Far Western Tavern: Santa Maria BBQ Where The Pavement Ends [MOVED]

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Santa Maria Barbecue

Far Western Tavern features a seriously impressive restaurant marquee.

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.

Santa Maria Barbecue

If you’re looking for a more casual dining experience, sit in the saloon, which features a massive ranchland mural.

Taxidermy Santa Maria

No matter the room, walls are lined with mounted animal heads, including a trio of deer. That’s an eleven-point buck in the middle.

Taxidermy Santa Maria

Of course more animal heads line the dining room wall. The University of Texas mascot, Bevo, might feel inadequate after seeing this steer’s horns.

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.

Santa Maria Barbecue

Our Bull’s Eye Steak ($25) was a 14-ounce rib eye, served boneless.

Santa Maria Barbecue

The juicy ribeye hosted a smoky, peppery char and had buttery texture at the core, which was cooked just how we ordered it: medium rare.

Santa Maria Barbecue

Regardless of what you order, meals include a relish tray loaded with carrots, scallions, black olives, pickles and pickled peppers. An accompanying cup of chunky salsa is crafted from tomatoes, Ortega chilies, garlic, onion and a dash of Tabasco.

Santa Maria Barbecue

Pinquito beans are tiny beans similar to pinto beans that tasted smoky and held up to the meat. Again, Susie Q seasoning factored into the recipe.

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.


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

Blog Comments

Thank you for coming in and enjoying dinner. I am pleased that you enjoyed yourself feel free to let me know when you come in next….
Thomas Warner
General Manager
Far Western Tavern

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