Guide to Local Markets

Staff of Life Fruit

Just as Santa Cruz County has tons of local retail to compete with the big chains, there is also a surprising abundance of local markets, given the success of superstore giants in killing mom-and-pop shops elsewhere in California.

From organic produce to ethnic ingredients, local Santa Cruz grocery stores have all the flavors covered.  Here’s a list of what we think are the best.

Shopper’s Corner

This full-service grocery store is packed full of delicious items, both commonplace and gourmet. From an awesome selection of cheese and produce to a BBQ-friendly deli with the best spicy sausages in town, Shopper’s Corner lives up to its reputation as one of the best markets in town. That’s probably why it’s always packed and pleasantly noisy with friendly Santa Cruz locals, as well as an equally friendly staff. I may be a bit partial because one of the deli employees once gave me a fresh flower for no discernable reason except to be nice, but isn’t that the kind of place you’d want to shop at?

Location:
622 Soquel Ave,
Santa Cruz, CA ‎

New Leaf

With nine locations around Santa Cruz and the Bay Area, New Leaf is the Northern California granola hippie’s answer to Safeway. The focus is on healthy and organic options, and there are tons of vegan and vegetarian alternatives, as well as a variety of options for people with various food allergies and intolerances. They also have a deli with salads, sandwiches, smoothies, and juices. Try the Acai berry smoothie for a truly guilt-free dessert.

Locations (in Santa Cruz area):

1101 Fair Ave.
Santa Cruz, CA

1210 41st Ave
Capitola, CA 95010

6240 Hwy 9
Felton, CA 95018

1134 Pacific Ave
Santa Cruz, CA 95060

13159 Hwy 9
Boulder Creek, CA 95006

Staff of Life

Another great full-service market in the vein of Shopper’s Corner and New Leaf, Staff of Life focuses on natural foods. There’s a stellar sushi bar, an expansive bulk section, and a delicious bakery, making it easy to see how this market has been open for forty years.

Location:
1266 Soquel Ave,
Santa Cruz, CA

Food Bin and Herb Room

People who have never even walked through the entrance know the Food Bin for its iconic marquee board, easily viewed at the Mission and Laurel intersection, that often features vague, poetic messages such as “The Human Touch.” This place is more like a hippie convenience store than a full-service market, but it’s the only place in town where you can buy organic produce, soy ice cream, or vegan hemp waffles after ten at night, and that alone gives it a well-deserved spot on this list. Open till midnight, the store is split into two buildings — the Food Bin has groceries, and the Herb Room has a huge selection of teas and herbal supplements.

Location:
1130 Mission St.
Santa Cruz, CA ‎

Hernandez Market

With two locations in Santa Cruz and one in Soquel, Hernandez is one of the only markets in the area to buy fresh Mexican ingredients and other Hispanic foods, from queso fresco and carne asada to delicious Mexican ice cream treats (called helados). This place is a Godsend for any household that loves a to have good Taco Tuesday… or Monday, Wednesday, Friday, etc.

Locations:

3790 Portola Dr
Santa Cruz, CA 95062

525 Laurel St #135
Santa Cruz, CA

4623 Soquel Dr
Soquel, CA 95073

Lotus Asian Market

The lack of Asian markets in Santa Cruz is often bemoaned, so when this little place opened last year in Capitola, many were grateful. This place may not have as many options as its counterparts over the hill in San Jose, but it does the job if you’ve got an itch to make kimchi or other staple Asian dishes.

Location:
1200 41st Ave.
Capitola, CA ‎

Deluxe Foods of Aptos

From sushi and sake to cheese and fresh meat, Deluxe Food is for Aptos what Shopper’s Corner is for Santa Cruz: a fresh, local, one-of-a-kind quality market. It’s also a great place to get lunch or a sweet treat, and has a highly-praised butcher department.

Location:
783 Rio Del Mar Blvd.
Aptos, CA ‎

These aren’t the only markets in Santa Cruz; there’s also Trader Joe’s, Safeway, Whole Foods, et cetera. But where’s the fun in shopping at those national superstores when there are so many great locally run options?

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About Blair Stenvick

Blair Stenvick is a freelance writer who has lived in Santa Cruz for four years.

Comments

  1. Some good local grocery here, glad you highlighted them. But, you missed my favorite… Scotts Valley Market. The have a great selection of fresh produce, from local farmers whenever possible. Their deli/salad bar/prepared hot food is second to none, at least IMHO

  2. Hadn’t heard of Lotus Asian Market. Will have to check it out. I feel like there is no one-stop grocery shopping in Santa Cruz. I’m in and out of many of these markets throughout the month depending on where I am in town and what I need.

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