4. 3. Open pits
“What makes Santa Maria so unique is not so much what you cook, but how you’re cooking it,” Stahl says. The barbecue here is out in the open: iron grates suspended by chains over hot red oak logs. Since the 1800s, this style of open-flame grilling has been a hallmark of Santa Maria barbecue. Some say this can be traced back to Spain’s vaqueros (cowboys during colonial times).