Lazy summer days in LA call for bringing the family to a Hollywood Bowl concert, Shakespeare in the park or a movie outdoors. Gather those blankets and picnic baskets and enjoy the balmy California sun with the kids in tow. We went all over the city to find the best picnics-to-go options that provide sustenance for your “selective” eaters while also giving you a romantic and delicious meal that you don’t have to pack!
photo credit: courtesy of Joan’s on Third
Joan’s on Third
Pick up a picnic box from Joan’s on Third filled with classic entrees that kids adore as much as you do, like buttermilk fried chicken or toasted pita triangles with housemade apple onion dip or hummus. Desserts are plenty and will keep your little one’s sweet-tooth more than happy throughout the evening from carrot cakes to bar cookies to cupcakes. Order 48 hours in advance from their picnic menu to ensure your picnic is ready or order online although certain selections may be limited. Or better yet, take a trip to the store and grab all the goodies that can fit into your basket, whether it’s the different varieties of cheeses or the fresh veggies and hot items they have available.
Joan’s on Third has locations in Mid-City and Studio City (and a new one coming soon to Santa Monica). Check the website for addresses and hours.
photo credit: Vicky H via yelp
With over thirteen locations open (and counting), Lemonade is guaranteed to satisfy every picky-eater in the family. A salad for Mom, a braise for Dad and your mini concert-goer can choose from their endless choices of sandwiches, proteins and veggies on the side. Don’t forget macarons for everyone and their delicious variations of the classic lemonade. Every order comes in neat little to-go boxes; just make sure you grab all the plasticwares and napkins you’ll need. Pick something healthy that everyone adores (if you’re on the fence about what to get the kids, go for the mac and cheese: Lemonade’s version never fails to delight).
Lemonade has multiple locations throughout Southern California, check the website for specific spots, hours and menus.
Offering salads and complete meal options for foodies big and small, Marston’s Restaurant makes enjoying a picnic dinner at Pasadena Symphony and Pops as simple as making the order before 9 a.m. on Saturday and picking it up when you arrive for the show. Of course, if your mini picnicker loves their regular menu, they can pack those as well for you for an additional charge. And it’s not just for Pasadena Symphony and Pops patrons; these meals are great for evenings at the Levitt Pavilion (one of our favorite outdoor concerts in town) or an afternoon in the park. All the meals come with a choice of fudge brownie or chocolate chip cookie—the perfect ending to a perfect meal.
151 East Walnut St.
photo credit: Bess B via yelp
Alcove Cafe & Bakery
Alcove Cafe & Bakery offers a special theatre picnic menu with packages ranging from $38 for 2 people to $75 for 4 people. (When ordering for kids, we get the dinner for 2, with an extra order of hummus and another dessert or two!) Select the It’s All Greek to Me picnic package, which comes with a panini or wrap, salad, dessert and lemonade for a perfect light summer dinner or make it an extra special night with the Sweet Things package, enough sweets and delights for the whole family to share. And don’t forget to come back again for the Wine and Cheese Lovers Picnic to share with your sweetheart on a date night while the kids are at home with the babysitter. Call ahead to order or to customize your own basket.
Alcove Cafe & Bakery
1929 Hillhurst Avenue
photo credit: courtesy of Thyme Cafe & Market
Thyme Cafe & Market
For a gourmet dinner that feels like home cooking, order 24-48 hours in advance from Thyme Cafe & Market where they offer an extensive menu to choose from including refreshing kid-favorites like the Provencal potato salad or heirloom watermelon and tomato salad. Make it a party with a crudites platter added to dinner for 2, and the kids will sneak bites of your meal and you’ll all get your veggies. All meals are packaged in a plastic bag or cardboard traveler with utensils, salt and pepper. Don’t forget to grab the cold beverages for everyone in the refrigerated section of the store. Complete meals range from $20 to $24 per person.
Thyme Cafe & Market
1630 Ocean Park Blvd.
photo credit: courtesy of Hotel Bel-Air
The Bel-Air Picnics are year-round for non-guests as well as those staying at this historic spot. It’s our favorite elegant picnic that makes it special for grownups, but offers kid-friendly treats as well. Select a la carte items from the special picnic menu or upon request, the full restaurant menus as well. Grab a gourmet version of the grilled cheese sandwich featuring two kinds of cheeses and smoked caramelized onions on rye bread or house-made soft Bavarian pretzels while you chomp down on an assorted charcuterie and salumi platter. Finish off with some chocolate-dipped strawberries for the entire family. Individual items range from $8 to $34 with all to-go packaging and disposables provided. All orders can be picked up at the hotel’s front desk, restaurant hostess stand or even brought out to the valet area—it doesn’t get easier than that.
701 Stone Canyon Road
photo credit: Danny N via yelp
With a completely different menu from their regular restaurant menu, The Albright offers a Summer Harvest Picnic and a Pier Provisions Basket, both of which include children’s add-on options. Grub on Mary’s farm fried chicken or a BLT while pleasing those young taste buds with lightly-breaded chicken tenders or homemade fig jam sandwich. Children’s add-ons include baby carrots with homemade Ranch dressing, s’mores cookie and organic milk. Make your orders 48 hours in advance. Prices are $45/adult and $7/child, all disposables are provided. For both convenience and taste, this is our favorite spot to pick up a beach picnic or dinner to devour while catching a concert on the pier with the kids.
258 Santa Monica Pier
photo credit: courtesy of Stir Market
If you forgot to order dinner ahead of time for a movie night at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery (or any other Hollywood adjacent outing), Stir Market requires only a 4-hour notice and all picnic orders can be made online. Their summer picnic menu are great for sharing and they prepare vegetables in the most delightful way for your pint-sized foodies, like the golden apricot summer salad. Grab their cool grape coconut water and tuck in some of their amazing packaged desserts (words do not do justice to their marshmallow krispy bars) in the picnic basket to keep the kids happy. Prices range from $42 to $60.
7475 Beverly Blvd.
photo credit: courtesy of GC Marketplace
Hollywood Bowl To-Go
In a kid-friendly pre-packaged “bento box,” the American Concerto from GC Marketplace offers Picnic Style Fried Chicken, Orichetti Pasta with Sweet Peppers and Basil Pesto, Cole Slaw Vinaigrette and Summer Fruit Salad, sure to make you wish there were leftovers. All disposables are provided, just make sure you order by 2 p.m. on the day of the event. Bento boxes range from $15 to $45.
3315 Cahuenga Boulevard West
The Patina Restaurant Group restaurants at the Hollywood Bowl also offer picnic baskets for all patrons and will deliver to your box if you have a box seat. Just order by 4 p.m. the day before your concert. For growing gourmands, they will have specially-themed items throughout the season to coincide with special events including the “Hills are Alive” Bavarian pretzels, the Bugs Bunny carrot cake or a moon pie for E.T.’s evening.
The Patina Restaurant Group
2301 North Highland Avenue
What’s your go-to spot for food to-go for your summer picnics?
— Judy Park