Small Business Saturday: San Diego Edition

Nov 29, 2019 - Heather Dewis

Sometimes it feels like holiday decorations are everywhere before the turkey is even out of the oven. And while you can probably wait a little longer before diving into the holiday crowds, tomorrow is a great chance to get a head start while supporting local family-run businesses. Whether you’re looking for the perfect holiday gift or a fun day out, here are some of our top picks across San Diego:


Coffee and Tea

Downtown San Diego is home to a cluster of local coffee shops, like Coffeentalk (try the Nutella latte and the veggie quiche). A few blocks away, Achilles Coffee Roasters might love San Diego almost as much as we do, with pour overs named after local neighborhoods and a sweet, spiced specialty drink dubbed The Finest City. Farther south, try horchata and dulce de leche lattes at Barrio Logan’s Por Vida. Alternatively, make the trip to Grind House in Chula Vista’s historic Third Avenue Village for a spot to work while enjoying coffee and Cuban sandwiches.

For a great start to a day in North County, find delicious drinks with punny names at House of Black just south of Poway. Head to the coast to find trendy cafes like Ironsmith Coffee Roasters in Encinitas. And to celebrate San Diego’s love for comic books, stop by Panels Comic Book Coffee Bar in Oceanside for comics-themed specialty drinks while you flip through comics lining the walls.

If boba is more your style, make the trip out to Poway for The Boba Co., an old-school hip-hop themed shop with a tailored, high quality menu. For those particular about tea, Camellia Rd Tea Bar offers what Eater San Diego called “a better breed of boba milk tea” – a no-frills menu emphasizing high-quality jasmine, genmaicha, and other teas.     



Think “bookstore” and something cozy and beloved like Warwick’s in La Jolla (open since 1896!) will probably come to mind. With aisles full of classics, contemporaries, and artsy gifts, it’s easy to lose an entire morning just exploring the selections.

For those with niche interests, check out science fiction/fantasy bookstore Mysterious Galaxy, which boasts both great reads and frequent community events, like book signings, writing workshop groups, book clubs, and the occasional Dungeons and Dragons campaign. If you’re shopping for a person with specific tastes, search for the perfect used or rare book at Verbatim Books in North Park. With an eclectic range of classics, titles by local authors, and zines, Verbatim is sure to have something for even your most particular friend.

Finally, from its wide selection of books and gifts to its in-store café, Ocean Beach standout Run for Cover Bookstore has something for everyone. Stop here to grab a coffee and peruse the shelves before heading out to explore the other shops just blocks from the coast.



North Park is a great place to spend a day exploring shops and finding gifts – check out Pigment and Simply Local for everything from stationery, to home décor, to jewelry. With treasures packed onto every shelf, Pigment and Simply Local take pride in featuring beautiful pieces from local artists. For truly unique pieces, step into Artelexia for Mexican gifts, art, home goods, and food. Choose your favorites from the vibrant art and décor, or choose a specially-curated gift package full of confetti, candy, and other surprises.

For board and card games for the whole family, visit At Ease Games on Miramar Road. The store also hosts board game nights and gaming tournaments. Gaming enthusiasts will also love gifts from any of Calico Gaming’s three locations (Escondido, Vista, Scripps Ranch), where associates are happy to help you make a selection.

When you have family in town for the holidays, bring them to Ocean Gifts & Shells in Ocean Beach. They can take home a wide selection of San Diego-themed souvenirs, which might finally convince them to just say no to winter.

For the friend who never has time for themselves, consider a massage or skincare session at The Knot Stop in Hillcrest, a massage and skincare studio. Or book one just for you (gifts for yourself are totally valid).


Restaurants & Breweries

Pizza Port Brewing Company boasts self-proclaimed “anti-wimpy” pizzas (think BBQ bacon cheeseburger) and its own beer brewed on-site. With five locations in North County and one in Ocean Beach, Pizza Port is an easy way to enjoy great food while having your fill of San Diego beer at the same time. Tacos El Gordo is a Chula Vista staple, and locals make the drive from all corners of the county to get a taste of its adobada and lengua tacos.  If you’re looking for a sit-down experience, head to North Park for Encontro’s delicious brunch, lunch, or dinner options. Its Portobello fries topped with parmigiana reggiano are a must-order.

Finally, no San Diego roundup would be complete without breweries. For those who love both science and beer, try Wavelength Brewing Co. in Vista. Stop by to try its science-themed beers, like the Low Earth Orbit Session IPA, or plan to attend an upcoming science talk. And if you’re just leaving a Dungeons and Dragons campaign at Mysterious Galaxy, head to DnD-themed brewery The BattleMage (also in Vista) to keep the fun going.

For those to looking to stay in central San Diego, find a unique conclusion to your day at Kairoa Brewing Co., which offers a New Zealand experience in the middle of University Heights. Find American and New Zealand cuisine, specialty New Zealand brews, and gorgeous sunset views at its trendy rooftop bar. It’s the perfect end to Small Business Saturday.


What did we miss? Let us know your favorite small business and tag us at @SDlifechanging to show us where you’re shopping small in San Diego!


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