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Decent-sized Farmers Market in SD?

I'm originally from Santa Barbara and going to the farmers market every weekend was a very long-standing tradition in my family. (I make a point to go every time I'm home!)
I moved to north county San Diego a few months ago and I can't seem to find a market on par with the one in SB or Santa Monica.
All of the one's I've visited seem to be teeny-tiny---The one in carlsbad was only like 8 stands or so when I went!

Any suggestions? I live in Vista and work in Carlsbad, so hopefully there is one not too far south.

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  1. The one I like best is near Hillcrest, in front of the DMV. I think it is actually on Normal Street.

    Fair sized but you have to get there early.

    Oops, I think it is on Sunday.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Wino

      It is on Sunday, and, yes, in the morning. I'd also add the Farmer's Market in Ocean Beach on Wednesdays. I believe it starts around 3 or 4pm and runs to about 7pm.

    2. You will not find any FM here that are like the ones up north. I haven't been to Poway's/Rancho Bernardo's, but as far as I know, Escondido's Tuesday evening one is the best in north county. It's still small (one strip of city block, but full of vendors) and not worth the drive, though. It runs only until about 5:45 p.m.

      1. Good luck on that one. I've yet to see a FM in San Diego that compares to the one in Santa Monica. I used to go there when I spent more time in LA, and remember all the amazing stuff you could get.

        Hillcrest's is decent (on Sundays) but doesn't really compare. All the San Diego Farmer's Markets are pretty similar, with the same vendors showing up. The OB Farmer's Market on Wed is pretty much the same vendors as Hillcrest, the main difference being Hillcrest has more prepared food.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Josh

          Last Sunday the Hillcrest farmers market had limequats. I'm doin' something with them and mahi mahi tonight for dinner. Haven't quite exactly figured out just what, but I'm sure something will come to me :-D

          I've also found white sapote, SD grown mac nuts and some other weird and wonderful stuff, and now that we're getting close to Spring and the onset of the growing season, that should improve.

        2. I like the La Jolla FM on Sundays, it has grown over the years and is my current favorite. Comparing the SD markets to LA is like comparing Napa and Temecula.

          1. heh, well Santa Monica is something else but I wish I could find something at least like in Santa Barbara..

            Sadly Hillcrest and La Jolla are kinda far for a Farmers Market run.... I've heard there is one in Vista? Anyone been there or know how it is?

            1. The Escondido farmer's market and flea market is an interesting one, as it caters to the Mexican market. When I first went after hearing about it from a post on Chowhound (by kare_raisu), I was initially amazed at how incredibly large it is. It basically takes the entire space of an old drive-in theatre. Once I finally got a bit acclimated to it's size, I began to realize that almost all of it is flea market dominating the black-top. Interesting about this place is around the perimeter of the space are permanant and semi-permanant buildings housing various individual business, from tax preparation to bike shops to clothing, some quite large and some just a closet-like space.

              There are even two food courts on the premises, offering BBQ, fresh Mexican juices, at least two shops specializing in Mariscos, a sweets shop, a Mexican-run Chinese shop, and one even specializing in food from Oaxaquenian food. (You can even get chaupalines (crickets) there, if you are so inclined...) It has a decidedly ethnic and exotic feel to it, much like exploring on foot through the markets and shops south of the border.

              With regards to the farmer's market part it decidedly focuses on ingredients for Mexican cuisine, but what impressed me most was the size of each booth. They are just as huge as the public markets that you see in Tijuana, and they are arranged along a "street" that is right in front of the main entrance. What I found interesting too was that unlike the farmer's markets that you see here, there is more duplication of product between the various vendors (in a good way), allowing one to pick the best of what's there. However perhaps the variety that's present in the typical large NorCal FM is missing, and still the overall size given to the FM part is smaller than what can be found in NorCal.

              As can be expected there are huge tables filled with dried peppers from almost all vendors, along with cilantro that is supposed to be far better than what is sold in our regular stores down here. (They're much longer and are kept in buckets full of water...)

              Given the uniqueness of the environment it's definitely worth at least one scouting trip if not more by any Chowhound that finds themselves in the area...

              Kare_raisu, any observations/insight you can add?

              1. This link will give you info on all of the local Farmers Markets - it won't tell you much about size though. The largest ones I have been to are Hillcrest, La Jolla and OB - but it sounds like those probably aren't very close to you.

                You might also consider delivery from Seabreeze Organic Farm or Be Wise. They are located in Del Mar and Rancho Bernardo and I think they deliver in No. County. It's not the same, but it's a good way to get the local produce. I also like to shop at People's Organic Foods in OB, because they stock local produce and products much like the local Farmers' Markets. It might not be that convenient, but it's open whenever you want to go.


                1. Agree that we are lacking in farmer's markets in north county. But we make up for it with easy access to Chino Family Farms in Rancho Santa Fe. We've lived near some of the great FMs around the country and I'm convinced the bounty found at Chino is the most consistent high quality.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: Jer

                    I strongly second Chino's--excellent produce and worth what they charge! Hopefully they'll stay in business after the owners retire and the land won't get turned into some condo or office complex!

                    1. re: daantaat

                      I'll third Chino's.

                      That place is awesome, best produce I have ever come across.

                      There are other places that are excellent too but I don't really know of any other place that works with as many "designer" products as these guys. Stuff you rarely see anywhere else. They have many different types of various products like potatoes, tomatoes, beets, chili's, etc., etc., Weird clonal variations that nobody else has around here.

                      1. re: Wino

                        I'll definately have to make the trip just to see what everyone is raving about! (I'm going to the Vista farmers market tomorrow morning too)

                        I hear Chino's produce is fairly expensive though, which might not make it worthwhile for produce shopping on a weekly basis (which is what I'm looking for)

                        1. re: Jeters

                          Chino is expensive and so worth it if your recipie is dependent on really fresh veggies. Bring lots of cash b/c they don't take any other currency. Go early b/c they run out of stuff sometimes. LIke they ran out of regular sized beets and baby fennel by 11:30 am last Saturday. I had to go back down to Whole Foods for beets and fennel....

                          1. re: daantaat

                            I strongly second this - bring at least thirty bucks cash, you will see all kinds of things you want to buy - and def. go before noon!

                  2. I like the Vista farmer's market, and although not huge it has a good selection of vegetables and fruits, plus a bakery and gardening seedlings. And the usual crew of bird feeders, worm castings, etc. As I review the stands in my head, I think there are probably 6-7 vegetable stands, and 3-4 fruit stands. One vendor specializes in baby vegetables and heirloom tomatos. Another has nothing but avocados. Another has organic produce, including beautiful winter squash by the pound. There's another that sells dates only. And a tropical fruit vendor in the non-farmer section.

                    I think Vista's market was the first in SD County, and it might be the largest. The only other markets I've been to are Encinitas and Rancho Bernardo, both rather small; and Del Mar and Solana Beach, both of which are almost as big. Winchester Farms sells (sold?) aged gouda at Solana Beach, and several of the Vista (Sat AM) vendors pack up and move down to Del Mar for the Saturday PM market there.

                    1. So I went to the Vista one this morning and I really like it (despite having to get up at 8:30 heh) looks like some really nice fruits, veggies and flowers, and I picked up some yummy looking mahi mahi from the fish guy (maybe I'll grill it with the crazy limes I picked up that look like tangerines!) ---its not huge, but it seems really cool and a lot of the produce looked really good. I currently have all the produce I can handle but maybe I will hit up Chinos next week =)

                      1. I was going to suggest the Vista one... nice selection. I just got back from Chino's 30 min ago and it is a small delight. I spent $30 ON 2 packs of strawberries, 2 heads of lettuce, bunch of red carrots, 1 pack of fresh peas, a variety of squash and some pink beets. I had my 15 mo old daughter with me and she was given a large pack of sugar snap peas and another pack of strawberries for FREE... all that for eating a squash with each hand.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Ela0427

                          been going to the vista one and like it a lot. Picked up a big bag of blood oranges from the downtown one today as well (oi such a small farmers market!) ---uh, what do I do with a huge bag of blood oranges?

                          Still have yet to get to Chino's...maybe this weekend..

                          1. re: Jeters

                            Chino's is a REALLY small stand but worth the drive through the back streets of Rancho Santa Fe. I think you could find very similar items at the Vista Market but it is nice to see Chino's. today was my first time..I am shopping for ingredients for our wedding anniversary dinner tomorrow night.