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Picnic food spread
Photograph: Unsplash/Kate Hliznitsova

Where to buy the best picnic food in L.A.

Stock up on the best picnic food in the city before heading out to a concert, outdoor screening or day at the beach

Written by
Erin Kuschner
&
Stephanie Breijo
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When is it not prime picnic season in L.A.? Our mostly rain-free skies and sunny weather make picnicking a viable option year-round, whether you’re taking food to the beach, the Hollywood Bowl or on a hike or to an outdoor concert.

Putting a picnic basket together can be an ordeal, though, so we rounded up a few places that make it easy for you by providing everything you need in one place: Snacks and sweets? Check. Phenomenal sandwiches? Triple check. Some will even throw the whole thing into a picnic basket for you.

If you’re looking for scenic spots where you can put down a blanket, we’ve got you covered on that end, too—check out our guide to L.A.’s best picnic locations, for the days you want to dine alfresco.

RECOMMENDED: Our guide to summer in Los Angeles

Load up at one of these 17 picnic-perfect spots

  • Restaurants
  • Delis
  • Santa Monica

Those looking for a real-deal Italian deli on the Westside opt for this Santa Monica stalwart, where cold cuts, cheeses and gourmet specialties can be found in abundance. This favorite doesn’t offer traditional picnic boxes, but you can create your own by picking and choosing from the extensive menu of deli goods. The classic Godmother sandwich is a must, but there are also plenty of other options to peruse: tuna salad, turkey pastrami, corned beef, veggie sandwich and more, along with daily hot specials. Salads, marinated olives, meatballs, extra condiments, gnocchi, sliced cheeses and meats, and bottles of wine should help round out your haul.

Price: $6–$15 for sandwiches

Order: Online or 310-395-8279

  • Bars
  • Wine bars
  • Santa Monica

What goes perfectly with a picnic? A bottle of wine, naturally, so leave it to one of L.A.’s best wine bars to check all the boxes. Situated on Santa Monica’s 7th Street, Esters is a wine-centric retailer and marketplace just a few blocks from the beach. While it doesn’t offer full-blown picnic baskets, Ester’s does offer plenty of to-go options that are perfect for dining alfresco: sandwiches, tartines, cheese, olives, farmers market platters, nuts, desserts and salads, available à la carte or as bundles and charcuterie boards for two to four people (or even a whole party).

Price: $8–$150

Order: Call 310-899-6900

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  • Restaurants
  • Coffee shops
  • West Hollywood
  • price 2 of 4

Want to eat healthy during your picnic? Let your cravings lead you to Foodlab, a West Hollywood mom-and-pop joint that turns out upscale twists on classic salads and sandwiches. There are smoothies, à la carte sandwiches, savory croissants, salads, quiches and a full coffee menu, plus a quartet of classic side salads, in case you want a little of everything. There are platters, too, which are perfect for one or two people and come beautifully prepared, even to-go: Look for options such as a cheese-and-charcuterie platter, a Mediterranean platter, and a caprese platter.

Price: $9-20

Order: Online or 323-851-7120 

  • Restaurants
  • Cambodian
  • Lincoln Heights
  • price 1 of 4

This Cambodian deli-inspired spot does it all: Not only does Gamboge slather crunchy baguettes with grilled lemongrass-scented meats and creamy pâté and a rainbow of house-pickled radish and carrot for tremendous numpang sandwiches—it’s also home to flawless grilled chicken wings, vegan options galore, glorious sides, and a coffee bar to round it all out. For a perfect picnic, grab a numpang or two, or some rice bowls topped with spicy pork or trumpet mushrooms, along with some of Gamboge’s must-order sides: The crab-flavored chips are light, crunchy and shareable, while the coconut-slathered grilled corn feels perfect for a summery outdoor meal. 

Price: $4–14

Order: Online or 323-576-2073

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  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • West Third Street
  • price 2 of 4

With locations on both Third Street and in Studio City, this trendy—but homey—café and deli is a great place to stock up on picnic supplies regardless of which side of town you’re on. Purchase individual items in-store or call ahead and have them put together your haul, and we’re not just talking sandwiches, either. Joan’s offers buttermilk fried chicken and grilled salmon, beef tenderloin and vegan salads, potstickers, meatloaf, cookies and whole and sliced cakes. They’ve even got a section of the menu devoted to snacks—where you’ll find the likes of Swedish Fish, cheese straws, Marcona almonds and bags of house-made granola—a picnic essential. You can even add bottles of wine and spritzers, because, come on, it can get hot out there. Wherever you’re taking your basket, its contents will be happily devoured. 

Price: $6.50–$22

Order: Online or 323-655-2285 (Third Street), or 818-201-3900 (Studio City)

  • Restaurants
  • Delis
  • Highland Park
  • price 1 of 4
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Forget your expected deli fare. At Jeff’s Table, tucked into a back corner of Highland Park’s Flask Fine Wines, chef-owner Jeff Strauss combines Jewish-deli classics with the Jewish-American love of Chinese food, resulting in sandwiches like a Hainan-chicken take on chicken salad and the mala-chili–studded whitefish salad with tobiko. The house pastrami is tender, the bread is fresh-baked, and the side salads come in flavors like snap pea with everything-bagel seasoning. When you're done snagging sandwiches and sides from Jeff’s Table, make your way back up front to the liquor store to pick up cold brew, artisan sodas, beer, wine, chips, chocolates and even ice cream sandwiches for a complete picnic.

Price: $5.95–$14.95

Order: Online or 323-381-5553

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  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Chinatown
  • price 1 of 4

Smorgasburg’s popular Japanese sando slinger is now a brick-and-mortar sandwich shop in the heart of Chinatown, and it’s the perfect spot to grab a sandwich, some onigiri or some smothered curry fries before hitting the park. Selling katsu and curry hot from the kitchen or cold sandos and to-go salads from the conbini-inspired refrigerated section, Katsu Sando offers a range of options both hot and cold, as well as traditional and culture-blending. Look for familiar katsu, such as chicken and pork, as well as the unique and fan-favorite walnut shrimp katsu, which turns the iconic Chinese dish of walnut shrimp into a breaded-and-fried sandwich that’s fast become one of our favorites in town. From the conbini fridge, be sure to grab the Korean-meets-Japanese kimchi pork belly ssam onigiri, plus a side of the daily pickles and, for dessert, the seasonal fruit-and-cream sando to end on a sweet note.

Price: $3–$54.95

Order: Online or 213-395-0710

  • Shopping
  • Cheesemongers
  • Mar Vista

Crafting charcuterie and cheese boards that look more like art than a quick to-go meal, owners (and twins) Sarah Simms Hendrix and Boo Simms make some of the most visually arresting—and delicious—picnic options in town. You can find the boards in “mini box” form, where flowers and julienned farmers market veggies surround fresh hummus or cured meats and cornichons crown artisanal mustard, but you can also opt for delightful sandwiches, salads and pantry goods from local makers and plenty of women-owned food companies. Grab some cheese and salami from the cheese counter on your way out, and snag some tinned fish, local honey, chips, nuts and by-the-piece caramels from the shelves to round out your picnic haul before you look for a place to lay that blanket.

Price: $12–$25

Order: Online or 310-313-4719

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  • Restaurants
  • Sandwich shops
  • Malibu
  • price 2 of 4
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If you’re headed to the beach or into the mountains for a scenic picnic, this Malibu mainstay is a classic—and well-rounded—option for fueling up. The tiny, rustic and beloved deli and gourmet market keeps plenty of premade sandwiches, salads and hot items in the case, but can also whip up custom stacks thanks to a slew of add-ons and bread options. In addition to the sandwiches, salads and daily specials, there’s also a long pastry case packed with fresh cookies, cupcakes, croissants, pies and cakes, and around the shop, you’ll find shelves of gourmet chips and sodas and bins of candy—whatever you need for a perfect picnic, Malibu Kitchen’s got it.

Price: $5.50–$17.50

Order: Online or 310-456-7845

  • Shopping
  • Cheesemongers
  • Eagle Rock
  • price 2 of 4
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Milkfarm specializes in small-batch cheeses, charcuterie and other handmade food products, mostly from L.A.-based, independent producers. You can also find made-to-order sandwiches here, in addition to cheese and charcuterie plates, freshly baked bread, pastries and other small bites. Want them to curate the goods for you? With 24 hours of notice, this charming Eagle Rock shop can also whip up a picnic box for two, which comes complete with two types of cheese, plus fresh fruit, Marcona almonds, salami, olives, crackers and more. Grab a bottle of beer or wine and you’ve got yourself an easy, breezy and oh-so-cheesy picnic.

Price: $4–$45

Order: Call 323-892-1068

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  • Shopping
  • Liquor stores
  • Franklin Village
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This Franklin Village bottle shop and café is where locals drop in for an early morning caffeine fix, dinner cravings and everything in between. It’s also where they stock up on charcuterie platters, pizzas, sandwiches and plenty of pantry and fridge staples. Look out for daily specials, and especially be sure to grab a freshly spun milkshake before you head out for a meal in the sun and the heat. With charcuterie plates, burgers, wine, jars of local honey and jam, dried fruit, baked goods, chips and more, you’ve got everything you could ever need or want, all from one location.

Price: $6.25–$23.95

Order: Online or 323-871-8894

  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Burbank
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Talk about a one-stop shop: This cozy café straddling Burbank and Toluca Lake is part gourmet market, part eatery and part retail operation where you can start the day off with pastries, quiche and breakfast sandwiches and a full coffee bar, then grab a carton of eggs and a bag of local vegetables for home, and pick up a ready-made meal for later. If you’re looking to snag perfect picnic treats, Olive & Thyme’s sandwiches come gourmet and filled with high-end spreads, meats and produce, and you can even pick up beautifully arranged charcuterie trays for cheese-and-meat perfection in the grass.

Price: $7–$45

Order: Call 818-557-1560

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  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Koreatown
  • price 1 of 4

This community-minded café and corner store keeps its shelves stocked with locally made hot sauces, snacks, marinades, coffees and other pantry goods—in addition to well-curated imported items—and it keeps its menu stacked with creative and culture-blending breakfast and lunch fare we can’t get enough of. The grocery items are almost all perfect for a picnic (try grabbing some tinned fish, local hot sauce, chips and a freshly baked Clark Street baguette, to start), and if you’re looking for a no-fuss meal, let them do the cooking for you: The house sandwiches are inspired by L.A. enclaves and iconic dishes, and all worth an order. We’re partial to the Normandie, a kind of short-rib take on a French dip, while the Pico blends Filipino and Cuban flavor for its pulled pork.

Price: $3.25–$15

Order: Call 213-232-3851

  • Restaurants
  • Australian
  • Beverly Hills
  • price 2 of 4

When Curtis Stone temporarily closed his Michelin-starred restaurant, Maude, he brought us a little taste of his upbringing: pies upon pies upon pies, and wouldn’t you know it, they’re the ultimate pick-up-and-go food. This casual takeout shop and bakery serves savory pies, sweet pies, sausage rolls, sticky toffee pudding and sandwiches from the Aussie chef and his talented pastry team, with pie options in Australian and U.K. classics—such as shepherd’s pie and beef-and-ale pie—plus new, inventive renditions, and sandwiches such as roasted poblano with goat cheese and pepita pesto; a classic grinder; and ham and cheese with whole-grain mustard and French butter. Don’t forget to grab a bottle of the house condiments; we're partial to the onion-and-date chutney and also the piccalilli.

Price: $4-$60

Order: Call 310-859-3418

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  • Restaurants
  • Californian
  • Playa del Rey
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Let a Top Chef make your meal. Brooke Williamson and her husband and co-chef Nick Robert house four concepts under their Playa Provisions roof, including King Beach, their gourmet deli counter and café. Stop here for to-go lobster rolls, chicken-and-brie sandwiches, fish tacos, soups, salads and pastries, not to mention canned cocktails, bottles of wine, iced coffee and fresh juice. Before you hit the road, stop by their small-batch ice cream bar to find a variety of scoops and other frozen house-made sweets to eat en route to your picnic. Psst… this complex is right on the beach: perfectly convenient for your alfresco outings.

Price: $5–$26

Order: Call 310-683-5019

  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Santa Monica
  • price 2 of 4
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Sushi might not be the first thing that comes to mind for a picnic, but if you aren’t traveling too far and want to pick up something hyper-fresh along the way, Sugarfish has some excellent takeout options all over town. The boxes—Trust Me, Trust Me Lite, Nozawa Trust Me, and the most robust option, the Don’t Think Just Eat—come with packaged sauces and accoutrements, all with labels and diagrams indicating which sauce and garnish accompanies which fish. All boxes include edamame and a range of sushi, sashimi and rolls.

Price: $23–$48 per box; sushi also available à la carte

Order: Phone number varies by location; see website

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  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Echo Park
  • price 2 of 4
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Valerie Gordon’s got something for every picnic-savvy Angeleno, but especially for the ones who’ve got a sweet tooth. The baker and confectioner’s Echo Park café boasts a robust menu of cheerful, savory daylight fare, not to mention pastries, chocolates and full-on baked desserts to take with you. There are smoked salmon bánh mì, curried chicken salad sandwiches, prosciutto sandwiches, egg salad sandwiches, kale salads, seasonal soups, avocado toasts and savory bread puddings, and to finish (or start with dessert), a rotating menu of cakes, pies, muffins, scones and Gordon’s signature petits fours. Be sure to grab some jars of house-made seasonal jams and granola mixes for your picnic spread, too.

Price: $3–$13

Order: Online or 213-250-9365

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