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Picnic food spread
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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

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 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

Picnic food ideas in L.A.

Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Bay Cities

Restaurants Delis Santa Monica

Those looking for a real-deal Italian deli often choose this Santa Monica stalwart 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 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: $7-$15 for sandwiches

Order: In-store or 310-395-8279

Esters Wine Shop & Bar

Bars Wine bars Santa Monica
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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, pâté spreads, cheese, olives, nuts and salads, available à la carte or as bundles and charcuterie boards for two to five people (or even a whole party).

Price: $8–$85

Order: Call 310-899-6900

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Grilled cheese at FoodLab
Grilled cheese at FoodLab
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Foodlab

Restaurants Coffee shops West Hollywood

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 à la carte sandwiches, savory croissants, salads, quiches and a full coffee menu, plus a gourmet picnic box just perfect for an alfresco occasion. At $24.50 apiece, each box includes a sandwich (options range from a gooey grilled cheese to a meaty steak sandwich), a mini vegan salad, a daily 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 run into someone special on your outdoor adventure.

Price: $4.95-24.50

Order: Call 323-851-7120 

Joan’s on Third

Restaurants Cafés West Third Street
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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, trays of enchiladas, cookies and whole and sliced cakes. 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–$42

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

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Jeff’s Table

Restaurants Delis Highland Park
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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: $6.95–$11.95

Order: 323-381-5553

Larder at Tavern

Restaurants Sandwich shops Brentwood
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Suzanne Goin and Caroline Styne’s the Larder at Tavern keeps the to-go fridge stocked with some of the best prepared foods in town, whether you’re looking for sunchoke salads or couscous. Loaves of bread and a slew of fresh daily pastries make for great additions, and if you want to build your own sandwich, you can stack Larder's house bread with the likes of coppa, manchego, confit peppers and more. In the warmer months, Larder at Tavern often offers picnic baskets so you don't even need to plan, featuring dishes such as fried chicken with buttermilk dressing or a bit of slow-roasted salmon with broccolini.

Price: $6–$36

Order: Call 310-278-8060 or order online

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Lemonade

Restaurants American Brentwood
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Lemonade’s menu covers cafeteria-style, build-your-own dishes that are perfect for creating a hyper-customized picnic, with sizes ranging from one to six portions so you can mix and match rices, pastas, salads and sides—in addition to sandwiches that are easy to grab and go. Our favorites? Lemonade’s decadent white truffle mac and cheese, Israeli couscous, soba noodles with kimchi, and plenty of cookies and brownies for good measure. 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: $3–$13

Order: In-store

Malibu Kitchen

Restaurants Sandwich shops Malibu
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If you’re headed to the beach or up to 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.

Price: $3–$16.50

Order: Call 310-456-7845 to order ahead

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The Oaks Gourmet Market

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, late-night cravings and everything in between. It’s also where they stock up on charcuterie platters, pizzas, sandwiches and plenty of pantry and fridge staples. During the summer, look for Hollywood Bowl picnic baskets that can even include bottled water or wine (plus wine glasses and a corkscrew) so you’ve got everything you could ever need or want, all from one location.

Price: $5.95–$110

Order: Call 323-871-8894

Olive & Thyme

Restaurants Cafés Burbank

Talk about a one-stop shop: This cozy café straddling Burbank and Toluca Lake is part gourmet market, part eatery, 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: $5-$45

Order: Call 818-557-1560

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Playa Provisions

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. 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 picnic-perfect items such as too-cute picnic baskets, enamelware cups and blankets. Psssst... this complex is right on the beach, perfectly convenient for your summer alfresco outings.


Price: Prices vary

Order: 310-683-5019

Sugarfish

Restaurants Japanese Santa Monica
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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 newer 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–$52 per box; sushi also available à la carte

Order: Phone number varies by location; see website

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Valerie Echo Park

Restaurants Cafés Echo Park
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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 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.

Price: $3–$13

Order: Call 213-250-9365 or order online

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