With Labor Day on the horizon, now might be a good time to plan a picnic to enjoy the final days of summer. For those who want to avoid the larger grocery chains, there are smaller markets — and even plenty of restaurants — that can cover most outdoor, checkered-blanket dining needs. Here are just a few suggestions of where to grab cheeses, snacks, wine, and other essentials for a leisurely, sunny afternoon. Places are listed from north to south, and there’s a more comprehensive grocery shopping guide here.Read More
Where to Get Great Labor Day Weekend Picnic Food Around Seattle
From smaller grocers to restaurants offering large platters
Pinehurst’s Jewish deli features sourdough, rye bread, babkas, and challah among its more popular items in its “daily bread section.” There are also bagels, cream cheeses, sandwiches, meat by the pound, made-to-order sandwiches, and pantry staples available for weekly delivery throughout the Seattle area. And for those looking to add some drinks to the meal, the deli has some six-packs of beer from local purveyors, as well as wine.
This specialty foods market and all-day cafe in Ballard has some made-to-order menu items such as corned beef sandwiches, salads, focaccia, and whole rotisserie chickens. The retail area offers fresh produce, cheeses, and snacks, as well as local beer and wine, all available for takeout and no-contact neighborhood delivery daily, in addition to onsite shopping.
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Volunteer Park Cafe and Pantry
This Capitol Hill mainstay recently reopened under new ownership as an all-day hybrid coffee shop, bottleshop, and corner market. In addition to intriguing treats from head baker Crystal Chiu (formerly of Canlis), there’s a strong selection of natural wine bottles and packaged goods made for outdoor snacking, including Matiz sardines.
This smaller, but still excellent offshoot of popular Korean shop H Mart in South Lake Union has so many delights. One of the main attractions is a steam station, serving up doughnut-shaped dumplings (kimchi, beef, and vegetable with glass noodles). But there is also an extensive selection of other great options in the small food court, along with a robust bakery, amazing snacks, and packaged meals galore.
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Big John's PFI
For nearly 50 years, Big John’s PFI has been known as a hidden gem for specialty groceries and gourmet items, including fancy olive oil, cheese, and wines. It’s recently moved to a new location on S Dearborn Street, but still retains the same old school vibe. Some of the prices can be on the pricey side, but this is definitely the place to go if one is looking to put together a premium charcuterie and cheese board.
Lil Red Takeout and Catering
Southern barbecue meets Jamaican flavors at this takeout-only restaurant and caterer in Columbia City, with a menu that allows one to buy in smaller amounts or in bulk. Items range from fantastic jerk fried chicken to barbecue wings to delectable smoked and fried bologna sandwiches. And for the larger picnic parties, there are platters of ribs, brisket, and other meat-heavy platters available.
The longtime deli, market, and sweets shop has an excellent selection of breakfast sandwiches, panini, and burritos, as well as an extensive selection of chips, crackers, cheese, and other snacks, from a variety of local companies. Those who have a reliable cooler on hand may want to consider some ice cream for the road as well.
Sam Choy's Poke to the Max
Seattle’s “godfather of poke” has some family meals and party platters available for takeout, created for 3-5 people (the poke version can feed up to 12). Diners can mix and match proteins, such as katsu chicken and kalua pork, with a variety of add-on sides like lumpia and mac salad, or get just a whole bunch of musubi — a wonderful picnic snack.
Many Seattleites likely have their own preferred banh mi destination, but it’s hard to beat this South Seattle spot for its perfectly flaky baguettes and expertly prepared grilled pork (though insiders may want to go for the fried catfish version). Many of the other prepared foods (like steamed hum bao) are worth a look for a takeout feast, all perfectly packaged for easy transport.
Salvadorean Bakery and Restaurant Inc.
This friendly White Center bakery has long drawn in fans to the neighborhood for its outstanding selections of baked goods. In addition to some stellar pupusas, diners can load up trays with excellent Mexican or Salvadorean pastries filled with guava, mango, or molasses, and take them to go, while perusing other enticing snacks lining the shelves.
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