It's summer in LA and that means beach escapes and the great outdoors. Before hitting the sand or heading to the Hollywood Bowl or catching an outdoor movie, stop by the city's best gourmet food stores for a DIY picnic or pre-made box to-go. And for every other season of the year, stock up on gourmet food items from artisan condiments and fancy confections to local cheeses and homemade baked goods.
Marta Teegan brings her green thumb (the master gardener is the author of Homegrown: A Growing Guide for Creating a Cook's Garden) and kitchen experience (she also owns the nearby Cortez) to this Echo Park storefront. While the name suggests a collection of titles for foodies—yes, there are cookbooks for sale—the main draw is the impeccably stocked local produce at the peak of its season and ready-to-eat ripe. There are also dry gourmet goods: breads from Downtown's Bread Lounge and housemade sandwiches and pastries from elegant—we prefer the canelés—to rustic. The killer Meyer lemon cake is not to be missed.
This Franklin Village retail store/cafe is where locals drop in for an early morning caffeine fix, late-night cravings and everything in between. Salads, sandwiches, pizzas (a gluten-free crust can be subbed for $2 extra) and baked goods are served alongside an all-day breakfast—try the Oaks bacon breakfast burrito ($7.25) with eggs, bacon, cheddar and spring onion or an Italian breakfast sandwich ($7.95) with fried egg, pancetta, mozzarella, garlic oil and basil on sourdough. Don't miss weekly specials such as Wednesday grilled cheese and Friday tacos, and stock up on gourmet food items from retro sodas and artisanal beef jerky to cheese and wine and coffee supplies. Boozehounds can browse the extensive, impeccably curated craft beer, small-catch liquor and wine and sake selections. (Extra credit: Join the Raisin Hell wine club that gets you discounts on wines and monthly wine tastings.) We love this one-stop shop for year-round picnicking and summer Hollywood Bowl-ing.
Owner Chris Pollan has been supplying the hipster hood with high-quality imported and domestic cheeses since 2002 (fun fact: Pollan is the ex-tour manager for acts like Van Halen and Billy Idol). Fresh-baked bread, affordable wines are on offer alongside local and artisan-made olive oils, jams, honey and confections. Take a number (and a basket) and stock up on meats and cheeses for a stylish summer picnic.
Suzanne Goin and Caroline Styne's the Larder opens its third location (other locations span the Westside in Brentwood and Beverly Hills) in the swanky new 8500 Burton Way complex. With an extensive menu—there's breakfast, lunch and dinner—and a full selection of baked goods, retail food stuffs, to-go items and full-service items, this Cal-Med bakery/café is the perfect stop in between meals and to break up your Westside-Eastside commute.
A restaurant, bakery and market all in one, Brentwood Country Mart's Farmshop is the ultimate food paradise for Angelenos with an expense account—from Brentwood moms to all of Hollywood. Brunch, lunch, and dinner—at the helm of Thomas Keller's ex-right hand man Jeffrey Cerciello, who never fires a misstep—focuses on seasonal, local ingredients. Brunch is standup—try the French toast: thick brioche slices topped with seasonal fruit or housemade pastrami and eggs—while to-go items like Sunday fried chicken and pre-made sandwiches are perfect for a gourmet picnic. A California-heavy wine selection covers mid-range, small-production bottles, while other goodies—from Heath ceramics and grass-fed beef to jams and farm fresh eggs—pay homage to the Golden State's farmers and artisans.
This trendy yet friendly café-deli-market is the city's stand-by for an alfresco breakfast or lunch and a place to stock up for dinner or a summer picnic. Picnic boxes should be ordered in advance and come packed with bread and butter, utensils, napkins, cups and plates. Tasty (and pricey) comfort food classics from mac and cheese to curry chicken salad to thick cuts of turkey meatloaf and lasagna are beautifully presented behind glass cases, ready to take home. Browse the small selection of wines, cheese and cookbooks, then pick up something sweet—shelves are lined with confections and packaged treats, while the bakery boasts baked goods and PDX's Salt & Straw ice cream made exclusively for Joan's.
Peter Graham and Sophie Esteban bring their New York style (both are NYC expats who named their store after their former East Coast address) to a Silver Lake bungalow storefront where they sell home goods, gourmet kitchen items and cafe eats, from pastries to sandwiches. Browse through items like Laguiole and Oriole knives to Pendleton and Stanely mugs or laze on the outdoor patio with a ginger latte or cup of joe (unsurprisingly, the brew on offer is NY's Gimme! coffee).
Those looking for a real authentic Italian deli should stop by this longtime Santa Monica staple for cold cuts, cheeses and gourmet goods. While the lunchtime crowd queue up for the legendary Godmother sandwich ($5.74, small), foodie shoppers (and bargain hunters) can stock up on an array of Italian edibles alongside spices, oils and jars of honey and jam from around the globe. Don't forget to pick up cheese from the well stocked cases and load up on freshly baked bread.
Amelia Posada and Erika Nakamura, two of LA's bad-ass butchers, aka Lindy & Grundy, break down whole animals to stock their Fairfax butcher shop with organic cuts of beef, chicken and pork and housemade meats from pastrami to chorizo. Shop for meatless edibles, too, from local Meyer lemons and other farmers market produce, artisanal ketchup, Straus yogurt, milk and butter and Mother Moo ice cream.
This family-run business, a huge gourmet food and restaurant supply emporium, celebrated its 75th birthday in 2012, which makes it virtually prehistoric by LA standards. Chefs and those in the know stock up on kitchen supplies from pots and pans to knives and piping tips. Edible items include bulk gourmet baking chocolate (think: Valrhona and Callebaut), frozen par-baked baguettes, specialty flours and racks of oils and spices. A well-curated selection of cheeses is sold by friendly, knowledgeable staff. After an exhaustive trip through the expansive storefront, refuel at the attached cafe for a hot pressed sandwich or take a picnic for two ($29) to go.