When we first moved to San Diego, one of the first things we did, like most other Indians, was to seek the closest Indian grocery stores! It was the quest to find something familiar and which reminded us of home!
San Diego, unlike most big cities with neighborhoods teaming with Indian stores, restaurants, beauty salons and Indian garment stores, only had a single small Indian complex with a few eateries and two grocery stores. Luckily, it was near the place where we first settled.
Once we moved to the North County, which was several miles away from our ‘Indian complex’, we decided we couldn’t possibly make the trip all the way down south just to get a few masalas and lentils!
At the same time, I was lucky to make the acquaintance of the sweet and bubbly Pooja Abhay, first on social media and then in person! Pooja moved to North County after we did, but it was she who quickly researched and explored the area and came up with some fantastic finds that we Indians, who have settled here, will much appreciate knowing about!
Over to you, Pooja!
Most of the conversations I have with Roshni revolve around places that we Indians appreciate because we have quite a few specific needs, be it food or fashion. Hence, I am going to list 5 such places that we Indians and for that matter, everyone, would appreciate in San Diego county. Note that there are many places that cater to us, but, I am choosing 5 of them that are absolutely delightful!
Address: 1952 Hacienda Dr, Vista, CA 92081
I hear there are other branches of the store in the San Diego county, but I am going to talk about the Vista store that was opened a few months ago.
This middle-eastern store has a lot of Indian food supplies like rice, wheat flour, various lentils, Indian spices and a lot of vegetables we use in Indian cooking. But, I was delighted to find fresh boxes of curry leaves which are a must in South Indian cooking. To tell you the truth, they were better than the ones we find in the Indian stores, in terms of both quantity and quality. Sadly, they were out of curry leaves the last few times I visited the store. I hope they start stocking them again! For people staying around Vista, Oceanside and Carlsbad, this is one of the closest stores they can find which has necessary Indian grocery supplies, considering most of them are situated 45 miles away in Miramar, San Diego. Also, North Park Produce has a food counter where you can find shwarmas, kebabs and falafels! I can’t tell you how they taste since we are vegetarians and haven’t tried them, but they smell good. 😀
Address: 2515 C Vista Way, Oceanside, CA 92054
When we shifted to Oceanside from Oregon, the first thing I did was search for a place where I could get my eyebrows threaded. Well, it was necessary, considering the fact that California has more bears than other states and I didn’t want to add on to their population. 😛 There are a lot of places that wax eyebrows, but we Indians are used to getting our eyebrows threaded. I came across Kaya while checking frantically for threading studios and a 5 star Yelp review added to my confidence to go visit this place. It is excellent! The girls who work there have been doing an excellent job on my brows and their charges are minimal! If you are looking for a place to get amazing eyebrows at minimal cost, this is the place to be! The studio is not flashy, but is clean and the girls who work here are the best!
Address: 1580 S Melrose Dr, Vista, CA 92081
This place is a great find for book lovers. Period. This is an “used-books” store. They have books belonging to various genres. You can find books for as low as $2 and when you have an used book that can be exchanged, you can get a new book for as low as $1! The books are well maintained and the store is stacked well. The staff is friendly and greatly knowledgeable about the books they carry. If you are a Oceanside/Vista/Carlsbad resident, book lover, want a library of your own and don’t mind reading used books, this might just be the place for you. Also, I hear they have a store in La Mesa.
Address: 1280 E Vista Way #4, Vista, CA 92084
This place looks a bit shady from outside and the inside isn’t very appealing either. It is a family run restaurant and is one of the few Indian-Indian restaurants in the Oceanside/Vista area, few others being Americanized-Indian restaurants. The interior is not appealing, nor is anything else. But, the food has an authentic Indian feel, like we Indians say, ghar-ka-khaana (homemade food). They have amazing samosas, naans, curries! The pricing is quite appropriate. If you want a taste of decent Indian food, this might be one of the go-to places, though I would suggest to take a to-go meal that you can enjoy in the comforts of your home. I am a coconut-lover and I loved their coconut-naan, though my husband didn’t seem to enjoy it much. But, a caution here, our friends say this place is a hit and miss, just like our kitchens!
Address: 2508 E Vista Way # B, Vista, CA 92084
Go here once, go, go, go! When I went here, I felt like a kid lost in wonderland. They have a variety of plants and trees. Well, don’t ask me my obsession for curry leaves, but, I went to buy a curry leaves plant and I bought it too at a very reasonable price! But, forget about my obsession, go here for the exotic fruits available here – guava, dragon fruits, sapotas, jack fruits, mangoes, lychees, tamarind and everything you can think of. They have a large variety of exotic plants. Though the place is not very well maintained, but, it has varieties at prices that are not high. They also keep a few of the fruits for tasting. This was the first time I tasted pineapple guavas (feijoa) and well, I am amazed at the innovation of our nature. The staff was friendly, knowledgeable about the trees and very passionate about the plants and trees they grow. We are put up in an apartment currently and don’t have the space to plant these exotic trees. But, if you own a house and have a backyard, visit this place. You can thank me later, or probably invite me over to taste the fruits from the trees. 🙂
As you can see, the places I have mentioned are situated in the Oceanside/Vista/Carlsbad area. If you are a resident of any of these cities, you don’t have to travel 45 miles to San Diego to find things you might need everyday, you can find them right here in your area. I love these places and I am sure you will love them too and well, don’t forget to visit the Oceanside Sunset Market, Vista Farmers Market, you never know what you might find!
Roshni here! Thanks so very much, Pooja, for introducing me to these hidden-to-me gems! Needless to say, I’ve visited most of these places already and love them to bits!
Please do visit Pooja’s blog at Being Pooja. She also has a food blog, Pooja’s Cafe and a reviews blog called, Pooja Reviews. And, she’s the brilliant cartoonist of Being Silly! I tell you, this girl is uber-talented!
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