Few things exemplify summertime quite like a good picnic. Considering Chicago is chock full of picnic-friendly parks and restaurants and shops brimming with provisions, it’s never been easier to stock up and revel in the season in style. Here’s where you should go to pack a picnic this summer in Chicago:
Cheeses, charcuterie, wine, bread and more. This can all be had at Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine, AKA your dream store for all things picnics. The market has locations in Lakeview, the Loop, Andersonville, and the Chicago French Market, ensuring customers are never far from their next picnic experience. Either assemble your own feast, order some sandwiches and sides, or compile a combo of both. They also have customized picnic packages, just to make things easy.
If you’d like to give your picnics at Italian accent, why not check out Eataly and go on a bit of a shopping spree? The Italian market and restaurant complex contains a dizzying array of grab-and-go dishes and drinks spread over 63,000 square feet and two floors. The first level contains a grocery-style marketplace stocked with produce and even a vegetable butcher on-hand to chop and prep your veggies for you. Go around the corner to purchase chocolates and other sweets before heading upstairs to peruse cheeses, wines, beers, meats, sandwiches and lots more.
Located around the corner from Millennium Park, Grant Park, and Maggie Daley Park, Toni Patisserie & Cafe is ideally situated for picnicking. Just in time for the height of summer, the cafe once again released its “pique-nique” lunch and dinner boxes, each containing a sandwich, a salad, a side, and dessert. Entree options include ham and Gruyere sandwiches, apple and Brie sandwiches, roast beef, and tuna sandwiches, while salads include Nicoise and Mediterranean. For sides, there’s chips, fruit, or mixed greens, followed by a brownie, chocolate chip cookie, macarons, or shortbread cookies for dessert. Place an advance order by calling the cafe or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Boxed are a mere $14.95, and splits of sparkling wine, white, rosé, or red wine can be added for $15.
Picnic baskets are back in action at The Florentine. The Loop restaurant is within walking distance to a variety of park-based activities, making it another apt spot to fuel up with al fresco provisions. There are two custom baskets available for order, including the Ciao Bello Date Basket ($65) brimming with grissini, assorted cheeses, marinated olives, prosciutto and melon, grilled vegetables, roasted chicken, assorted biscotti, and a bottle of red or white wine. Then there’s the Italian Summer in the City Basket ($40), rife with homemade chips with rosemary salt, chicken panini, spinach salad, and panna cotta, plus bottled water or Pellegrino sparkling juices. Baskets are available through Labor Day and both come with two cans of soda, two bottles of water, and all the essential napkins, flatware, plastic wine glasses, and plates. Call the restaurant at least three hours before pickup to place an order.
- Matt Kirouac