Food & Drink

Best Local Grocery Stores and Markets in San Diego

Avoid the lines and shop local.

Since getting together for a meal with friends and family in restaurants is a thing of the past, at least temporarily, many of our favorite places to eat have created a new business model -- selling grocery items directly to us. It’s a smart move, supporting regional farmers, keeping the supply chain intact, and, of course, boosting the local economy. Farmers’ markets have adjusted, as well, limiting the number of customers, staggering stalls, and enforcing social distancing all while local growers themselves are selling direct to consumers at their farms. Plus, we can’t forget about our faithful local grocery stores, who have remained open during the lockdown, providing essential resources to the community.  Here are a dozen of our favorite places to get everything you need to stock your pantry.

Eclipse Chocolate
Eclipse Chocolate

Eclipse Chocolate

South Park
South Park favorite Eclipse Chocolate has produce, coffee, cleaning products and pantry staples plus hard-to-finds like flour, yeast and dried beans. Couverture chocolate, custom made build-a-bars and cocoa mole bloody Mary mix will satisfy your chocolate cravings, and they’ve recently introduced to-go family meals serving 8, made with ingredients from Specialty Produce. The site is updated daily and new items are added frequently. Help them further by contributing to their Future Shares Fundraiser that comes with a good karma return — 10% of each contribution goes to the San Diego Food Bank immediately, while the remainder becomes an online gift card for you to use once they can safely reopen for regular dining.
How it works: Order online or by calling 619.578.2984; you’ll receive a call for touch free pickup within 3-5 business days 

Farmers’ markets and direct from the farm sales

Various locations
A good number of farmers’ markets are still open for business selling essential grocery products, including the Little Italy Mercato, Hillcrest Farmers Market, and North Park Main Street Market. Strict new guidelines have been put in place, depending on the market. In general, no pets (and this time they mean it!), one person per family is admitted to the market, and one touch selection -- point to what you’d like and the farmer will bag it for you. Many local farmers have pivoted to selling meat, poultry, produce, eggs, honey, jerky, CSA boxes, and more for pickup right at their farms. The San Diego County Farm Bureau has a great list of places selling direct-to-consumer as well as a list of open farmers’ markets, nurseries, and vineyards.
How it works: Consult your farm or market website for details

Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern

Point Loma
J-FAT’s general store carries produce, eggs, butter, baked goods like hamburger buns and tortillas, and a variety of proteins including Wagyu and Beyond burgers, rib roasts, baby back ribs, ground Italian sausage, shrim,  and cooked sliced ribeye. The bar also has Jameson and ginger or Tito’s mule kits and family meals and party kits, including a Taco Tuesday package -- perfect for Cinco de Mayo (which happily falls on Tuesday this year)!
How it works: Order online for pickup or delivery

Tender Greens

Various locations
All Tender Greens locations are offering bountiful grocery boxes. Think veggies, fruit, and even a morning box with all the fixings for pancakes or waffles (and coffee!) and a picnic box featuring three bottles of wine, grapes, crackers, salami, cheese, and a baguette. You can also select items a la carte to make your own personalized grocery box. There’s a $15 minimum, and delivery is free with a $70+ order when you order online or through the Tender Greens app. 
How it works: Order online or through its app for pickup or delivery

Ranch 45

Solano Beach
Pick up fancies like Amhurst American Honey, Olibaja extra virgin olive oil made in the Valle de Guadalupe, or free-range eggs from Ramona’s Eben-Haezer Poultry Ranch and a full range of regular pantry products, cold-pressed juices, produce, and dairy products. 
How it works: Order online for pickup or delivery

Juniper and Ivy

Little Italy
For celery that’s as pink as a rose petal, tiny electric green tomatoes, or vibrant rainbow carrots, look to Girl & Dug produce boxes from Juniper and Ivy. Currently featuring two boxes, the restaurant plans are to have a la carte purchasing soon. Until May 31, 50% of the proceeds will go to support the restaurant when you choose the pickup option. 
How it works: Order online by 11:59pm on Tuesday for Thursday pickup

Jensen’s Point Loma

Point Loma
Jensen’s Point Loma is a neighborhood favorite for specialty foods, bulk goods, and general pantry items -- plus there’s a full butcher shop, seafood counter, deli and cheeses, and booze. The store is open daily from 7am-8pm, with exclusive senior shopping from 7am-8am. Jensen’s has recently partnered with local nonprofit Store 2 Door SD to provide shopping and delivery service. Store 2 Door SD was brought together by a local Point Loma High School student, Maddie, and is primarily run by high school students who want to help their community by helping those who can’t shop for themselves.
How it works: Walk-in shopping with strict sanitation and distancing observed or let Store 2 Door SD shop and deliver your groceries to you

Assenti’s Pasta

Little Italy
Roberto and Luigi Assenti have been cranking out fresh pasta in their Little Italy shop since 1981. You’ll find all sorts of shapes and flavors, stuffed and plain, along with house-made sauces, imported and domestic meats and cheeses and Italian wine and beer. The shop also offers to-go homemade meals and desserts, fresh pizza dough, and a large selection of frozen foods, grocery items and canned goods. Hours are Monday through Saturday from 9am-3pm.
How it works: Walk-in shopping with strict sanitation and distancing observed

The Gluten Free Baking Co.

University Heights
Having food allergies makes buying groceries challenging, as reading labels and asking pointed questions becomes second nature. Score gluten-free comfort foods from The Gluten Free Baking Co., including bagels, brownies, cookies, cupcakes, doughnuts and more lavish things like molten chocolate cakes and cream puffs. Dairy-, soy-free, and vegan options are available as well. Shop in person at the North Park bakery to select items a la carte or order online for pickup of bakery boxes which come in cupcake, breakfast, bakery or dessert options, dry breakfast mixes, gluten-free flour and a few random items like toilet paper, nitrile gloves and bleach. Pickup options (location, touch-free or walk in) are selected at the time of purchase.
How it works: Walk-in with strict sanitation and distancing or order online for pickup 

Specialty Produce

Middletown
You’ve seen the trucks all over town, and if you’ve eaten at almost any restaurant in San Diego, chances are you’ve enjoyed Specialty Produce’s extraordinary selection of fruits, vegetables, flowers, sprouts, and nuts. The food supplier is open to the public, as well, so grab a jacket (it can get chilly inside the refrigerated rooms), your mask, and head to their warehouse. You’ll probably buy too much, but that’s okay, it also has storage tips and recipes on the website. There’s also a weekly farmers’ market box for $20, to which you can add items from other local merchants, like Venissimo Cheese, Chuao Chocolatier and Bread and Cie for an additional charge. Order it by midnight on Sunday for pickup on Thursday, Friday or Saturday. They’re open daily from 8am-5pm.
How it works: Order and customize farmers market boxes up to four weeks in advance online; walk-in shopping with strict sanitation and distancing observed 

Carnival Supermarket

Chula Vista, National City
Family-owned and operated, Carnival Supermarket is ready to fill your pantry with everything you need from its butcher and seafood shop, deli, bakery, bulk goods, and amazing food court. Check the weekly circular for specials, then shop its aisles for pantry staples, grains, dried beans, jarred sauces, and ever-elusive packages of flour and yeast. Everything Carnival sells is also available online for pickup or delivery, and the radius is one of the largest in San Diego.
How it works: Walk-in shopping with strict sanitation and distancing observed or shop online for delivery

Harvest International Market

El Cajon, Clairemont
Harvest International Market has two locations in San Diego, each with a slightly different emphasis. The El Cajon store is tailored to Middle Eastern cuisine, while the Clairemont venue leans toward Persian and Eastern European flavors. Either way, you’ll find fine bakery items like fresh flatbreads and baklava, produce, bulk rice, grains and beans, and Halal meats. 
How it works: Walk-in shopping with strict sanitation and distancing observed

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Mary Beth Abate is a San Diego-based freelance writer by way of Chicago and Los Angeles. Her hobbies include yoga, pickling and fermenting various vegetables and beverages, reading cookbooks and drinking fabulous gin. Keep up with her experiments @MaryBeth_Abate.