San Francisco has no shortage of outdoor spaces. But when we really want to sprawl out on some grass and kick it, we head to the city’s crown jewel - Golden Gate Park. So if you want to grab some food for a socially-distanced picnic, use this guide. It has 14 great takeout spots near the park that are within walking distance or a short drive.
This wine shop in the Outer Sunset loves their hoagies big - like arm-length big. And we love them, too, especially the Italian American with paper-thin mortadella, salami, mozzarella, and ’nduja mayo. Palm City also has other great picnic foods, like salads, marinated olives, cookies, and an excellent spicy cheese spread.
Twirl And Dip
If there’s one thing you get at Twirl and Dip, make it their creamy, chocolate-dipped vanilla soft serve with chunks of sticky honeycomb candy. You can find the ice cream truck at Golden Gate Park’s Music Concourse, so it’s a convenient stop before or after you set your blanket up for the day on a nearby patch of grass. Twirl and Dip is open Thursday to Sunday, 1-5:30pm.
This Russian bakery is a San Francisco institution, and dropping by for their baked piroshki, Siberian pies, and vareniki is never a bad idea. But if you really want to make your picnic as memorable as a trip to the de Young, order the pelmeni. These juicy, meaty dumplings come with sour cream, and optional broth if you want a bowl of something warm on picnic day.
The Yellow Submarine
This Inner Sunset sandwich shop is where to go when you want giant hoagies - theirs are massive and delicious. We like the steak and cheese sub, a gigantic sandwich with shredded beef, grilled onions, bell peppers, and melted cheese on a freshly-baked sourdough roll. You can also order your sandwich with a side of coleslaw, french fries, or potato salad.
We love this Inner Sunset spot that specializes in boba tea and fantastic bánh mì stuffed with everything from roasted pork belly and fried tofu to chicken. If you want to really impress your socially-distanced picnic friends, get the bulgogi beef - the meat is rich and tender, and the sandwich comes with a creamy house-made gochujang aioli we now want on everything.
Volcano Curry makes one of the best chicken katsu curries in the city, and you should absolutely order a plate on your way to the park (the curry comes in a separate container so the katsu chicken won’t get soggy in transit). Another great option from this Outer Richmond spot is the chicken katsu sandwich, stacked with two thick chicken cutlets and a ton of coleslaw.
Arguello Market has one of our favorite grocery store delis - and you shouldn’t leave without getting a roasted turkey sandwich on a Dutch crunch roll. The deli case also has plenty of other picnic-friendly options, like house-made pastas and salads.
Velo Rouge Cafe
Velo Rouge Cafe is a great brunch spot that serves breakfast burritos, bagels, and avocado toast. After 10:30am, you can order from a menu of soups, salads, and sandwiches like a BLT, tuna melt, and turkey-ham club. Whatever you get, pair it with a cup of coffee or iced tea and enjoy it on the short walk to the park - the Arguello Street entrance is just a block away.
If you’re looking for something great to eat while you enjoy a day lounging under the sun, let that something be a sandwich from Lou’s Cafe. Their Geary location has a ton of great picnic-ready sandwiches, all of which you should get with the jalapeño spread.
We head to Hook Fish Co whenever we have a craving for something that came out of the ocean - whether it’s poke or fish and chips or tacos or burritos. This place has a pretty good crab cake, too. The best part about Hook Fish Co is you can customize most orders - fish options include halibut, lingcod, yellowtail, a daily catch, and more. But whatever you get here will be great.
Java Beach Cafe
If you need a little energy before heading to Golden Gate Park to do absolutely nothing for a couple of hours, stop by Java Beach Cafe for a coffee or tea - and a wrap, salad, bagel, or hot sub sandwich.
The bakery and pizzeria in the Inner Sunset is always a great place for coffee, scones, muffins, savory focaccia, and other fresh-baked pastries. And if you’re headed for a picnic near the Japanese Tea Garden, consider ordering their excellent pizza made with a sourdough crust. They have a different pizza every day, but you can see the most current options on their online menu.
There are many reasons to love this neighborhood taqueria in the Outer Richmond - they also make great taqueria staples, like tacos, nachos, and burritos filled with chile verde pork, carne asada, spicy chicken, and beef. But our go-to is the juicy carnitas, which you should get as a super burrito with guacamole and sour cream.
Lucinda’s is one of the newest sandwich spots in the city, located east of the Golden Gate Park near Alamo Square. Stop here for one of their phenomenal sandwiches - they have a Baja avocado turkey, a soppressata with artichoke cream cheese, a BLTA, and more. The sandwich you should get, though, is the mortadella with tapenade, bagna cauda mayo, and pepper relish - it’s a well-balanced masterpiece.