Susan Yee

Picnic Guide: Part 2

Picnic Basket 2 of 2 in our Summering Series

Alright. Wipe your mouths. It’s time to dig-in to some grub! We have no shortage of incredible edible options here on the grid and we’ve rounded up some great local eats on both sides of the commitment continuum.

Though the following list certainly doesn’t capture every worthy item, hopefully it will inspire you to put on your “picnic goggles” the next time you’re strolling down the grocery store aisle to notice the many items with potential for portability.

Whether you feel like picking up ready-to-eat bites on the way, or preparing noshables at home, we’ve done some of the (oh, so torturous) legwork for you.

Corti Brothers, at 5810 Folsom Blvd. is a one-stop-shop for a low-key picnic spread that will make you the envy of ants everywhere:

  • Sandwiches, a la The Michaelangelo, which boasts Corti Brothers roasted turkey, Fontina cheese, mayonnaise, artichoke hearts and radicchio on focaccia — $6.99
  • While you’re there, you can grab yourself some silverware, napkins, and condiment packets.
  • Warning: the following information can lead to an unhealthy addiction. I’ve created a support groups for those trying to wean themselves off. Corti Brothers makes its own corn nuts, called Tuerca de Maíz — $3.99
  • Bags of chips, big and small:
    • Tim’s Cascade Style Original, Lightly Salted
    • Wai Lana Brand Chips distributed from Sacramento
    • “Dirty” Brand potato chips
  • Bonne Maman preserves — $4.19/jar
    • If you’ve already licked one of these jars clean, it’d be the perfect vehicle for homemade salad dressing, individual potato salad, fresh fruit, etc. And, the packaging couldn’t be better suited to a picnic- just look at the lid!
  • Once you’ve picked out your preserves flavor du jour, grab a package of Ines Rosales Tortas — $5.99/package of 6
  • Then, head over to the cheese case to create your own impromptu cheese board.
  • Grab some nuts, selections from the olive bar, and a fresh fruit or two, and you’re set.
  • Just a small sampling of individual cold soda bottles:
    • Blood Orange soda by Lorina
    • Canned San Pellegrino (i.e. clementine flavor)
    • Silk Road Pomegranate with Mint – made right next door in Roseville
    • Boylan Black Cherry
    • Bubble Up
    • Jones Cream Soda
    • River City Root Beer – made in Sacramento
    • Fentiman’s Rose Lemonade
    • Martinelli’s – from Watsonville, CA
  • On your way out, you’ll find a tasty treat in a freezer case right by the front door, Bar Gelato by NAIA, which will probably require you to eat dessert first. With flavors like Blue Bottle Coffee and TCHO chocolate- just try to resist. — $2.29/each

→ Get yourself ready for a Saturday afternoon, by first heading over to Taylor’s Market at 2900 Freeport Blvd., where you can…

  • Go to the deli case to pick up a sandwich like The Southwest. Piled high with green ortega chiles, smoked turkey, pepperjack cheese and all the fixin’s, Gary at the counter says it’s his favorite summer sandwich! Add on some housemade potato salad, fennel beet salad, and/or chicken drumettes, and you’re set!
  • Create more of a grazing friendly spread, by mixing and matching from the following:
    • a package of La Quercia Lomo Americano — $7.99
    • Africa peppers stuffed with feta
    • Rosemary Thyme Potter’s Crackers — $4.99/box of 40 (bonus: produced right here in Sacramento)
    • House-made Hummus or Fromage Fort
    • Trail mixes and nuts
    • Individual cold sodas
    • And to polish it all off, grab a Taylor Made chocolate chunk brownie, peanut butter cookie, or a slice of gluten-free almond cake – any of which won’t require constant refrigeration.

→ For an even more low-key picnic, have a professional put together a cheese (or meat + cheese) plate for you – to go! – at The Cultured and the Cured at 3644 J Street (permanently closed, try Block Butcher Bar).

  • Though you can customize your own selection, the delicious combinations on the menu cost between $12 (small) and $20 (large).
    • Mixed plates (meat and cheese) come with olives, mustard, seasonal fruit, and crostini.
    • Meat plates come with pickled vegetables, mustard, olives, and crostini.
    • Cheese plates come with house-roasted nuts, seasonal fruit, and crostini.
  • They also offer a selection of grilled cheese sandwiches, soups, and house-made mac n’ cheese!

→ Need to balance out all of that meat and cheese? Couple your platter with a beverage from Liquidology. They have a wide selection of wholesome juices and smoothies!

Now that you’ve perfected your picnic basket, you’re poised to pig out. We’ve Scouted out two of the best picnic parks south of the McKinley Park pond. Which side, you ask? Great news! Doesn’t matter.

East Portal Park, at 51st and M Streets Perhaps perceived as East Sacramento’s “other” park, East Portal is really lovely. Nestled in a quiet residential neighborhood, this field of dreams has quite a bit to offer the picnicking set:

  • picnic tables
  • grills
  • a playground for the kids … and/or you
  • a kickball or softball field
  • shady, sloped green lawns
  • a Bocce Club $40 per calendar-year membership; just sign up using the application

Curtis Park – take 26th street South until you dead-end into the park Of course, Curtis Park is a darling neighborhood made up of unique homes and tree-lined streets, but its namesake park is pretty wonderful, too! Curtis Park makes for quite the picnic destination, as it is:

  • home to tennis and basketball courts
  • situated less than a mile away from Pangea Two Brews Café, and Gunther’s Ice Cream. Enough said.
  • speckled with huge trees
  • dog-on-a-leash friendly
  • outlined by a dirt track, should the need to run suddenly strike you

We’ve offered you quite a list of recommendations, from the classic to the elaborate, but the beauty of a picnic is that despite all of the possible hubbub of the aforementioned lists, none of these things are must-haves. Mix and match your personal favorites, and in no time you will have perfected your signature picnic style for every occasion. The beauty of a picnic is that (aside from the food!) the only thing you must have is you. Well, you, and the call of summer beckoning you out onto the grass, a powered down phone, and the ability to make your case as to what that cloud up there looks like.   Bon appétit, my friends! See you out on the green!

P.S. In case the two park options above are flooded with people after reading this piece (read: dripping sarcasm), we’ve Scouted a few extra fantastic picnic spots in the City of Trees:

  • McKinley Park – pond with a fountain and ducks, huge playground, basketball courts, tennis, lots of shade, and picnic tables galore.
  • Land Park – pond, incredible trees, next door to the zoo, and lots of corners and pockets to explore.
  • Southside Parkbeautiful shady trees, ample picnic tables, a great playground, colorful murals, basketball courts, a pond, and close proximity to Sunday’s farmers market and Insight Coffee!
  • Sutter’s Landing – next to a dog park, on the river, and home to a skate park. Also a great spot to watch trains.
  • Cesar Chavez Park – beautiful fountain, in the heart of downtown, dangerously close to Temple Coffee and Andy’s Candy, and home to a killer Farmer’s Market on Wednesdays.
  • Fremont Park – a slice of getting away from it all, while still staying smack dab in the middle of it; across from Naked Lounge Coffee and, dangerously, the gelato bar at Hot Italian.


Photo | Susan Yee