San Francisco Chronicle Magazine
Red Smoke Grill: This Pleasanton newcomer leaves its fast food neighbors
in the dust with delicious, lightly smoked Santa Maria-style barbecue.
Your first stop should be a tri-tip and blue sandwich, thin slices
of tender meat and melting blue cheese piled onto a specially made
roll. Other great options are the tangy pulled pork sandwich and
the lemon and garlic rotisserie chicken, a tender bird with crackling
skin and juicy flesh. House-made desserts are good too.
Red Smoke Grill: In a sea of franchised sameness, Pleasanton's Red
Smoke Grill stands out as different. Set in a shopping center near
the intersection of Stoneridge Drive and Hopyard Road, this place
grills up beef, pork, and chicken meals that are anything but ordinary.
The specialty of the house is Santa Maria-style tri-tip.
Santa Maria barbecue
harkens back to the cattle-driving days of this Santa Barbara County
town. Vaqueros enjoyed beef grilled over red oak--giving it a lightly
smoky, crusty, juicy flavor. Over time, tri-tip, that flavorful
triangular hunk of meat that loves the grill, emerged as the standard
The menu doesn't always stick to Santa Maria traditions,
but blends Southern and Southwestern flavors with California sensibility.
The tri-tip and blue sandwich combines thin-sliced beef with blue
cheese, caramelized onions, and horseradish sauce on a specially
made roll. Other standouts include the rotisserie chicken, pulled
pork Sandwich, and grilled chipotle prawns
Red Smoke Grill makes its own desserts: bread pudding,
creme brulee, and an excellent Southern-Style "Cocoa-Cola"
cake--a dense, brownie-like dessert patterned after the classic
Coca Cola cake but without the copyright hassle.
Red Smoke's quality corn-fed beef could stand alone
with a little salt and pepper, but grilled in the Santa Maria-style,
it's historical. So is the rotisserie chicken, which melts in your
mouth like butterscotch. Every bite in the fresh corn salsa with
hand-cut tomato, cumin and cilantro tastes of wide open spaces.
Even the red beans taste like they were cooked over a campfire.