San Diego’s many outdoor excursions—beach days, hikes, bicycle rides, sailing—have a way of working up an appetite. Here is just the remedy: a handful of popular local markets, ideally located near some of the places you’re likeliest to crave a bite to eat. Whether you want to refuel after an outing or grab lunch and snacks for later, it’s all here—deli sandwiches, fine cheeses, Asian snack foods, perfectly ripe fruit, cold kombucha. Your perfect on-the-go breakfast or lunch starts here.
Ocean Beach People's Organic Food Market
An OB mainstay since 1971, “People’s,” as Obecians call it, is a natural foods supermarket with a vegetarian hot food and salad bar. You can read all about their people- and planet- friendly ethos on their website. But maybe all you need to know is this: epic local produce fills the bottom floor with the scent of whatever’s in season, while tasty snacks and drinks beckon around every corner. Upstairs, grab some salad, veggie entrees, and baked goods for the road, or enjoy them on the outdoor patio.
Where: 4765 Voltaire Street
Carlsbad Ranch Market
Local and organic produce alongside snacks to match any outing, including fresh handmade guacamole, salsa, and hummus that pairs beautifully with locally made tortilla chips. Order up a fresh cold-pressed juice to match your create-your-own sandwich brimming with tasty ingredients like smoked ham and Genoa salami, sharp cheddar, chipotle mayo, and other fixings. Conveniently located just a couple minutes from North Ponto Beach, you’ll be set for a day of adventure in San Diego's North County.
Where: 6120 Paseo Del Norte
Cardiff Seaside Market
Mention the words “Cardiff Crack” to a San Diegan and they'll smile from ear to ear. That’s the common name of the Burgundy pepper tri-tip held in almost religious regard in these parts, made by these high priests of marinade. Much more than snacks and drinks, Seaside Market’s dishes are basically gourmet cooked foods befitting of a dinner table but also perfect for a beach picnic. Feed the whole clan with everything from grilled lemon chicken breast to prime rib, sandwiches, and a plethora of salads, prepackaged sushi, and desserts.
Where: 2087 San Elijo Avenue
Mona Lisa Italian Foods
Any outing around the San Diego Bay waterfront or downtown is a fine excuse to stop into this six-decade-old institution. As equal parts restaurant, sandwich counter, and deli, they can pretty much fix you up with anything in the Italian cuisine. Between Old Country favorites like prosciutto sandwiches, wine, cheese, plus Nutella and other European packaged goods, there are the makings for a very memorable picnic.
Where: 2061 India Street
Clairemont’s Asian supermarket and food plaza, Zion Market is a wonderland of sweet, salty, spicy foods, both fresh and packaged. Peruse the aisles for to-go treats like dragonfruit, shrimp-flavored crackers and sushi. Then hit the food court for a lunch of poke, pho, Korean classics, or dumplings. On your way out, grab a pastry at Paris Baguette and head off to your next adventure.
Where: 7655 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard
Allow knowledgeable mongers to guide you through a universe of fine cheeses waiting a stone’s throw from Del Mar’s fairgrounds, race track, and exquisite coastline. Grab a cheeseboard with savory items like raclette, pate, and salumi, as well as sandwiches featuring mouth-watering combinations like brie cheese and fig jam, or alpine cheese and red onion confit. If you don’t have time to try everything you want in one sitting, come back for the weekday happy hour (3 p.m. to 6 p.m.).
Where: 2650 Via De La Valle
Seisels Old Fashioned Meats
Conveniently located for fueling any outing in Mission Bay, this full-service deli carries all manner of deliciousness from Reuben sandwiches to prepared hot and cold foods like ribs, potato salad, and veggies. Try not to get overwhelmed if attempting to choose between 50 different gourmet mustards for your picnic.
Where: 4131 Ashton Street
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