There’s no better way to celebrate the end of one of the worst winters on record than by picnicking in Prospect Park. But if you cook up your own picnic spread, you may well wind up spending more time preparing (and transporting) it than actually enjoying yourself. So, the next time the park beckons, grab your basket but bypass your kitchen—and let these spots handle the menu.
Brancaccio’s Food Shop If you’re going to PopUp Dinner Brooklyn in Prospect Park on June 13, be forewarned: It’s the bougiest picnic you’ll ever attend. And if you aren’t exactly a kitchen savant, this local take-away destination will be your saving grace. Standard deli heroes would never dare blaspheme this menu; instead, you’ll find selections like string beans with roasted garlic, hearty cavatelli Bolognese, double-smoked bacon mac and cheese and a divine rotisserie chicken that sells out daily. Sandwiches are served on fresh bread from Carroll Garden’s Caputo’s Bakery, and range from balsamic chicken with guacamole to broccoli rabe with fresh ricotta to the popular meatball sub with fennel sauce.
3011 Fort Hamilton Parkway, Windsor Terrace
Court Street Grocers Another option for a gourmet picnic, Court Street Grocers has all the makings for a delicious—and Instagram-worthy—meal. Sandwiches are less than typical, with options like the Rueben Brocc (roasted broccoli, Swiss and sauerkraut), The Droopy (housemade roast beef, French’s fried onions and horseradish mayo) and the Mother-In-Law, which comes stacked with braised beef brisket, kimchi and roasted broccoli. Most are served on a roll from Caputo’s Bakery or rye bread from the Upper East Side’s Orwasher’s, but all will require an alfresco nap. Pair yours with freshly prepared sides like roasted beets with faro and arugula, or grab a few bags of Zapp’s Potato Chips from the grocery’s extensive stock of local and not-so-local edibles.
485 Court Street, Carroll Gardens
Terrace Bagels Located spitting distance from the park, Terrace Bagels is perfect for grabbing a bite en route (and satisfying a variety of palates). The extensive menu stretches the length of the café, but you’ll have plenty of time to consider your options; beloved by both locals and park-dwellers, the line here usually reaches the front door. Opt for a signature sandwich instead of your deli favorite—selections range from the Peter Luger made with hot roast beef, fresh mozzarella and Peter Luger sauce to the surprisingly hearty Eggplant Oreo (fried eggplant, tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and roasted red peppers). Freshly prepared salads could easily serve two—we recommend the Greek, which comes with housemade grape leaves. And for dessert, there’s just-baked black and white cookies, rugelach that tastes just like bubbe’s, and much more.
224 Prospect Park West, Windsor Terrace
Colson Patisserie No picnic is complete without sweets—and Colson Patisserie is both decadent and convenient, situated just three blocks west of Prospect Park’s 9th Street entrance. The bakery creates traditional Belgian and French pastries that range from feather-light pains au chocolat and delicate financiers to speculoos, a spiced cookie made with cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg. There are beautiful tarts in flavors like salted caramel and pear-almond, and even rich flourless chocolate cake for gluten-free folks. Plus, this spot is a favorite of Mayor de Blasio (he used to live just two blocks away), so you might glimpse the big guy after he’s paid a visit to his favorite gym, the Park Slope YMCA.
374 9th Street, Park Slope
Acme Wine and Spirits If you’re a lush, look to the friendly staff at Acme on 5th Avenue to help you find a bottle that complements your spread. Specializing in boutique, small-production wine and liquors, the shop stocks a number of wines from the Finger Lakes and the North Fork, as well as Widow Jane bourbon, Van Brunt whiskey and Brueckelen gin. While you won’t find mass-brand wines here, the team is anything but pretentious—and the prices are more than affordable. Whether you’re looking for a summery rosé, an oaky Chardonnay or nothing in particular, a trip to Acme ensures your picnic will be a spirited occasion. Just don’t make the novice mistake of forgetting the corkscrew. And don’t forget—you’re not technically allowed to drink wine in the park, but be subtle about it, and you’ll be just fine.
487 5th Avenue, Park Slope