Jason’s Top 10 Food Markets in Southern California

I’ve listed my favorite food markets, not only for their fresh fare and availability on all days of the week, but for the occasional novel indulgence as well.

10. Mitsuwa Marketplace

A few other international grocers deserve a spot on this list, but Mitsuwa has an amazing food court, known as Restaurant Row, in addition to its Japanese groceries. Think of it as authentic Japanese cuisines in quick lunch/dinner form. Whether you like sushi, ramen, or the occasional Takoyaki (fried octopus ball), you will be pleased.

Spotlight location: Torrance

9. Major Market

Fantastic supermarket with a more upscale feel, Major Market also has an amazing deli (I recommend their Reuben sandwich), sushi chefs preparing fresh ready-to-go sushi, amazing desserts, and once a year they have their Maine Lobster Festival in the parking lot where you can be a seafood glutton for about 20 dollars.

Spotlight location: Escondido

8. Farmers Market at The Grove

The original. Shop for produce in the open air, or choose from a world of restaurants–from fried alligator to breakfast pizza, it’s all here. I always like to pick up exotic fruits at the produce stand–usually star fruit or dragon fruit.

Location: Los Angeles

7. Fresh & Easy

Your neighborhood market–simple and convenient, self-checkout only (you rarely have to wait in line), and always clean. This place is a godsend on workdays or while running errands because you can stop in for a quick, prepackaged fresh fruit container, appropriately named “Nature’s Energy”. There are also several bottled smoothies and juices. If you’re into grain salads, they have an amazingly unique selection; or if you’re a party-goer, you can pick up a pie on the cheap without all of the hard-to-pronounce ingredients.

6. Sprouts Farmers Market

Henry’s and Sprouts have merged, and are coming under the name Sprouts Farmers Market. Great prices and organic options, there are always good sales, and a wide selection of “middle aisle” products, including a huge supplement section (Liquid Stevia Root Beer, anyone?).

5. Bristol Farms

A gourmet shopping experience. They have some of the freshest produce, and most of it is local–you pay for quality but it’s worth it. I’m always game for the imported/exotic fruits. They have an extraordinary bakery/pastry case, featuring macarons and some very unique cookies. The prepackaged sushi is really fresh.

4. Whole Foods

Enormous size–this is where you want to be during a zombie apocalypse. You can also get yourself into financial trouble if you tend to shop on impulse. The real fun is in the prepared foods section–including an extensive salad bar, hot foods stations, sushi chefs, pâtisserie, and a gelateria.

Spotlight location: El Segundo

3. Jimbo’s …Naturally!

Specializing in organically grown produce, you just feel healthy shopping here. There is also a raw foods section, but if you’re looking to indulge, you won’t be disappointed. The foods in their bakery and hot foods display cases are delicious, from vegan pumpkin cookies to crumbly breaded mac and cheese. In addition to the food, I also get my cleaning/bath supplies here.

2. Trader Joe’s

Always a festive experience, a fun place to shop whether you’re stocking up for the week or coming in for a meal/snack. Local, seasonal produce; and the prices are always good on most items in the store because they sell their own brand.

1. Barons Market

This little gem is right down the street from my work (I even have a preferred parking space). Delectable antipasto salad bar, fruits and vegetables without the wax, fresh-baked Michael’s Cookies, and competitive prices. The antipasto salad bar is probably the best in town, and is different every day, which makes every day a surprise.

Bon Appétit

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