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If you're looking for the perfect bottle of wine or specialty cheese to complete your picnic basket, or locally sourced olive oils or chocolates to take home, stop by one of the many specialty shops sprinkled throughout San Diego.
You don’t have to dine in a restaurant to take advantage of the amazing gastronomic pleasures being served up in San Diego. To stock up on gourmet food items from local cheeses and homemade baked goods to fine wines and sumptuous chocolates, here are a few shops definitely worth stopping by.
Long before downtown San Diego became a hotbed of dining and nightlife, The Wine Bank, located in the Gaslamp Quarter, began aggressively amassing one of the finest collections of wine and liquor in the world. Now the historic building's large antique bank vaults house rare vintages, cult and limited edition wines. As you meander through its labyrinth of rooms and endless stacks of wine, you'll also pass single malts, small batch bourbons, cognacs and just about every other spirit available from aquavit to pisco. The shop's underground vaults are also home to wine tasting and pairing events on Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons.
Grape Connections, in the quaint seaside neighborhood of Point Loma, is a fine wine store dedicated to providing quality wines at reasonable prices, some starting as low as $5.99. The owner has over 30 years of experience in the wine industry and a knack for recommending the perfect bottle of wine to compliment any dinner or activity. If great customer service with a local hands-on approach is your desire, this shop is one not to miss. Their wine bar is open daily from 12:00 - 6:00 PM.
Located in the beach community of Cardiff-by-the-Sea, Wine Steals is known for a lively and relaxed atmosphere where the concept is to combine wine buying and tasting in a fun environment. Whether you are a beginner wine drinker or a well-seasoned one, this shop offers something different for everyone. The casual rustic ambiance will have you imagining that you are in a traditional winery in Europe. Come in to sip, nibble and socialize before buying that perfect bottle of wine.
The 3rd Corner Wine Shop and Bistro combines an extensive wine shop with a true California bistro restaurant. With two locations, one in the eccentric beach area of Ocean Beach and another in the laid-back beach area of Encinitas, this unique wine shop and bistro will complete any cravings from a quick glass of wine and charcuterie board to a delicious dinner paired with the perfect bottle of wine.
Located in Point Loma's Liberty Public Market, Grape Smuggler's retail shop boasts hundreds of wine selections from all over the world. They are also known for their local liqueur, bitters and accoutrements for the home bar enthusiast. Be sure to also check out the tapas bar located in the eastern dining hall where guests can enjoy a series of wine flights paired with the perfect tapas.
Indulge in the most delicious chocolate that is sure to leave a lasting impression at Dallmann Fine Chocolates. Located in the shopping area of The Headquarters at Seaport Village, this chocolate tasting room and store carries the most unique and flavorful chocolates using the finest and freshest ingredients. On Thursday nights, experience their tasting room where they pair their world-class confections with beer, wine, champagne, scotch or cheese...just to name a few.
Point Loma's Chi Chocolat boasts hand-made fresh artisanal chocolates like bonbons, truffles, chunky slabs of premium chocolate and delectable chocolate covered fruit. Known for some of the most unique flavors of chocolate like cardamom, cinnamon-nutmeg, curries and tequila, just to name a few. Be sure to compliment your selected chocolate with one of their Italian coffee drinks made on the spot.
Lolli San Diego Sweets shop located in Liberty Station's Public Market has everything a sweet tooth could wish for—bulk soft sour candies, gummy bears, licorice, locally handmade chocolates, organic candies, freshly made organic cotton candy and much more. Be sure not to miss the retro candy selection to bring back some nostalgic memories.
If nostalgic candy is your desire, try visiting Cousin's Candy Shop, located at Seaport Village and in Old Town State Historic Park. A confectionary shop stocking fudge, taffy, licorice, caramel, chocolate, and old-school candy taking you back to another era. Stroll through the aisles in a quaint setting while filling up your goodie bag. If visiting the Old Town location, be sure to watch the candy makers stretch the salt-water taffy in the window.
An authentic five-ton stone oven imported from France browns the bread at Hillcrest's Bread & Cie. This quaint bistro atmosphere lets customers watch the busy bakers at work and sample the daily selections of traditional country levian, French white batard and sourdough baguette along with more unusual bread choices like jalapeño & cheese, fig & anise and black olive. The unique flavors, textures and crusts sets this shop apart. They also offer a well-executed breakfast and lunch menu.
Striving to be the best artisan bread bakery in San Diego is Con Pane Rustic Breads & Cafe at Liberty Station. This local gathering offers over 20 flavors of handmade artisan bread, decadent morning pastries, creative sandwiches, coffee and espresso drinks. With easy parking you can either swing by and pick up items or relax and enjoy them with inside and outside seating. You might want to split one of their decadent cinnamon rolls since they are known for them.
Pacific Beach's Charlie's Best Bread has been showcasing an all-organic line of product since 1988. Everything is made with fresh and pesticide-free organic ingredients such as: organic flour, organic grains, organic eggs, organic honey, organic fruits and veggies, organic butter and organic dairy.
What do you get when two brothers share the same passion for baking traditional wholesome bread? Prager Brothers Artisan Bread store. Born and raised in Carlsbad, the brothers became so popular at the farmers markets that they decided to open a retail space offering specialized high-quality organic breads baked fresh daily and containing 100% organic grains, seeds and nuts. Some local favorites are walnut wholegrain, olive rosemary and raison walnut. If scones, cookies, chocolate croissants or sandwiches are what you desire, they have you covered here too.
In German, Vom Fass translates to "from the cask," which is exactly the experience here. This charming, locally owned shop is based on the simple European tradition of sampling wares before purchasing. With tasting experts at your fingertips and a wide assortment of olive oils, this shop also features infused oils, nut & seed oils, wine vinegars, fruit balsamic vinegars, spirits and liqueurs, brandy, whisky, bourbon, wine and other spirits. Not only will you enjoy tasting their product, but you will have a choice of which beautiful bottle you would like to purchase it in. If you are a "foodie," then this shop in Hillcrest will not disappoint.
Perched above La Jolla Cove, We Olive & Wine Bar features a balcony with stunning ocean views where you can experience complimentary tastings of California extra virgin olive oils, vinegars and gourmet foods. Their philosophy is to take pride in offering the finest products from artisan growers, and educate guests about the health benefit and exceptional quality of California Extra Virgin Olive Oils. This shop also offers a menu of olive oil inspired small plates and features small-production California wines and local craft beer.
Temecula Olive Oil Company, located in Solana Beach and in Old Town, are not only the sellers of their olive oil but they are the actual growers. This shop and tasting room is family owned and operated, and committed to using only California olives to make the highest quality olive oil. The Old Town location features olives, hand-blended flavored oils, spreads, sea salts, balsamic vinegar, herbs, rubs, soaps, lotions and candles made with extra virgin Temecula Olive Oil. The Solana Beach location is in the heart of the design district, Cedros Design District, featuring daily complimentary tastings of cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oils and balsamic vinegars, as well as showcasing a complete line of products like cookbooks and artisan gifts made from olive wood.
Baker & Olive is a locally owned chef-inspired specialty shop and tasting pantry, with stores in Encinitas, Del Mar and San Diego. With a passion for good food and exceptional customer service this specialty store carries everything from artisan cheeses, world-class aged balsamic vinegars, premium harvest olive oils from around the world, boutique wines, salts & seasonings, and an array of local handcrafted food ingredients. They are truly known for their unique blends of olive oils so be sure to pick some up to take home with you.
Venissimo Cheese offers five unique locations throughout San Diego. From Downtown, Mission Hills, Del Mar, North Park and their latest in Point Loma, this specialty shop offers tastings of any type of cheese you want. With their knowledgeable cheesemongers and descriptive receipts (complete with pronunciations, country of origin, milk type & more), the goal is to take the intimidation out of artisanal cheese shopping. Be sure to check out their Academy of Cheese (AOC) located either at the Downtown or Del Mar location.
Located in the vibrant area of downtown San Diego, this European-style full restaurant has a made-to-order epicurean market attached to it, offering gourmet items perfect for any picnic basket. Reminiscent of the neighborhood markets of Italy they feature seasonal produce, olive oils and a variety of cheeses. This is a great place to stop by for the perfect cheese pairing with the perfect bottle of wine or beer.
Located in Point Loma at Liberty Station, the former Naval Training Center, this market has it all; from prepared foods, a wine shop, beer, cocktails, desserts, an olive oil tasting area, fresh fish, a butcher shop, a cheese and gift shop, freshly brewed gourmet coffee, a fresh flower shop, a dog boutique and a retro candy shop, just to name a few. There are also vendors with unique jewelry, sunglasses, watches and more. It's also a fun spot to stroll the adjoining blocks and get a local's perspective on a Southern California lifestyle.
Local culinary treasures, along with the freshest fruits, vegetables and flowers can also be found at one of the many local Farmers Markets. There's one every day of the week in neighborhoods throughout San Diego County. Find a San Diego Farmers Market!
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