by Jennifer Olvera - 3381 Reviews - 45 List
The weather's warm, the clouds are fluffy white, you're donning white linen pants and sporting a sandal-ready pedicure. It's finally safe to picnic in Chicago. In the spirit of packing up to dine outdoors, check out the best Chicago gourmet grocers for basket-ready treats.
Updated: May 25, 2010
Grab a bottle of Mariposa--a summery rose--and a few sammies, such as the California Dreaming, with honey-maple turkey, buttery avocado, Swiss, sprouts, lettuce and tomato and a slather of lemon mayo on multi-grain bread. Then, treat your sweet tooth to red velvet cupcakes, fudge-y brownies or--for a refreshing twist--Key lime bars. Just don't forget the blanket.
Start by snagging a baguette--they're too good to pass by. Then, make your way to the fromagerie for some Taleggio-style Grayson from Virginia, silky slivers of prosciutto from the charcuterie counter and fresh-plucked fruit tarts at the bakery. Provided you can brave the crowds, Navy Pier--and its stellar lake view--isn't far away.
Killer spit-roasted meats, artisan sandwiches--think citrus-cured, smoked salmon with English cukes and creme fraiche on ciabatta--and garden-fresh salads like sweet corn, tomato and pea pods change with the seasons. Plan to end on a sweet note with the likes of chocolate-drizzled macaroons.
This independent specialty shop is a go-to for everyday wines. Translation: Bottles hover around $10. Grab a loaf of Red Hen bread, piquant olives, cured meat and specialty crackers, and you've got the makings of a great, impromptu outdoor date.