Eating a perfectly cooked piece of meat is one of the holiest eating experiences there is.
But eating a tender piece of salt-and-peppered tri-tip perfectly cooked for hours over an open fire pit fueled by temperamental California red oak in the grand tradition of the state's only native barbecue style?
That's a holy experience of an entirely different sort.
The year-old SeaSalt Woodfire Grill is the only restaurant in O.C. brave enough to tackle Santa Maria-style barbecue — a tradition that goes back to the days when the central coast was still Spanish cowboy territory — and they've executed it so perfectly, even Santa Maria natives are stunned.
The tri-tip is the region's signature cut and at SeaSalt you'll get three giant pieces of it (charred on the outside, chewy within) served on a piece of oak along with a foot-long linguisa sausage and, per tradition, a cast iron container of smoky pinquito beans.
Top it off with any of the eight house finishing salts and you have an authentic Santa Maria meal without the need for a road trip.
SeaSalt Woodfire Grill is at 21214 Beach Blvd., Huntington Beach. For more information, call 714-804-5545 or visit seasaltwoodfiregrill.com.
SARAH BENNETT is a freelance journalist covering food, drink, music, culture and more. She is the former food editor at L.A. Weekly and a founding editor of Beer Paper L.A. Follow her on Twitter @thesarahbennett.