A Tri-Tip Evening at Far Western Tavern!
As most of my readers know, I am a picky eater. I stopped eating meat altogether when I was just 14, and incorporated seafood back into my diet just a few years ago. My most recent bold move? I am now a reluctant carnivore. While I mainly stick to white meat (good ol’ chicken), I certainly went to the right place to try tri-tip and beef when I headed to Santa Maria, California with my IFWTWA family.
For our Sunday dinner, we were in for an amazing evening at Far Western Tavern with our hostess, owner Susan Righetti. Righetti is one of those souls who welcomes you into her establishment as if it is her home (which it kind of is). With an extremely kind and welcoming demeanor, she took us on a tour of Far Western Tavern as we learned the history behind the restaurant that even Food Network star, Bobby Flay, chose to be where he showed his viewers the art of tri-tip beef. Not too shabby, right?!
Founded in 1958 by Susan’s parents, Clarence and Rosalie Minetti,, Far Western Tavern had its beginnings in nearby Guadalupe and now makes their incredible dishes in Orcutt, just minutes from tri-tip capital of Santa Maria. The atmosphere upon entering was joyful and lively, with an impressive bar to boot. As Susan guided us to take a look at the Tavern’s upstairs banquet room, the vibes were very old time-y. It felt like a set right out of Bonanza or Gun Smoke. I expected Miss Kitty to come on by!
While Far Western definitely has a gorgeous atmosphere, it is the food that reveals all of the talents and hidden gems to the restaurant. We got to experience an array of their famous appetizers, including Sweetbreads that had been grilled over red oak, just like their tri-tip, Prosciutto Wrapped Jalapenos filled with cream cheese, Grilled Artichokes with a spicy Siracha remoulade, Puff Pastry Wrapped Linguica and the ultimate comfort item: Mac n’ Cheese Rellenos.
Everything looked fabulous, since several items were not “Mary Safe” (gluten free), I was thrilled to try their artichoke and the spice to it was just right. As we moved onto the tough decision of our entrees, I selected the salmon grilled on their red oak (how all the beef and tri-tip is also prepared) over grilled veggies. Bursting with flavor, I have commonly been finding that some restaurants over-cook salmon, making it dry and not too much to write home about. Not a problem at all with Far West Tavern. It was grilled to near-perfection, and while I opted for a glass of their Riverbench Pinot Noir, (Riverbench is locally owned, by Susan, no less!) instead of a white to pair more traditionally with my fish, it still paired well. Assertive, some spice and notes of cherry, It went greatly well with their tri-tip…
Yes, I may have not ordered my own, but, I did manage to get in a bite of what Santa Maria is famous for! Juicy, tender and filled with flavor, It actually was a bit of an awakening to at last try a red wine with red meat. I understand what the fuss is about!
One of the secrets to the decadent and flavorful meats served at Far Western Tavern (who will be open on Mondays beginning July 10th)? The spices and salsa’s. We were thrilled to learn that Susan has her own line of spices, Susie Q’s. If you are not local to Santa Maria, not to worries as they ship online, too. It did make me wonder: Does Susan Righetti ever sleep?! Restaurant. Winery. Spices. Bravo, Susan!
Far Western Tavern is an absolute must for anyone passionate about tri-tip and beef. If you are new to eating meat again (like myself), Susan and her incredibly warm staff will put you at ease and help you decide on a great dish. Just be ready, you will want to hurry back! xo