Regulated outdoor dining has found a new home among NYC residents craving a sit-down meal. But for those looking to escape the crowds — or weeks-long reservations — of outdoor seating, packing food into a basket and picnicking under the sun may still be the best option for now.
Below is a list of NYC restaurants selling outdoor picnic kits — or the supplies needed to make one — whether the occasion calls for a box of Mexican pastries, a bright bottle of natural wine, or luxe picnic basket from a two-Michelin-starred restaurant. If there’s something in your picnic basket that we’ve missed, let us know at email@example.com. This list will be updated regularly.
Following the list is a set of rules that should be observed for a safe picnic.
Aquavit: Two-Michelin-starred restaurant Aquavit is serving fancy picnic boxes that are priced at $125 and serve two. The wicker baskets include upscale items like duck pastrami, chicken liver pate with lingonberries, dessert, and fruits, among other items. The Swedish-style picnics need to be ordered 24 hours in advance. 65 E. 55th St., between Madison and Park Avenues, Midtown East, near Central Park
Blue Smoke: Danny Meyer’s barbecue restaurant Blue Smoke is doing a picnic box geared for the Fourth of July holiday weekend. The $165 box serves six and comes with a variety of meats, coleslaw, cornbread muffins, and chocolate cookies. The box can be picked up hot the day of or cold with reheating instructions starting July 1. 255 Vesey St., near North End Avenue, Financial District, close to Rockefeller Park
Bubby’s: Brunch staple Bubby’s reopened this week for takeout and delivery at its Tribeca outpost. While a picnic consisting just of the restaurant’s blueberry pancakes would also be acceptable, consider the fried chicken picnic package ($100), which serves four and comes with fried chicken, mashed potatoes, slaw, biscuits, and homemade jam. The picnic kit also comes with four slices of Bubby’s popular pie, which is known to rival the city’s best. 120 Hudson Street, at the corner of North Moore Street, Tribeca, a short walk from Hudson River Park
Ciao, Gloria: After a brief hiatus, Prospect Heights bakery Ciao, Gloria reopened last month for takeout and delivery through Caviar. The Italian-American cafe has lots of light bites on deck including breakfast cookies, coffee cake, and sandwiches served on housemade focaccia. Ciao, Gloria is also available for daily delivery and takeout from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. 550 Vanderbilt Avenue, between Pacific and Dean Streets, Prospect Heights, a short walk away from Prospect Park
Doaba Deli: For simple, homestyle Indian food that’s easy to eat on-the-go, head to this corner deli on the Upper West Side. Parathas — Indian flatbreads that are served at the deli with a variety of stuffings including potato, paneer, and cauliflower — are a solid bet for an outdoor picnic. Pair it with some of the fresh juices that are made at the deli, to round out the meal. The deli is only open for takeout and orders can be placed by calling 212-222-2636. 945 Columbus Avenue, between West 107th and West 106th Streets, Upper West Side, a few blocks away from Central Park
Eataly: The Flatiron location of the global Italian food hall for meats, cheeses, and fluffy focaccia is available for delivery through Caviar. Assemble a spread of cheeses and cured meats — like burrata with soppressata picante or ricotta and mixed salumi — or order one the restaurant’s heartier panini sandwiches to be enjoyed outdoors. Individual and batch versions of summery cocktails, like the Aperol spritz, are also available. 200 Fifth Avenue, between West 23rd and West 24th Streets, Flatiron, across from Madison Square Park
June Wine Bar: Cobble Hill natural wine bar June has upped its delivery and takeout game to include a selection of sauces, spices, and shareable meal kits. The restaurant’s mezze kit ($59) comes with a bottle of summery sauvage chenin blanc wine and includes enough hummus, harissa, flatbread, and olives to share. Housemade sides like whipped ricotta, spicy mayo, and poblano dip can be used to bulk up an order, as can an extra bottle of wine from the bar’s lengthy selection, one of the borough’s best. 231 Court Street, between Baltic and Warren Streets, Cobble Hill, near Carroll Park
La Fondita: Pork ribs are a staple of picnics and backyard barbecues across the country, and this Mexican restaurant on the border of Woodside and Maspeth has a wonderful version of the staple bathed in brick-red mole from Guerrero. Other picnic-friendly dishes include tacos placeros filled with cheese-stuffed poblano peppers, pozole served with tostadas, and the shoe-shaped masa vessels called huarches with a choice of fillings (pick dried beef cecina). 49-11 69th Street, between 49th and 50th avenues, Woodside
La Newyorkina: Mexican-American ice cream shop La Newyorkina is known for its sweets, but during the novel coronavirus pandemic, owner Fany Gerson has also added savory, picnic-ready meals to the shop’s menu. It comes with a salad, empanadas, a quiche, cookies, and more. The $125 picnic basket serves between five to six people. 240 Sullivan Street, near West 3rd Street, Greenwich Village, near Washington Square Park
Lekka Burger: Fast-casual vegan spot Lekka is doing a $65 grill box for the Fourth of July weekend that features four ready-to-grill burger patties, along with toppings, sauces, milkshakes, and fries. Customers need to order 24 hours in advance, and the boxes can be picked up on July 3, 4, and 5 from 12:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. 81 Warren Street, between W. Broadway and Greenwich Street, Tribeca, near Rockefeller Park
Miznon: Israeli chef Eyal Shani just added a new set of Friday night family-style meals to the delivery menu at his popular chain of pita restaurants. The multi-portion dinners come with lots of dips, pita, and the option of chicken, beef, fish, and vegetarian mains. Dinners range in price from $160 to $180 and are capable of feeding four to five people. Order through the restaurant’s website by 8 p.m. on Wednesdays for delivery on Fridays between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. Inside Chelsea Market at 435 W 15th Street, Chelsea, near High Line
Otaku Katsu: Lower East Side casual Japanese restaurant Otaku Katsu is doing picnic sandwich sets that are available pick up at the restaurant Friday through Sunday. Sets include five half sandwiches like Japanese tuna salad and pork katsu, pickles, potato chips, and the option of two drinks. The kits serve two to three people and cost $50. Call the restaurant at 917-388-3924 to place an order. 137 Rivington Street, between Norfolk and Suffolk Streets, Lower East Side, near Sara Roosevelt Park
Partybus Bakeshop: Lower East Side newcomer Partybus’ cheese boards ($27.50) come with three wedges from neighboring cheesemonger Formaggio Essex, as well as housemade jam, local honey, salted butter, olives, and a loaf of Partybus’ popular baguette. When picking up orders from the bakery, the owners recommend stopping next door at Delancey Wine for a bottle or three of natural wine. The LES wine shop is running a 10 percent off special for bottles under $40 purchased with cheese board. 31 Essex Street, near Hester Street, Lower East Side, close to Seward Park
Pastrami Queen: This longtime Upper East Side Jewish Deli is selling its classic pastrami sandwich along with a host of other sandwiches including fried chicken, tuna salad, and corned beef — all of which are ideal takeout options. Sides like the potato pancakes served with sour cream and apple sauce are also a good bet. The deli is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and available for local delivery on all major third-party apps. 1125 Lexington Avenue #2, near East 78th Street, Upper East Side, a few blocks away from Central Park
Roti Roll Bombay Frankie: Columbia University-adjacent staple Roti Roll has been serving up frankies — wraps similar to kathi rolls — for years now, and these neatly-packed meat and vegetable-stuffed breads are easy to carry for a picnic nearby. Aside from the chicken and lamb options, this tiny spot has a large selection of vegetarian fillings including okra, chickpeas, mushroom, and paneer. Order takeout by calling the restaurant at 212-666-1500 and local delivery is available on all major third-party apps. 994 Amsterdam Avenue, near West 109th Street, Upper West Side, a short walk away from Central Park
Ruffian Does Dive Bar: The team behind popular East Village wine bar Ruffian is back open with a new takeout and delivery menu of small bites and shareable feasts, like a “staycation pack” ($70) that comes with burgers, tots, a salad, and two takeout cocktails. A beefier, boozed-up version of the picnic kit is also available ($135) for takeout and delivery through the restaurant’s website. Note that the picnic kits are available through the team’s Ruffian Does Dive Bar project, located inside of the Black Emperor Bar. 197 Second Avenue, near East 12th Street, East Village, close to Tompkins Square Park
Sahadi’s: Brooklyn favorite grocery store Sahadi’s is delivering its popular dips, spreads, and breads through Mercato. Assemble a DIY dinner of baba ganoush, hummus, and filo pies — as Eater reporter Erika Adams did recently — or opt for one of the grocery store’s handheld saj sandwiches. 187 Atlantic Avenue, between Court and Clinton Streets (Cobble Hill) near Brooklyn Bridge Park, and 34 35th Street, near Second Avenue (Sunset Park), a short walk away from Sunset Park
Sami and Susu: Williamsburg’s new Mediterranean entrant Sami and Susu is offering three kinds of picnic sets that range in price from $48 to $110 and can be zhuzhed up with the addition of a bottle of wine (or several). The sets include a mix of dips, breads, small dishes like the flaky savory pastry bureka. 279 Grand Street, near Roebling Street, Williamsburg, a short walk from Domino Park
Sunrise Mart: Sunrise Mart’s staggering selection of Japanese snacks and beverages is now available for delivery through Mercato. A picnic spread can easily be assembled from the grocer’s lengthy list of offerings, which include Koala’s March crackers, several flavors of Pocky, Calbee potato chips, and 5-packs of Yakult. Multiple locations
The Queensboro: Without missing a beat, Jackson Heights bistro the Queensboro began offering takeout and delivery on March 15 from its regular menu, which mainly features apps, pizzas, and pastas. These are available Tuesday through Friday from 12 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Included is such perfect picnic fare as garlic clam bread, Buffalo wings, eggplant pizza, and a chicken club sandwich served with homemade potato chips. 80-02 Northern Boulevard, at 80th Street, Jackson Heights, Travers Park is a short walk away
Taverna Kyclades: Few cuisines are as well suited to a vegetarian or pescatarian picnic as Greek. The mezethes or “small bites” could make up a perfect sylvan buffet, including stuffed grape leaves, grilled octopus tentacles, a selection of pita dips (make sure not to redip) including garlicky potato skordalia, Greek salad with plenty of feta, and fried zucchini patties. This Greek old-timer with additional branches in the East Village and Bayside is not too far from Astoria Park, with amazing views of the East River and Ward’s Island from its sloping lawn. Open noon to 8 p.m. for carryout and delivery, seven days. 33-07 Ditmars Boulevard, between 33rd and 35th streets, a 15-minute walk to Astoria Park
Winner Bakery: Park Slope’s newest entry from Michelin-starred Rebelle’s ex-chef Daniel Eddy is serving up a large selection of sandwiches like a vegetable banh mi and a B.L.T., loaves of bread including sourdough, focaccia, and baguettes, and a selection of pastries from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. 367 7th Avenue, near 11th Street, Park Slope, near Prospect Park
A Primer for Picnic Enjoyment and Safety
For a semblance of a traditional picnic, choose a green space with a view. It could be an oceanside or riverside park, an urban square, or even an unused and overgrown vacant lot. Then figure out the food and the guest list. An impromptu standing picnic is also possible, something like a cocktail party, in which dishes are placed along a park bench, say, and guests serve themselves while maintaining social distancing. Make sure every guest knows the rules for the picnic before they arrive.
Here are some picnic rules and suggestions:
1. Bring a large sheet, blanket, or bedspread, to allow the dishes to be spread far apart for easy individual access. If guests want to sit on something, each should bring a beach towel or pillow.
2. Guests must be at least six feet apart at all times.
3. Make hand sanitizer readily available.
4. Bring serving spoons, so that guests can serve themselves without dipping their personal utensils into the common vessels. Note that restaurants don’t usually provide serving spoons. If eating noodles or a tossed salad, bring a pair of tongs.
5. Also bring disposable and biodegradable paper plates or bowls, and paper towels to clean up and serve as stout napkins. Remember, restaurants preparing carryout often don’t furnish plates and individual utensils. So bring your own if necessary, and extras, too.
6. If guests are passing a common serving container, wine bottle, or other picnic item, they should sanitize their hands first, and if anyone has to sneeze or cough, they should leave the immediate area to do so.
7. Wear masks when not actually eating. Even when sipping wine afterwards, lift up the corner of the mask as necessary.
These preparations may seem draconian, but if just one guest has an asymptomatic case of the disease, all these cautions are well worth taking. Now enjoy your picnic!