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Nov 11, 2010 10:13 AM

Best food shopping spots?

I just moved here from the Bay Area and am trying to find the favorite butchers, fishmongers and produce shops around. I'm living in Solana Beach but don't have a problem going out of my way to find something really good. I like Farmers markets, but they can be inconsistent and kind of pricey.
Here's what I miss so far:

Butcher shop with oddball cuts of beef - onglet / hanger, flat iron, skirt. Whole well raised poultry.
Sushi quality fish & good selection.
Produce markets with seasonal stuff and high turnover so it's really fresh.
Specialty shop with overpriced imported gourmet whatnot.

Any ideas?

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  1. You can get great fish at El Pescador in La Jolla. There's a lot of choices for produce depending on location, many people like Henry's which you'll find near Solana Beach. In my case Jimbo's is much closer and we use that.

    If you want to have a sushi lunch to go, Nijiya supermarket has some great sashimi sets. Farmer's markets here are mainly good for produce and watching the kids play.

    It sounds like you'll just have to explore all the supermarkets to figure out what you like. There's a Whole Foods near Solana Beach (and another one under construction even closer in Del Mar), and while I'm not a big fan there's a Bristol Farm's in UTC that has some imports other places won't have. We do have some very nice Japanese supermarkets, three in fact. They're all in Convoy where all the good Asian stuff is - Nijiya, Mitsuwa, and Marukai. Nijiya actually has very good quality meats, but no unusual cuts. If you don't mind getting bulk, we have many costcos where you can find any cut you want.

    2 Replies
    1. re: royaljester

      Don't forget 99 Ranch on Clairemont near Convoy. The OP is likely familiar with this being from the Bay Area. Good for meats, fresh fish (i.e. live), Asian ingredients, etc. There's also a few Indian groceries in "Little India" near the intersection of Miramar and Black Mountain Road. Frankly, I forget their names but good shopping for Indian ingredients. I also like North Park Produce in Normal Heights (just across the freeway from North Park) for well priced produce, spices, decent meat counter, great fresh olive and feta bar (12 types of feta!!) and Middle Eastern ingredients in general. Each of these can be classified as very good values.

      Bristol Farms, as mentioned by 'Jester, is analogous to Andronico's or Draeger's. Good quality but very expensive.

      Solana Beach has it's farmer's market on Sunday afternoon (Cedros area), and Del Mar (9th and Camino Del Mar) on Saturday afternoon. Neither is very extensive but each has some good stands.

      Welcome to San Diego!!

      1. re: royaljester

        Would Pelly's Fish Market in Carlsbad be closer than El Pescador? Seems like it'd be easier to get to from Solana Beach.

        Pelly's Fish Market & Cafe
        7110 Avenida Encinas # 101, Carlsbad, CA

      2. Catalina Offshore for seafood. It's a warehouse at the end of a cul de sac. No display cases, no lemons or parsley. Best prices. Freshest. Sign up for e-mail/online specials. We walked in without knowing better first time and it was not busy. Got to walk back to see crates of fish being unloaded/cleaned. Had to wear a hairnet, floors all wet/being hosed down.

        Specialty Produce This is where restaurants/chefs buy their produce and other (fancier) goodies. Open to public. Some stuff is only sold in cases, but not everything. Extremely fresh. Local (within 200 miles) farms. Also a warehouse. Open 7 days, exact cash or credit card only.

        Lots of Mediterranean markets in East County. Vine Ripe on Fletcher Parkway just North of I-8 is my favorite. Excellent prices. There are many locations for North Park Produce, also good.

        Many Mexican Markets. Northgate Gonzalez is good. So is Pancho Villa. Really, so are the others, which are small and neighborhood places. If you see one during your travels, stop.

        Major Market is both local and but with specialty items. If you only buy sale and store brand items at Bristol Farms, you'll have a nice adventure and leave with some cash. This week,all pork is 50% off.

        Specialty Produce
        1929 Hancock St, San Diego, CA

        Pancho Villa's
        3245 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA 92104

        1 Reply
        1. re: Cathy

          Specialty Produce and Catalina Offshore are the best for quality and prices..

          A good butcher shop is Home Grown Meats in La Jolla.. local grass fed beef but carry a variety of game meats and can pretty much order anything you want..

          Tip Top Meats in carlsbad is a german deli/butcher.. Some specialty things in there as well.. Good slab bacon that is smoked in house..

          Venissimo Cheese in Del Mar is a great specialty Cheese shop..

          Baker & Olive in Encinitas for specialty oils and vinegars.. Also carry pantry items.. There is a recent thread about this place on here..

          and since you live in Solana Seaside Market is a favorite of mine..

          Venissimo Cheese
          754 W Washington St, San Diego, CA 92103

          Specialty Produce
          1929 Hancock St, San Diego, CA

        2. add Chino Farms in Rancho Santa Fe for fresh, seasonal produce. Close to SB. Bring cash and lots of it. Their stuff is pricey but very good.

          Whole Foods in UTC has been relatively consistent w/ their produce. They've had a nice run of grapes of all colors this fall. They also have a "local" produce section now.

          The closest thing I can think of for overpriced imported stuff is Williams-Sonoma in UTC. Or just order online from Dean and Deluca.

          Unfortunately, no Ferry Building around here...

          1 Reply
          1. this should help:

            for overpriced specialty items, there aren't any true specialty shops right there, but the closest local options are Waters Fine Foods in SB, Harvest Ranch Market in Del Mar Plaza, and Cardiff Seaside Market.


            1. bgosh, welcome to the area!

              We live in Del Mar, and here are the places that I frequent for certain things:

              1) Jimbo's in Del Mar Highlands shopping center for great produce (vast majority organic), prepared dishes (w/an emphasis on vegetarian), and meat. In my opinion, Jimbo's, which is a local "chain" of 3 or 4 stores, is way better than Whole Foods. I'm in and out of the Jimbo's in Del Mar on a daily basis and can't stand to shop at the big chains anymore. There's another Jimbo's in the Carlsbad forum, if that's closer for you.

              2) Fish is a difficult one...I go to either Catalina, but it's quite a drive, or locally, I go to Fish Market on the corner of Via de la Valle/Stevens Ave. Pricey but top quality. Sometimes, Henry's fish counter has decent offerings, and the price is far lower. Henry's is in a shopping area on Lomas Santa Fe just west of I-5. I also buy fish at Jimbo's frequently, and the quality is great, but the selection isn't fantastic and the prices are high-ish.

              3) For fantastic, not-to-be-missed corn and strawberries (as well as other vegetables), be sure to visit Chino Farms in Rancho Santa Fe. It's close to Solana Beach; take Via de la Valle east until you see the big sign that says "Vegetables" and then turn right at the next street, and the farm stand will be on the right. They only take cash, as others have mentioned, and the prices are super high, but worth it, in my opinion, for a few special things (corn and strawberries!)


              6 Replies
              1. re: carli

                Chino Farms STILL has GREAT strawberries and sweet corn. Picked up both last weekend and was very happy. The smaller French strawberries aren't as good as they were during the summer, but the larger strawberries are remarkably good right now. And the corn ROCKS.

                1. re: bizzwriter

                  Strawberries??? where were they from? not local! I usually go through my addictive withdrawal until late Dec, quite painful not to have those sweet jewels.

                  1. re: cstr

                    They grow them right there on the farm in sunny Rancho Santa Fe. I was VERY pleasantly surprised by just how tasty the larger of the two varieties available were. Amazing, and well worth the steep price ($5 a box). The smaller French strawberries, not so much.

                    1. re: bizzwriter

                      There is nothing better than those French strawberries when they are in season..

                      1. re: bizzwriter

                        Still in season? Wow, I've got to check those out. I tried the French and "regulars" this summer after seeing a rec on the board. The French were too perfumey for my taste and nose, but the regulars, oh my! Hard to go back to strawberries anywhere else.