Every summer our parks explode with families, parties and sun worshippers enjoying the long days and warm weather while picnicking until the sun goes down. In the past, food was a simple affair, including the good: bagging up some cold cuts and cheese, chips and a cold beverage; and the bad: Aunt Mabel’s potato salad – with eggs and mayo—and the added bonus of sitting in the sun all day.
Want to avoid culinary disasters or raise your chow offerings a notch? Park yourself at the following places to build the perfect Portland picnic.
Why buy packages of processed hot dogs at the supermarket when you can get fresh, delicious and homemade old-fashioned wieners from one of Portland’s oldest purveyors of sausages and meats? Otto’s, located in the Woodstock neighborhood, offers different varieties of sausages and dogs, ready for the grill, and a great selection of side salads, beer and wine and other picnic-worthy goodies.
Nearby Parks: Woodstock, Westmoreland
Don’t feel like buying and assembling your own sandwiches? Olympic Provisions has an extensive lunch menu of sandwiches (roasted tri-tip) and vegetable dishes (shaved turnips, globe radishes, kalamata olives and salsa verde) but also carry an impressive offering of deli meats. Three kinds of chorizo? Yep, they’ve got that (Navarre, Andalucia and Rioja) along with cooked, smoked and cured meats. It’s a beautiful space in a wonderfully renovated building that you might just want to stay and eat on-site—if the sun doesn’t happen to be out that day.
Nearby Parks: Laurelhurst, Oaks Bottom
Photo: Heather Zinger
Imagine the best candy store ever, but one with cheeses, meats and breads. That’s Foster and Dobbs in a nutshell. Their impressive array of cheeses—and the knowledge to help you pick out the best type of cheese for any occasion, salamis (Fra’Mani Handcraftd Salumi from Berkeley), different breads each day (though baguettes are offered daily) and more, this is a one-stop shop for any size and style of picnic.
Nearby Park: Irving City Park
What’s a picnic without a little sweet action? Pix is at two locations to satisfy your cravings, whether it’s chocolate, cakes or tarts. If you’ve never been to Pix, we’d like to suggest The Royale, which Pix describes as chocolate mousse that “blankets a crisp hazelnut praline filling and dacquoise base.” Anything with the words “chocolate mouse” and “blankets” gets a spot on our next summer menu.
Nearby Parks (Division Street location): Colonel Summer City Park, Sewallcrest, Mt. Tabor
Nearby Park (N Williams location): Irving City Park
Originally opened on Hawthorne long before the foodie-craze took hold, Pastaworks was offering Portlanders artisan goods way back when. The tradition continues today: the shop carries grass-fed meats for your next cookout, as well as breads, cheeses and wines. The deli staff is knowledgeable and can help you decide which cut of meat is best, but they also make a killer meatball sandwich. A large section of breads, cheeses and other sundries (of course, fresh pastas) are also available. New location on Mississippi and as part of a co-op at City Market in Northwest District
Nearby Park (Hawthorne location): Mt Tabor
Nearby Park (NW location): Couch Park
Nearby Park (Mississippi location): Irving City Park
Cork: A Bottle Shop
Obviously, Cork knows its wine but employees are also good at suggesting different styles of beers for a specific food you’ve chosen. Cork stocks an assortment of local, national and international craft beers, as well as a vast selection wines.
Nearby Parks (Alberta Street location): Alberta Park, Irving City Park
Nearby Parks (Lovejoy Street location): Jamison Square, North Park Blocks
This cozy spot off of Mississippi carries some unique beers (they were one of the first retailers to carry the re-usable Captured by Porches bottles) as well as the standard Oregon beers. The owner is friendly, knowledgeable and obviously loves what he’s doing. Pick up a six-pack or single 22-ouncers for your next shindig.
Nearby Park: Unthank City Park
Just when you think you’ve seen or know all there is to beer, a visit to Belmont Station can prove otherwise. The local section alone is enough to make one burst with pride—if it’s brewed in Oregon, they probably carry it. In the market for something out of state…or out of the country? Check out the rows of specially refrigerated cases that house beers of all styles and sizes, from Germany to Belgium to Pennsylvania. Miss the beer of your youth? They also carry non-craft beers that are hard to find elsewhere [Genesee Cream Ale, anyone?]. Their canned selection of craft beers [a growing trend] is also impressive.
Nearby Parks: Mt. Tabor, Laurelhurst
Disclaimer: According to Portland Parks, it is unlawful to possess or drink alcohol in Portland Parks without a permit. Canned or bottled beer and wine are the only types of alcohol allowed—even with a permit; no kegs or hard liquor.