Avenue in Huntington Beach, has chicken, beef and pork roasts turning on
spits in his now-double storefront -- all prepared "Santa Maria" style --
adapted from the method used by ranchers in the central California valley
in the 1800s.
Santa Maria style is different from what we recognize as barbecue. The
meat is roasted by spit or grill over the red oak wood found only in
central California. No marinade or sauce seasons the tri-tip sirloin
roast during cooking -- the only seasoning is the traditional rub of
garlic, salt and pepper blend. Lou prefers the rotisserie cooking method,
which seals in juices and flavor, resulting in a firm but tender roast.
Chicken and sausage are also prepared on the spit over red oak embers.
A combo of three slices of tri-tip beef and St. Louis style pork ribs
($14.99) is served with a choice of sides -- you must try the pinquito
beans, a hybrid small pink and kidney bean in a wonderful slow cooked
spicy sauce with bits of bacon and the bite of jalapenos.
The four flat ribs are dark with barbecue sauce and meaty. They have
absorbed the sauce and glisten with temptation. Tri-tip is a tender but
lean, firm cut of roast offered in three slices cooked to medium
perfection -- delicious with the zesty salsa of diced tomato, onion,
cilantro and spices. A small cup of the dark thick barbecue sauce is also
served -- good to add to the meat and also to dip thick slices of garlic
bread in. Lou's is a place that celebrates good eating as witnessed by
the room full of men at lunch one day -- no delicate salad-eating ladies
A more conventional selection is pork loin roast ($10.99) with
delicious mashed potatoes, smooth brown gravy and chunky apple sauce on
the side with cole slaw as the extra choice. The medium thick slices of
pork roast, which had been roasted for three and a half hours, were very
tender and lean with a seductive flavor that must have come with the
elusive red oak smoke.
Portuguese immigrants who settled in the area have influenced the
cooking and seasoning that became part of the Santa Maria tradition. A