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Jul 22, 2007 08:29 AM

Best Farmers Markets & Suppliers in the OC

I moved down to the OC from LA but still haven't figured out where to shop.

Here's what I'm looking for:
1. Best Farmers Markets
2. Best stores for fresh produce
3. Best butcher shop
4. Best source for fresh fish
5. Best ethnic shops
6. Best cheese store
7. Best wine store
8. Best kitchen supply store
9. Anything else you can think of that I missed ;-)

My priorities are (in order):
1. Quality
2. Selection
3. Price

I know there are posts for some of these things but thought it would be nice to have everyone's picks consolidated. Kind of a guide to the county that used to have Orange trees. ;-)


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  1. Reading this post makes me glad that I live close to 17th Street in Costa Mesa.

    Butcher Shop- Celestino's in Costa Mesa on 17th Street.
    Fresh Fish- Santa Monica Seafood in Costa Mesa on 17th Street
    Wine Store- Hi-Times Cellar (250 Ogle St) one street from 17th Street.
    There is also a great specialty store called Promelis on 17th Street.

    1. Chew, welcome to OC.

      While I've still not found a good butcher, here are my recs for other items on your list.

      Kitchen supply store: Chef's Toys in Santa Ana or Sur la Table in Newport
      Farmer's market: Irvine (near the college) on Saturdays
      Fish: Santa Monica Seafood in Newport or Dry Dock in Fullerton (Commonwealth)
      Ethnic: Too many to list but a few are 99 Ranch in Irvine for Asian, Freshia for Korean, Clario's in Tustin for Italian, India Sweets and Spices for.... Indian in Tustin etc, etc, etc\
      Cheese: Frog's Breath in Orange
      Wine: Wine Exchange in Tustin and Bevmo
      Good meats: Irvine Ranch Market (Orange and Newport)
      Good sausage: Mattern in Orange

      Super secrets not to be missed in OC on a weekly basis:

      The pastry truck at Freshia on Saturday mornings
      The sausage guy at REI in Santa Ana on weekends
      Cold bad beers at the swapmeet along with sacks of bad produce while people watching
      Dory fleet in Newport early in the morning for fresh fish.
      Breakfast at the Shamrock in Newport on weekends only (bangers and mash!)
      The random Santa Ana taco truck.
      Burrell's BBQ on a sunny day.
      A shake and sunset on PCH at the Shake Shack.
      Hollingshead Deli in Orange for a great beer and sammich with a side of personality.
      Pina's pizza with homemade sausage (Pina's Bistro in Tustin- take out only but order during the day... they sell out).
      Little Saigon for everything and anything Vietnamese.

      Enjoy what OC has to offer!

      3 Replies
      1. re: holy chow

        Shake Shack is now Ruby's - but you can still order the date shakes, even though not on the menu.

        1. re: torta basilica

          NO! Say it isn't so!

          Can't we leave anything alone in OC without going corp? Fudge.

        2. Best Farmers Market is the Irvine Farmer's market - hands down. Saturday's 8AM to 12 Noon.

          1. 1. Irvine (Campus and Bridge, behind In-N-Out), Saturday mornings 8-noon. Absolutely without question the best in OC, and honestly could hold its own with all but the SM Wed. and Hollywood markets in LA Co.

            2. Henry's Marketplace, Harbor Blvd., Fullerton, or Mother's Markets -- or, you live in OC now, make a pilgrimage to Chino Ranch now and then.

            3. Gem Meats, 3125 YL Blvd., Fullerton

            4. SM Seafood in Costa Mesa or Dry Dock in Fullerton. Be aware of three things for Dry Dock -- first, the guy is not exactly socially adept. He tends to yell at weird times and laugh at inappropriate moments. Second, the hours are odd -- always, always ALWAYS call ahead. Third, he is at the Irvine FM on Saturdays if you need something for a dinner party. His prices are cheaper than SM Seafood.

            5. Good grief, be more specific. Chinese? Viet? Korean? Mexican? Central American? Japanese?

            6. Frog's Breath, Orange Circle (OK, so it's just barely north of the Orange Circle, whatever.)

            7. Wine Exchange in Tustin.

            8. Can't help you here, I go to one that's just OK on Katella in Orange.

            5 Replies
            1. re: Das Ubergeek

              "first, the guy is not exactly socially adept..."

              I was talking to him at the Farmer's Market on Saturday and asked about "California oysters" he had. I was wondering if they were from Pt Reyes, Hog Island or whatever and he commented "Carlsbad".

              After I picked myself up (who knew they were growing oysters in Carlsbad) I asked the flavor profile (ie; briney, clean, crisp) and he commented:

              Wait for it...

              "I really don't like shellfish so I don't know."

              True story.

              Good fish, weird dude.

              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                Talk to me about Gem Meats. Where, how good, special cuts etc.


                1. re: holy chow

                  YL Blvd. east of the 57, better than Stater Bros. but not as good as Marconda, and special cuts when you order them in advance.

                2. re: Das Ubergeek

                  Re: Dry Dock Fish staff at the farmer's markets, this morning (Friday), I stopped by the Laguna Hills farmer's market for the first time and found Dry Dock Fish was there, too. But the usual guy wasn't. Instead, a friendly and very pleasant girl was in charge-- nice surprise. I got some of their well-iced escolar, sea bass, King salmon and Santa Barbara shrimp.

                  Also in South OC, across the 5 freeway from there is a newer wine store called Wine Pavilion that's worth a mention. It won't replace Hi-Time, but they do have a lot of very good wines, so it's a nice alternative in south OC. We ran into Andrew Firestone there attending to his family's Walker Brewery beer. They also have an extensive cheese counter and smoked meats counter in-store, and other specialty foods that would make nice picnic fare, plus a cheese guy who is knowledgeable and generous with samples. ;-)

                  1. re: Moka

                    The Dry Dock girl is also at the OC Fairgrounds farmer's market
                    on Thusdays 9:00-1:00.

                    The strange guy is also at the Tustin farmer's market on Wednedays 9:00-1:00.

                    Dry Dock is the first place I go for seafood. Great quality and the price can't be beat.

                3. not a farmers market -- but check out growers ranch on newport and 21st(?) in Costa Mesa -- great produce at low prices, much is locally grown (I actually live in LA now, but stop by every time I'm in the oc, I haven't found anything like it up here)
                  wine: hi-times, as previously mentioned
                  cheese: Picnics on 17th -- great selection, and Robert (the owner) is extremely helpful

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: patz

                    Re: growers ranch, do you mean Growers Direct? It's on the corner of 17th St and Superior.

                    Growers Direct
                    101 E 17th St, Costa Mesa, CA 92627

                    1. re: Professor Salt

                      There are two -- growers ranch on Newport and 20th, and growers direct on 17th across from Trader Joes. I personally prefer Growers Ranch -- the produce is better, and I think it's cheaper

                      1. re: patz

                        Better and cheaper? Holy shmoly. Good to know.