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Fresh affordable produce in San Diego??

Hi hounds! We're fairly new to SD and are still trying to find some good produce that's not going to soak up the entire paycheck. Is there such a place?? We've tried several grocery stores (albertsons, ralphs, henry's, trader joes and whole foods) but haven't found the right one. Is there a mexican/ethnic market around with quality, fresh offerings?

Thanks so much for your input - can't wait to continue exploring...

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  1. Here is a list of markets (some cheap, some expensive) I use when look for some kind of produce (but there are more markets but I can't find my longer list). They are often specialized (asian, organic etc.) and you might have to drive around but normally you can find most of the stuff you are looking for.

    Jonathan's: 7611 Fay Ave, La Jolla (expensive but has often unusual produce and unusual cuts of meat)
    Specialty Produce: 5245 Lovelock St
    Major Market 1855 S Centre City Pky
    Jimbo's Naturally: 1633 S Centre City Pky + 12853 El Camino Real
    Harvest Ranch Market: 759 Jamacha Rd + 162 South Rancho Santa Fe
    Zion Grocery Store: 4611 Mercury St
    Vine Ripe Market: 8191 Fletcher Pkwy
    Maria's Produce: Home Ave
    vien dong int. market: 6935 linda vista rd, 5382 university ave
    chino farms-6123 calzada del bosque
    United Oriental Food Market: 5349 El Cajon Blvd
    Orient Bowl/First Korean Market: 4625 Convoy St
    Pancho Villa’s Market: Ecke El Cajon Blvd und I805
    El Tigre Market: 608 N. Escondido Blvd
    Northgate Gonzales Market: 43rd street exit on 805

    1 Reply
    1. re: honkman

      Chino Farms rules for produce but will break the bank, although well worth it.

      99 Ranch on Clairemont Mesa Drive for Chinese groceries. Go early in the day for the best selection. They also have good deals on boxed fruit--Fuji apples, mangos, papaya, Asian pears, etc.

      Costco actually has decent produce as well. We've gotten good plums, grapes, mangos and honeydew melon there.

    2. Honkman's got most of the major players. To his list I'd add --

      Windmill Farms - Del Cerro Blvd., 1 blk east of College Ave. SDSU area
      North Park Produce - El Cajon Blvd around, 37th or 39th

      Vine Ripe has an interesting variety of produce, some unusual stuff. The market itself is really worth a visit becuase it's got lots of really interesting inventory. A lot of the produce is not visually perfect, but it is usually ripe and ready-to-eat. Prices are reasonable with some good buys.

      Pancho Villa and Northgate both have good produce selections at reasonable prices. I think the produce at Pancho Villa *may* be supplied by the Boney family (i.e. Henry's before they sold out to Wild Oats, currently of Windmill Farms). If it is, the prices are Pancho Villa are way better than either Henry's or Windmill Farms and so is the variety of selection and often times the quality is better too.l

      2 Replies
      1. re: DiningDiva

        I completely forgot North Park Produce which is pretty good. I even get my croatian chocolate there. They have also a shop in Poway, close to the swedish bakery.

        1. re: honkman

          North Park Produce is where I go for herbs like dill, mint, basil... so cheap! Really, all their veggies are very very cheap. However, I've found the quality of their fruit isn't an nice as, say, Henry's sometimes.

          We always look at that Swedish bakery... one of these days we'll go in and check it out!

      2. Gala at Grape and 30th in South Park is a great place.

        1. Try People's Organic Foods in OB, they stock produce from the local organic farms - Be Wise and Seabreeze. Or one of the Farmer's Markets - I like the ones in North Park, La Jolla and OB. Here's a link to the local schedule: http://www.sdfarmbureau.org/Pages/far...


          1 Reply
          1. You didn't indicate what part of town you're in, but there's a little produce market in Lemon Grove on the south side of Broadway, just west of Massachusetts. I'm not sure, but I think it's called "Farmers Market," As DiningDiva said of Vine Ripe, the produce isn't always "visually perfect" but the prices are good and I've found some very tasty stuff there from time to time. The clientelle is largely Latino, so ingredients for Mexican cuisine are plentiful. I don't think the problem is peculiar to the San Diego area, but the WalMart/Vons/Ralphs style of merchandising has made the job of finding good, affordable produce a real adventure.
            . . . jim strain in san diego.

            1. When it comes to fresh produce, no one mentioned any of the local farmers markets. We use the one in Hillcrest on Sunday mornings. It is located in the DMV parking lot.

              Some of my friends use Bewise Ranch, and have seasonal produce delivered once a week. They have been very happy with the service.



              1 Reply
              1. re: normalheightsfoodie

                Thanks for the link to Bewise!

                Honkman supplied a pretty good list. I would add Nijiya Market on Convoy, as I can often find some great prices on produce there. Also, we like the strawberry stand up off Cannon Rd. in Carlsbad.

              2. Be wise ranch is an awesome program.

                1. I did the Be Wise subscription for a while and I wasn't that crazy about it. The Be Wise produce at Peoples and Whole Foods looked better, and they didn't include some of the more desirable items in the share boxes that they had in the stores, like heirloom tomatoes, corn, etc. I got kind of tired of paying for the delivery, and still having to go out and buy what I needed.

                  Now I just buy their stuff at Peoples, and I never have to throw anything away, or pay for stuff I'm not using.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Alice Q

                    Right now, my current favorite from People's are the commerical mangoes. Not at all stringy, and super sweet. The apples right now are really good too.

                  2. Wow, thanks everyone! My mouth is watering at the possibilities. We're located downtown, actually. But I'm learning after endless walks that we have to DRIVE to the produce markets!

                    Honkman: Croatian chocolates - are you referring to Kras?? How exciting!!!! : )

                    7 Replies
                      1. re: honkman

                        Any Croatian restaurants out here?? Or I should start a new post ... ?

                        1. re: Crolak

                          There are no croatian restaurant in SD. But there is a very good one in LA. I haven't been there but I heard very good things about it: Ante's restaurant in San Pedro. San Pedro has a large croatian community (i think the largest in the US).


                          1. re: honkman

                            Thanks, honk. We'll definitely check that one out. I also heard there's a huge Croatian population (Dalmatian) in San Pedro. Are you Croatian?

                            1. re: Crolak

                              Half German, half croatian but lived my whole life in germany and I hardly speak any croatian

                            2. re: honkman

                              I grew up in Palos Verdes and have eaten at Ante's many times. They have a couple of massive combonation plates that I just love. The neighborhood is a little dicey, so watch your back if you go. Ante's is excellent.

                        2. re: Crolak

                          The previous recommendation for North Park Produce is a good one. It has a good selection of Mediterranean produce with the best everyday prices of any market in San Diego, as far as I know.
                          If you are willing to wait for sales and specials, Henry's Market locations often have reasonable prices and pretty good produce; the organic selection is good an much cheaper than Whole Foods.
                          We also like Pancho Villa (near North Park Produce on El Cajon) for Mexican produce, 99 Ranch for Chinese, and World Foods Market / Vien Dong for Vietnamese.
                          I'm afraid you are right about downtown. I couldn't imagine shopping at Ralphs for vegetables, unless they were one sale.

                        3. Henry's is a no-brainer... I never leave with fewer than six bags of produce and never over $20. And... they have many locations throughout San Diego!