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Can Tri Tip Grill Dethrone Brisket As Texas’ King Of All Smoked Meats?

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Can it even compete?

Tri Tip Grill brings a whole new cut to the Texas BBQ game.
Tri Tip Grill brings a whole new cut to the Texas BBQ game.
Tri Tip Grill/Facebook
Amy McCarthy is a reporter at, focusing on pop culture, policy and labor, and only the weirdest online trends.

Generally, “California” and “good barbecue” are not two things that you might think go together. But, of course, California has its own style of smoking meat, one that a West Coast-born restaurateur hopes to bring to the meat capital of the world.

The Dallas Morning News reports that Tri Tip Grill, a New York-based concept known for Santa Maria-style BBQ, is headed to North Texas this year. Owner John Pickerel hopes to open five outposts of Tri Tip Grill throughout DFW in the coming months, assuming that he can get people on board with tri-tip as a barbecue option.

Eater reached out to Daniel Vaughn, Texas Monthly’s resident barbecue editor, for a little background on this new style of ‘cue. According to Vaughn, tri-tip was first marketed as a cut of meat at a Safeway in Santa Maria, California, and is commonly associated with the city’s unique style of smoking meats over red oak wood. He notes, though, that tri-tip isn’t really the cut you’re most likely to find in Santa Maria.

“If you go to a Santa Maria-style place in Los Angeles or San Francisco, it’s almost always going to be tri-tip that they serve,” says Vaughn. “But if you go to Santa Maria, you’re much more likely to get ribeye, sirloin, strip steak, or filet. They’re essentially steakhouses that cook over red oak.”

When asked whether or not tri-tip would fare well in Texas, Vaughn seems to think so. “It’s not like they’re cooking tofu, it’s still a cut of beef,” he says. “It has nice marbling but isn’t overly fatty, got an easily defined muscle structure so easy to slice against the grain. You can get nice, tender slices of it. It’s got a really good beefy flavor, it’s from the sirloin. It’s got a robust beefiness to it.”

Tri Tip Grill currently operates two locations in New York City, making Dallas the restaurant’s third outpost and first expansion into Texas. The concept is expected to open its first location in DFW by the end of the year.