8 reasons why Santa Maria BBQ is next-level

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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).

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