Stein’s BBQ delights in Paso

Sweet, tangy, Santa Maria-style barbecue served up with a hefty side of vegetarian baked beans that are so packed with flavor one would assume they had a bucket of lard in them, and candy bacon topped mac and cheese; keeps people coming back for more at Stein’s BBQ Co. in Downtown Paso Robles. 

Stein’s was founded in 1981 by Brian and Nancy Stein as a catering company and has since flourished even creating a brand of seasonings, Pit Masters Choice Brand. Now after 37 years in business, the family has opened Stein’s BBQ Co. Located in the heart of Downtown Paso Robles at 1240 Park St., they offer up that dry rub barbecue from San Luis Obispo’s deep South, Santa Maria, fired in a pit with red oak and a lot of care.

The new business is a co-ownership between executive chef Brian Stein and his son and manager, Kris Gerkins, who left the tech startup world for the good life with his wife Sarah Gerkins, who also acts as the marketing manager for the company.

“It is truly a family business,” Kris said. “With that in mind, we have created this inviting place for people to come and enjoy good food and become part of the family. It all started when Brian got a call from his brother when living on the East Coast and told him he had to come out to California’s Central Coast and try the BBQ. It really became a passion for him. My wife Sarah and I didn’t become part of the business until we started helping get Pit Masters Choice Band off the ground. We really just loved it and then we found this perfect location in Paso Robles for a restaurant and it all came together.”

At Stein’s the menu is made up of all the greatest hits that Brian created at the catering company serving everything from a tri-tip French dip to oozy, gooey pulled pork sandwich and even a seared ahi tuna wrap.

With the sides alone, a person could fill up and enjoy a local beer or wine specially selected by the owners to go with the food. For instance, the ONX Wines, “Indie Rose,” is a perfect match when enjoyed with the ahi wrap according to Gerkins.

The atmosphere is inviting and set up for patrons to order at the counter and enjoy a meal with friends and family while listening to some great blues, drinking a brew and have a good conversation.

Kris Gerkins said, “We wanted to create a place that was both rustic and industrial. Chef Brian and I really enjoy blues music and think the blues and BBQ are the perfect pairing, so you can see it represented in the art on the walls and the music playing.”

For Stein and Gerkins, it was all about the details and that is apparent from those first steps through the door to the first bite of savory, sweet, tangy, dry rubbed, flame-kissed tri-tip. The meat just melts in the mouth and the drippings run down the palm of the hand with every bite making for some truly finger licking good BBQ.

Stein’s BBQ Co. is located at 1240 Park St., Paso Robles, and is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. For more information, call 805-221-5991 or visit


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