Why does food taste better on a Santa Maria Grill vs other ways to cook? Well, there are two reasons. The Maillard Reaction and Caramelization.
The Maillard Reaction is is a chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars that gives browned food its distinctive flavor. Seared steaks, pan-fried dumplings, cookies and other kinds of biscuits, breads, toasted marshmallows, and many other foods undergo this reaction. It is named after French chemist Louis-Camille Maillard, who first described it in 1912 while attempting to reproduce biological protein synthesis.
The reaction is a form of non-enzymatic browning which typically proceeds rapidly from around 140 to 165 °C (280 to 330 °F). Many recipes call for an oven temperature high enough to ensure that a Maillard reaction occurs At higher temperatures, caramelization (the browning of sugars, a distinct process) and subsequently pyrolysis (final breakdown leading to burning) become more pronounced.
With a Santa Maria Style Grill you can put your food in that sweet spot of 280F to 330F by controlling the distance from the flame and heat. Also, the flames give the food a burst of heat off and on meaning the Maillard Reaction and Caramelization are more intense meaning more of the food is affected and just taste better.