Where to buy the best picnic food in LA

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

Photograph: Image Source/Rex/REX USA

When is it not prime picnic season in LA? 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 LA

Bay Cities

Those looking for a real authentic Italian deli stop by this longtime 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 the 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

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Santa Monica

Cape Seafood & Provisions

Cape Seafood & Provisions is chef Michael Cimarusti's market and takeout deli on Fairfax, offering sustainable, fresh catches of the day—halibut, cod, mackerel—alongside tubs of both chunky New England and Manhattan chowder, fish fry batter, cocktail sauces and more. If you're planning on a seafood spread at the beach or the Hollywood Bowl, Cape's has picnic boxes to customize as well. Choose from lobster rolls, tuna salad sandwiches, smoked salmon with bagels and cream cheese, calamari salad, whoopie pies and more to curate your own box. 

Price: Prices vary

Order: 323-556-2525

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Fairfax District
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Esters Wine Shop & Bar

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, cheeses, nuts and, oh yes, all the wine.

Price: Prices vary

Order: In-store

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Santa Monica

Foodlab

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: $20 per box

Order: 323-851-7120 

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West Hollywood
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GC Marketplace

While GC Marketplace may look slightly like a cafeteria, the food is far from your standard school lunch fare. Freshly made, seasonal salads, sandwiches, sides and desserts are offered; for the Hollywood Bowl, they've curated roughly 10 different picnic baskets to choose from. The Hilltop Illumination includes a brisket sandwich, roasted veggie medley, kale salad and dessert, while the Cheese Monger's Baton offers chicken liver mousse or paté, a variety of meats and cheeses, a baguette and a dessert. Plates, napkins and flatware are all included.

Price: $15-$45 per box

Order: 323-645-5269

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Hollywood

Joan's on Third

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. Wherever you're taking your basket, its content will be happily devoured. 

Price: Prices vary

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

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West Third Street
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The Larder at Burton Way

Suzanne Goin and Caroline Styne's the Larder at Burton Way offers three different picnic baskets to choose from. The Young Frenchman features a ficelle sandwich, roasted cauliflower, marinated beets, chips and a cookie, while the Burton Way includes slow-roasted salmon, farro with vegetables, Italian broccoli and a mixed berry trifle. There's also a cheese and charcuterie box for two, stocked with three cheeses, assorted Italian and Spanish meats, olives, marcona almonds and a French baguette with Oregon butter.

Price: $24-$29 per box

Order: 310-278-8060

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Central LA

Lemonade

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. 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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Brentwood
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The Oaks Gourmet Market

This Franklin Village retail store/cafe is where nearby 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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Hollywood

Olive and Thyme

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. Their Hollywood Bowl Baskets range from a "Picnic for Two" (a drink, appetizer, sandwich and dessert for each person) to a "Specialty Basket" that includes items like deviled eggs, roasted half chicken and a cookie or brownie of your choice.

Price: $45-$55 per person

Order: 818-557-1560

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Burbank
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Stir Market

Stir Market's multi-concept, 4,000-square-foot space includes a rotisserie, expo kitchen, salad and sandwich counter, wine and snack bar, bakery and espresso bar. Phew! There's a lot to choose from here, but if you're looking for a well-curated picnic basket, Stir has a few creative options. The Californian is heavy on the quinoa, veggies and hummus, while the Chicken Picnic features—you guessed it—a whole rotisserie chicken with sides. There's also a Summer Sampler, Bowls for the Bowl, and plenty of add-ons (think cheese and charcuterie plate, shrimp ceviche and more).

Price: $55-$65 per box

Order: 323-879-8283

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Beverly

Sugarfish

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 on the way, Sugarfish has some excellent take out options. Four boxes—Trust Me, Lite, Nozawa and Party Trust Me—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: $33-$250 per box

Order: Phone number varies by location, see website

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Santa Monica
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Tinfoil Liquor & Grocery

Jeremy Fall's Highland Park sandwich shop is hidden in an unexpected place, and it's only unlocked by an unexpected question. Stroll into the neighborhood liquor store for household items, cold drinks, snacks and liquor of all price levels, but if you're stocking up for a perfect picnic, be sure to ask, "Do you sell birthday candles?" Only then will the back door be unlocked, and only then can you walk into a secret room where you'll find a deli serving serious subs with meat and vegetables cured, roasted and preserved in-house.

These sandwiches are whoppers—even the 6-inch is sizeable. Whether you're bringing 6 or 24 inches of a Cuban Reuben (with pastrami, ham, pickles and mustard butter) or the Jackfruit Daniels (with roasted jackfruit and vegan slaw), it seems it's hard to go wrong here, especially when paired with a house-made side. Pro tip: stop by Mr. Holmes Bakehouse a few doors down and grab some savory pastries or something sweet: cookies, tarts and doughnuts, oh my.

Price: $8-$31

Order: 323-507-2301

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Highland Park

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