There might not be a better time in Washington to picnic than when there's a pink crown of cherry blossoms around the Tidal Basin. To help you stock your picnic basket, we’ve compiled this list of markets, sandwich shops, bakeries, and gourmet-food stores where you can find lunches that travel well. We'll leave the checkered blanket up to you.
Owned by one of the guys behind Cashion's Eat Place, this old-school grocery stocks wine, charcuterie, cheese, and antipasti. For an already assembled lunch, ask for one of the three signature sandwiches: The AdMo with fennel salami, mortadella, Parma ham, and aged provolone; D's Cubano, a panini-like concoction with pulled pork, spicy mustard, chopped pickles, and cheese; and the pan bagnat, a baguette holding olive-oil-poached tuna mixed with olive tapenade. If you're an Adams Morgan or Mount Pleasant resident, you'll get 10 percent off your entire bill with an ID.
Open Monday through Thursday 11 to 9, Friday 11 to 10, Saturday 10 to 10, Sunday 10 to 6.
If it’s a sandwich you’re after, look no further than this popular downtown DC lunch spot where nearly everything, including the bread, is made fresh each day. It’s hard to go wrong, but we have an affection for the sandwich layered with prosciutto, watercress, and mascarpone on walnut bread and for the Thursday specials: an oyster po’ boy and a cumin-scented Cuban. For dessert, get another sandwich: two chocolate cookies bound by sweet mascarpone.
Open Monday through Friday 7:30 to 3:30.
At chef Robert Wiedmaier’s deli/grocery, there are a host of gourmet indulgences (truffle oil, artisan salts) that are good for stocking up a serious cook's pantry. But to fill your picnic basket, head for the sandwich counter. We suggest the rare roast beef with rich Chimay cheese, or a pile of grilled veggies with goat cheese.
Open Monday through Saturday 11:30 to 8, Sunday 11:30 to 5.
This Del Ray cheese shop carries selections from all over the world, but it specializes in artisan-made wheels from the United States. There are also jams, honeys, charcuterie, and crackers as well as a good selection of wines and microbrews to go. For a splurge, try the rare Ibérico de Bellota Spanish ham for $99 a pound.
Open Tuesday through Friday 11 to 9, Saturday 10 to 9, Sunday 11 to 6.
The simple food and Old World wine list that made Cork one of our favorite wine bars are now available to go at its sister shop across the street. In addition to favorites from the restaurant's menu—chicken-liver pâté among them—there's sandwiches on crusty ciabatta, roasted garlic in oil, egg salad, charcuterie, cheese, and baked goods from the local company Paisley Fig.
Open Sunday and Monday 11 to 7, Tuesday through Saturday 10 to 9.
Cobble together a European-style lunch at this cheese-and-gourmet-food shop, where the biggest challenge is sticking to your budget. The vast array of cheeses can be overwhelming, so here are my—a former employee’s—picks: A wheel of the company’s signature Mt. Tam, a super-creamy cow’s-milk cheese; a slab of nutty Gruyère; a fresh goat cheese from Maryland’s Firefly Farms; and Grayson, a funky choice from Galax, Virginia. Grab a baguette, some Fra’ Mani sopressata, and a bottle of Pinot Noir. All you’ll need is a beret.
Open Monday through Friday 7:30 to 7, Saturday 11 to 7.
The Italian Store
At this specialty market and takeout, monster subs are the thing to get. A small one could feed a hungry appetite, and a large is enough to satisfy two. Try the Capri or the popular Milano, both stuffed with a combination of Italian meats and provolone. This is the place to come if you’re on a budget—a large sub is just $7.99, so even if you add a bag of chocolate-dipped Berger cookies to your picnic basket, the bill for two won’t hit $15.
Open Monday through Friday 10 to 9, Saturday 10 to 8, Sunday 11 to 6.