It’s getting nicer out, which means we’re contractually obligated to provide you with ideas for your next picnic (even if that picnic is you sitting on your duvet on the floor with a window cracked). So pack up your favorite tote bag and head to one of these 21 spots to pick up food for your afternoon in the sun.
Lucinda’s Deli & More
The incredible sandwiches from Lucinda’s Deli & More are masterpieces - and they’re also the reason Lucinda’s is one of our favorite new restaurants from last year. It’s hard to articulate exactly what makes them such works of art, but we’ll try - it’s probably the fresh, crunchy roll, and the fact that they’re stuffed to the brim with fillings like mortadella and tapenade, or spicy tuna and sriracha mayo. And even better: Lucinda’s is right on the corner of Alamo Square.
El Metate in the Mission is a hot contender for our favorite burrito in the city - theirs are long, thin, and consistently delicious. We’d honestly accept any excuse to pick one up and eat it in the sun. Get the carnitas or carne asada.
The Epicurean Trader
If variety is the spice of life, Epicurean Trader is very spicy. The food and beverage shop has everything from fresh bread to pints of ice cream to Compartes chocolate with donuts and coffee. So choosing what to order for your picnic will be an incredible exercise in self-control. We believe in you. Walk up, or order ahead here.
Palm City is home to another one of our favorite new sandwiches in the city: the Italian American hoagie, an arm-length behemoth filled with mortadella, salami, mozzarella, onion, arugula, parmesan, and a swath of ’nduja mayo. It’s also a great one-stop shop if you’re trying to set up at Ocean Beach for the day - while you’re there, pick up a bottle of wine, a side of spicy garlic cheese dip, and brown butter and chocolate chip cookies.
The Ferry Building has filled their back plaza with socially distanced, umbrella-covered tables - but if it’s more of a take-off-your-shoes-and-chill-on-a-blanket kind of day, stop by and pick up some picnic essentials on your way to the patch of grass of your choosing. If you’re overwhelmed by the choices in there, a baguette from Acme is the ideal base for a generous slab of Cowgirl Creamery’s soft, buttery Mt. Tam cheese, topped off with salami from Golden Gate Meat Co.
Marlena in Bernal Heights is taking full advantage of their proximity to Precita Park (it’s right across the street) - they have three types of picnic baskets you can order, all of which come with your very own blanket. What goes in the baskets ranges from charcuterie and their housemade pâté a campagne to fried chicken sandwiches with buffalo sauce. You can reserve one ahead of time here.
Burke & Black
Burke & Black specializes in beautiful grazing platters and boxes that can feed 2 to 20 people (or, alternatively, you, 20 times). They’re offering cheese and charcuterie spreads and fruit and veggie boards, which you can order online for delivery in SF (or email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a pick up).
Molinari is a North Beach institution that makes delicious Italian sandwiches. They’re the perfect picnic companion - an even better one than, dare we say, your dog? The sandwiches are stuffed with layers of meat, cheese, and all the fixings on your choice of bread (we like the soft roll or the Dutch crunch) - and while you’re there, pick up a bottle of wine, too.
LoJo’s Tacos is a breakfast taco pop-up that operates out of Avedano’s Meats in Bernal Heights. Their tacos are filled with things like bacon, flavorful chorizo, eggs, and avocado, all tucked into thick flour tortillas and topped with house-made salsas. They’re optimally located right next to Holly Park - so you can pick up breakfast (and coffee from Pinhole next door) before heading over.
Cheese Plus in Polk Gulch is offering a cheese and charcuterie boxed lunch, which also comes with crackers and baguettes that the menu describes as “tender.” They also have an extensive assortment of drinks, chips, snacks, and cheese, charcuterie, and veggie platters. You can pre-order online or stop by their pick up window.
Yet another carbs + pork combo that we’ll recommend for your picnic today: the char siu bao from Good Mong Kok Bakery in Chinatown. You also can’t go wrong with the siu mai or sesame balls - both of which are excellent choices to take to your socially-distanced chalk circle at the park.
The Inner Sunset bakery and pizzeria is always a great place for coffee, scones, muffins, and other fresh-baked pastries and bread. And if you’re headed for a picnic in Golden Gate Park, consider stopping by Arizmendi first to pick up one of their excellent vegetarian pizzas with sourdough crusts. They have a different pizza every day, so check their pizza calendar to see what’s on the menu.
Bi-Rite Market - the serial picnicker’s dream. Their deli counter offers great sandwiches, and the market itself has a huge selection of bread, meats, cheeses, fresh fruits, and snacks from spots around the city. You can also stop by Bi-Rite Creamery across the street from the market for scoops of ice cream.
If today’s going to be a serious all-day picnic situation, you’ll need something that will sustain you for many hours. Let that something be a sandwich from Lou’s Cafe. They have tons of options, but we like the turkey cranberry, which you can currently order from their Parkside and Richmond locations.
On your way to Dolores Park, stop by Señor Sisig’s brick-and-mortar in the Mission for burritos stuffed with adobo garlic rice and sweet pork, or loaded fries, all of which taste very good while you’re laying horizontal in the sunshine. They also have a new-ish vegan truck (Señor Sisig Vegano) that usually parks in the Mission, if you’d rather have all of the above in plant-based form.
The Mill makes some of our favorite bread in SF - so it’s no surprise that we love their thick-cut pieces of toast, topped with everything from avocado to a magical mix of cinnamon sugar and butter. They also serve Four Barrel coffee drinks out of their to-go window - so if you’re on your way to a breakfast-y picnic at Alamo Square, you can grab a latte, toast, and other pastries or bread to take with you.
This spot in the Richmond makes great birria tacos and massive tortas stuffed with the meat of your choice (we like the carne asada), queso fresco, carrots, jalapeños, and mayo. It’s the perfect handheld companion to bring with you to Golden Gate Park for a day of dog-watching and naps.
Whether you’re casually heading to the park alone or are in need of a serious spread, Wise Sons has what you need. Grab a bagel sandwich, a loaf of challah to snack on, or one of their bagel kits - they come with lox, schmear, toppings, and four bagels.
For a picnic spread that includes waffles, perfectly-fried chicken, and cornbread, stop by Auntie April’s in Bayview. You can get everything from their signature chicken and waffles (which comes with two pieces of chicken, and either an original, cinnamon, or red velvet waffle) to a 20-piece chicken drumette meal with fries.
Java Beach Cafe
If you need a little energy before heading to Ocean Beach to lay on a blanket and do absolutely nothing all day, stop by Java Beach Cafe for a coffee and a bagel - they’ve got everything from plain bagels with cream cheese to bagel sandwiches stuffed with lox, veggies, or hummus.
Dumpling Kitchen in the Sunset is one of our many, many go-to spots for dumplings - and if you’re trying to spend all day in the park, alternating between snacking and napping, stop by for some dim sum to-go. Definitely snag an order of their pan-fried pork buns, along with siu mai, green onion pancakes, and spring rolls.