To watch the movie “Sideways,” it sure seems like The Hitching Post offers the Central Coast’s definite Santa Maria-style barbecue. While it’s good, Far Western Tavern in Guadalupe, a town “where the pavement ends and the West begins,” is my favorite spot in the genre.
Rancher Clarence Minetti opened this Central Coast classic in 1958 with wife Rosalie, her cousin Richard Maretti and his wife Betty Jean. They own a cattle ranch in nearby Punta Sal. Executive Chef Barbara Abernethy continues to administer the Minetti family’s vision, which is draped in cow hides.
The dining room features blue carpets with a floral pattern and curtains crafted from cow hides. The walls alternate between mahogany and red wallpaper with an astral pattern.
Far Western Tavern specializes in four different cuts of steak, plus red oak-grilled sweetbreads, pork chops, baby back ribs and more. After 3 PM, the restaurant grills the meats over red oak, which imparts an intoxicating aroma and a delicious smokiness. Our choice of side was grilled polenta, moistened with olive oil and seasoned with Susie Q salt, made by Susan Righetti, an ancestor of Far Western Tavern’s founders. Note the plates are ringed with cattle brands.
Route 101 provides easy access to a number of prominent Santa Maria-style barbecue establishments, including The Hitching Post, Jocko’s and Shaw’s, but it’s worth the added mileage along Route 166 to reach Far Western Tavern.
1/27/14 Update: Far Western Tavern relocated from 899 Guadalupe Street, Guadalupe, CA 93434.