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.Read More
Where to Shop for Specialty Groceries in San Diego
These stores sell harder-to-find ingredients for the home cook
1. Tip Top Meats
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
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.
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3. Miramar Cash & Carry
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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13. Specialty Produce
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
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.