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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

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Photograph: Image Source/Rex/REX USA
By Erin Kuschner and Stephanie Breijo |
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When is it not prime picnic season in L.A.? Our crystal clear skies and sunny weather make picnicking a viable option year-round, whether you're taking food to the beach, the Hollywood Bowl, 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 will curate the whole shebang for you. And if you're just looking for spots that sell picnic food to construct a basket yourself, we've got you covered on that end, too. Check out our picnic food ideas for the days you want to dine al fresco.

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Picnic food ideas in L.A.

Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Restaurants, Delis

Bay Cities

Santa Monica

Those looking for a real-deal Italian deli stop by this long-time Santa Monica staple for cold cuts, cheeses and gourmet specialties. The Westside favorite doesn't offer traditional picnic boxes, but you can create your own by picking and choosing from Bay Cities' extensive menu. 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, sides and sliced cheeses and meats will help round out your haul.

Price: Prices vary

Order: In-store or 310-395-8279

Bars, Wine bars

Esters Wine Shop & Bar

Santa Monica

Snuggled directly beside Cassia on Santa Monica’s 7th Street, Esters is a wine-centric retailer and bar with a sleek, modern interior and a breezy patio. While the marketplace doesn't offer picnic baskets, it does offer plenty of to-go options that are perfect for dining al fresco: sandwiches, cheese, olives, nuts and, oh yes, all the wine.

Price: Prices vary

Order: In-store

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Grilled cheese at FoodLab
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Restaurants, Coffee shops

Foodlab

West Hollywood

Want to eat healthy during your picnic? Let your cravings lead you to Foodlab, West Hollywood’s mom-and-pop joint, for upscale twists on classic salads and sandwiches. Each box includes a sandwich (options range from a grilled cheese to a steak sandwich), a vegan salad, a side salad, a cookie and a bottle of water. Bonus: You also get a stick of gum, because who knows if you're going to be meeting a hottie on your outdoor adventure.

Price: $23.50 per box

Order: 323-851-7120 

Restaurants, Cafés

Joan's on Third

West Third Street

With locations on both Third Street and in Studio City, this über-trendy cafe and deli is a great place to stock up on picnic supplies. Purchase individual items yourself, or call ahead and have them put together your haul. We're not just talking sandwiches here, either; Joan's offers buttermilk fried chicken and grilled salmon, beef tenderloin and vegan salads, cookies and cakes. You can even snag 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: Prices vary

Order: 323-655-2285 (Third St) or 818-201-3900 (Studio City)

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Restaurants, Sandwich shops

Larder at Tavern

Brentwood

Suzanne Goin and Caroline Styne's the Larder at both Burton Way and Tavern offer multiple picnic baskets to choose from. The Southerner features fried chicken with buttermilk dressing, potato salad, summer succotash and biscuits with honey, while the Darlington looks to the sea with slow-roasted salmon, a dill yogurt sauce and broccolini. The ficelle sandwich gives you your choice of fillings, then adds a side of cucumber salad with feta, a few sweet potato chips and more. There's also a cheese and charcuterie box for two, stocked with three cheeses, assorted meats, olives, marcona almonds and a French baguette with Oregon butter.

Price: $29-$36 per box

Order: 310-278-8060

Shopping, Liquor stores

The Oaks Gourmet Market

Franklin Village

This Franklin Village retail store and café is where locals drop in for an early morning caffeine fix, late-night cravings and everything in between. It's also where they stock up on Hollywood Bowl picnic baskets, ranging from the Super Seat ($40) to the Pool Circle ($110). Sandwiches and salads are included in each basket, along with either chips or a cheese plate, depending on how fancy you want to get. Bottled water or wine (plus wine glasses and a corkscrew) are also available.

Price: $40-$110 per box

Order: 323-871-8894

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Olive & Thyme
Photograph: Courtesy Olive & Thyme
Restaurants, Cafés

Olive and Thyme

Burbank

Olive & Thyme seems like it would fit right in on the East Coast. The cozy cafe straddling Burbank and Toluca Lake is part gourmet market, part eatery, where you can start the day off with pastries and breakfast sandwiches. If you're looking to snag some treats to-go, they've got a handy picnic box that includes one sandwich of your choice, a salad from the cold case, a water bottle and a cookie,  though they're happy to mix and modify.

Price: $25 per box

Order: 818-557-1560

Restaurants, Californian

Playa Provisions

Playa del Rey

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. Stop here for to-go lobster rolls, chicken-and-brie sandwiches, soups, salads and pastries, then stop by Tripli-kit—the home-goods store also located in Playa Provisions—to find a variety of too-cute picnic baskets. Psssst... this complex is right on the beach, perfectly convenient for your summer al fresco outings.


Price: Prices vary

Order: 310-683-5019

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Photograph: Courtesy Sugarfish
Restaurants, Japanese

Sugarfish

Santa Monica

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. The boxes—Trust Me, Lite and Nozawa—come with packaged sauces, all with labels indicating which sauce accompanies which fish. All boxes include edamame and a range of sushi, sashimi and rolls.

Price: $25-$38 per box

Order: Phone number varies by location, see website

Picnic Sandwiches from The NoMad Los Angeles
Photograph: Courtesy The NoMad
Hotels, Boutique hotels

The NoMad

Downtown Financial District

No one—and we mean no one—at your picnic will turn their nose up at Daniel Humm and Chris Flint's stellar sandwiches. And how could they? The world-class, Michelin-starred restaurant and hotel launched to-go sandwiches and salads just in time for the summer, which means L.A.'s picnic game just got a whole lot stronger. You can even get NoMad's signature truffle chicken dish in sandwich form—with sliced roasted meat, frisée, truffle aioli and flecks of black truffle—plus a killer Italian sub and a veggie-packed caprese. Order with house-made candy bars, pressed juice and fresh croissants, for best results. The best part? You can even get it delivered (here's lookin' at you, Caviar).


Price: $4-$15


Order: Call 213-358-0000 or order online.

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Lemonade
Photograph: Vanessa Stump
Restaurants, American

Lemonade

Brentwood

Lemonade's menu covers cafeteria-style dishes that are perfect for creating your own picnic basket. Sizes range from one to six portions, so you can mix and match rices, pastas, salads and side dishes, in addition to sandwiches that are easy to grab and go. Favorites include Lemonade's decadent white truffle mac and cheese, Israeli couscous, soba noodles with kimchi and plenty of cookies and brownies. Some locations even offer poke, which is perfect for cooling down in the warmer months. To drink, a rotating selection of lemonades is the best way to wash down your haul. Check on Lemonade's website for location hours and addresses. 

Price: Prices vary

Order: In-store

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