Recipe: SLO’s Firestone Grill tri-tip steak sandwich and grilled baby zucchini “fries”

Knockoff Firestone Grill Tri-Tip SandwichHello from snowy Lake Tahoe! Ok, not really, I’ve been back from Tahoe for a few hours now, but I had every intention of writing a post from the ski house, and then I ended up spending most of the weekend, umm, skiing. And eating. And snoozing. So.

To begin again: hello from our slightly awkwardly rearranged-to-accommodate-le-Xmas-tree living room, from which I am not only writing this blog post but committing a majority of my attention span to yesterday’s Hulu’d Saturday Night Live episode. Martin Short and a sketch about the doctor that’s been selected to deliver the Royal heir? Yes please. I’m in stitches.

I’m also on the brink of a carnivore’s-dream food coma, induced by none other than the Firestone Grill tri-tip sandwich knockoff that you see above. Yep, that was dinner tonight, and I ain’t gone lie. It was heavenly. Not exactly Firestone, mostly because the store bought BBQ sauce we had on hand was a little less sweet and a little more spicy, but it was pretty close. And completely unexpected! Here I was planning for us to detox from our carbolicious weekend with a dinner of nutrient-rich fruit smoothies when my mom goes and lays half a sirloin roast on me, herb-crusted and fresh from the oven.

Some moms make cookies. Mine makes a roast. I’d say it’s an Asian thing, but — is it?

Before I jump into the recipe for these sammies (which is really more an assembly of pre-made ingredients) and their accompanying side, grilled baby zuchinni “fries,” I feel I should clarify a couple of things:

1) I kind of glossed over a true description of Firestone Grill up there because I assume everyone and their dog knows about the place and their famous tri-tip sandwich. But just in case you or ol’ Rexington McFluffy aren’t familiar, it’s easily one of San Luis Obispo’s most popular spots for a casual burger or sandwich, a basket of excellently seasoned fries and a pitcher of beer. At lunch and dinner, the line to order is likely out the door. Nearly everything on the menus is good. Really good. Not exactly the healthiest fare, but eh. Their fries are like McDonald’s fries married Lawry’s and had a super delicious fry baby, except more than that, because I’ve tried dousing McDonald’s fries in Lawry’s and it’s just not the same. And their tri-tip (by the way, this Mitchie M kid from whom I’m stealing yelp! photos is pretty talented!), as you can guess from this post, is hard to compare to any other steaky sandwich I’ve ever had. Which brings me to…

2) Little-known fact: Firestone’s tri-tip sandwich is not actually made from the tri-tip cut but from…sirloin! Yep. It’s a total sham. It’s modestly seasoned, cooked to a sandwich-satisfactory Medium and sliced uniformly, so it’s ohsotender. Then it’s loaded up on a garlicky roll with just a dab of sticky sweet sauce. More sauce on the side (by request, but it’s essential) and you’re transported to some special kind of Eden. Maybe it’s Meatden. Nope, that sounds like a den of meat.

Anyway, if you’re a meat eater — and I know so many of you who are not, but I hope you’ll just bear with me, because there’s a recipe for you, too! — please please PLEASE with a fat friggin tri-tip sandwich on top hit up Firestone the next time you’re cruisin’ down the 101. Wait in line, it’s worth it. And eat this sandwich.

Until then, make this sandwich, instead. It’s not a dead ringer, but it beats a three-hour drive.

Sirloin RoastSuper Shortcut Firestone Grill “Tri-Tip” Steak Sandwich
By Emily Stoffel
Cook Time: A couple hours, including roasting time | Serves: Varies, depending on roast size. At least, like, 8.

Note: Special thanks to my mom for providing the star ingredient of this recipe, the roast. I lucked out and pretty much just had to slice n’ stack my way to supper, but in case your loved ones don’t regularly gift you with seasoned, cooked meats, I’ve done my best to approximate her genius below. It’s simple stuff, friends, but it’s Tasty McGee. The garlic olive oil and Montreal steak seasoning can be found at most grocery stores, as well as — wait for it — Costco. Always a win.


  • 1 3-5 lb sirloin roast
  • garlic-infused olive oil
  • Montreal steak seasoning (McCormick’s or similar)
  • Trader Joe’s Garlic & Herb Butter, at room temperature
  • whole wheat soft sandwich rolls
  • your favorite prepared BBQ sauce, preferably something on the sweet side


Preheat oven to 350F. Rub roast all over with garlic olive oil and coat thoroughly with steak seasoning. Place on a roasting rack inside a roasting pan and roast to an internal temperature of 130 degrees. Remove from oven, lightly tent with foil and let sit, undisturbed, unprodded, unfussed with, for as long as patience allows, at least 20 minutes or up to 2 hours. When cool, thinly slice roast with the sharpest knife you’ve got. You’re going for about 1/8 inch, not a deli-thin shave. You get it.

Meanwhile, split rolls and spread liberally with garlic butter. Broil under careful watch for several minutes, or until edges of bread become golden and butter is bubbling. Top with sliced sirloin and BBQ sauce. Enjoy with liberally seasoned skinny fries of your choosing or the decidedly more balanced zucchini “fries” written up below. Repeat as necessary.

Grilled Baby Zucchini FriesGrilled Baby Zucchini “Fries”
By Emily Stoffel
Cook Time: 10 mins | Serves: 4

Note: Here’s a big surprise. I find my baby zucchini at Trader Joe’s. 🙂


  • 3/4 lb baby zucchini, halved lengthwise
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 T agave syrup
  • 1 T Herbs de Provence, crushed lightly between palms
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • dash hot paprika
  • mayonnaise, optional


Preheat indoor grill pan (or outdoor grill) over med-high heat. Combine all ingredients except mayonnaise in large bowl and toss well. Arrange zucchini, cut-side down, in a single layer and grill until well marked, about 2-3 mins. Flip and grill for an additional 1-2 minutes. Remove to plate and serve hot with mayonnaise for dipping, if using.

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7 Comments on “Recipe: SLO’s Firestone Grill tri-tip steak sandwich and grilled baby zucchini “fries””

  1. I’m interested in trying the grilled zucchini, with agave and herbs de provence, sounds/looks great. I could’ve made the bbq sauce for that sandwich… I will map firestone and save it.

  2. Pingback: My favorite SLOJam, aka The Longest Post Ever | the pig & quill

  3. I am convinced that Sweet Baby Ray’s Honey BBQ Sauce is what firestones uses. It’s almost identical and available everywhere.

      1. Are you asking me? Let’s pretend yes. 🙂 Ok, so here’s where I’m a bit of a weirdo, Michael. I don’t really love Ranch dressing. In fact, it’s one of the few things I would categorize into Foods I Do Not Enjoy. WITH one exception: cheap, runny, mass-manufactured ranch. The kind you get from a Sysco tub with a bucket of chicken wings or a basket of fried zuchs from the local dive bar. THAT is the kind of ranch they sling at Firestone’s (I’m almost sure of it) — and it’s the kind I’d recommend here. But if you, like most people, actually like gourmet, homemade or some other fancy Ranch dressing, go with it!

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