Tri-Tip: A Love Affair

This blog was originally posted to one of my other blogs, My agriCULTURE, on September 25, 2011.


I love beef. It’s what’s for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In my own personal experience, I have never reached the point where I have thought, “I’ve had enough beef to last me a while.” You can just never have too much beef.


One of the downsides of being a broke college student is that beef isn’t exactly in the budget. I eat A LOT of chicken. If I’m lucky, my roommates and I incorporate some ground beef into marinara sauce and have spaghetti. But lets be real. Ground beef does not equal steak.


When you can no longer handle your beef deficiency in San Luis Obispo (and your parents aren’t in town to take you to McClintock’s), you go to Firestone Grill.  Firestone is THE place to go for the Central Coast specialty that is tri-tip.


Firestone has an awesome outdoor patio with lights and fireplaces and a great menu (tri-tip, ribs, pulled pork, and fish tacos). The  building used to be a Firestone Tire Shop, earning the eatery its name.There is always a line, which should tell you how utterly great it is. All those people couldn’t be mistaken.


For those of you not from California, you probably aren’t familiar with the wonder that is tri-tip. Tri-tip is a triangular cut that comes from the bottom sirloin, a section of beef not typically used. This cut gained popularity in Santa Maria, California during the 1950s and has been referred to as the crown jewel of California’s culinary heritage.


Tri-tip is usually prepared “Santa Maria Style,” which involves a dry rub of salt, black pepper, garlic salt and a hint of parsley. After being grilled on a Santa Maria barbeque, the tri-tip is finished off with either salsa or barbeque sauce. In San Luis Obispo, the tradition is to go with barbeque sauce, while salsa is the finisher of choice in Santa Maria.



Tri-tip, while delicious by itself, it best enjoyed in sandwich form. A toasted French roll, combined with the barbeque sauce and the perfectly cooked meat just plain makes you happy.  Ask my family and friends; I’ve referred to a  tri-tip sandwich as pure happiness many times.



Tri-tip sandwiches are staples of football games, county fairs, and backyard barbeques across California. It wasn’t until college when a new friend from out of state asked me what tri-tip was that I realized that the there were poor souls out there who had never heard of the delicacy.  I was so shocked that I took her straight to Firestone where her world was subsequently rocked.


I’m telling you, if you get the opportunity to have a tri-tip sandwich, especially if it is from Firestone Grill or any of their other locations (Main Street Grill in Cambria and Dog House Grill in Fresno), DO IT. It will change your life.


When you get your Firestone tri-tip sandwich, do yourself a favor and order fries.  When you get your fries, ask for extra barbeque sauce. Then, dip your fries in the barbeque sauce. The sauce just takes the fries to a level that ketchup never could. It is delightful.


I always try to save half my sandwich for lunch the next day (I also save as much barbeque sauce as possible). This spreads the joy out even longer. I douse the sandwich in sauce, pop it in the toaster oven, and prepare for a glorious lunch.



Besides being delicious, tri-tip is affordable. Even college students can shell out enough money to enjoy it. It’s fantastic. It literally brings beef to the masses. Without tri-tip, my college years would have been sadly devoid of beef, except for the weekend my parents visit each year and buy me a rib eye.


I can never get enough tri-tip. It’s juicy, it’s tender, and it’s flavorful. It’s cheap, but just as good as a more expensive cut. Try it and you’ll understand. You’ll also be hooked for life. Sorry if your mouth is watering. Go have some beef.


The Senior Year Freakout

Here it is, December 2011. I’ve been back at my parent’s house for a week and it’s been go go go since I got home. I’ve been decorating trees, wrapping presents, baking approximately 127 dozen cookies and getting into the holiday spirit.


While I was in the middle of my baking marathon yesterday, I started thinking about what the next several months will bring. It feels like ever since my sophomore year of high school, my whole life has been working towards June 2012. I will be graduating from Cal Poly in June and for the first time in my life, I have no idea where I will be come June 2012. I have no concrete plans after June 2012. Time ceases to exist after June 2012.


I hope to be employed before I graduate (I don’t think I could make it through finals while still trying to find a job) and I know someone will give me a job. But who? In what state? Who will I be living with? What will I be doing? When will I be hired and starting? So many questions, and so far, very few answers.


I won’t be solving my WhoWhatWhenWhereWhyHow tonight, as much as I wish I could. I guess I just have to keep working hard, get my name out there and know that I have a bright future ahead of me!