This post originally ran on August 12, 2008. We updated it with a few new snacks, and checked to make sure all these places are still open. And, check out More Meals on a Blanket, three new picnic places we just added in a new post.
This week’s weather hasn’t been the most inspiring on the picnic front, but as long as the gorgeous, sunny weekends continue there’s plenty of opportunity to get your picnic on. All you need is the blanket. We’ve supplied the (suggested) food, drink and spots.
The Community Garden Picnic
Sweet Spot: 6/15 Green Community Garden, on 6th Avenue between 15th and 16th Streets in the South Slope. This lush patch’s tables and chairs are open to the public on select days and times, so visit the website for hours and contact info. Sadly, the on-site grill is for members only. If you’re bringing six or more, check beforehand to ensure your gathering doesn’t clash with another’s.
Perfect Meal: Fresh mozzarella balls marinated with sun-dried tomatoes, handmade bread, olives, and a pasta salad from Eagle Provisions, a small Polish grocery store on 5th Ave. and 18th St. that’s been serving the South Slope since the Thirties.
Picnic Cooler: Shipyard Summer Ale, an American Pale Ale brewed in Maine, can also be found at Eagle Provisions. The brewery itself says that the beer is sure to please on long, hot summer days.
Picnic Between the Bridges
Sweet Spot: Enter Dumbo’s Brooklyn Bridge Park on Plymouth Street (at Washington or Main). Walk the loop of the pathway and spread your blanket on the grassy high ground. If you’re not up for a blanket picnic, try the benches facing the Brooklyn Bridge, or the steps leading down to the rocky beach.
Perfect Meal: Stop by Foragers Market on Front and Adams and just try not to go overboard. If you’re in the mood for something spicy, misir (spicy red lentils) or kik (yellow split peas) from Taste of Ethiopia ought to do the trick. Cheese lovers will swoon over the organic
triple cream cheese from Cowgirl Creamery and the goat gouda. If you’re up for something decadent, spread the watermelon or spread American Spoon rhubarb marmalade on your bread for dessert.
Picnic Cooler: At Blanc & Rouge (81 Washington St.) try the dry, sweet Trimbach riesling from France ($13), an easy-drinking white, or the crisp Petit Cochon Bronzé ($12), a delicious rosé that is also from France. You can also find interesting beverages at Foragers, such as Q Tonic water, made from handpicked Peruvian quinine and Q Ginger ale, from real ginger root.
The Stuff-Yourself-Silly Picnic
Sweet Spot: Enter Owl’s Head Park in Bay Ridge from the southwest corner and walk parallel to 68th Street, past the restroom and people barbecuing. Head for the slope in front of you. About midway up the hill, chose a tree to sit under, and a view of the harbor you like best.
Perfect Meal: Any good picnic goer’s first stop should be Yelp favorite The Family Store (6905 3rd Ave., 718-748-0207), where my personal favorite Mediterranean goodies are the lamb and rice-stuffed grape leaves and tabouleh. To satisfy your sweet tooth, have a bite of the semolina cheesecake or baklava. Second stop is Nordic Delicacies (6909 3rd Avenue),
directly next door, a treasure trove of Scandinavian specialties like gjetost (Norwegian goat cheese) and tubes of creamed salmon. The final food stop should be one of the city’s best Polish restaurants, Polonica (7214 3rd Avenue, 718-630-5805). Order either (or both) their delicious cold borscht and cold pickle soup, and for every two people, a mixed salad plate — six different salads of red cabbage, white cabbage, beet, carrot, sauerkraut and lettuce that are always amazing.
Picnic Cooler: Two doors down at the Polish grocery store Polbridge (7218 3rd Avenue, 718-491-1398), you’ll find many, many kinds of Polish beer. If you want to adhere to the rules, mix one of their zany boxed juices with seltzer to concoct spritzers.
The Skyline Picnic
Sweet Spot: Ok, ok, we know that Long Island City isn’t Brooklyn, but it’s so close, and no amount of Brooklyn pride should keep you away from Gantry Plaza Park. In terms of cleanliness, size and snack options, it’s the best spot between Astoria and the Manhattan Bridge. Plenty of benches and modernist wood loungers line the fishing piers that stretch out into the water, but if you’re more into the classic grass-based picnic, spread your blanket out behind the famed Pepsi sign.
Perfect Meal: If your inner Italiano needs some attention, head to Manetta’s (10-76 Jackson Avenue) for thin-crust pizza and an antipasti or two. Should you be feeling more français, hit up the Food Cellar for grapes and some chèvre to slather onto a baguette.
Picnic Cooler: Blue Streak Wines and Spirits (4720 Center Blvd.) is just a stone’s throw from the waterfront and carries a range of options to wet your whistle. Whether you’re in the mood for sauvignon blanc or Japanese sake, this spot will do the trick.
The Greenmarket Picnic
Sweet Spot: Beneath Elizabeth’s Tulip Tree, just west of the footpath that leads into Nellie’s Lawn, on the northeast edge of Prospect Park. (Locate it using “Map Overlay” here>>)
Perfect Meal: The Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket has all the makings for a fantastic fresh picnic. Pair cheese from Cato Corner Farm with crusty bread from Baker’s Bounty. Serve with a refreshing summer salad: Cut up some heirloom tomatoes and mix them with fresh basil leaves, sea salt, and olive oil (okay, you’ll have to bring those last two ingredients from home). For dessert, treat yourself old-fashioned vanilla ice cream from the grass-fed cows at Ronnybrook Farm Dairy, or that picnic classic, watermelon.
Picnic Cooler: If watermelon and strawberry are quintessential summer fruits, Bierkraft (191 5th Ave.) serves up the go-to summer beers. Check out Hell or Highwatermelon, a seasonal wheat beer from the 21st Amendment Brewery, or the strawberry harvest lager from Abita, made with real Louisiana strawberries. Or better yet, keep an eye out for the latest from Eve’s Cidery, an upstate outfit that hand-delivers their dry, semi-sweet ciders. Pick up a growler and take it with you.