Summer in LA marks the opening of a new sports season: professional picnicking. Between the Hollywood Bowl, movies at Hollywood Forever, concerts at the Santa Monica pier, and all the various other outdoor evening activities, outdoor meal assembling is a skill that comes in pretty handy in this town.
But if you can be bothered making 12-ingredient salads and baking pies for every screening of Kill Bill, you’re a better person than us. Our go-to move is to head to one of these spots pre-event and pick up enough salads, sandwiches, and cured meats to feed an army. It’s the easy way to be crowned picnic champion of the year.
Yes, this is where everyone gets their picnic supplies. No, that doesn’t make it any less good. Joan’s on Third knows exactly what they’re doing. They’ll put together a picnic box for you, or you can build your own, choosing from the store’s huge selection of sandwiches, salads, cheese, and meats. You don’t even have to stop at the liquor store - they have plenty of wine here too. And don’t you dare skip dessert.
Need an easy option? Swing by Larchmont Wine and Cheese. If you’re there before 5pm (and they haven’t already run out of bread), you can pick up a sandwich. If not, you won’t get a sandwich, but you will load up on cheese, charcuterie, and all the wine. Neither will result in disappointment.
Stop in for one of their daily specials (if you see the lobster rolls, act fast), or get one of the super helpful staff members to help you put together a seafood spread. They also do pretty killer party platters - crab claws won’t ever let you down. Just don’t forget your trusty insulated bag for safe transportation.
It’s another place with ‘market’ in its name, so you probably know the drill by now. They do picnic boxes with sandwiches, salads, and wine. Their real winner move is throwing in wine glasses and a corkscrew with every box that includes wine - because we definitely haven’t ever brought three bottles of wine to the Bowl and forgotten a corkscrew. Nope, not ever.
Picnics and seafood might not seem like a great idea, but Sugarfish is actually perfect for outdoor eating (because there’s apparently nothing these geniuses haven’t figured out). Takeout boxes are handily compartmentalized and easily stackable, and there’s no dealing with paper plates when everybody has their own Trust Me box. Hit the Hollywood location before the Bowl or a cemetery screening.
There are three Larders - Brentwood, West Hollywood-ish, Beverly Hills - and all have the drop-in-and-take-out thing down pat. They have a range of picnic boxes, or just go in and mix and match some salads, sandwiches, and (obviously) pastries.
We could, and have, spent hours at the cheese counter at Wally’s. If heaven has a place on Earth, it’s probably right here on Canon Drive. Turn up at the picnic with a Wally’s bag and you’ll be the automatic MVP.
Of course Bay Cities is on the list. The Godmother is the ultimate picnic sandwich - there’s nothing particularly sloppy in it, so no soaked-through roll once you’ve rolled out the blankets. Pick up some cannoli while you’re at it.
There are all kinds of things to eat at Froma - dips, pizza, salads - but we get one thing and one thing only. The Alpino sandwich. This, plus a bottle of wine, and Froma has the outdoor eating thing covered.
This little spot in Eagle Rock has a daily rotating menu of sandwiches that you’ll need to get in quick for before they run out. But even if you miss out, you can’t really be disappointed here - the cheese case is enormous, there’s a fridge full of goodies, and best of all, plenty of wine to take with you.
We’re not here to hide our love of California Chicken Cafe. We’re here to share it. Because with its Hollywood Forever-adjacent location, this spot’s fresh chicken-centric wraps, salads, plates, and sides make for an ideal picnic situation. Don’t miss out on the broccoli pasta salad (and don’t pretend you’re not excited that it involves ranch dressing).