San Diego Restaurants

San Diego’s Best Sandwich: Cardiff Crack at Seaside Market

Cardiff Crack



Seaside Market in the small community of Cardiff-by-the-Sea is arguably the best grocery store in San Diego.  It has all sorts of gourmet items, but is perhaps best known for its Tri-Tip, affectionately known known as “Cardiff Crack.”  The Tri-Tip sandwich at Seaside Market is one of the best in San Diego.

Seaside Market

Seaside Market is a full grocery store.  However, it is best known for its fresh selections.  This includes a great butcher, tons of fresh fish, cheese, deli meats, vegetables and fruit and lots of fresh food to go.  I have tried several items here, but it is hard to beat the Cardiff Crack.

Seaside Market

The To-Go counter is to the far right as you enter the store.  This is where you can buy sandwiches, salads and get soups or even load up from the olive bar.  This is where I get my Cardiff Crack Sandwich.  The sandwiches are around $10 and they have a selection of several. 

Seaside Market

The tri-tip generally comes with a Burgundy Pepper marinade (there is also a choice of a Spicy Chipotle marinade).  You can buy whole tri-tips, or get it served in a variety of sandwiches, burritos and bowls.  I have never bought a whole roast6, because I prefer to have the experts at Seaside Market do the cooking.

Recently I have been getting the Philly Crack Stack Sandwich.  This beast comes with peppers, onions and provolone cheese.  It is not really like a Philly Cheesesteak, so I am not entering it in our cheesesteak contest, but it is a wonderful West Coast nod to the style.

Cardiff Crack

Many people outside California have no idea what tri-tip is.  The tri part refers to the fact that tri-tip is a triangular shaped meat cut from the bottom round.  It has become well-known in Central California BBQ, centered around the town of Santa Maria, between Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo.

At the Fun Diego Family, we have cooked tri-tip many times with varying degrees of success.  This tender piece of meat can be challenging to get it to come out right.  That is why I can really appreciate the tri-tip at Seaside Market.  If you want to try it yourself, Serious Eats has a good description.

Seaside Market
Stubborn Soda is usually a $1.99 but can go on special for a $1

We often get sandwiches from Seaside Market and take them across the street to the beach.  Recently they have expanded their outdoor eating area which makes it convenient to just eat in the courtyard. On weekends, they grill tri-tip outdoors on the patio in front of the store.  However, I have found that the tri-tip cooked inside is actually better.  As mentioned, I have found grilling this stuff can be a challenge.

Seaside Market Seaside Market

Be sure to check out our guide to Cardiff-by-the-Sea to see beaches in the area.  If you are hungry and just want to eat, Seaside Market has a great outside sitting area with nice views of the Pacific Ocean.  Even if you live in other parts of the country you can order Seaside Market Tri-Tip online.  It is $40 for a single tri-tip that is about 3.25 pounds.

Seaside Market is much more than just Cardiff Crack.  There are all kinds of wonderful looking gourmet foods.  Of course, there are also the regular grocery staples to serve the well-heeled locals.  One of the biggest complaints about Seaside Market is that it is a rich person’s store.  Personally, I find the prices reasonable for this type of place.  To me the service has always been great, even when I show up in a bathing suit covered in sand and sweat.

To see our guide to the general Cardiff-by-the-Sea area go here.

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