Grilled Tri-Tip Tacos

  • Serves

    serves 4-6


The beef cut of choice for California barbecue and grilling, tri-tip steak (also called Newport, Santa Maria, or triangle steak) comes from the lean bottom sirloin. Here it's sliced and seasoned with rosemary, chiles, garlic, and cumin in a tender filling for tacos. This recipe first appeared in our December 2012 issue along with Georgia Freedman's story California Eternal.


  • 2 lb. whole tri-tip steak
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 13 cup olive oil
  • 14 cup rosemary leaves
  • 6 cloves garlic, mashed into a paste
  • 2 large poblano chiles
  • 1 large yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp. dark chile powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • Warm corn tortillas, for serving
  • Tomato salsa, for serving (optional)


Step 1

Season steak with salt and pepper, and rub with 3 tbsp. olive oil, rosemary, and garlic; wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 6 hours or up to overnight.

Step 2

Heat broiler to high. Place chiles on a foil-lined baking sheet, and broil, turning as needed, until blackened all over, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit until cooled, about 30 minutes. Remove stems, skins, and seeds; roughly chop, and set aside.

Step 3

Build a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill, or heat a gas grill to medium. (Alternatively, heat a cast-iron grill pan over medium-high heat.) Remove steak from marinade, and transfer to grill; cook fat-side down, flipping once, until charred and cooked to desired done-ness, about 50 minutes for medium. Transfer steak to a cutting board, and let rest for 15 minutes.

Step 4

Meanwhile, heat remaining oil in a 12" skillet over medium-high heat; add onion, and cook, stirring, until soft, about 10 minutes. Stir in reserved chiles along with chile powder, cumin, and salt and pepper; remove from the heat.

Step 5

Thinly slice meat against the grain, and then roughly chop; combine with onion and chile mixture in a serving bowl, and serve with tortillas and salsa, if you like.

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