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Mona Lisa Deli
Mona Lisa Deli

Where to Shop for Specialty Groceries in San Diego

These stores sell harder-to-find ingredients for the home cook

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Mona Lisa Deli

Stay-at-home orders throughout San Diego are making impromptu chefs out of almost everyone. While your standard run-of-the-mill grocery stores carry the essentials like milk and eggs, speciality items like tomahawk chops, and imported goods and spices require more specialized stores. Read below for a starting guide on grocery stores that go beyond the standard supermarket plus a few must-have essentials to elevate your at-home meals.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Tip Top Meats

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6118 Paseo Del Norte
Carlsbad, CA 92011
(760) 438-2620
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The grocery portion of Carlsbad institution is stocked with German pantry items like spaetzle, crisp bread and kippers but the real highlight is the meat counter. The full-service butcher sells bratwursts, Polish sausages, bacon as well a bigger cuts of meat.

2. Seafood City Supermarket

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8955 Mira Mesa Blvd
San Diego, CA 92126
(858) 549-0200
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Frozen ready-to-cook lumpia should be at the top of your shopping list at this chain of Filipino markets with locations throughout the county. Other hard-to-find items to add to your cart include powdered ube, fresh pan de sal, and longanisa sausages.

3. Miramar Cash & Carry

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9262 Miramar Rd
San Diego, CA 92126
(858) 566-4819
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As the largest Indo-Pak store in San Diego, this Mira Mesa spot is packed with kitchen goods — both fresh and frozen. A few essential items to pick up include lentils, spices and big bags of rice.

4. 99 Ranch Market

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7330 Clairemont Mesa Blvd
San Diego, CA 92111
(858) 974-8899
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There’s a little bit of everything at this Taiwanese-American supermarket chain. Stock up on leafy greens like bok choy, dried chilis, seafood, fresh and dried noodles, plus bags of rice ranging from small 5-pound bags to hefty 50-pound sacks.

5. H Mart Balboa

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7725 Balboa Ave #2
San Diego, CA 92111
(858) 836-9230
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Two locations in Mira Mesa and Kearny Mesa ensure you’re never without Korean staples. Pre-marinated meats like pork belly, chicken and beef might be the big draw but don’t miss out on the selection of kimchi, roasted seaweed snacks, and specialty ingredients like black bean paste.

6. Nijiya Market San Diego

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3860 Convoy St Interior Design
San Diego, CA 92111
(858) 268-3821
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Don’t let the diverse selection of Pocky in the sweets aisle dissuade you from the Japanese delicacies sold at this specialized supermarket. Sushi-grade seafood, pickled veggies, miso and endless varieties of bottled beverages are a few reasons to make this market part of your regular rotation.

7. Harvest International Market

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4220 Balboa Ave
San Diego, CA 92117
(858) 810-8228
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There’s a seemingly shortage of rice throughout San Diego county but here, the Basmati variety is plentiful and available in large 25-pound bags. Other reasons to visit include Halal meats, fresh baked flatbreads and baklava made in-house.

8. Carnival Market

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3560 Ashford St
San Diego, CA 92111
(858) 277-1505
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This family-owned and operated market with locations in Chula Vista and National City is famous for their food court but reserve time to explore the aisles. Fresh bolillo rolls, jars of molé and queso fresco are regularly featured specials in the weekly circular posted online.

9. Mission Square Market

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6171 Mission Gorge Rd #111-112
San Diego, CA 92120
(619) 521-9788
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Popular among vegans, this deli also doubles as speciality market aimed at herbivores. Stock goes fast for popular items like soy curls, chickpea pastas and vegan jerky.

10. Andrés Latin Market

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1249 Morena Blvd
San Diego, CA 92110
(619) 275-6523
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Found next to Andres Restaurant, this market may be small but it’s packed with imported goods from all over Latin America. A few things to buy include ready-to-fill empanada dough, chorizo, canned beans, and aji panca, Peruvian red peppers, available frozen, as a paste or in jars.

11. Catalina Offshore Products

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5202 Lovelock St
San Diego, CA 92110
(619) 297-9797
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This local seafood wholesaler business may have slowed its restaurant sales but fresh catch is still available at the on-site fish market which is open daily and features. Walk-ins are welcome as well as pre-orders for curbside pickup.

12. The Heart and Trotter Butchery

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2855 El Cajon Blvd #1
San Diego, CA 92104
(619) 564-8976
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The North Park shop prides itself as a whole animal butchery meaning you can buy a whole steer. Regular cooks looking for more manageable cuts of meat can also order pork shoulders, lamb chops, rib roasts, and brisket.

13. Specialty Produce

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1929 Hancock St #150
San Diego, CA 92110
(619) 295-3172
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The wholesale distributor to the restaurants is also open to the public. Sign in at the front counter for access to in-season produce like tangerines, artichokes and watercress, plus hard-to-find items such as bee pollen, dragon fruit pitaya and seedless Concord grapes.

14. Mona Lisa Italian Foods

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2061 India St
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 234-4893
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The market component of this spot is just as popular as the restaurant. Head here for fresh made pizza dough, canned tomatoes and imported Italian beverages.

1. Tip Top Meats

6118 Paseo Del Norte, Carlsbad, CA 92011

The grocery portion of Carlsbad institution is stocked with German pantry items like spaetzle, crisp bread and kippers but the real highlight is the meat counter. The full-service butcher sells bratwursts, Polish sausages, bacon as well a bigger cuts of meat.

6118 Paseo Del Norte
Carlsbad, CA 92011

2. Seafood City Supermarket

8955 Mira Mesa Blvd, San Diego, CA 92126

Frozen ready-to-cook lumpia should be at the top of your shopping list at this chain of Filipino markets with locations throughout the county. Other hard-to-find items to add to your cart include powdered ube, fresh pan de sal, and longanisa sausages.

8955 Mira Mesa Blvd
San Diego, CA 92126

3. Miramar Cash & Carry

9262 Miramar Rd, San Diego, CA 92126

As the largest Indo-Pak store in San Diego, this Mira Mesa spot is packed with kitchen goods — both fresh and frozen. A few essential items to pick up include lentils, spices and big bags of rice.

9262 Miramar Rd
San Diego, CA 92126

4. 99 Ranch Market

7330 Clairemont Mesa Blvd, San Diego, CA 92111

There’s a little bit of everything at this Taiwanese-American supermarket chain. Stock up on leafy greens like bok choy, dried chilis, seafood, fresh and dried noodles, plus bags of rice ranging from small 5-pound bags to hefty 50-pound sacks.

7330 Clairemont Mesa Blvd
San Diego, CA 92111

5. H Mart Balboa

7725 Balboa Ave #2, San Diego, CA 92111

Two locations in Mira Mesa and Kearny Mesa ensure you’re never without Korean staples. Pre-marinated meats like pork belly, chicken and beef might be the big draw but don’t miss out on the selection of kimchi, roasted seaweed snacks, and specialty ingredients like black bean paste.

7725 Balboa Ave #2
San Diego, CA 92111

6. Nijiya Market San Diego

3860 Convoy St Interior Design, San Diego, CA 92111

Don’t let the diverse selection of Pocky in the sweets aisle dissuade you from the Japanese delicacies sold at this specialized supermarket. Sushi-grade seafood, pickled veggies, miso and endless varieties of bottled beverages are a few reasons to make this market part of your regular rotation.

3860 Convoy St Interior Design
San Diego, CA 92111

7. Harvest International Market

4220 Balboa Ave, San Diego, CA 92117

There’s a seemingly shortage of rice throughout San Diego county but here, the Basmati variety is plentiful and available in large 25-pound bags. Other reasons to visit include Halal meats, fresh baked flatbreads and baklava made in-house.

4220 Balboa Ave
San Diego, CA 92117

8. Carnival Market

3560 Ashford St, San Diego, CA 92111

This family-owned and operated market with locations in Chula Vista and National City is famous for their food court but reserve time to explore the aisles. Fresh bolillo rolls, jars of molé and queso fresco are regularly featured specials in the weekly circular posted online.

3560 Ashford St
San Diego, CA 92111

9. Mission Square Market

6171 Mission Gorge Rd #111-112, San Diego, CA 92120

Popular among vegans, this deli also doubles as speciality market aimed at herbivores. Stock goes fast for popular items like soy curls, chickpea pastas and vegan jerky.

6171 Mission Gorge Rd #111-112
San Diego, CA 92120

10. Andrés Latin Market

1249 Morena Blvd, San Diego, CA 92110

Found next to Andres Restaurant, this market may be small but it’s packed with imported goods from all over Latin America. A few things to buy include ready-to-fill empanada dough, chorizo, canned beans, and aji panca, Peruvian red peppers, available frozen, as a paste or in jars.

1249 Morena Blvd
San Diego, CA 92110

11. Catalina Offshore Products

5202 Lovelock St, San Diego, CA 92110

This local seafood wholesaler business may have slowed its restaurant sales but fresh catch is still available at the on-site fish market which is open daily and features. Walk-ins are welcome as well as pre-orders for curbside pickup.

5202 Lovelock St
San Diego, CA 92110

12. The Heart and Trotter Butchery

2855 El Cajon Blvd #1, San Diego, CA 92104

The North Park shop prides itself as a whole animal butchery meaning you can buy a whole steer. Regular cooks looking for more manageable cuts of meat can also order pork shoulders, lamb chops, rib roasts, and brisket.

2855 El Cajon Blvd #1
San Diego, CA 92104

13. Specialty Produce

1929 Hancock St #150, San Diego, CA 92110

The wholesale distributor to the restaurants is also open to the public. Sign in at the front counter for access to in-season produce like tangerines, artichokes and watercress, plus hard-to-find items such as bee pollen, dragon fruit pitaya and seedless Concord grapes.

1929 Hancock St #150
San Diego, CA 92110

14. Mona Lisa Italian Foods

2061 India St, San Diego, CA 92101

The market component of this spot is just as popular as the restaurant. Head here for fresh made pizza dough, canned tomatoes and imported Italian beverages.

2061 India St
San Diego, CA 92101

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