This city really explodes with activity when the weather gets warm. Which means you’re in for a summer full of outdoor events like concerts and festivals and awkward alumni bonfire meetups. And since you’re a human and you get hungry, you’re going to want to bring some food to these events. Here are the best markets, sandwich shops, and takeout spots to visit while you make your friends stake out a small plot of grass or sand somewhere. Just get ready to not have any free time again until October.
The grand champion of Italian cold sandwiches. While Salumi’s hours aren’t the most convenient for picnics (they’re only open on weekdays for lunch), this place works perfectly when you’re playing hooky, because your day off is only going to be improved by a sandwich with soppressata, homemade mozzarella, and garlic/caper/olive oil spread on ciabatta. Get that, or stop by for some housemade cured meats to save in your fridge until the weekend.
Here’s a scenario you might relate to: you’re wandering around Pike/Pine and you want to do something a little more imaginative than getting your picnic supplies at QFC. Stop by Kurt Farm Shop instead for cheese made with milk from their own cows on Vashon Island. Add some crackers and housemade shortbread, and if you’d also like something hot, a grilled cheese on como bread with tomato jam is not a bad route to take. They sell cured meats from Salumi, too, to save you the trip there (keep that in mind for weekends). Go ahead and pregame your picnic with a scoop of ice cream, too.
If you’re on the Eastside and heading to Marymoor for a concert - or Woodinville to do some wine tasting - 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. And there are wood-fired pizzas, too, 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 peanut butter layer cake to go, too, you’re making a mistake.
We like to come here, sit inside, and have a low-key glass of wine with some smoked fish crostini, then possibly grab some fresh produce to cook for dinner. Picnic-wise, most of their menu isn’t available to-go, which is a bummer - but you can grab some ahi tuna poke bowls with sriracha aioli, or see what’s happening in the prepared food case (hope for Dungeness crab snap pea salad), then pick up some crackers and fruit or bell peppers to bring with you.
Turkey clubs and potato chips and cookies are foods that seem to have been designed for consumption outside on some kind of blanket, and there’s no better place to get all of these things together than Hitchcock. All the meats here are cured, smoked, or roasted in-house, the chips are in the form of mini Tim’s baggies, and the chocolate chip cookies are topped with cacao nibs and flaky salt. Perfect.
If you need some inspiration before choosing exactly what you want to be eating under the sun, brave the Pike Place insanity and stop inside DeLaurenti. It’s an Italian specialty market that carries a ton of local and imported products like crackers, jams, olive oils, nuts, chocolate, spices, and even potato chips (get a big bag of the black truffle ones). Not to mention the upstairs section with hard-to-find wine and beer, and a great selection of charcuterie and cheese. Make your own spread of these things, or just grab a cold cut sandwich from their front case. But don’t forget the filled-to-order cannolis. Or the incredible homemade chocolate chip cookie. Or the delicious linzer tarts. OK, just get all of it. You’re sharing it, after all. We assume.
You always remember your first warm-weather BBQ pulled pork sandwich from RoRo. It’s that good. The homemade sauce has that ideal mix of tang and spice, the meat is smoky, and the bread (a soft kaiser roll covered in cornmeal) is perfect. Add sides like mac and cheese or cornbread, take it to your spot, and try to finish it before your dog can figure out where that smell is coming from.
A little market in the Portage Bay neighborhood that 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 do cold sandwiches, hot sandwiches, and great wood-fired pizza. Get some pies (like the homemade meatball) or just load up your basket with snacks and carry out some housemade lemonade.
The chicken cutlet sandwich is not really a thing in this city - other than Mean Sandwich’s Buon Appetito, i.e. a fresh macrina roll with provolone, buffalo mayo, and a breaded chicken cutlet so big it sticks out of the bun. It’d be perfect for a picnic (just be prepared for a little mess), but so would the Italian cold cut sub or the falafel sandwich or the namesake Mean Sandwich (with homemade corned beef, mustard, pickled cabbage, maple syrup, and mint).
If your event happens to be at Golden Gardens, you have one option right there: Miri’s. Good thing the food at Miri’s is excellent, whether you go for a chicken kebab sandwich on homemade flatbread, an acai bowl, 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, virgin pina colada slushies, and a round of the very delicious chocolate chip cookies.
Maybe you’re planning to do a sunset bonfire at Golden Gardens, and want something that’s warm and also won’t end up covered in sand/whatever your friend’s dog just shook off after going for a swim. A hot sub from Royal Grinders is the answer. Sitting on the beach with an incredible toasted cold cut sandwich covered in provolone and homemade garlic ranch is our idea of a good time. It should be yours, too.
We’re not going to get into the Heaven Sent vs. Ezell’s debate right now, because we’re just trying to help you out, not get anyone upset. So just know that Ezell’s is on this guide because of how convenient it is. Anyway, it’s a known fact that fried chicken kinda tastes better when it’s at room temperature, so head here and get eight spicy pieces for you and your friends. Don’t forget some sides (especially the rolls).
Humble Pie uses all local and organic ingredients (including eggs from their own chicken coop), so it’s pretty fitting pizza to be eating while sitting on a towel outside in a park. Better yet, they deliver, so you can call ahead and set up the picnic site while you wait for your fresh margherita pies to come. What a time to be alive.
The Other Coast Cafe is one of those spots where the hot sandwiches are just as great as the cold ones. And depending on how breezy it is, you might want a toasty one. Our favorite here is the Electric Wizard, which has smoked ham, smoked mozzarella, and balsamic mayo - but anything will be good.
Another excellent spot for sandwiches of all kinds - from butter chicken to banh mi to the very tasty chicken with hazelnut pesto and Beecher’s - with the option of gluten-free baguettes for those who want them. If you’re really getting into the summer spirit, do the BBQ pulled pork.