Greetings from Los Angeles, Santa Maria 'hounds!
Taking a cue from this recent post about why SM BBQ isn't found at more restaurants....
...it's led me to ask these questions, which have been bothering me now since I had my first SM BBQ trailer experience a few years ago.
It seems that every time I read about the quintessential Santa Maria BBQ experience, people mention the weekend parking lot BBQ trailers all up and down the main boulevards of Santa Maria. My understanding is that these are generally these are run as fundraisers for Lions Club, etc. and not run by professional chefs or grillmasters.
Of course, I have had many, many glorious spencer steaks at Jocko's, and have has a couple of delicious Bullseye steaks at The Far Western Tavern. Take note, I have been consistently disappointed by The Hitching Post, whose steaks are more pricey and less flavorful than these two faithful standbys.
When I get the urge for Santa Maria BBQ, Jocko's is my go-to place.
Of course, there's still an empty spot in my heart, and a question in my head. There's that part of me that sees those trailers on the side of the road, the smoke rising from those mobile BBQ trailers, the aroma of the smoke seducing me through my car's air conditioning ducts. I want to love them. I need to love them.
They got me once... I pulled over in the parking lot of a strip mall made from Alex Madonna's trademark giant boulders. I don't remember which organization was running this particular trailer. I stared at the grill for a good 10 minutes. I asked the guy running the grill if I could have "that steak... in the back... the beautifully charred one that was just perfectly done." His reply? "We don't sell from the grill... go to the trailer." So I went to the trailer, and asked them if I could have ""that steak... in the back... the beautifully charred one that was just perfectly done." Her reply? "We don't sell meat directly from the grill." She gave me a plate of whatever they had in the trailer.
So this meat she gave me... when was it finished cooking? How long had it been sitting under the heat lamps in the trailer? Who knows. it was truly mediocre, and a waste of $8 that I could have put towards my $21 spencer steak at Jocko's.
So my question for you local Santa Maria hounds.... is there a trick to getting great SM BBQ, Jocko's quality, from the parking lot trailers? Or is your fondness for the trailers really more about tradition and the experience than about the food?
If there's one particular trailer that's particularly good, that sells consistently fresh meat, that doesn't mind selling you fresh meat from the grill,etc. can you talk about it here?
What are your tips or tricks for getting the best quality, freshest grilled meat from the trailers?
Thanks for all your advice.