As a barbecue-fanatic and a confirmed carnivore, I like a BBQ joint that you can smell before you see. Such is the case with Santa Maria BBQ in Culver City, one of my takeout favorites. (I would eat there, but A. I live four blocks away, B. I like to eat in my underwear if at all possible and C. me eating BBQ is NOT a pretty sight. It’s better if I am near a shower and/or garden hose.)
This place smells FANTASTIC. Apparently, Santa Maria-style BBQ is an important part of California’s regional culinary heritage, originating with cowboys (vaqueros) on the Central Coast rubbing spices on their meat. (And if that’s all it takes to be a cowboy, I know a few confirmed cowpokes myself.)
I LOVE their BBQ sauce! It’s sweet/spicy, balanced with vinegar, culminating in a final peppery KICK. I put it on eggs, sandwiches, salads. I could bathe in the stuff, so imagine my surprise when the nice counter lady last night told me that there are some Yelpers out there hating on the sauce!
So if you go (and you SHOULD!), order the tri-tip Caesar salad (ask for extra sauce), wash yo’ face and hands (listen to your Mother), then go on Yelp and make nice. Santa Maria will appreciate it, and maybe Santa CLAUS will leave you a little extra something in your stocking for being such an active part of LA’s culinary community. Thank you!!