By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor Published Jun 09, 2021 at 11:03 AM

Is there anything more classic than a summer picnic? What better way to relax and take in the beautiful weather than a day in the park, on the beach or even on your patio or lawn?

Whether you’re planning a romantic date, spending quality time with friends or family or just soaking in the sun on your own, there’s no need to spend hours prepping in a hot kitchen when you can pick up amazing local foods to stock your picnic basket.

So pack up your blanket and peruse this list of picnic ideas (plus locally owned spots throughout the city where you can pick up the goods).  It's just the tip of the delicious iceberg in terms of easy picnic options that also support small home-grown businesses.

Cheese and Charcuterie

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Is there anything easier, or more classic, than cheese and crackers? Sure you can pick up your own assortment of meats, local cheeses and accompaniments. But there are also plenty of venues that will do all the work for you with just a few days notice.  Here are a few of our favorites:

Aperitivo
311 N. Plankinton Ave., (414) 276-4400
aperitivomke.com

Charcuter-ME
770 N Jefferson St., (619) 363-5358
charcuter-me.com

Larry’s Market
8737 N. Deerwood Dr., (414) 355-9650
larrysmarket.com

Village Cheese Shop
1430 Underwood Ave., Wauwatosa, (414) 488-2099
villagecheesetosa.com

West Allis Cheese & Sausage Shoppe
6832 W. Becher St., West Allis, (414) 543-4230
Milwaukee Public Market, 400 N. Water St., (414) 289-8333

westallischeese.com

Salads, dips, spreads

hummusX

Sometimes noshing is really all you want. Or maybe you'd prefer a fresh, more healthful picnic. The prepared foods section at local grocers is a great spot to find both. You'll find pre-made salads, chopped veggies, olives, spreads and dips (think spinach dip, hummus and guacamole). Best of all, you won’t have to lift a finger to prepare them or deal with the dirty dishes when you get home. You can’t lose with these spots:

Al Yousef Supermarket & Restaurant
6329 S. 20th St., Oak Creek, (414) 301-5233
alyousefrestaurant.com 

Beans & Barley
1901 E. North Ave., (414) 278-7878
beansandbarley.com

G. Groppi Food Market
1441 E. Russell Ave., (414) 747-9012
groppis.com

Outpost Natural Foods Cooperative
100 E. Capitol Dr., (414) 961-2597
2826 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., Bay View (414) 755-3202
7590 W. Mequon Rd., Mequon, (262) 242-0426
7000 W. State St., Wauwatosa (414) 778-2012
Outpost.coop

Rupena’s
7641 Beloit Rd., West Allis(414) 543-7447
rupenas.com

Sandwiches 

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When it comes to easy hand-held items, nothing beats a great sandwich. It’s also the perfect opportunity to leave the assembly to the experts. You’ll find delicious options at every one of these spots.

Bavette La Boucherie
330 E. Menomonee St., (414) 273-3375
bavettelaboucherie.com

Glorioso’s
1011 E. Brady St.,  (414) 272-0540
gloriosos.com

Peanut Butter & Jelly Deli
6125 W. Greenfield Ave., West Allis,  (414) 897-7987
thepbjdeli.com

Riley’s Sandwich Co.
4473 N. Oakland Ave., Shorewood, (414) 616-1811
rileysandwich.com

Riverwest Co-op
733 E. Clarke St., (414) 264-7933
riverwestcoop.org

Fried chicken

fried chicken
Fried chicken (photo: O Yeah Chicken and More)
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Folks have been taking fried chicken on picnics for...well, probably as long as fried chicken has existed. Part of what makes it a great choice is that You could make it from scratch, but why not leave it to the experts?  Not into fried? Rotisserie chicken makes a great picnic option as well! (here’s where to find the best of the best).

Arlanderz Chicken & Fish
1814 N. Farwell Ave.,  (414) 837-5151
arlanderz.com

Gold Rush Chicken
3500 S. Howell Ave.,  (414) 481-4010
goldrushchicken.org 

Nino’s Southern Sides
4475 N. Oakland Ave., Shorewood,(414) 964-3663
ninos-southernsides.com

O Yeah Chicken and More
3322 W. Loomis Rd., Greenfield, (414) 916-9324
oyeahchickenandmore.com

Tomkens
8001 W. Greenfield Ave., West Allis, (414) 258-9110
tomkens.com

Barbeque

barbequeX

Smoked meats are delicious. And when you can order it up complete with sides, it’s also convenient for an impromptu picnic. Pack up some paper towels and some handy wipes, and you’re all set.

Big Daddy's BBQ & Soul Food
2730 N. Humboldt Blvd., (262) 202-7726
biggyds.com

Double B's BBQ
7420 W. Greenfield Ave., (414) 257-9150
doublebs.com

Heaven’s Table BBQ
Crossroads Collective
2238 N. Farwell Ave., (414) 732-7109
heavenstablebbq.com

Iron Grate BBQ  Co.
4125 S. Howell Ave., (414) 455-1776
irongratebbq.com

Pop’s BBQ
Food Trailer, 7605 Good Hope Rd., (414) 243-8559
facebook.com/popsbbqmilwaukee

Bagels and spreads

bagels
Bagels from Allie Boy's Bagelry & Luncheonette
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Who says picnics have to be at lunch or dinner? Brunch picnics are just as fun. Just pick up some bagels, spreads and maybe some fresh fruit and you’re all set.

Allie Boy's Bagelry & Luncheonette
135 E. National Ave., (414) 988-0388
allieboysmke.com

Ruby’s Bagels
Zócalo Food Park, 636 S. 6th St.
rubysbagels.com

Pie

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Black Bottom Banana Pie from The Bake Sale
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Pie. It makes everything better. And that includes your next picnic. Whether it’s easy-to-transport hand-pies, pasties or a full-blown pie, these spots have you covered.

The Bake Sale
6923 W Becher St., West Allis, 
bakesalewestallis.com

Mr. Dye’s Pies
8103 W. Tower Ave., (414) 759-4992
facebook.com/dyespies

Reynold’s Pasty Shop
3525 W. Burleigh St., (414) 444-4490
reynoldspasties.com

SmallPie
2504 E. Oklahoma Ave., (414) 763-7067

smallpiemke.com

Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.