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Jay Pritzker Music Pavilion, bandshell, Harris Theater.
It’s picnic time in Chicago.
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Where to Pick Up Picnic Food For Chicago’s Parks

Munch on sandwiches, tacos, and fried seafood

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It’s picnic time in Chicago.
| Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Warm weather has arrived and there’s no better way to take advantage of it than with al fresco dining. Chicago has plenty of options for all-seasons patios and rooftops but for those who’d prefer to take their food to go, eating in one of the city’s numerous parks is a wonderful experience as well. The following spots offer finger-friendly bites and are located close to some of the biggest public green spaces so Chicagoans can enjoy tasty and convenient picnic spreads. Just don’t forget the blanket.

As of April 29, Chicago restaurants are permitted to serve customers indoors with a 50 percent maximum capacity per room, or 100 people — whichever is fewer. Regardless, the state requires reservations for both indoor and outdoor dining. However, this should not be taken as an endorsement for dining in, as there are still safety concerns. For updated information on coronavirus cases in your area, please visit the city of Chicago’s COVID-19 dashboard. Studies indicate that there is a lower exposure risk when outdoors, but the level of risk involved with patio dining is contingent on restaurants following strict social distancing and other safety guidelines.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Ravinia Brewing Company — Ravinia Festival

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Ravinia, the North Shore’s renowned outdoor music festival, hosts dozens of shows each summer. As part of the experience, concertgoers are welcome to bring in food and drinks for picnics on the lawn. One of the best ways to reap the benefits of the BYO policy is to head to nearby Ravinia Brewing and pick up some tacos, salads, and beers to go. Online orders can be placed here. The brewery recently opened a location in Logan Square.

Chips, guac, salsa, and beers on a table.
Take the Ravinia experience to the next level with beer and food from this brewpub.
Ravinia Brewing Company [Official Photo]

Nhu Lan Bakery — Montrose Beach

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Banh mi sandwiches are an excellent on-the-go food and the finest ones can be found at this Vietnamese restaurant and bakery in Uptown. Try the house special that consists of paté, headcheese, ham, pork roll, and veggies on freshly baked bread, or order a few spring rolls. Nhu Lan is also within walking distance of Montrose Beach.

Paulie Gee's — Logan Square Park

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Lauded Brooklyn pizzeria Paulie Gee’s added a walk-up window to its operation during the pandemic shutdown. Folks can now make a quick pit stop for New York-style slices on their way to Logan Square Park. Options range from the standard cheese and pepperoni pies to unique creations like “You Feta Work” (seasoned feta tomato basil sauce, feta, basil, mushroom or sausage). A Wicker Park location also serves slices.

Evette's — Lincoln Park

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Chefs Mitchell AbouJamra and Rafa Esparza celebrate the Lebanese influence on Mexican cuisine at their fast-casual restaurant. The eclectic menu offers wraps, sandwiches, shawarma fries, tacos, and pita nachos, all of which are best enjoyed at nearby Lincoln Park or Lincoln Park Zoo. Place online orders here. It’s also a solid stop on the way to Green City Market on Saturdays.

A wrap filled with meat, veggies, and fries.
Evette’s wraps can be enjoyed anywhere.
Evette’s [Official Photo]

Spinning J Bakery and Soda Fountain — Humboldt Park

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This charming spot evokes the nostalgic feel of a vintage soda fountain and prepares picnic-friendly items like pies, breakfast and lunch sandwiches, quiches, pastries, ice cream floats, shakes, and more. Chicagoans heading to Humboldt can pre-order their spreads for pickup here.

A slice of pie.
Indulge the sweet tooth with ice cream floats and pies from Spinning J.
Spinning J [Official Photo]

MingHin Cuisine — Millennium Park

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The only thing better than all-day dim sum is all-day dim sum at Millennium Park. This local Chinese mini-chain has an outpost in Lakeshore East so feast on a spread of dumplings, buns, rice noodle rolls, and more while hanging out on Chicago’s front yard. Pre-orders can be placed here.

Jerk Taco Man — Garfield Park

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Fusion king Julius Thomas brought his jerk shack back to the West Side in 2020 by reopening its original location near Garfield Park. The popular jerk chicken tacos are a hefty half-pound each and slathered in a sweet-and-spicy sauce. The menu also includes smoked brisket, jerk rib tips, jerk pizza, and traditional Jamaican dishes like oxtail stew. Online ordering is available here.

Eastgate Cafe — Columbus Park

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Offering light American and European fare, Eastgate Café is the ideal place to load up on picnic foods. Grab sandwiches and salads and then walk a few minutes east to Columbus Park for al fresco dining.

Eleven City Diner — Grant Park

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Corned beef and Reuben sandwiches are always a good choice but even more so when they can be enjoyed in Grant Park. Old school diner and deli Eleven City offers everything needed for a delicious spread, such as “lox boxes,” salads, cold sandwiches, melts, ice cream floats, pies, cakes, and more.

La Chaparrita — Douglass Park

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Hidden inside a grocery store on a side street in Little Village, La Chaparrita serves arguably the best tacos in town. The crispy tripe, cooked in a circular metal pan called a charola, is phenomenal and joined by other stellar options like suadero and longaniza. Order a variety to try at Douglass Park.

Dock's — Burnham Park

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Fried seafood is the name of the game at this Bronzeville spot. Folks come for the signature Fishwich and other delights like catfish fillets, fish nuggets, and jumbo shrimp. Dock’s is located west of Burnham Park and the Lakefront Trail.

Carver 47 Food & Wellness Market — Burnham Park

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South Side arts center Little Black Pearl is home to this café and market, where guests can buy salads, flatbreads, wraps, hot sandwiches, juices, smoothies, pastries, and snacks. Order online here and take the food to nearby Burnham Park.

A plated pita sandwich.
Carver 47 offer sandwiches, juices, and more.
Carver 47 [Official Photo]

Friistyle — Washington Park

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Belgian-style pomme frites with a twist is the focus at this restaurant near Washington Park. Instead of being a side dish, the fries are topped with hearty proteins and serve as full, shareable meals. Toppings include smoked chicken wings, Italian beef, lobster, jerk salmon, and roasted veggies. Save time by ordering carryout here.

The Bakery at Piccolo Mondo — Jackson Park

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Although Hyde Park’s Piccolo Mondo specializes in Italian cuisine, the bakery in front of the restaurant goes in a different direction. Inspired by the nationality of the owners, there’s an assortment of Argentinean pastries, cookies, and sandwiches to choose from. These finger foods are the perfect snacks for a picnic across the street at Jackson Park.

Tony's Italian Beef — Marquette Park

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West Lawn favorite Tony’s makes what many locals think is the most exceptional Italian beef. The sandwich pairs thicker-than-normal slices of seasoned roast beef with a hot pepper mix that contains chickpeas. Other menu highlights include burgers, Vienna Beef hot dogs, and chicken and steak sandwiches. Items are also sold in party sizes so customers can order beef, sausage, and meatballs by the pound and have a picnic in Marquette Park.

Calumet Fisheries — Calumet Park

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Long considered one of the city’s most essential restaurants, Calumet Fisheries provides the perfect bites for a picnic spread. Because the smokehouse lacks seating, diners must either eat in their vehicles or find an outdoor space, such as Calumet Park, to enjoy their food. The menu features a variety of smoked fish and fried specialties like shrimp, scallops, and catfish. Bring bills too as it’s cash only.

Ravinia Brewing Company — Ravinia Festival

Chips, guac, salsa, and beers on a table.
Take the Ravinia experience to the next level with beer and food from this brewpub.
Ravinia Brewing Company [Official Photo]

Ravinia, the North Shore’s renowned outdoor music festival, hosts dozens of shows each summer. As part of the experience, concertgoers are welcome to bring in food and drinks for picnics on the lawn. One of the best ways to reap the benefits of the BYO policy is to head to nearby Ravinia Brewing and pick up some tacos, salads, and beers to go. Online orders can be placed here. The brewery recently opened a location in Logan Square.

Chips, guac, salsa, and beers on a table.
Take the Ravinia experience to the next level with beer and food from this brewpub.
Ravinia Brewing Company [Official Photo]

Nhu Lan Bakery — Montrose Beach

Banh mi sandwiches are an excellent on-the-go food and the finest ones can be found at this Vietnamese restaurant and bakery in Uptown. Try the house special that consists of paté, headcheese, ham, pork roll, and veggies on freshly baked bread, or order a few spring rolls. Nhu Lan is also within walking distance of Montrose Beach.

Paulie Gee's — Logan Square Park

Lauded Brooklyn pizzeria Paulie Gee’s added a walk-up window to its operation during the pandemic shutdown. Folks can now make a quick pit stop for New York-style slices on their way to Logan Square Park. Options range from the standard cheese and pepperoni pies to unique creations like “You Feta Work” (seasoned feta tomato basil sauce, feta, basil, mushroom or sausage). A Wicker Park location also serves slices.

Evette's — Lincoln Park

A wrap filled with meat, veggies, and fries.
Evette’s wraps can be enjoyed anywhere.
Evette’s [Official Photo]

Chefs Mitchell AbouJamra and Rafa Esparza celebrate the Lebanese influence on Mexican cuisine at their fast-casual restaurant. The eclectic menu offers wraps, sandwiches, shawarma fries, tacos, and pita nachos, all of which are best enjoyed at nearby Lincoln Park or Lincoln Park Zoo. Place online orders here. It’s also a solid stop on the way to Green City Market on Saturdays.

A wrap filled with meat, veggies, and fries.
Evette’s wraps can be enjoyed anywhere.
Evette’s [Official Photo]

Spinning J Bakery and Soda Fountain — Humboldt Park

A slice of pie.
Indulge the sweet tooth with ice cream floats and pies from Spinning J.
Spinning J [Official Photo]

This charming spot evokes the nostalgic feel of a vintage soda fountain and prepares picnic-friendly items like pies, breakfast and lunch sandwiches, quiches, pastries, ice cream floats, shakes, and more. Chicagoans heading to Humboldt can pre-order their spreads for pickup here.

A slice of pie.
Indulge the sweet tooth with ice cream floats and pies from Spinning J.
Spinning J [Official Photo]

MingHin Cuisine — Millennium Park

The only thing better than all-day dim sum is all-day dim sum at Millennium Park. This local Chinese mini-chain has an outpost in Lakeshore East so feast on a spread of dumplings, buns, rice noodle rolls, and more while hanging out on Chicago’s front yard. Pre-orders can be placed here.

Jerk Taco Man — Garfield Park

Fusion king Julius Thomas brought his jerk shack back to the West Side in 2020 by reopening its original location near Garfield Park. The popular jerk chicken tacos are a hefty half-pound each and slathered in a sweet-and-spicy sauce. The menu also includes smoked brisket, jerk rib tips, jerk pizza, and traditional Jamaican dishes like oxtail stew. Online ordering is available here.

Eastgate Cafe — Columbus Park

Offering light American and European fare, Eastgate Café is the ideal place to load up on picnic foods. Grab sandwiches and salads and then walk a few minutes east to Columbus Park for al fresco dining.

Eleven City Diner — Grant Park

Corned beef and Reuben sandwiches are always a good choice but even more so when they can be enjoyed in Grant Park. Old school diner and deli Eleven City offers everything needed for a delicious spread, such as “lox boxes,” salads, cold sandwiches, melts, ice cream floats, pies, cakes, and more.

La Chaparrita — Douglass Park

Hidden inside a grocery store on a side street in Little Village, La Chaparrita serves arguably the best tacos in town. The crispy tripe, cooked in a circular metal pan called a charola, is phenomenal and joined by other stellar options like suadero and longaniza. Order a variety to try at Douglass Park.

Dock's — Burnham Park

Fried seafood is the name of the game at this Bronzeville spot. Folks come for the signature Fishwich and other delights like catfish fillets, fish nuggets, and jumbo shrimp. Dock’s is located west of Burnham Park and the Lakefront Trail.

Carver 47 Food & Wellness Market — Burnham Park

A plated pita sandwich.
Carver 47 offer sandwiches, juices, and more.
Carver 47 [Official Photo]

South Side arts center Little Black Pearl is home to this café and market, where guests can buy salads, flatbreads, wraps, hot sandwiches, juices, smoothies, pastries, and snacks. Order online here and take the food to nearby Burnham Park.

A plated pita sandwich.
Carver 47 offer sandwiches, juices, and more.
Carver 47 [Official Photo]

Friistyle — Washington Park

Belgian-style pomme frites with a twist is the focus at this restaurant near Washington Park. Instead of being a side dish, the fries are topped with hearty proteins and serve as full, shareable meals. Toppings include smoked chicken wings, Italian beef, lobster, jerk salmon, and roasted veggies. Save time by ordering carryout here.

The Bakery at Piccolo Mondo — Jackson Park

Although Hyde Park’s Piccolo Mondo specializes in Italian cuisine, the bakery in front of the restaurant goes in a different direction. Inspired by the nationality of the owners, there’s an assortment of Argentinean pastries, cookies, and sandwiches to choose from. These finger foods are the perfect snacks for a picnic across the street at Jackson Park.

Tony's Italian Beef — Marquette Park

West Lawn favorite Tony’s makes what many locals think is the most exceptional Italian beef. The sandwich pairs thicker-than-normal slices of seasoned roast beef with a hot pepper mix that contains chickpeas. Other menu highlights include burgers, Vienna Beef hot dogs, and chicken and steak sandwiches. Items are also sold in party sizes so customers can order beef, sausage, and meatballs by the pound and have a picnic in Marquette Park.

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Calumet Fisheries — Calumet Park

Long considered one of the city’s most essential restaurants, Calumet Fisheries provides the perfect bites for a picnic spread. Because the smokehouse lacks seating, diners must either eat in their vehicles or find an outdoor space, such as Calumet Park, to enjoy their food. The menu features a variety of smoked fish and fried specialties like shrimp, scallops, and catfish. Bring bills too as it’s cash only.

Related Maps