The inside of a merchandise store in El Cajon, CA

Embrace community: San Diego’s favorite small businesses in 2023

Nov 22, 2023 - Spencer Thoene

Sometimes, it can seem that San Diego has all these wonderful shops, but there isn’t enough time to visit them all. Lucky for you, with the holidays around the corner and with family and friends coming together, it’s the perfect time to get started. So, lace up your shoes (or slide on your flip-flops) and explore the communities around you by enjoying the wonderful small businesses our region has to offer. 

Here are a few of our favorite places to start:

Central San Diego

For lovers of a classic sandwich, you won’t be disappointed by Big Front Door’s award-winning deli. If you’re interested in expanding your flavor palate, head to Charminar Indian Restaurant & Catering, Korean restaurant Chon Ju Jip, or Hinar Dessert Bar & Café for some extra delicious cuisine.

If you aspire to be more like Macklemore and Ryan Lewis and frequent the “Thrift Shop”, check out Honest Thrift Studio! It offers a unique selection of clothes to help you stay on trend. While you’re at it, grab your favorite book from Bluestocking Books in the heart of Hillcrest.

Did someone say date night? Charcuterie creations just got a lot easier with the amazing selection at Smallgoods Cheese Shop & Café, voted best caterer by La Jolla Readers Poll. You can also surprise your special someone with a fresh bouquet of flowers, courtesy of Bridget’s Blooms when you pop around the corner.

North County San Diego

If you’re looking for superb food and beach vibes, then take the whole family up to North County. There, you’ll find sensational hole-in-the-wall coffee shops like owner-operated Little Joy in Del Mar and Café LaTERRE in Solana Beach. You can also bring home some sweet treats from Maya’s Cookies in San Marcos and Madeleine Café & Bakery in Solana Beach.   

Looking for a perfect glass of wine, mead, or a cold beer? Then make your way to Escondido’s SIP Wine and Beer, Oceanside’s Golden Coast Mead which helps save the bees, or Westbrew Del Mar, where you can grab a cold one and catch some phenomenal live music.

For people who don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen for the holidays, visit Cardiff Seaside Market for catering or to grab the best tri-tip you’ve ever tasted. On your way back down the I-5, pop into Carlsbad’s The Goods for a doughnut or Best Pizza & Brew Vista for casual Italian cuisine.

South County San Diego

Start your day off right by grabbing a mocha from Bonita’s Donny’s Café or a Tahitian vanilla latte at National City’s Home Coffee.

If you partake in the fermented beverage craze, grab a six-pack of San Diego-made hard kombucha or beer from Novo Brazil Brewing. Or make it a party and enjoy your drink with prime sirloin con fritas while watching the big game at one of their Otay Ranch, Eastlake, or Imperial Beach tap rooms.

For all the dog lovers out there, show those furry babies your never-ending love with a monthly box of handmade treats from Barrio Logan’s Real Dog Box. Also, while you’re in the neighborhood, you can find Border X Brewing, which offers one of a kind Mexican craft beer.

East County San Diego

If you feel like getting away from the coast, drive out to East County and see all it has to offer. There you can bring out your inner Jimmy Hendrix at Alan’s Music Center, or grab a bite to eat at the newly opened Limoncello in La Mesa.

For lovers of a morning pick-me-up, show your Padres pride and grab a cup of “Joe” from Mr. Musgrove’s own Caffe Adesso, or put on your rose-colored glasses for the Pink Rose Café in La Mesa.

More than Small Business Saturday

Keep the holiday spirit alive by investing in your neighborhood and shopping locally all year long. You just might discover your new favorite restaurant, a unique gift, or a truly life-changing experience.

Other articles you might be interested in: