Do Life Well

Pack the Perfect Picnic From These 15 Outposts

Photo courtesy of Urban Radish/Facebook

We’re blessed with near perfect year-round weather, there’s regular access to parks and beaches, and endless amounts of rooftops from which to perch for sunsets. But summertime offers so much more, from concert days at the Hollywood Bowl and Greek Theatre to outdoor movie screenings and backyard brouhahas. Provisionsi.e., salads, fried chicken, pizza, antipasti, wine, and all sorts of snack foodsare abundantly available for exactly this reason. Here’s where to go to find the best picnic goods any day of the week, no matter where in town you might find yourself.

Photo courtesy of Joan’s on Third/Facebook

Joan’s on Third
If you can’t find something to fill a picnic basket at Joan’s, you might as well stop eating now. From grab-and-go salads, prepared dishes (like meatloaf, chicken, and roasted vegetables) and the massive cheese and charcuterie to house-made potato chips (get these no matter what), beverages galore, and cupcakes and mounds of sweets. With two locations—West 3rd Street and Studio City—it’s convenient and wildly popular. 8350 West 3rd Street, 323-655-2285; 12059 Ventura Place, 818-201-3900

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Friends & Family
Close to summer happenings like the Friday night wine tastings at Barnsdall Art Park, concerts at the Greek and Hollywood Bowl, and movie screenings at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, this Thai Town bakery and café is a must-stop for picnic baskets. Get a fried chicken spread for two, which comes with Cheddar biscuits, slaw, potato and green bean salads, the best cold fried chicken, and mini seasonal pies ($70). There are a slew of things in the grab-and-go case, as well as wine to take along. 5150 Hollywood Boulevard, 323-668-2000

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Throw a lemon wedge in any direction and you’ll hit an outpost of this Los Angeles–born chain. It’s the go-to for a full meal, from bright salads to hot sandwiches, plus cookies and cupcakes, and of course a variety of refreshing lemonade flavors (the blood orange lemonade is delicious). Everyone gets their own favorites in neat to-go boxes. Multiple locations throughout Los Angeles

Photo by Christine Y/Yelp

You know the old adage: Don’t shop for food while you’re hungry. That’s particularly true at this Gjelina sibling, because you’ll want to buy everything from the long cases: myriad seasonal salads, pizzas, smoked fish, rotisserie meats, sandwiches, cookies, baklava, pies, and other baked goods. Create a feast for a larger group via catering—just call ahead. 320 Sunset Avenue, Venice, 310-314-0320

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Silky pâtés and unique charcuterie offerings are the star of the butcher shop attached to Curtis and Luke Stone’s Hollywood restaurant. It’s all made on the spot, from whole-animal butchery to the curing room, and the selection is unparalleled: leek ash porcini salami, Wagyu salami and lavender saucisson sec, prosciutto and culatello from Berkshire pigs. You can always pick up sandwiches from the lunch menu, too, like the Gwen grinder made with Calabrese salami, ham, mortadella, provolone, and pickled chilies. 6600 Sunset Boulevard, 323-946-7512

Photo courtesy of Milkfarm

When in Eagle Rock, stop at this local cheese counter for ready-to-go boxes made up of cheese, artisan meats, olives, cornichons, nuts, and baguettes. Go big and get the beer and wine added on, complete with reusable glasses. A $32 box usually serves two to four people, and if you’re picking up one or two on the weekend, try calling ahead (or even better: a day in advance to order). 2106 Colorado Boulevard, 323-892-1068

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When people picture San Marino, a leafy block of businesses is exactly what comes to mind. The charming café-marketplace is like a meeting ground for locals, especially during the summer entertainment season, when picnic boxes and platters are in high demand. For small outings, individual boxes come with things like roast beef with arugula and shaved Parmesan, quinoa fusilli with tomato, or grilled salmon with gem lettuce and asparagus. There’s always something from the grab-and-go cases, plus wines and baked goods. 2649 Mission Street, San Marino, 626-441-2499

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Larder at Tavern
From picnic boxes for two to full spreads for 20, the offshoot of Suzanne Goin and Caroline Styne’s Tavern restaurant in Brentwood has it all. Simply call 24 hours in advance for preselected items like slow-roasted salmon with cucumber yogurt, long-cooked cavolo nero, house-baked bread with butter, and berries with crème fraîche. If you need something spur of the moment, there are plenty of premade salads, meats and seafood, cheeses and charcuterie, breads, crackers, and desserts in the shop anytime. 11648 San Vicente Boulevard, 310-806-6464

Photo courtesy of The Oaks Gourmet/Facebook

The Oaks Gourmet
Hollywood Bowl–bound or not, this little shop in Franklin Village has picnic boxes available with sandwiches—from vegan heroes to jalapeño chicken wraps—chips, salads, wine or beer, and desserts. You get an actual basket that, when returned for another use, gets you 10 percent off your next order. 1915 North Bronson Avenue, 323-871-8894

Photo courtesy of Mozza2Go/Facebook

Mozza 2 Go
Take Pizzeria Mozza on the road, including your favorite pizzas; antipasti like marinated peppers with tuna and white bean bruschetta; meatballs; and panini. There’s wine, too, so you can pick up everything you need in one easy stop. This is particularly useful when you’re going to the Hollywood Bowl just up the hill. 6610 Melrose Avenue, 323-297-1130

Photo by Ramon C/Yelp

Bay Cities
The only thing you really need to know is that you can order the Godmother online and pick it up before heading to the beach or the Bowl. While waiting, gather other hot and cold items, including meatballs in marinara, cannoli, sparkling water, whatever you need. Just remember: The deli is closed on Monday. 1517 Lincoln Boulevard, 310-395-8279

Photo courtesy of Locali

With locations from Venice Beach to Franklin Village, this deli is a great spot for vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options. Hot sandwiches like a vegan Reuben or Thanksgiving turkey; cold ones stuffed with hummus and vegetables or chicken and avocado, greens, and Cheddar; quinoa bowls, and big kale salads are all made to order and packaged up for a day outdoors. 5825 Franklin Avenue, 323-466-1360; 701 Lincoln Boulevard, Venice, 310-399-2254

Photo courtesy of Mendocino Farms/Facebook

Mendocino Farms
From Marina del Rey to Downtown, the full sandwich and salad menu is available to go at multiple locations of this growing local chain. Construct picnics with seasonal choices like the new summer barbecue chicken salad, Peachy Keen chicken club sandwich on a pretzel roll, or a BLT with heirloom tomatoes and nitrate-free applewood-smoked bacon and habañero honey. Order ahead for easy pickup. Multiple locations throughout Los Angeles

Urban Radish
This Arts District gourmet market is the antidote to the big Whole Foods nearby. There’s a beautiful cheese counter; a full sandwich menu; snacks like crackers, nuts, and fruit; and even beer and wine to make any picnic delicious. 661 Imperial Street, 213-892-1570

Photo courtesy of Cheese Store of Beverly Hills

Cheese Store of Beverly Hills
The grand père of gourmet markets in L.A., the cheesemongers here will pick just the right selections for any picnic, not to mention baguettes, crackers, olives, tapanades, chocolates, and, of course, wine to round it all out. Order ahead of time and they’ll meet you in the back alley for curbside pickup. 419 North Beverly Drive, 310-278-2855