As I’ve mentioned in this column several times, there is no shortage of high-end, gourmet-focused grocery options in North County. I’m not sure if these places can still be called grocery stores as they are more gourmet markets, which, in fact, many refer to themselves as these days. I’m not complaining as variety is good but it can be dangerous, as a culinary aficionado to go into one of these markets for a loaf of bread and some milk and $200 later walk out with a full cart of gourmet goodies.
On top of the overspending potential, some of these markets are so pristinely merchandised and full of beautiful people it can be a bit intimidating and pricey for regular folks. On the far other end of the spectrum we have our Smart & Final type stores that definitely hold more appeal for the budget-minded, yet I would be hard pressed to ever buy fresh produce there again as it does not seem to be the freshest available.
I was about ready to accept these extremes on either end of the grocery spectrum when I was turned on to Frazier Farms Market in Oceanside by coworker Brooks Venters, who had made their deli a regular stop on his weekday lunch rounds.
For the first couple of months, I would beeline to this amazing deli and contemplate the wide variety of sandwich and prepared food options. The sandwich list is impressive and way too extensive to get into too much detail here but I will list some favorites that I’ve sampled. The “Classic Ruben” is spot on with the standard ingredients and then there is the standout and highly original “California” with grilled carne asada, roasted potatoes, red sauce mayo, cheddar, salsa fresca, avocado, sour cream on a telera roll. Yes, if it sounds a bit like a California Burrito in a sandwich it’s because it is but it’s better.
Being quite capable of creating a stellar meatloaf sandwich myself, I approached the “Not Your Momma’s Meatloaf” sandwich skeptically. That said, the red pepper turkey meatloaf with caramelized onion, red pepper relish, tomato and mayo on a ciabatta roll was on point.
Besides the 20-plus specialty sandwiches, there is the ability to create your own and I’ve been on a chicken salad kick lately but they have all the standard sandwich fillings. The deli also has a splendid array of side salads, soups and the like.
I do have some advice on this deli though, as it does get busy. If you are in a hurry, I would take advantage of their online ordering and avoid the wait. I actually prefer to order there and get some shopping done while I wait. I also like to mix up my order name as it always gives me a good laugh to hear the deli folks yell out “order ready for Gern Blanston” which is written on my sandwich bag. And yes, I stole that from from the old-school Steve Martin sketch and OK, I am easily amused and now my Gern Blanston cover is blown.
So it was during my early visits to the deli at Frazier Farms that I started to notice the diversity of the clientele flowing through the store. Yes, there were a smattering of hipsters and yogis as we are in Southern California and this is their turf, but they were not the majority and there was hardly an aloof power mom in sight. First responders, students, local office workers, blue-collar tradesmen, moms and a nice diversity of ethnicities are all part of the mix at Frazier Farms in Oceanside. That mix is reflected in the staff as well who are all super friendly and well-versed in the products in their departments.
That attitude and knowledge was very evident in the cheese area where I met department Manager Erin Majewski. Her selection of cheese is wide and her depth of knowledge was extensive. I’ve been saying this for a while, but I’d love to take a class on cheese and get my game up to speed a bit. I’m quite certain you could approach Erin with a culinary scenario and she would be able to suggest a cheese to work with it.
Another standout department is the seafood area that takes delivery six times per week from local purveyors. All the seafood is labeled with country of origin, fresh or frozen and farmed or wild. There are also a lot of San Diego-based purveyors in the mix including local favorites Basiltops Pesto, Bambucha Kombucha and D’oh! Cookie Dough. There is an extensive health and wellness section, and several lines of “Frazier’s Own” products including the juice bar and olive oil.
Besides all that, there is every department you would expect at Frazier Farms. They have a bit of history in the area as well with the first Frazier Farms store opening in Escondido in 1971. It’s family-owned and they have another location in Vista and they have a full catering department for your next event.
Besides my regular lunch visits I’ve taken to stopping by for my regular shopping on my way home to Encinitas. If you are in the area, I’d suggest you give it a try. Find them at 1820 Oceanside Blvd in Oceanside and 225 Vista Village Drive in Vista. Order online at www.frazierfarmsmarket.com.
Lick the Plate has interviewed over 700 chefs, restaurateurs, growers, brewers and culinary personalities over the past 10 years as a column in The Coast News and in Edible San Diego. He can be heard on KSON, FM94/9 and Sunny98.1. More at www.lick-the-plate.com