After months of bad weather, it’s finally nice outside. And according to both Yogi Bear and Monet, picnics are a lot of fun. We don’t argue with cartoon bears or French impressionists, so here are 15 restaurants offering takeout and delivery options that are perfect for a picnic - whether it’s at a park, or even on the balcony or floor of your apartment.
This little restaurant and wine shop has quite a few things that are great for a picnic, like various snacks, cheese (and things to put cheese on), pickles, and tinned fish. You can also ask them to make you a cheese plate, and then pick a bottle of wine to go with it.
Mundano is an obvious choice for a picnic - they are selling “picnic kits”. They cost $36 per person and come with focaccia, meat, cheese, spreads, pickles, and cookies. Basically, everything you want except for a gingham blanket and a wicker basket.
Gather also sells picnic boxes, and on the weekends they set up an outdoor grill where you can get burgers, sausages, plus wine and beer to-go. It’s a good way to pretend you’re at a cookout, but with zero drunk uncles stopping by.
It’s no secret we’re big fans of the handmade pasta at Daisies. And they just opened a market where you can pick up a selection of fresh produce, meats, cheeses, and desserts. All of which are perfect for bringing to a park (or to your apartment).
This cafe’s menu is also incredibly picnic-friendly. You can order prepared food like sandwiches and salads, bread, cheese, and they even have a virtual butcher shop where you can get deli meat and sausages. In other words, this whole place is basically a virtual picnic basket.
Along with having some of Chicago’s best sandwiches (the Beet Street, with beets, apples, and almond butter, is one of the best in the city), Tempesta Market is also a deli and specialty store. This means you can get lots of meat and cheese, along with prepared foods like potato and pasta salads.
Big Star’s huge perfect-for-day-drinking patio is one of the most likable in the city. So nothing feels more like “it’s finally summer” than sitting outside with one of their margaritas, fresh chips, guacamole, and some tacos. Luckily you can recreate this yourself because all of those things are available in the “patio pack,” which you can order for carryout or delivery.
Sure, you can go to Whole Foods for all your cellophane-wrapped sandwich, prepared food, and salad needs. Or, you can just order from the market at Beatrix. They even have chocolates and fancy gummies that look like little sharks, both of which are scientifically proven to make picnics better.
This Italian grocery store and sub shop has been in the West Loop for over 80 years, which is almost how long it feels like we’ve been in lockdown. And JP Graziano is a fantastic option for sandwiches and things like potato and pasta salads. The Italian sandwich is our favorite, but you can’t go wrong with anything (the muffaletta is also excellent). Order a cannoli, too, while you’re at it.
Nonna’s is another casual Italian sandwich shop - it’s the newer version of J.P. Graziano. The big difference? They also offer hot subs. If you’re looking for a meatball or chicken parm sub, then Nonna’s is your spot.
This Pilsen market has meat, cheese, a deli counter with prepared foods like salads and sandwiches, and a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables. Because you know what your picnic spread needs? Some grapes.
Since the lockdown started, we’ve been ordering the great pizzas that Table Donkey & Stick suddenly started making when they pivoted to carryout and delivery. But it’s important not to forget their roots as a European cafe. Here you’ll find fantastic charcuterie, cheese, crusty bread, and small plates like latkes and salads, along with wine and beer. But if eating Sicilian pan-style pizza on a blanket in Palmer Square park sounds perfect, by all means, order that too.
Gene’s Sausage Shop
Yes, you should definitely get an assortment of sausages from Gene’s in Logan Square. But don’t forget to pick up some cheese, crackers, and basically anything else you expect to find in one of those Pepperidge Farm holiday gift baskets. Pair all of that with some beer and macaroni salad, and head straight over to Winnemac Park.
Lem’s is a classic counter-service BBQ spot (it’s been around since 1954) with fantastic rib tips, hot links, and fried chicken. Cold fried chicken is an old-school picnic staple, so pick up some of that along with some of their potato salad and coleslaw.
One silver lining of the current situation is that no one will have to endure a company picnic this summer. That said, as awkward as a three-legged race with your boss can be, sometimes the food is pretty good. The Texas-style BBQ at Green Street reminds us of the best part of those picnics. You’ll find meats like ribs, brisket, and pulled pork, and excellent sides like broccoli salad, cornbread, baked beans, and elotes.