Biz Beat

More tri-tip coming your way soon. Popular rural dining spot plans city moves

When it rains tri-tip, it pours tri-tip.

First there’s news Vintage Fair Mall is getting a Buckhorn Grill California BBQ, known for its tri-tip. Now locally owned The Tri-Tipery, which as its name would suggest is beloved for the same thing, has announced plans to expand out of its home base of Ballico.

After starting The Tri-Tipery a year ago amid the outstretched nut and produce fields, husband-and-wife owners Rob and Jana Nairn have decided it’s time to spread their deliciousness to other Central Valley cities. The site — which sits in front of the Nairn’s other business, Ag Link, in northern Merced County — is admittedly a tad remote. And during harvest season, like now, you’ll find yourself behind one or two (or even five, as was the case for me) lumbering pieces of farm equipment as you impatiently make your way toward their tri-tip sandwiches.

In the past year the Nairn’s said they’ve heard from many fans, some who travel from as far as Livermore for their selection of tri-tip, pulled pork, BBQ chicken and linguica sandwiches, burgers, salads and more, who wished they were a shorter drive away. So now they’re planning a temporary pop-up restaurant which will open Saturday at the Turlock Turf Club at the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds as well as a permanent secondary location between Escalon and Oakdale off Highway 120 for early next year.

“We’ve heard a lot ‘Oh, I wish you guys were closer’,” said Samantha Aleman, The Tri-Tipery’s event coordinator and catering manager. “We feel like Turlock (and the Turf Club) is the perfect spot to try a pop-up out.”

The 45-day pop-up Tri-Tippery will open its doors at at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at the Turlock Turf Club off Soderquist Road. The full Ballico site menu will be available (minus some of the deep-fried desserts) and the meat will be smoked on site. The Turlock Turf Club, which used to be an off-track horse racing gambling facility, will have plenty of indoor and outdoor seating for restaurant guests.

The pop-up will have some spooky neighbors as well, as the Ranch of Horror Halloween haunt will move in next door on the fairgrounds starting Friday. The haunted attraction will run through Oct. 31. The Nairns will run the Turlock Tri-Tipery though Nov. 15 at the Turf Club.

They’re also moving forward with plans for a permanent spot off Highway 120 between Escalon and Oakdale. The site will have indoor and outdoor seating (the original Ballico spot only has outdoor seating). They hope to have it up-and-running by February. And Rob Nairn said the plans don’t stop there.

“We’re looking and I’ve already got my eyes on No. 3 somewhere between Turlock, Ceres and Modesto,” he said.

The new pop-up Tri-Tipery will be open 10:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, closed Mondays, at the Turlock Turf Club at 900 N Broadway. For more information call 209-634-8849 or visit

P.S.: Speaking of barbecued meats, Bee readers commenting on the incoming Buckhorn Grill overwhelmingly suggest folks looking for a good locally owned Modesto BBQ spot in the interim check out the newly remodeled Dan’s BBQ at 2101 W. Rumble Road. It’s been open about two years and cranks out tri-tip, ribs, pulled pork, sausage, chicken and more. I say the more tri-tip, the merrier.