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List of Shops in San Diego to buy cooking ingredients

Most Chowhounds not only like to go to restaurants but also cook all kinds of food. Sometimes its easy to get all ingredients sometimes it is necessary to drie around in SD. I have a list of shops I tend to use but I am also sure I miss many good shops. I would be interested to find out where other people buy special ingredients. And I want to keep it as broad as possible and would also like to include unusual things as brewing equipments etc.

Jonathan's: 7611 Fay Ave, La Jolla

Specialty Produce: 5245 Lovelock St

Maple Leaf Farms : 14550 El Camino Real

Iowa Meat Farms: 6041 Mission Gorge Rd

Sisel's: 4131 Ashton Street

Major Market 1855 S Centre City Pky

Jimbo's Naturally: 1633 S Centre City Pky + 12853 El Camino Real

Piancone Bakery & Deli: 203 Main Street (Vista)

Harvest Ranch Market: 759 Jamacha Rd + 162 South Rancho Santa Fe

Zion Grocery Store: 4611 Mercury St

India Sweets and Spices: 5440 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard

Maria's Produce: 3960 Home Ave

Mitsuwa Market: 4240 Kearny Mesa Rd

Nijiya Market: 3860 Convoy St

Vien Dong Int. Market: 6935 Linda Vista Rd, 5382 University Ave

Chino farms-6123 Calzada del Bosque

Venissimo Cheese: 754 W. Washington, 2710 Via de la Valle, 871 G St.

Sausage King & German Deli: 811 W. Washington St.

Orient Bowl/First Korean Market: 4625 Convoy St

Pancho Villa’s Market: 3245 El Cajon Blvd

Northgate Gonzales Market: 608 N. Escondido Blvd (Escondido)

Northgate Gonzales Market: 1410 S 43rd St.

Bisher’s Meats: 14051 Midland Rd.

Mi Pueblo: 1516 E. Valley Pkwy (Escondido)

Chai Oriental Foods: 1696 E. Valley Pkwy (Escondido)

Cedars Market: 701 S. Escondido Blvd

Parsian Market: 4020 Convoy St.

Foodland Mercado: 1099 E. Main St.

Balboa International Market: 5907 Balboa Ave.

Minh Huong: 4029 Euclid Ave.

Tip Top Meats: 6118 Paseo Del Norte (Carlsbad)

Tropical Star: 6163 Balboa Ave.

Ranch 99: 7330 Clairemont Mesa Blvd.

Lucky Seafood: 9326 Mira Mesa Blvd.

Seafood City: 8955 Mira Mesa Blvd.

Ker Megastore: 9520 Black Mountain Rd.

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  1. Two more:

    Assenti Pasta: 2044 India St.

    Holiday Wine Cellar: 302 W. Mission Ave (Escondido)

    4 Replies
    1. re: honkman

      I also like Mona Lisa across the street from Assenti Pasta, Homegrown Meats (butcher shop), Blue Water and The Fishery for fish!

      Great list.

      1. re: jturtle

        Mona Lisa and Assenti are a great one-two punch.

        And I know you said "list of shops", but little italy farmers market has some of the best ingredients in san diego.

      2. re: honkman

        Nice list HM, here are a couple more

        Pata Negra Spanish Market - 1657 Garnet Ave San Diego, CA 92109-3117 - (858) 274-7282

        Great News - 1788 Garnet Ave, San Diego, CA‎ - (858) 270-1582‎

        Fishery - 5040 Cass Street, San Diego - (858) 272-9985

        Jonathan's Market - 7611 Fay Ave, La Jolla, CA‎ - (858) 459-2677‎

        1. re: honkman

          +1 Holiday Win Cellar and want to note that it probably has the best *beer* selection in SD County

          Much closer to central SD, however, is:

          K & B Cellars (formerly Del Cerro Liquor): 6380 Del Cerro Blvd (just north of the 8, across from SDSU)

        2. For your brewing needs:

          Hydrobrew: 1319 South Coast Highway (Oceanside).

          Home Brew Mart: 5401 Linda Vista Rd. Suite #406.

          American Home Brewing Supply: 9295 Chesapeake Dr., Suite E.

          1. Hi,

            I was about to post about grocery stores in SD. Maybe someone could point out in this list (and I don't mean to crash OP's post) which ones are:

            a) convenient for visitors (ie close to dowtown SD)

            b) where you could buy most of your New Year's dinner (I mean a place where besides the basics you can find for example smoked salmon, some decent wine, good bread etc)


            1 Reply
            1. re: bobetpine

              Whole Foods in Hillcrest is pretty close to downtown, and would have the highest concentration of quality ingredients for a New Year's dinner. Downtown doesn't really have any good one-stop shops for that kind of thing.

            2. North Park Produce - three locations:

              3551 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego - (619) 516-3336
              432 E Chase Ave, El Cajon - (619) 440-4401
              12342 Poway Rd # B, Poway - (858) 391-9100

              5 reviews, directions, and more »

              1. Two more:

                T&H Meats: 735 E Mission Rd (San Marcos)

                European Deli: 4150 Regents Rd.

                1. El Pescador on Pearl in La Jolla for local seafood as well as
                  Catalina Offshore 5202 Lovelock

                  1. now if we had somewhere that had cheesemaking supplies, meat curing supplies, etc...

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: MrKrispy

                      That's true. So far we use online shopping for cheesemaking and meat curing supplies

                      1. re: honkman

                        You may be able to buy some meat curing supplies from Knight Salami Co in Clairemont Mesa. I'm not sure what specialty items you'd need for cheese making though other then bacterial culture and rennet.

                      2. re: MrKrispy

                        For the few who might find this of interest, I buy my Natto bacillus culture from GEM Cultures, http://www.gemcultures.com/

                        Not limited to only Natto cultures, their catalog also offers cultures to produce many other Japanese fermented products.

                        I know we're talking about SD only, but I've yet to find anything like this in any walk-in store.

                        1. re: cgfan

                          hmm, does natto stink as it is fermenting like kimchi?

                          1. re: daantaat

                            Stink, what stink? :D

                            Actually if the culture remains healthy (aerobic) enough it won't get an overpowering ammoniac smell. And I keep it wrapped in plastic (with pin holes) during fermentation to keep the culture moist so that cuts down on the aromas as well. To me it's a rather mild smell.

                            I'd love to make my own Kimchee someday. Been looking at those awesome Kimchee jars (lined up above the refrigerators in the rear of the store) at Zion marketplace and could just picture doing that someday, especially after seeing the Korean Dorama "Shikgaek" (식객 - Best Chef).

                            1. re: cgfan

                              there is nothing like fresh homemade kimchi! I've had trouble eating the store ones after having homemade!

                              1. re: daantaat

                                And it's easy:


                                Nice to watch in any case- I think she's got that food network audition on her mind. Now I'm picking out a dark, cool corner of my backyard to bury some earthenware containers...

                      3. Thuan Phat Market: 6935 Linda Vista Rd

                        Marukai Market: 8151 Balboa Ave.

                          1. People on Yelp seem to adore Trader's Joe for groceries. Is it ok or it doesn't deserve CHers interest? (we're not from the US so we don't know Trader's Joe yet)

                            11 Replies
                            1. re: bobetpine

                              Trader Joe's is OK for some things, it's kind of hit or miss. My favorite place for produce in San Diego is People's Co-Op in Ocean Beach. I think they easily have the best produce in town, nearly all of it organic. They tend to stock seasonally, though, so keep that in mind.

                              Trader Joe's is better for things like snack foods, IMO. Their selection is too limited to serve as a grocery store replacement.

                              1. re: bobetpine

                                Some of the wines at TJ are reasonable priced (and their different nuts are relatively cheap) but beside that they have mainly processed food or a small variety of produce which is often shrink-wraped (something I really hate because so you never know the quality of the produce without touching it)

                                1. re: bobetpine

                                  I have never understood peoples love of Trader Joe's.

                                  Every time I walk in, I walk out empty handed. Except for wine.

                                  1. re: stevewag23

                                    Good for specific items, grass feed beef, racks and loins of lamb, guindilla peppers, puff pastry, pumpernickel pretzels, and wine. Stuff gets shuffled in and out a lot so items you like are gone never to return. We were drinking a good paso zin for about a month and the poof...gone.

                                    1. re: stevuchan

                                      The grass fed beef at TJ is only grass-finished beef.

                                      1. re: honkman

                                        You sure about that? I know I've seen grass-fed beef finished with corn, but what you're saying implies corn-fed beef finished on grass. Not sure I'd even get the benefit of grass-finishing, seems backwards.

                                        1. re: Josh

                                          You are correct, my mistake. I meant corn-finished beef which for me defeats the whole purpose of grass-feeding

                                          1. re: honkman

                                            Hm, I checked it out when I was there last, and it didn't say on the packaging that it was corn finished. This was for ground beef.

                                            1. re: Josh

                                              I asked them at different TJs over the last few years at different occasions when they had grass fed beef and was told that it is corn-finished beef.

                                              1. re: honkman

                                                Often lots of disinformation happening at our San Diego TJs, most recently a big chalk sign reading another outstanding find from Argentina, it was however a Spanish Tempranillo.

                                  2. re: bobetpine

                                    It depends what you're looking for. We quit getting fresh fruit there b/c I was tired of tasteless fruit, but their salad mixes and vegetables are decent. Usually we get our dairy, breads, snack foods, juices, frozen fruit, broths, meat, dried fruit and nuts there. Most of the time we end up supplementing what we can't get at TJ's at Ralph's or Whole Foods.

                                  3. If you're going to list Venissimo Cheese then you should probably list Taste Cheese as well. Also I'd throw in some of the Indian markets in Mira Mesa's Little India Center.

                                    Lastly, this thread might give people some good ideas: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/482661

                                    1. Does anybody has experience with these guys ?


                                      1. Love seaside market in Cardiff. They carry foie gras 4 presliced pieces for 35 bucks or something close to that. Great produce and seafood as well.

                                        1. I looked a million places for citric acid for making mozzarella, but finally found it at Hydrobrew in Oceanside.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: nicky63220

                                            Look for "Sour Salt" in the Jewish/Kosher section of most supermarkets...it is pure citric acid.

                                            1. re: nileg

                                              I checked the kosher aisles of three stores when I was looking, but couldn't find sour salt. I also checked the canning aisle, and a few different pharmacies. Only Hydrobrew in Oceanside had it, so I bought a lot of it so I'll have it on hand for a while.

                                              1. re: nicky63220

                                                It might be in the spices section. I know I've seen it.

                                          2. Looks like we will soon have a cheesemaking (and winemaking) store in San Diego:


                                            14 Replies
                                              1. re: cgfan

                                                woohoo finally! I hope they carry some meat-curing ingredients also.

                                              2. re: honkman

                                                Apparently Curds and Wine will make wine for you. You make all of the decisions and they do all of the execution. Could be fun!

                                                1. re: steveprez

                                                  Hi everyone! I want to clarify that we cannot make the wine for you at Curds and Wine, but you can come in, pick out any wine kit, and make it at the shop. You do need to do all of the winemaking steps however -- the ABC and TTB were very clear to me about that! But, there are about 4 steps, and each step takes less than an hour, some only about 20 minutes. Then you get to use all of our equipment (including bottling pump), make custom wine labels, and we clean up everything for you.

                                                  I don't have meat curing ingredients, sorry! But I do have a wide selection of cheesemaking ingredients and everything you need for home winemaking, whether from kits or from grapes or other fruits. Thursday is the official opening day, I look forward to meeting you all there!


                                                  1. re: Curdsandwine

                                                    Sounds great! Too bad about the meat curing ingredients though, maybe consider adding a very small section? :)

                                                    At least some bacon curing ingredients ...

                                                    1. re: Curdsandwine

                                                      Personally I'd like to see if CAW might carry some oak barrels, in particular very tiny ones... I culture my own red wine vinegar and would love to finish it in a barrel. (Currently I use cubes of toasted French oak instead...) All of the barrels from the home winemaking sources that I've checked seem to be a bit on the large side for my purposes...

                                                      BTW will CAW carry any vinegar jars? A friend of mine wants to get into culturing their own RWV from my mother of vinegar and is looking for a purpose-made vessel - one that has lots of headroom for proper breathing, a large covered opening for removing excess mother of vinegar, and a spout just off of the bottom for drawing off the finished RWV...

                                                      1. re: cgfan

                                                        have you checked ebay for mini-barrels? I used to see them on there when I was looking for small barrels for aging beer. Turns out the small barrels aren't so good for beer but probably work great for vinegar.

                                                        1. re: cgfan

                                                          I am planning to stock small 15 gallon barrels, I will try to get those in soon!

                                                          I won't carry mother of vinegar at the shop, mainly I don't want to risk cross-contamination with everyone's wine in progress. I have some one-gallon jugs that would make a great vinegar vessel, that's what I make mine in. I just put cheesecloth over the top with a rubber band while the vinegar is brewing, and when I think it's ready I put plastic wrap over the top. But, the spouted vessels are nice, I'll see if I can find some to get in.

                                                          1. re: Curdsandwine

                                                            If that's small, then how about tiny? :) Half gallon would seem to be the perfect size for my purposes...

                                                            Agreed on spouted vessels for culturing vinegar, which is what I use. Would love to get my friends to start brewing their own vinegar!

                                                            1. re: cgfan

                                                              I'm game. Why don't you post your method. Or better yet, why don't you film it and post it on You Tube

                                                              And while we're at it, you should also post some of your coffee info in video format, particularly the roasting and how to draw a great shot pieces :-)

                                                              1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                Hmmmm, that's a thought. Perhaps this could be a "down payment"? http://www.flickr.com/photos/akatayam...

                                                              2. re: cgfan

                                                                I'll go in on 5 gals if that makes it easier for you do it.

                                                          2. re: Curdsandwine

                                                            Apologies for the mistake and thanks for the clarification! Looks like you got some good interaction nonetheless.

                                                      2. Does anyone know if there is a Thai market in SD? Seems to be one of the few ethnic markets not represented around here. I normally get my thai ingredients from 99 Ranch (basil, lemongrass, etc) but it would be nice to find a place with a little more selection.

                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: mliew

                                                          Your best bet, I think, would be the Vietnamese markets in Linda Vista and City Heights. There's Minh Hoa Supermarket on El Cajon Blvd. in City Heights... it's small, but usually has what I need. There's the one in Linda Vista right by Yum Cha Cafe and the name escapes me.

                                                          If you're looking for holy basil, I believe KirkK has found it somewhere in the Euclid area (check his mmm-yoso blog), but it's one of the harder-to-find Thai herbs.

                                                          1. re: geekyfoodie

                                                            Thuan Phat which used to be Vien Dong (google it and you should find a map).

                                                            They have a ton of Thai ingedients, including the correct basil, huge pieces of lemongrass, etc

                                                          2. re: mliew

                                                            Chai in Escondido is owned by a Thai family. They don't carry much fresh produce, but their shelves are some of the most fun to browse. If you're looking for something specific, you might call them. If they don't carry it, they might know who does.

                                                          3. It might look like that H-mart, the korean/asian supermarket chain, might be coming to San Diego. Ralphs in Mira Mesa (corner Mira Mesa Blvd/Westview) recently closed and a small public notice says something about renovations which might take place and that it is done by H-Mart Corp etc. So it might possible that they will moving into the building.

                                                            3 Replies
                                                            1. re: honkman

                                                              A sampling of what I buy at Trader Joe's

                                                              Fresh produce (non shrink wrapped)

                                                              Artichokes (good ones for $1)
                                                              Bell Peppers


                                                              Grana Padano
                                                              Jarlsberg Lite
                                                              Goat cheese

                                                              Mixed Nuts

                                                              Strawberry lemonade
                                                              Firestone Solace
                                                              Franziskaner Hefeweizen

                                                              Gluten free granola

                                                              Canned Artichoke hearts
                                                              Peanut butter
                                                              Almond butter
                                                              California Estate olive oil

                                                              I can't think of a better place that has the variety, quality and low prices that TJ's has.

                                                              1. re: pantani

                                                                Interesting - I can't think of a more overhyped place with disappointing products like TJ. The salads are sometimes nice for lunch and the mixed nuts. Produce is either shrink wrapped (which I would never buy) or of low quality (and mainly no organic). Cheeses tend to be past its prime (I never seen so many cheese get mold after a few days). Everything else is many highly processed food which I have no interest in.

                                                              2. re: honkman

                                                                Hmart coming soon accorrding to their literature, no date.

                                                              3. Savory Spice Shop is opening in Encinitas the end of Aug. Great spices for cooking! It's great you can taste and sample the product before you buy. The shop also has a great atmosphere. I went to the one in Denver today and tried a bunch spices and I live in SD. So excited for them to be opening up a store so close!!

                                                                1. It's been posted in another thread but to keep all things related to this topic together, Penzey's Spices is open at the Colonnade in Hillcrest (1274 University Avenue).

                                                                  Oh, and did anyone mention Windmill Farms in the San Carlos area (6386 Del Cerro Boulevard)? You can buy spices by the pound there too. Good selection and variety there, too. Off the beaten path...

                                                                  1. Baker & Olive opened a new store in the Del Mar Highlands shopping center.