When the weather gets warm in Seattle, it's prime picnic time. Here are the best markets, sandwich shops, and takeout situations to grab lunch or dinner while you make your roommate stake out a small plot of grass or sand. And if you're reading this during winter, all of these spots work equally well for a picnic in the living room. Assuming you have a comfortable carpet.
Picnics scream summer. So does fried seafood. For both in one sitting, Little Chinook’s is the perfect spot to grab fish and chips before hanging out at Discovery Park for a picnic. You can choose from many different varieties, from tempura-battered wild salmon to panko-crusted cod—it pairs perfectly with a bubbly fountain drink and watching people finish their trail hike while you sit and eat fries.
CLOSEST PARK: Discovery Park
Pane Pane Sandwiches
If you’re planning a weekday hang with friends and you know that everyone wants a sandwich but that’s as far as you’ve gotten, Pane Pane is the only answer. This place serves a salami and pepperoni sub with pesto mayo and greens that’s just as stupendous as their teriyaki meatball bánh mì. If someone can’t find a combination of meats, cheeses, sauces, and vegetables on Pane Pane’s homemade baguettes that they like, it’s time to start questioning your friendship with this person.
CLOSEST PARK: Olympic Sculpture Park
If you’re planning to set up a picnic on the east side of Lake Washington, you should be stopping at Deru Market beforehand. Not only does this place have delicious sandwiches on homemade focaccia bread, but it also has a case full of bulk salads with everything from beets with pistachio pesto to roasted carrots with salsa verde—not to mention great wood-fired pizzas if that’s more your speed. At the very least, just get a loaf of focaccia to go with meat and cheese and olives from the grocery store. But if you don’t get a slice of coconut or dark chocolate salted peanut butter layer cake to go, too, you’re making a huge mistake.
CLOSEST PARK: Heritage Park
The Independent Pizzeria
Not a lot of Neapolitan pizza is picnic-able—we’ve ruined many a white tee to fallen globs of mozzarella slipping off floppy slices. But the pies from The Independent are the exception. Their crust is light but still holds up well to toppings like speck and runny egg yolk or clams and lemon, and you can also order things to supplement your pies, like wine, cider, and appetizers like olives or grilled bread with chevre and honey.
CLOSEST PARK: Washington Arboretum
East Anchor Seafood
At this seafood market, you can grab some ahi tuna poke bowls with sriracha aioli for a refreshing under-the-sun lunch. You could also see what’s happening in the prepared food case (usually Dungeness crab snap pea salad makes an appearance), then pick up some crackers, fruit, maybe some bell peppers, and a bottle of wine to bring with you.
CLOSEST PARK: Madrona Park
DeLaurenti Food & Wine
If you need some inspiration before choosing exactly what you want to be eating on your picnic blanket, stop inside DeLaurenti (or order same-day delivery from Monday-Friday). This Italian specialty market carries a ton of local and imported products like crackers, jams, honey, nuts, chocolate, spices, and Torres potato chips, which we’re convinced are the best on the planet (dare you to change our minds). DeLaurenti carries so much wine that their online bottle list is a 27-page PDF, and they also have the best selection of charcuterie and cheese in the city. Make your own spread of these things, or just grab a truffle oil-drizzled prosciutto sandwich and a couple of Linzer tarts.
CLOSEST PARK: Olympic Sculpture Park
This little market in Portage Bay has a bunch of specialty products as well as a deli case where you can get some serious cured meats and fancy cheeses. They also serve cold sandwiches, hot sandwiches, and tasty wood-fired pizza. Grab a couple of pies (like the homemade meatball) or just load up your basket with a DIY charcuterie situation alongside some housemade lemonade.
CLOSEST PARK: Roanoke Park
The chicken cutlet sandwich is not really a thing in this city—other than Mean Sandwich’s “Buon Appetito.”It comes with provolone, buffalo mayo, pickled pepper relish, and a breaded chicken cutlet so big it juts out of the bun like an iceberg in glacial waters. It’d be perfect for a picnic even if it cools off a little bit, and so would the Italian cold cut sub or the namesake “Mean Sandwich,” with homemade corned beef, mustard, pickled cabbage, maple syrup, and lots of fresh mint.
CLOSEST PARK: Woodland Park
This fantastic wine bar in Madrona sells “Monger Boxes” that includes a selection of cheese, charcuterie, olives, bread, herb-roasted almonds, and more staples. It's a great place to start, and you can add on things like toasts, chocolate truffles, and most importantly—bottles of wine to-go.
CLOSEST PARK: Madrona Park
Joyce's Market And Cafe
On the intersection of Union and MLK, there’s a little corner shop called Joyce’s that sells cheeses, meats, pestos, mustards, homemade pastries, and wine. Pick out some things to snack on, but you definitely can’t leave without Joyce’s incredible s’mores cookies. It’s a brown sugar cookie with a graham cracker baked into the bottom, and topped with shards of really good dark chocolate and an entire sticky torched marshmallow. We’d even just grab a few of these with a bottle of Champagne and call it a day.
CLOSEST PARK: Powell Barnett Park
Michou Deli is a fantastic lunch spot with an impressive display case of premade deli sandwiches waiting to be pressed on a hot grill. They also have a refrigerator case full of dishes sold by weight in little Tupperware containers, like pasta salad and roasted golden beets. Once you’ve got your panini (get anything that has roasted chicken) and some cold orecchiette with pesto, make sure you tack on a slice of banana cake or a cornflake bar.
CLOSEST PARK: Victor Steinbrueck Park
You might see all of these picnic spreads of baguettes and charcuterie, and wonder if that’s just as exciting as a picnic’s going to get. Homer’s here if you’d rather be swiping hummus with crusty sourdough than stacking Cabot cheddar on a Ritz cracker. They’re doing freshly-made pita, lamb ragu on tahini, and roasted chicken with fruit paste, and you can also add on things like canned vermouth spritzes, bottles of wine, and of course, soft serve cones to eat on the way to the park.
CLOSEST PARK: Jefferson Park
Agua Verde Cafe
Cheese, crackers, a cold sandwich, and sparkling wine for a picnic? How predictable. Maybe you’d rather have fish tacos, chips dunked in guacamole, and tequila instead. In that case, get a spread from Agua Verde’s takeout window alongside a few of their canned prickly pear margaritas. Just don’t forget to add on some avocado sauce to pour on everything (except your margarita).
CLOSEST PARK: Gas Works Park
Marination Ma Kai
Salads don’t usually get a lot of picnic love, but we want to make sure they do for a change. Specifically, we’re talking about Marination Ma Kai’s taco salad, which is full of crunchy cabbage, marinated meats like miso ginger chicken or kalbi beef (our favorite’s the “sexy tofu”), green onion, cilantro, wedges of lime, and a generous drizzle of creamy spicy “nunya sauce” as a dressing. If you’d rather ditch the fork, you can get these things on tortillas as well. And while we’re on the topic of salads, their macaroni with spam is terrific too.
CLOSEST PARK: Alki Beach
Miri's Snack Shack
Say you get to Golden Gardens for a picnic, and realize that you forgot the key component, which is food. Thankfully, you have one option right in the middle of the sand: Miri’s. Good thing the food at this snack shack is excellent, whether you go for a chicken kebab sandwich on homemade flatbread, or mini Dutch pancakes topped with fresh jam. Even better, they have a picnic plate that comes with the aforementioned flatbread, cheeses, fruit, and nuts. Add some hummus and virgin piña colada slushies.
CLOSEST PARK: Golden Gardens Park
Cone & Steiner
This lunchtime sandwich shop on 19th also happens to be a general store with a ton of groceries and snacks for sale, most of them local (like Fuel coffee, Ellenos Greek Yogurt, Puget Sound Kombucha, Beecher’s crackers, and more). They’re open for pickup and delivery orders, too.
CLOSEST PARK: Volunteer Park
Ezell's Famous Chicken
It’s a known fact that fried chicken kinda tastes better when it’s at room temperature, and it’s also a known fact that Ezell’s makes some of the best in town. So head here and get a huge spread for you and your significant other, because nothing says true romance like an endless supply of spicy tenders in the park. Don’t forget some sides (especially the rolls).
CLOSEST PARK: Powell Barnett Park
Sam Choy's Poke to the Max
Eating cold poke on a hot day is the picnic equivalent of having a shower beer, and we’re big fans of the bowls at Sam Choy’s. The best part about grabbing takeout here is that you get a lot of stuff in one order—some soy-seasoned fish (get the salmon over the ahi), rice, crunchy seaweed salad, and tangy pickled ginger. You could stop there, but it would be wrong not to add a spam musubi or two.
CLOSEST PARK: Genesee Park
Magnuson Cafe & Brewery
If you thought of everything except a beverage for a Magnuson Park picnic, use this cafe and brewery for their takeout mason jars full of homemade beer. They have a nice variety, from creamsicle pale ales to three different hazy IPAs. Not only that, but these jars are available as 16-ounce pours, 32-ounce pours, or 64-ounce pours if this picnic is about to be the party of the year.
CLOSEST PARK: Magnuson Park