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Made in San Diego: 22 things created in America’s Finest City

From brands to bands, San Diego’s business scene is truly inspired.

SD Taylor Guitars

Taylor Guitars is totally in tune with San Diego.

Photo via Taylor Guitars

Table of Contents

Made in San Diego. Yep, that sure has a nice ring to it. From clothing and accessories, to snacks and other fun finds, we’ve rounded up 22 things homegrown in America’s Finest City.

While some of these brands have branched out beyond our city, one thing’s for sure — there’s some major inspo happening around these parts.

SD El Nopalito

When it comes to chips and salsa, El Nopalito is a local expert.

Photo via SDtoday

Snack time

El Nopalito
Family-owned and operated in Encinitas, this brand is known for its handmade salsas, fresh corn tortillas, and beef jerky. Local grocery stores like Vons and Jimbo’s in North County are known to stock the salsa, but we recommend buying the snacks straight from the source — the El Nopalito Market at 560 Santa Fe Dr.

Bitchin’ Sauce
Headquartered in Carlsbad, this brand makes dips in flavors like Chipotle, Cilantro Chili, Avocado Serrano, and Green Onion. Find it at big-box retailers like Walmart and Target, and stores like Vons, Albertsons, Costco, 7-Eleven, and Sprouts. You can also order online.

Perfect Bar
These protein-packed, refrigerated snack bars are sold at Whole Foods, Target, Costco, Starbucks, Trader Joe’s, and other retailers, but they hail from San Diego. The company is operated by the Keith family, with recipes inspired by late patriarch Bud Keith — a nutritionist and fitness industry pioneer who ran a juice bar and gym in Mission Beach.

Still hungry? Check out these other snacks made in SD.

Clothing

Reef
The Carlsbad-based brand was founded by a pair of South American brothers who moved from Argentina to La Jolla in 1984. The company started out making sandals for surfers and beachgoers (you know you’ve got a pair). Today, it makes all kinds of apparel, footwear, and accessories for kids and adults.

Vuori
Founded in Encinitas, this activewear brand makes performance apparel “inspired by the active coastal California lifestyle.” Styles are suited for fitness, surf, running, hiking, yoga, climbing, tennis, and more.

Dapper Boi
This body-inclusive, gender-neutral clothing line was founded by local married couple Charisse and Vicky Pasche in 2015. Vicky had been shopping in the men’s department at stores, but couldn’t find styles to fit her shape, so she and Charisse made their own line of affordable and dapper threads.

Chef Works
The Poway-based company specializes in uniforms and apparel for those in the culinary and hospitality industries, including urban style chef coats, aprons, pants, and slip-proof shoes. Today, the company operates in 90+ countries and employs more than 220 people in San Diego County.

SD Hemlock Hat Company

Hemlock Hat Co. makes hats for all occasions.

Photo via Oveth Martinez + Hemlock Hat Co.

Accessories

Nixon
Specializing in watches, Nixon was founded in Encinitas in 1998 as a boutique brand. Over time, the company has grown to also offer accessories, apparel, bags, and headwear, and its products are now sold in 90+ countries.

Knockaround
Sunnies are a year-round staple in SD. This sunglasses company was founded by graduate art student Adam “Ace” Moyer during his time at UC San Diego with a vision to merge East Coast prep style with the laid-back SoCal lifestyle. The brand also makes snow goggles, apparel, and blue light blockers.

Hemlock Hat Co.
San Diegans know a colorful straw hat is a must for beach days and beyond, and this locally-grown company makes them in all kinds of fun patterns. Hemlock also makes visors and beanies — and cute, trendy headwear for kids.

Sand Cloud
Founded on the beaches of San Diego by three friends, this company specializes in super soft, sand-resistant towels and beach blankets made from Turkish cotton. And Sand Cloud’s love of local shorelines doesn’t stop there: The company donates 10% of profits toward marine conservation.

Looking for more locally-made accessories? Check out our guide to beach essentials.

SD Taylor Guitars

Taylor Guitars is headquartered in San Diego’s East County.

Photo via Taylor Guitars

Fun finds

Taylor Guitars
Headquartered in El Cajon, this company was founded in 1974 by Bob Taylor and Kurt Listug, who shared a passion for making guitars. Today, the brand’s guitars are sold in 60+ countries, though Taylor’s two factories remain in San Diego’s East County and Tecate, Mexico.

Rusty Surfboards
Rusty Preisendorfer and his crew have been shaping and designing surfboards with that iconic “R.” logo out of San Diego since 1985. You can shop from in-stock boards or have a custom board built just for you.

Hansen Surfboards
Founder Don Hansen grew up in the Midwest but was drawn to the SoCal surf lifestyle. He learned to shape boards and eventually opened a small surf shop in Cardiff-by-the-Sea. Today, Hansen Surfboards runs out of a 20,000-sqft shop on South Coast Highway 101 in Encinitas. Come for the boards, stay for the wetsuits, surf gear, footwear, and accessories.

Sector 9 Skateboard Co.
You know you’re in San Diego when you see a Sector 9 skateboard cruising the streets. The company was founded in 1993 by a group of friends in La Jolla and remains headquartered in San Diego. Today, the brand is a subsidiary of Bravo Sports Corp. and continues to make decks, wheels, and trucks, plus skating safety gear and apparel.

SD Sector 9 skateboards

The Bambino Raider.

Photo via Sector 9

Cutwater Spirits
The San Diego-based distillery is the king of canned cocktails, offering 20+ flavors. Cutwater was founded locally in 2007 by Yuseff Cherney. It was purchased by Anheuser-Busch in 2019 and today, the brand’s cocktails are distributed nationwide in retailers like Target, Trader Joe’s, and CVS. As a San Diegan, though, there’s an extra perk: You can visit Cutwater’s distillery, tasting room, and restaurant open daily at 11 a.m. in Miramar — 9750 Distribution Ave.

Ashland Hard Seltzer
This premium San Diego-made hard seltzer brand was founded in 2020 by Saint Archer Brewing Co. co-founder Josh Landan and is headquartered in Cardiff-by-the-Sea. The 99-calorie, no sugar beverage comes in flavors like Blackberry Lemonade, Watermelon, and Pineapple, and can be found at Costco, Smart & Final, and liquor stores in California and Arizona.

SD Cutwater Spirits

These popular canned cocktails are made right here in San Diego.

Photo via Monica Garske + SDtoday

Bands

blink-182
The rockers — bound to reunite for a world tour starting this May — formed in Poway in 1992. Although “All the Small Things” and “What’s My Age Again?” are the group’s more famous songs, we’ve got a sweet spot for “San Diego,” the song from their 2016 “California” album that pays homage to their hometown and relationships within the band. Blink-182 will perform at Pechanga Arena Monday, June 19, and Tuesday, June 20. Get tickets.

Unwritten Law
The punk rock band formed in Poway (seriously, what’s in the water over there?) in 1990. Over the years, the group has released seven full-length albums, including “The Hum” in 2022. Unwritten Law headlines in San Diego from time to time, though our city isn’t a stop on their current tour.

Buck-O-Nine
Another product of San Diego’s prolific early-1990s music scene, the punk ska group saw mainstream success with their hit, “My Town.” Although it doesn’t specifically mention San Diego, us locals know this jam is about our hometown. The band has won eight San Diego Music Awards and they continue to reunite in America’s Finest City. They played at the Rolando Street Fair earlier this month.

Slightly Stoopid
The rock, folk, and reggae fusion band formed in Ocean Beach in 1994, originally signed by Sublime’s late Bradley Nowell to Skunk Records while they were still in high school. They continue to tour the globe and will bring their “Summertime 2023” tour with Sublime with Rome to Petco Park on Sunday, July 16. Get tickets.

Sprung Monkey
This group formed in San Diego in 1991, going on to have success with hits like “Get ‘Em Outta Here” — which mentions “sweet home San Diego.” Sprung Monkey has reunited several times over the years for shows back in America’s Finest City.

Want to get even more in tune with San Diego’s musical connections? Here is our SDtoday playlist featuring 15 songs that mention or are about San Diego.

This is just a sampling of brands made in San Diego. If we missed your favorite, drop us a linethe more, the merrier.

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