Ready to go picnics downtown

July 22, 2009 (CHICAGO) Our Hungry Hound has a few good suggestions for picking up a delicious picnic downtown, all of them within a mile or so of the lakefront.

There are a half dozen great options for picking up a picnic-to-go downtown. A lot of them will be tested this weekend, since Venetian Night is a summer ritual that encourages alfresco dining. Most have pre-packaged, ready-to-go options, including a Gold Coast deli and food store with quite a few options.

Venetian Night is an excellent opportunity to pack a picnic, grabbing some quality food and drink before making your way out to the lakefront. Several gourmet shops are trying to capitalize on the event, offering meals that are all ready to go. At The Goddess and Grocer in the Gold Coast, the amount of last-minute customers has forced the store to put together fast, delicious, assembled meals.

Great Picnicing Events:

  • Outdoor Film Festival
  • Venetian Night
  • Movies in the Park
  • Millennium Park's Summer Schedule
  • "A lot of people, they're wanting it picked up the very last minute, so they are going right there and then maybe they're only going to be on the boat for maybe like half an hour or an hour before they are going to enjoy their food," said Jody Bassler of The Goddess and Grocer.

    One option: a grilled tuna nicoise salad, along with a baked roll and some creme brulee for dessert; the "reef & beef" features jumbo shrimp cocktail, sliced beef tenderloin, a green bean salad, roll and a mixed berry trifle for something sweet. Vegetarians will love the hummus platter with pita, a Greek salad with salty feta, plus spinach and cheese phyllo pies; a fresh fruit salad keeps the calories in check. Lighter appetites with smaller budgets will appreciate a boxed lunch, featuring a fancy sandwich, bag of chips and a homemade cookie.

    "We probably do more of just people coming in and kinda creating their own meals, but we do get a good handful of pre-orders. Whether it be the baskets, the bagged lunches and box lunches," Bassler said.

    Osteria Via Stato also has $15 picnic boxes which must be pre-ordered. And another great option downtown is Fox and Obel, over at the corner of Illinois and McClurg.

    The Goddess and Grocer
    25 E. Delaware Pl.

    Fox & Obel
    401 E. Illinois St.
    -Summer Picnic menu ranging from $16-$22 with an entree, side, and dessert. Packed in a wicker picnic basket for $20

    also mentioned:

    2945 N. Broadway
    53 E. Lake St.
    -Have pre-set picnic baskets with cheese, bread, wine, cookies, olives

    Lockwood at the Palmer House
    17 E. Monroe
    -Picnic in the Park Package....pricey.

    30 E. Huron

    Extra Info:

    Osteria Via Stato
    620 North State St.

    Please call Allison Gallese, 312-642-8450 to place your order. Orders must be placed by Noon Friday, July 24 and may be picked up Saturday, July 25 from Noon until 6:00pm.

    *Venetian Night Picnic Boxes $15
    -Marinated Olives
    -Choice of Sandwich: Grilled Summer Vegetable; Roasted Chicken with Arugula, BLT or Prosciutto
    -Choice of Side Salad: Panzanella Salad; Roasted Beet Salad; Farro Salad with Summer Vegetables
    -Italian Cookies

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