Six pack: top Devon delis

We love an independent one-stop shop that can satiate our desire for all kinds of local produce. Here we salute some top Devon deli counters…

1. Johns of Instow

This North Devon deli business dates back to 1926 and the current proprietor, Anthony Johns, is the fourth generation of his family to run it. Driven by a passion for local and homemade food and drink, Johns has built close relationships with independent producers to create a deli that showcases the South West’s finest produce.

“We’re known for our range of local cheeses and accompaniments, such as sourdough crispbreads, baked figs, Devon crab, homemade sausage rolls and our famous home-baked chocolate brownies,” says Sue Johns, who co-owns the business. “Our deli kitchen mix ’n’ match self-service salad bar remains very popular, while our newly extended ‘gin-wall’ has been a great hit this summer.”

As well as the deli in Instow, there’s also an on-site café, as well as another shop and café across the estuary in Appledore. 

“Customers are increasingly enjoying ‘experience’ time from us as much as tangible products, which sets us apart from many stores. This may take the form of new product launch events, community gatherings, personal shopping sessions or pre-filled picnic hampers, most of which can be seen on our website. “It’s all about upgrading food shopping into a welcoming and enjoyable sensory experience.”

2. Wildmoor Deli

Here’s another deli with history: Wildmoor Deli in Bovey Tracey opened in 2015 on a site that’s been home to a deli for over 150 years. It is particularly well-known for its cheese and wine selection, with owner Jeremy Clevett drawing on his years of experience making wine in Australia.

“We are cheesemongers, wine merchants and foodies first – with all the great produce that goes hand in hand with that: local chutney, biscuits, spirits, jams, chocolates… 

“We have an extensive wholefoods section, as well as free-from, cooking and baking products. Then we have a café with a small indoor eating area and a covered courtyard. We also have our online shop, dedicated to cheese and wine.” 

In terms of popular products, Jeremy says local produce is always a winner: “Clare’s Preserves fly off the shelf. We were also one of the first to sell Barnaby’s Brewhouse, which has been cleaning up with awards this year, including Best Organic Beer in the World at Soil Association’s BOOM Awards.

“Anything local always does well, and we have a whole area dedicated to local produce. We also take pride in our wine shelf; we’re picky, but we still offer over 80 bottles.”

3. Deli at Dartmouth

Sue McGirr was inspired to open her deli in Dartmouth after living in the French Pyrenees for nearly a decade. She wanted to emulate some of the inspiring Spanish food shops in the nearby town of Puigcerda, though – on her return – she found British tastes were somewhat less exotic. 

“I’ve submitted to what the tourists and people of Dartmouth want, which is a much more British deli,” she says. “We have a very strong tourist following, so our chiller is full of mostly local, as well as the odd continental, cheese and charcuterie. We sell a huge amount of the usual deli items, such as sausage rolls, Scotch eggs and pasties (including some excellent vegan and gluten-free ones!), and our salads, pâtés, soups and cakes are all made in-house.”

The Deli at Dartmouth, which also has an on-site café, is popular with both locals and the town’s abundant visitors, who are always keen to try local produce.

“We try to stick to local, but if the quality isn’t there we go further afield. Just because it’s local doesn’t mean it’s the best,” says Sue. “I think Devon has an extraordinary range of cheeses – and they seem to be on the increase. I also think we have a few exceptional jam makers, like Clare’s Preserves, Louise’s Larder and The Kitchen Garden.”

4. Me and Mrs Jones 

Having worked in hospitality and catering for years, husband and wife John and Penny Jones fulfilled the dream of opening their own deli in Torquay in 2015.

“We wanted to recreate our family kitchen in this beautiful old butcher’s shop in the community we live in,” says Penny. “We aren’t just a deli, as we have 50-plus covers. We stock products from around the world and specialise in those made in Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Dorset. We have cheeses, charcuterie, olives and antipasti on our deli counter, and hundreds of ambient products, like local jams, chutneys, honeys, dressings, oils, vinegars, artisan snacks, chocolates, breads and homemade cakes. We are also licensed, so have a wine room and craft beers, ciders, locally-produced gins, vodkas and fruit wines.”

The deli is a real community hub, where fresh herbs grown by locals are traded for coffee, and people regularly pop in to pick up their lunch for the day.

“We bake Chunk of Devon pasties, pies and other pastry goods, and sell wonderful organic sourdough from the Almond Thief bakery in Dartington,” explains Penny. 

New items in stock include Willy’s Cider Vinegar, wine from Lyme Bay Winery, Brixham Honey and Brixham Red Sails Gin.

5. Mercado

This Topsham deli, which specialises in Portuguese produce, opened just this summer. It was the brainchild of Sara Faro Leite, best known for her other Topsham-based business, Sara’s Petite Cuisine. Sara was born in Portugal but raised in Plymouth. Having graduated from Ashburton Cookery School, she decided to put her skills to use by starting her own patisserie.

This year she has branched out into retail, selling freshly-baked bread and sandwiches, with Portuguese-inspired fillings, alongside grocery items imported from Portugal. 

“Mercado Topsham is a place where old and new literally meet,” says Sara. “Not just in theinterior design, but also the integration of new and upcoming products with more well-known Portuguese food.”

Inside you can expect to find extra virgin olive oils from Alentejo and Jose Gourmet Sardines from the Portuguese coast, alongside British made grocery items like Oatly Milk and Little Pod vanilla paste.

6. Ashburton Delicatessen

The village of Ashburton is a hub of independent shops, and right at the heart of it is Ashburton Delicatessen, run by mother-and-son team, Sue and Robin Hudson.

They stock a large selection of cheese, charcuterie, salads and bread. There are also sweet and savoury biscuits, chocolates, chutneys, jams and pastas. 

“Cheese is a great favourite with our customers, and we have tasters out on the counter daily to encourage people to try something new,” says Robin. “Customers trust us to make recommendations for them – for cheese boards, party food and hamper contents, as well as new ingredients they have not tried cooking with before.”

Particularly popular are the bakery products, most of which are made on-site, like the award-winning fruity sausage rolls. There’s also hot smoked salmon pâté; courgette, beetroot and cheese slices; and a variety of Scotch eggs, quiches and pies.

“We are so lucky to live in a county which produces such wonderful food,” says Robin. “We get fantastic cheeses from Sharpham and Quicke’s, other wonderful dairy products from Riverford Dairy, delicious chutneys from Clare’s Preserves, Ottervale and Hillside, and ice cream and sorbets from Salcombe Dairy.”