Reviews by the General Public
Probably the best tri-tip on the planet…, 7/27/2017
Reviewer: Rex Of SB
from Santa Barbara, CA
As an SB local who pretty much grew up on tri-tip, it's a meal which, while I like it a lot, hardly blows my socks off. I see why tourists get crazed over tri-tip, but since it's a regular staple in my house, I just don't get excited over it.
Until I ate the tri-tip at Barbareño.
On a scale of 1-10, Barbareño's tri-tip is a solid 15. It is so tender that you could almost cut it with a fork. (In thinking about it, yeah, I'll bet you really could.) The very friendly server (the owner, maybe?) told me about the tenderizing/preparation/marinating process, which involves keeping the meat in hot water for many hours to tenderize it. Duck fat is also involved. I wasn't paying as close attention as I should have, since I couldn't put my fork down long enough to concentrate on what he was saying.
You can't special-order the tri-tip, so it all comes out "medium." Normally, this wouldn't be a good thing but in this case, it winds up as perfection itself (and this is coming from someone who likes his tri-tip medium-rare to rare). There is a barbecue that's fired up near the far end of the parking lot, which I guess is the source of all the wonderfulness.
There is a variety of side dishes, including the obligatory beans, but I chose the mustard potato salad, which was nice. Not necessarily your grandma's tater salad, but way better than most that is served in area restaurants.
The downside is that the tri-tip—either à la carte or as a sandwich—is only offered as a lunch special on Thursdays and Fridays, so if you get to craving it on a Monday or something, you're out of luck. The server/(owner?) told me, however, that they were thinking of expanding tri-tip days.
You know how sauces, gravies, salsa, etc., are a natural accompaniment to meat? The highest praise I can give to the tri-tip from Barbareño is that it would be a blasphemy to put any kind of sauce on it.
Yes, it really IS that good.
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