    1. re: texicali63

                      http://www.hitchingpost2.com/

                      1. re: Servorg

                        not seeing a tri-tip anywhere on that menu?

                        1. re: ns1

                          They do the original style, which was top sirloin and not tri-tip.

                          1. re: Servorg

                            Top Sirloin or what we call "Top Block" is an entirely different cut of meat than a Tri-Tip. Tri-Tip is so named because it comes from the Triangle of meat where the back leg attaches to the bottom of the cow.

                          2. re: ns1

                            I've been horribly disappointed with the Buellton hitching post every time I've gone. Jocko's in Nipomo is the beginning and end for me for all things Santa Maria BBQ. Just remember, unless you don't mind waiting 2 hours for a table, make a reservation. And be sure to go for dinner as they do not fire up the red oak pit for lunch.

                            Mr Taster

                            1. re: Mr Taster

                              And get the spencer steak. They don't do tri-tip either. The small one costs about $25 and includes everything (garlic bread, relish tray, beans, salsa, your choice of potato, dessert & coffee) and is enough to feel two moderately hungry people if you share. (You'll have to pay an additional $6 or so for your companion to also get the full "set up")

                              They cook the spencer over direct heat on the typical Santa Maria chain platform rig, but it's ALWAYS perfectly cooked, amazingly juicy, tender and flavorful.

                              Mr Taster

                              1. re: Mr Taster

                                Jocko's all the way!

                                1. re: Mr Taster

                                  I'm sorry to hear that. I've only had positive experiences about a dozen times over 10 or so yrs. It's been about a yr since my last visit which I plan to rectify soon. I do agree that Jocko's is also fantastic yet different than HP II.

                                  1. re: Grog

                                    I also really really really like the Hithcing Post in Buelton though I have never visited Jockos before.

                    2. Although they don't do tri-tip, I think the barbecued brisket at Blake's Place in Anaheim is pretty darned good...the best I've found in OC.

                      1. There a number of Red Oak establishments. (There's one in Whittier.) Both it and the HB location are similar. The Habit, a new hamburger chain based in Santa Barbara with a number of locations (Santa Fe Springs and Costa Mesa are two of which I am familiar) does a Santa Maria style sandwich that is quite good. Their grilled tuna is good and their hamburger is not bad.

                        1. Not LA or OC, but Ventura. The Santa Cruz Market on Main St.
                          grills Tri-tip and baby back ribs over chunks of red oak on their big, adjustable height BBQ in the parking lot every morning. True Santa Maria style open flame with lots of smoke as DWB pointed out. This is a Middle-Eastern grocery with a full-service meat counter and deli. Good stuff!!

                          1. Marshall's Bodacious BBQ (also in Ventura) is very much the real deal for Santa Maria style barbecue with the oak and coals right out front. And as good as the cue is, their chicken is smoky and succulent as well. Although it's right off the 101, it can be tricky to find, so look it up on Yelp and punch it into your GPS.

                            1. I have lived in Santa Maria for 40 years and I should let you know that we do not "Smoke" our Tri-Tip. We BBQ it over an Open Grill using Red Oak wood. For a 5 pound Tri-Tip it is usually done to Medium Rare within around 45 minutes to an hour. No one I have ever heard of here in Santa Maria would even THINK about smoking it.