You’re planning a picnic. OK, maybe “planning” is an overstatement. More likely, sometime in the last five minutes, you decided that you wanted to escape your home and go sit in a park, or on the beach, or in the shaded part of your parking garage, and eat something delicious. So get those Wet-Naps ready - whether you want snacks, a whole meal, or maybe just some pie or a tiki drink, here are 16 spots to pick up food for your next picnic.
IF YOU WANT TO STOCK UP ON SWEETS
A tremendous spot in Baldwin Hills, Southern Girl Desserts turns out an assortment of incredible cupcakes, pies, cookies, puddings, and cobblers. From their standard menu, the lemon icebox pie is our favorite, but they’ve also got daily specials that are unique and very special - especially the sweet potato and pecan pie, filled with yams and flavored with vanilla, cinnamon, and lemon. It’s an excellent dessert that you won’t forget anytime soon.
Fat & Flour is a tremendous pie specialist with a semi-permanent pop-up in Grand Central Market. Their chocolate chess pie is among our favorite desserts in the whole city, and their seasonal fruit options (like strawberry-rhubarb or stone fruit) are killer. And if you don’t feel like ordering a whole pie (what’s wrong with you?), they’ve got miniature versions, too, like brambleberry with brown butter crumble.
A family-run farm in Santa Ynez, Jimenez is a staple of local LA farmer’s markets. And along with fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, and some great quiches, they also make tremendous pies. Most of the fruit comes from their own farm, so you can count on it being fresh. It’s all good, but the boysenberry with crumble crust - if it’s available - is really on another level. You can find Jimenez at the Santa Monica, Hollywood, and Atwater Farmers Markets (or check their website for their full schedule).
The Kobbler King is a dessert spot on a corner of Jefferson Blvd. in Crenshaw that specializes in cobblers, pies, and bread pudding. Per the King’s royal decree, you should get whichever cobbler is in-season - but in a pinch, you’ll never go wrong with the peach.
IF THIS "PICNIC" IS JUST AN EXCUSE TO DRINK OUTSIDE
A wine bar in East Hollywood, Tabula Rasa started doing wine to-go early in quarantine, and they’re continuing to do so after opening back up. Their selection covers all kinds of tastes: From classically produced reds to natural orange options, from California to France, Spain, Eastern Europe, and Australia, and from $8 cans to $180 bottles. They’ve also got some good beer on tap that they serve in growlers, like a Belgian quad from Mumford Brewing, and Macleod’s Deal With The Devil IPA.
Not many shops have a better overall selection of wine, beer, and liquor than Hi-Lo in Culver City (and Long Beach). They’ve got a ton of beers from small local spots like Offshoot, Smog City, and Beachwood, along with every kind of wine you can think of (plus a few you can’t). They also put together Spritz Kits, and have all kinds of aperitifs that are ideal for drinking over ice on a hot day - for example, some Campari and a can of soda water makes a damn good summer drink. Pick up some fancy potato chips while you’re here, too.
One of the best places in town for cocktails, Melrose Umbrella Co. has done a great job making innovative (and excellent) drinks to-go. Their cocktails lean heavily towards tiki territory, making them ideal for drinking beachside (or at least next to your friend’s apartment pool). Our favorite is the Ring Of Fire, a mezcal-based drink with Aperol, fresh lime, pineapple, ginger, and habañero. Their mai tai is also great, and guaranteed to put you to sleep.
A tiny brewery named after the tiny neighborhood it’s in, Frogtown Brewery is a great spot to grab beers to-go. Pick up a four-pack of the Feather In It IPA, or the Strawberry-Basil Blonde, then walk down the LA River bike path until you find a quiet place to sit and drink it. Preferably, alongside some sandwiches from nearby Wax Paper.
IF YOU WANT CHEESES, CURED MEATS, AND SNACKS
We can’t say enough good things about Roma Italian Deli, the old-school market in Pasadena that imports incredible cured Italian meats daily. They’ve got everything you could possibly want: Prosciutto di Parma, capicola, salumi, pepperoni, mortadella, and many more, all hand-sliced right in front of you at the deli counter. Pick up some imported tinned fish, while you’re at it. And yes, you should probably get that unnamed sandwich wrapped in wax paper sitting on the counter - it’s $5.50, and goes well with whatever else you’re bringing over to Brookside Park.
A tiny Silver Lake shop just steps from the world’s busiest Trader Joe’s parking lot, Say Cheese is highly a visit when you’re looking for something to bring over to Silver Lake Meadow or up to Griffith Park. The cheese menu here is tremendous - they’ve got over 60 choices, including some hard-to-find options like the bright orange, stinky Shropshire Blue, or the super-rich, smoky, 20-month-aged Mimolette. They also sell wine, charcuterie, and pretty much anything else you might need for a picnic here, too.
It’s hard to walk into Andrew’s Cheese in Santa Monica without learning something new. Head cheesemonger/owner Andrew will probably be behind the counter - and he’s always willing to talk about all his latest selections. Order a small hunk of whatever sounds good, and pick up a bottle from the solid selection of wines here, too. It’s a short walk to Palisades Park, or drive up to Rustic Canyon Park.
Simply Wholesome is a View Park-Windsor Hills spot that has all kinds of soups, sandwiches, salads, and fresh-pressed juices that are ideal for picnics. But what you absolutely can’t leave without are the Jamaican patties. You should mix and match whichever look good, but our favorites are the spinach, the seafood (shrimp and crab), and the jerk chicken.
IF YOU WANT A FULL MEAL IN YOUR BASKET
An Inglewood staple, Big Fish Market is an excellent place to pick up some fresh fish and shrimp. What you’re after here are the meal combos: For $12.69, you get three pieces of fried fish (options include sand dab, catfish, and snapper), three jumbo shrimp, and two sides. As far as those sides go, you can’t go wrong with the hushpuppies or collard greens.
Found Oyster is known for their fresh seafood, but on this occasion, you’re here for their to-go special: Fried chicken. It’s tremendously crispy, juicy, and full of flavor, and comes with a honey hot sauce that you’re going to end up licking out of the container. Order the chicken as a meal, and it comes with a bunch of excellent sides: Vinegar-y smashed potato salad, refreshing pea salad, and grilled summer squash dressed with lemon and coriander. Add on some creamy trout dip, peel-and-eat-shrimp, and pimento cheese, while you’re at it.
If you’re looking for BBQ, Bludso’s should be at the top of your list. This iconic spot on La Brea in Hollywood has some of the best smoked meats in town, from brisket, to pork ribs, to Texas red hots made from scratch. Get some BBQ chicken salad and cornbread to go along with whatever mains you’re getting. It’s not far from a bunch of Hollywood and Weho parks - Poinsettia, Hollywood Forever, or De Longpre.
Another great Inglewood spot (there are two locations in Inglewood, and one in Crenshaw), Dulan’s has got soul food options like oxtails, smothered pork chops with gravy, and fried chicken. They all go well with a side of collard greens and corn and okra. And don’t even think about leaving without a container full of the mac & cheese, baked in a sheet pan until it’s crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside.