Last weekend we hacked our way through the lush back country that is Rancho Santa Fe — passing by countless gated mansions, horses, polo clubs, and general wealth — to get to Chino Farms. THE Chino Farms, venerated by Alice Waters, who states in Chez Panisse Vegetables, “The Chinos have made an art of farming. For two generations now, they have tended their land with an inexhaustible aesthetic curiosity, constantly searching out new and old varieties of dozens of fruits and vegetables from all over the world, and planting and harvesting year round.” For us, this had always been a necessary San Diego pilgrimage and we weren’t disappointed.

The makeshift parking lot was already packed with BMWs, Mercedes, SUVs of Unusual Size, and a few random Jaguars when we drove up in our dusty little Nissan around 10:30 AM. Given that we had a full day of sightseeing ahead of us and weren’t sure if we’d be eating beyond lunch at Bread and Cie, I was there to eat simply with my eyes.

What a feast!

I was particularly enchanted by the way the fresh herbs were arranged in individual pewter pots on glossy wooden shelves. Each herb had a neatly handwritten card to label it and there wasn’t a black leaf or spear in sight.

I stared long and hard at the glistening lettuces and wished I had a way of preventing them from wilting in our car as we drove around San Diego. Visions of bounteous plates piled with delicately dressed salads rose before my eyes and I finally had to bite my lip hard and turn away.

It seemed a tragedy to walk away empty handed but I know myself — once I got going, I would have wanted to buy four of everything they had. Next time we visit, I’m emptying my fridge ahead of time and bringing a large shopping basket. And a suitcase.

Chino Farms Vegetable Stand
6123 Calzada del Bosque
Rancho Santa Fe (off Via de la Valle, S6), CA

Fall/Winter: Tuesday-Saturday 10-4; Sunday 10-1
Spring/Summer: Tuesday-Saturday 10-5;
Sunday 10-1
Closed Mondays.

Take Me Down to Chino Farms 18 August,2005Stephanie Lucianovic

  • Charlotte

    Those are wonderful picturs. I was there last year in mid-June last year before I had my digicam (waaah). It was a feast for the eyes and nose. Since I was staying with my brother and had access to a kitchen, I loaded up. They still had the “mara des bois” strawberries at that time … the smell of vanilla … exquisite. Even my picky nephew was seduced by the beautiful baby veggies.

  • Brett

    Chino Ranch is a feast for the eyes! Thanks for the pics. I made the pilgramage there a couple of years ago to shop for a Thanksgiving dinner that I made at my brother’s house in San Diego. The amazing thing about Chino vegetables is that they taste even better than they look!

  • Anonymous

    they are closing at 3:30 these days


Stephanie Lucianovic

A former picky eater, Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic is a writer, editor, and lapsed cheesemonger in the San Francisco Bay Area. A culinary school grad with an English lit degree, she has written for,, Popular Science, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe. Additionally, she has been writing for KQED’s Bay Area Bites since its inception and is the website editor for KQED’s Emmy-award winning show “Check, Please! Bay Area.”

Stephanie was an original recapper at Television Without Pity and worked on a line of cookbooks for William-Sonoma as well as in the back kitchen of a Jacques Pépin cooking show. Her first book, SUFFERING SUCCOTASH: A Picky Eater’s Quest To Understand Why We Hate the Foods We Hate (Perigee Books, 2012) is a non-fiction narrative and a heartfelt and humorous exposé on the inner lives of picky eaters that Scientific American called “hilarious” and “the perfect popular science book for a reader that doesn’t think he or she wants to read a popular science book.”

Stephanie lives in Menlo Park with her husband, three-year-old son, assorted cats, and has been blogging at The Grub Report for over a decade.

Follow her on Twitter at @grubreport

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