Saturday, February 14, 2009

BBQ California Style

Welcome to the world of Santa Maria Style BBQ. I am your host, Stacey (Ostini) Mosti. My blog will be dedicated to the world of BBQ on the Central Coast of California, and of course, the great wines here in our little "wine country".

Why did I choose this as my favorite topic to blog about? Well my family has been specializing in Santa Maria BBQ for over 5 decades. I went from baby food right to Filet Mignon. Now this style of BBQ dates back over a century, to the days of the Spanish Rancheros. Where BBQ meant grilling over an open fire of red oak. In fact, The Hitching Post restaurant brought Santa Maria style BBQ to perfection in 1952. Yes, The Hitching Post has been in our family for 57 years now and counting. Noted as one of the first Steak Houses to bring this type of BBQ indoors. Go to for details.

Now for those of you not familiar with the Central Coast, it's just a couple hours north of Los Angeles, CA. Known mostly for it's great BBQ, the little town of Santa Maria might also ring a bell for being the location of the Michael Jackson trial that took place there just a few years back. And not too far down the road is Santa Yenz, where they shot the blockbuster movie "Sideways". (Note, The Hitching Post II was featured in the film.)

So what makes Santa Maria Style BBQ so special you might ask? It's a triple play. The wood it's cooked over, the meat you choose, and the seasoning/baste combination. It's really like no other Bar-B-Q you've ever tasted. And once you've had it, I think you will rank it as one of your favorites.

Our style of BBQ is grilling over a very hot fire. The special BBQ pits are designed so you can lower your grill closer to the flame when needed, and then quickly pull it up when the fire gets too hot. BBQ Pits like the one I'm describing are available in Santa Maria and surrounding areas. For example, Santa Maria BBQ Outfitters at: They make all shapes and sizes of quality BBQ pits. Now this type of pit mastery is an art, don't get angry if you don't master it your first time out. For the local pit masters, it can take months, and sometimes even years to perfect.

There is a special aroma that fills the air when pulling into your favorite Bar-B-Q joints in town. That would be the smell of California Red Oak burning. That smoke actually penetrates the meat, infusing it with a full flavor. Your month starts watering even before you step foot through the front doors of The World Famous Hitching Post, or one of the great steak houses in town. Of course I am partial to The Hitching Post obviously because it's been in my family for generations and I enjoy tradition. But as I continue to blog here, I will talk about other restaurants as well, like Jockos or the Far Western

Another secret to this great Bar-B-Que is the quality of meats you are working with. We use Midwestern corn fed beef. There will always be a dispute over what makes the best steak, but from what we have found in our 57 years of experience, Midwestern corn fed beef is the way to go. It's best to find beef that has been somewhat aged. That helps with locking in the natural juices of the meat. It is challenging to find that type of beef at your local market. Of course we sell ours at , but if you do order it from some other company, make sure to order the prime or choice cuts of steak which are hand trimmed and chemical free. They should be shipped out two day air and arrive frozen. You might pay a bit more for this excellent beef, but in the end, is the result worth it?.....Heavens YES!

The most popular cut here in Santa Maria is the "Tri-Tip." Discovered by butcher Fred Schwab in the 1950's, it's known as "The Santa Maria Steak." It is difficult to just find this cut of beef anywhere throughout the states. Costco seems to be doing a good job of carrying it, but if you can't find it there, just search Tri-Tip Steak and buy online, or ask your local butcher to cut a Tri-Tip for you from the bottom portion of the sirloin.

And now for the finishing touches. A lot of times when people Bar-B-Que or Grill, the meat becomes dry and chewy. Well, the third step to the Triple Play is the secret. We don't marinate the meat, we baste it as it cooks. The baste consists of an oil and vinegar combination and the Santa Maria Traditional garlic salt seasoning amongst other ingredients. We can't give all the secrets out. In fact, our family's secret blends are stowed away under lock and key.
Well thanks for listening. Hope you learned something new today. Come back and visit this blog again real soon. We will be discussing the best cuts of beef in more detail and how to prepare them. Until then, eat BBQ, enjoy wine, and laugh often!
Talk soon...<><


  1. Hhmmm, well we like to cook and we love bbq. A little skeptical about this basting thing and not using bbq sauce, but willing to try something new. We will check out these sites and get back to you. We did just see a BBQ show on the Travel Channel talking about Santa Maria BBQ. Now we are curious. We will be grilling out next weekend!

  2. Yes a blog is out about my favorite place to eat steak. The beef ribs on Monday are to die for!! The wine speaks for itself

  3. Cant wait to see behind the curtain of the magical Hitching Post. I would love recipes posted here.

  4. lots of great information...just one correction:
    Tri-Tip was invented by a one-armed butcher, Bob Schutz, who worked at the Santa Maria Market in the 1960's. Decided to put this cut of meat on the grill one day and the rest is history. Santa Maria is famous for it now.