There are a ton of reasons you may head to Central Park this summer. It’s a huge space where you can safely hang out with whoever seems to care more about your birthday than you do, and you can observe boat drama unfold somewhere other than Outer Banks. And while laying in Sheep’s Meadow or reading a tell-all by the reservoir are pleasant activities on their own, they’re made a whole lot better with the addition of some food and drinks. That’s exactly what you’ll find at these 14 spots, which are all offering takeout within a couple blocks of Central Park.
East Harlem Bottling Co has a phenomenal draft beer list, which you can make use of by ordering 16-ounce, 32-ounce, or 64-ounce beers to go. In case growlers of German-style radlers and blood orange American IPAs don’t sound like a well balanced meal on their own, add some bar snacks, sandwiches, and soft pretzels. You can place an order ahead of time through their website, and pick it up from 4-10pm during the week, or 12-10pm on weekends.
Hummus is as much of a picnic staple as wicker baskets and forgetting to bring speakers, but it’s never the star attraction. North Miznon’s hummus is an exception. Order it with seared octopus and a cauliflower pita through their website between 5-9pm any day except Sunday.
The average temperature on the island of Crete in July and August is 84 degrees, which is even hotter than in Central Park. So if grilled shrimp skewers, veggie pitas, and platters of dips work for the Cretans, it should work for you too. You’ll find all of that, and a bunch of other classic Greek dishes, three blocks south of the park at Souvlaki GR.
Zucker's Bagels & Smoked Fish
Zucker’s is offering a bunch of different large format bagel options. Before you get any ideas about tire-sized bagels, know that the bagels are their normal, fantastic, hand-rolled versions, but you can order them as part of packages, like a bagel brunch for six that includes various types of cream cheese and smoked fish. This Upper West Side institution is open daily from 7am-2:30pm.
If you’re unfazed by the idea of eating matzo ball soup in the park, then it should be part of your order from Pastrami Queen on the Upper East Side. If you’d rather not be slurping soup while everyone else is trying to nap, then stick to this kosher deli’s sandwiches, like the pastrami or corned beef, both of which are as good as pretty much any other versions in the city.
All of Teranga’s West African DIY market bowls are ideal takeout options for one person. And if you’re with a group, then you can order the components of those bowls, like spicy roasted plantains or sweet potato and black eyed pea stew, in bulk. The whole menu, including drinks like hibiscus juice and mezcal margaritas, is available directly through their website from 12-8pm any day except Monday.
Breads Bakery’s Lincoln Center location is less than a block from the park, which means your iced coffee will still be cold, and your freshly made croissants and babka will still be warm by the time you find a bench with exactly zero other people on it. Place an order ahead of time by calling 212-633-2253 any day between 9am-6pm.
Playa Betty’s is usually a great place to get pitchers of margaritas, platters of chips and guacamole, and a dozen tacos with some friends. And it still is, even if you have to trade the fake palm trees inside this Upper West Side spot for real oak trees two blocks away in the park. Everything on their menu is available for takeout through their website from 1-9pm daily, including brunch specials from 1-3:30pm.
Southern fried chicken with strawberry butter-topped eggnog waffles might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about food to bring to the park, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a very good idea. But if you’d rather not deal with bringing utensils or extra maple syrup, then this Harlem spot still has you covered with delicious buffalo wings, catfish strips, and candied yams.
Marinara has locations on Amsterdam and Lexington, as well as in Midtown East. So whether you’re heading to the park from the south, east, or west, your choice for great pizza is the same. Their pizzas are available by the slice and pie, and whatever else you order, we recommend getting at least one slice of the doughy Sicilian topped with oil-filled spicy pepperoni.
As for anyone looking for pizza towards the north end of the park, check out Marlow Bistro. This Mediterranean spot on 110th offers pies ranging from a margherita that you could finish by yourself, to a mushroom pizza with fontina truffle bechamel. Whichever versions you choose, you can order ahead of time through their website, and pick it up anytime after 3pm daily.
The key thing to keep in mind about this Upper West Side diner is that they roast their turkeys in-house. So while the menu is huge, ranging from omelettes to meatloaf, don’t lose sight of why you’re here. You’re here to pick up a fantastic turkey club, which you can do any day between 8am-10pm by ordering through their website.
Barney Greengrass is to the Upper West Side what Russ & Daughters is to the LES. It serves legendary smoked fish, it’s been around for more than a century, and it’s either very over or underrated depending on who you ask. Decide for yourself after ordering sable or pastrami salmon on a bagel or bialy by calling 212-724-4707.
This Harlem spot specializes in rice bowls, which may not sound exciting, but hear us out. First of all, bowls are easy to carry, and considering you may need to cover a few of Central Park’s 843 acres to find a suitable place to sit, that’s worth keeping in mind. Second, they’re filling and affordable, as the most expensive option is $13. And most importantly, these aren’t ordinary rice bowls. The grains range from jollof basmati rice to China black pineapple fried rice, and they’re topped with things like shrimp and scallops or BBQ brisket. Place your order on their website, or by calling 917-639-3919.