Photo: Sara Marlowe via Flickr

Most busy parents shop for spices in the same aisle as the cake mix and fruit snacks. But did you know there are entire shops dedicated to wonderful arrays of spices and herbs from around the world, right around the corner? We’re here to tantalize those taste buds by directing you to 5 local spice shops where you can stock up and get down to cooking recipes your family will love. Read on to see where to source seasonings galore.

Photo: Salt Farm

Salt Farm
Ready to move beyond basic table salt? Then a trip to Salt Farm is a must. Specializing in gourmet sea salt, including naturally infused flavored salts and custom blends, they sell dozens of tempting varieties, including the top-selling black truffle salt. Bonus: they come in sweet little vials that are perfect hostess gifts. Why not try their Roasted Garlic or Applewood Bacon on this Broccoli Mac ‘n’ Cheese?

Little Italy Mercato
Date St. between India Street and Columbia Street
Sat., 8 a.m.-2.p.m.

Hillcrest Farmers Market
Normal St. between University Avenue and Lincoln Street
Sun., 9 a.m.-2 p.m.

Online: salt-farm.com

Photo: Susy Morris via Flickr

American House Coffee & Tea
At this shop, located in the heart of Old Town, you can get your caffeine fix while browsing organic spices and herbs. Although they specialize in loose leaf tea, you’ll also find everything from basil and chili powder to a host of homeopathic herbs. Bonus: they also sell a variety of honey, including chipotle and unique sugar blends like wild blueberry. Take your little foodies on a trip to China with these Five-Spiced Pickled Carrots.

2767 San Diego Ave.
San Diego, Ca 92110
619-683-2416
Online: americanhousecoffeetea.com

Photo: Veggies Don’t Bite

Penzeys Spices
This local outpost of the national chain is beloved for its vast collection of high-quality spices. Located in Hillcrest, the shop offers spices, herbs, gift sets and an extensive collection of extracts. They also offer sample boxes for you to sniff so you can determine if that particular item appeals to your palate. Bonus: one section of the store is decorated to look like a 50’s-era kitchen and there is a coloring section to entertain your kids while you shop. Try adding a splash of vanilla extract and ceylon cinnamon to your next bowl of Berry Cobbler Overnight Oats.

1274 University Ave.
San Diego, Ca 92103
619-297-2777
Online: penzeys.com


Photo: Meal Makeover Moms via Flickr

Coronado Spice & Tea
This tiny little shop located next to Grand Ole BBQ y Asado in North Park specializes in organic spices, blends and loose leaf teas. What they lack in square footage they make up for in cardamom, lavender flower and sumac. Bonus: Coronado Spice & Tea also features a pretty amazing dessert counter. After you gobble down your donut ice cream sandwich (yes, you read that right), why not pick up some garam masala to elevate everything from egg salad to your morning cup of Joe? Learn how at WiseBread.

3202 32nd St.
San Diego, Ca 92104
858-461-9848
Online: coronadospiceandtea.com

Photo: A Beautiful Mess

Savory Spice Shop
This North County shop features the usual offering of spices, salts and rubs, but they also have an enticing selection of “exotics” such as pomegranate molasses, annatto seeds and berbere Ethiopian seasoning. Bonus: pick up some white vinegar powder to sprinkle on french fries or cheddar cheese powder for popcorn. For a sweet evening treat, why not whip up Aztec Hot Chocolate with their Mayan (with chili powder) or Mexican (without) cocoa?

The Lumberyard
937 South Coast Hwy 101, C-110
Encinitas, Ca 92024
760-230-4801
Online: savoryspiceshop.com

What’s your favorite spice or herb and how do you use it? Let us know in the comments.

— Michelle Franklin