Picnic season: We’ve earned it. After scurrying past New York’s green spaces all winter long, we can finally spread a picnic blanket and lounge in the sun without fear of frostbite. Whether you want to plan a gourmet feast or a flavorful afternoon on the cheap, here are four places where you can pick up the season’s best picnic fare (and the nearby parks where you can eat it).
••• SPLURGE •••
Ultimate picnic spread at Murray’s Cheese, the sky’s the limit
The ultimate picnic begins at Murray’s Cheese in the Village. There are sandwiches and other ready-to-go treats; but instead, take your time and talk to an expert. Let one of the cheesemongers know that you’re building a cheese board for a picnic. He or she will make suggestions, allowing you to taste along the way. Select a few cheeses, some salumi, and grab some fresh bread and crackers along with nuts, chocolate, or anything else lining the shelves that strikes your fancy. Haul your load over to Washington Square Park and tuck in. 254 Bleecker Street, 212-243-3289, murrayscheese.com
Sandwich and sides at Kefi, $20 and up
The Greeks know something about which foods match up with a sunny afternoon. Kefi, located on the Upper West Side, offers takeaway in a location one block from Central Park. Don’t miss the selection of spreads (chickpea, eggplant, $10.95 for a two-person serving) served with pita; the warm potato, string bean, olive and feta salad ($7.50); and the pork souvlaki sandwich ($13.95). This menu is full of lovely dishes for nibbling with a big group of friends; bring on the grilled octopus and bean salad ($9.95) and the meatballs with tzatziki and lemon ($6.95). 505 Columbus Avenue, 212-873-0200, kefirestaurant.com
••• STEAL •••
Falafel Sandwich at Taim, $6.25
The whole menu at Taim packs a big flavor punch for its small price tag. The classic, hefty falafel sandwich (harissa falafel for us, please) stuffed inside whole wheat pita with silky hummus, Israeli salad, pickled cabbage and tahini sauce is a serious meal in itself. From the West Village location, take a stroll out to the Hudson River Park. From the NoLita location, cross Spring Street to devour your sandwich at one of the tables in DeSalvio Playground. 222 Waverly Pl., 212-691-1288; 45 Spring St., 212-219-0600, taimfalafel.com
Fresh Italian Sandwiches at Alidoro, from $9
Alidoro is a nod to SoHo past, when this neighborhood was full of Italian immigrants. This modest sandwich shop frequently has a line out the door, which isn’t always a bad thing, as there are more than 30 sandwiches from which to choose. Try the Fellini (sopressata, fresh mozzarella, hot peppers, arugula) or the Michelangelo (prosciutto, provolone, hot peppers, arugula) to see how a simple combination of ingredients can combine into one outrageously good sandwich. The sunny Vesuvio Playground, with tables and benches, is just south of the sandwich shop. 105 Sullivan St., 212-334-5179, alidoronyc.com, closed Sundays
Want more on parks and picnics? Check out our NYC Picnic Guide.