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gourmet grocer in north county san diego?

Hello, I am new to the area from the East Coast and am enjoying trying out the local restaurants.

However, I like to cook a lot at home and was wondering if there are any gourmet grocery stores in the area that are similar to Balducci's or Zabar's back East. I know that there are Jimbo's in North County and there is a Whole Foods in La Jolla, but I'm looking for others.


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  1. Not exactly what you're looking for but it still might help.


    1. I have no idea about your east coast references so these suggestions may or may not work for you. In Encinitas there is Harvest Ranch Market, in Cardiff there is Seaside Market and in Carlsbad there is Tip Top Market. though Tip Top is a full market, we use it really as a butcher shop.

      1. When I lived in north county I did most of my shopping at Major Market in Escondido. If you are looking for something similar to Zabars, however, prepare to be dissapointed.

        Sorry but they dont seem to have a website. Here is info:

        Major Market. 1855 S Centre City Pkwy Escondido CA 92025. Tel: 760-741-7827. • European Bakery • Gourmet Service Deli • Full Service Butcher ..

        1 Reply
        1. re: sdnativa

          Major Market is really great for those hard-to-find items. They even have a British frozen foods section. I was really hoping to find Italian Rainbow cookies there, but they had none.

        2. Welcome! Try Trader Joe's in Encinitas and Seaside Market in Cardiff. Seaside has everything! Trader Joes is a favorite because they have food from all over mostly organic. Both places are a favorite of the locals.

          1. Exactly how far is your driving range? North County is anywhere from Del Mar to Oceanside to Escondido.

            2 Replies
            1. re: RB Hound

              I will go pretty much anywhere. It wouldn't be my everyday grocery store, just when I need the gourmet stuff.

              1. re: cityfiend

                Gelson's in Irvine would be your best choice. I haven't been to this location, but all of the stores in LA and Santa Barbara are top-notch. http://www.gelsons.com/

            2. The original owner's of Henry's Market still have a location in Oceanside:

              They offer quality natural produce, meat, and the likes. Does not look like it would be exactly like Balducci's. On the West Coast the equivalent may be Gelson's, based in LA, with an Irvine location: none in SD.

              7 Replies
              1. re: dhnado

                Thanks for that dhnado. I have been to Henry's in Encinitas, but I had not heard of this location. How is it different from Henry's? Henry's is owned by Wild Oats now which is maybe going to be bought by Whole Foods? So this location is not part of the big corporate entity?

                1. re: Enorah

                  I heard that the Henry's were going to be sold off. whole foods is more upscale and I think they want more square footage in their stores than a lot of the Henry's locations can provide.

                  1. re: littlestevie

                    I have also heard that Henry's is going to be sold off - to Smart & Final(???). I was just at Whole Foods in La Jolla and they have a card up on their comment board saying that they have signed locations to open in downtown Encinitas and Del Mar in the next two years.

                    1. re: cityfiend

                      Henry's is going to be sold off to Smart & Final?



                      1. re: Enorah

                        Yeah I think cityfiend is right. I remember seeing that in a article as well. How THAT is going to work is anyone's guess.

                        1. re: littlestevie

                          Whole Foods bought Wild Oats Markets. Wild Oats, at the time, owned Henry's. Whole Foods then spun off Henry's markets by selling it to Smart & Final last fall. Here's a quote from the North County Times that explains why all this happened - "Whole Foods announced the side deal with Smart & Final in June, after the Federal Trade Commission sued to stop its acquisition of Wild Oats on the grounds that it would stifle competition in the organic foods arena." I noticed a difference awhile ago, when my local Henry's (Solana Beach) seemed to have a lot of new staff. Products haven't changed much, if at all, and Smart & Final has vowed to keep Henry's the same. Time will tell.

                  2. re: Enorah

                    It's similar Enorah, but with more of a neighborhood grocery store feel. It is owned by Henry Boney's son Steve, managed by his grandson Ryan. Back in the day the whole chain was called Boney's, but a family feud caused the founder, Henry, to change the name to Henry's. His son kept using the Boney's Market name and did not sell to Wild Oats.

                    If you're in the Coronado area, Steve's ex-wife Debbie has opened a great new market called Boney's Bayside Market. Not in the Nor County like the original post was looking for, but one of the finer, albeit smaller markets in San Diego.

                2. You might want to check out Jonathan's in La Jolla on Fay Avenue (also owned by Harvest Ranch Markets).

                  Major Market in Escondido has a wide variety of European foods (German, English, French, etc.) available for you.

                  1. There is a Whole Foods planned for Encinitas in a new development called Pacific Station on Highway 101 at F Street. Completion of this project, however, may be a year and a half or more in the future. Another Whole Foods is expected to open in 2009 in Flower Hill on Via de la Valle in Del Mar.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: JeffSD

                      My old post musta gotten lost. I knew about the whole foods going in that space just north of the the Lumberyard and I just forgot about it. It seems like a very strange location to me. The parking and traffic down there in the summer is going to be terrible. That location is so far to the west that they are excluding Olivenhain and La Costa Valley, where I think a lot of their potential customers live. Also half of their draw is out in the Pacific Ocean. I know that the powers that be in Encinitas push development and amenities in the old downtown core, but I did not think the corp types at WF would listen. They just have to look at the market in Old Del Mar (just below Pacifica) to see what a tough go of it they could have. I guess if it were up to me I would have gone for something along El Camino Real.

                      1. re: littlestevie

                        In my opinion, it is a terrible place to put a Whole Foods. I would much rather have downtown Encinitas keep its small town feel. But alas, that seems not to be the intention of many people these days.

                        1. re: littlestevie

                          It seems the parking will all be under ground for that development. At least that's what it looks like from the construction.

                        2. re: JeffSD

                          Urban Solace will also set up a second location in this Whole Foods complex

                        3. I think the closet thing to Balducci's (didn't they go out of business?) would be Seaside Market in Cardiff, but not really the same. There is absolutely nothing like Zabars in SD or OC. You'd have to go to LA.

                          1. My two favorite markets are Mona Lisa (an Italian Deli that I often use as my only grocer) and North Park Produce. These are totally not in North County but maybe you might want to drive down to the "city" every now and then for food excurisions. Perhaps you could pair it with a trip to the Hillcrest farmers market.

                            Mona Lisa is Italian in scope but I find that the small feel really can trump the corporateness of Whole Foods. They have less of a gourmet stock but it is similar to a place that you would find on many italian blocks in NYC.

                            North Park Produce has lots of meat ranging from cow &lambs brain to whole lamb legs as well as cheap and diverse Mexican and Middle Eastern produce. They have inexpensive ethnic spices as well as a feta bar that has 10-15 different types. Its one of my favorite ethnic markets in San Diego.

                            In Del Mar you have a great cheese shop in Venissimo and as far as super fancy produce well Chino Farms is legendary.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: jturtle

                              jturtle what great recommendations! I haven't been to North Park Produce but love Mona Lisa, and venissimo is a nice place to splurge! I also like to go to "Mid-East Foods" on El Cajon Blvd and I believe around 44th..They have several varieties of pistachios and nuts, cheeses, spices,big jugs of extra virgin olive oil for a great price (I use alot of it), teas--and LOTS of exotic stuff! I'm also looking for somewhere in north county--Trader Joe's and Henry's just doesn't cut it..I don't think we've got anything up here..:-(

                              1. re: melovechocolate

                                FWIW, there is a North Park Produce in Poway.

                            2. I am afraid some of the posters are not in North County and/or have never been to Balducci's or Zabar's! The only suggestion that comes close IMHO is Seaside Market in Solana Beach. For good meat, some cheese selection and good European pantry items, Tip Top meats in Carlsbad (off the 5 at Palomar Airport road.

                              For me, the whole Henry's/ Whole Foods/Wild Oats vibe is thrown off by the health food, organic, hemp clothing bent of it selections. The exception, however is the Whole Foods in Tustin which is an like an amazing Disney Gourmet World. It is worth a day trip. Not only is it huge (so that it's selection is incredible), but every department has a takeout selection of prepared food and/or an eat in location. So there are ceviche and chowder/fish soup bars in the Seafood Department, there is a smoked meats and BBQ sit down area in the Butcher Department, a wine bar with tasting ans small plates in the Liquor Department, etc. There is a taqueria, a sandwich deli, a pizza station, and a gelateria. There's an olive/antipasto bar that is pretty impressive. They even used to have a Sunday brunch deal! You can sincerely go there for lunch, spend a few hours shopping and get a little happy hour before you leave.