It's summer! It's summer? Sure it is! I don't know. It seems like summer is finally here anyway. All spring we've been encouraging you to drink and eat outside, but it's all easier said than done because it's remained cold and rainy for what seem like endless months. But maybe all that is finally over, and what better way to celebrate than with a picnic in one of Brooklyn's many lovely parks? Food always tastes better when eaten outside. Hell, everything is better when it's done outside. So make a point of trying to hit up each of these places over the course of this summer. You won't regret it.
This park is the perfect destination spot for a picnic. It has it all—ample grassy spots on which to lay your blanket, trees to shade you as you laze away the day, and a view of all New York Harbor stretched before you, which is spectacular during (duh) sunset, but pretty damn nice at any other time of day as well. Plus, Sunset Park is home to some of Brooklyn's best cheap eats, so be sure to fill up your picnic basket before trekking up that big hill and claiming your spot. For a summertime picnic, you can't go wrong with a bánh mi from Ba Xuyên—my favorites are the grilled pork and the meatball. At just $4 a sandwich, you can also grab an avocado shake or a Thai iced coffee and have a filling and delicious picnic for under $10 a person.
Ba Xuyên; 4222 Eighth Avenue, Sunset Park
Brooklyn Commune; 601 Greenwood Ave, Windsor Terrace
Juice Box Wine & Spirits;1289 Prospect Ave, Windsor Terrace
Brooklyn Bridge Park
There are many things to love about Brooklyn Bridge Park—the view is ripped from a postcard, you're right by the water's edge, you can go for a spin on the carousel if that's your thing, etc. But what's also kind of amazing to think about is that this entire area was under water after Hurricane Sandy struck, and yet has now fully recovered. This is kind of incredible, and serves as a reminder to appreciate what you've got when you've got it. So picnic here, and keep an eye on the seemingly calm waters in front of you, because those waters are ready to rise up at any time. Um. So also, get a pizza at Juliana's in DUMBO. The lines are never as bad as they are at Grimaldi's and the pizza is pretty much the same. I recommend two pizza extremes here: the pepperoni and sausage pizza, but also the marinara pizza, which is vegan, but delicious and studded with garlic. What should you drink with your pizza? Beer, of course. Head over to Peas & Pickles and pick up a couple of six-packs of Tecate or something. Enjoy your cheap eats and your million-dollar view.
Juliana's Pizza; 19 Old Fulton Street, DUMBO
Peas & Pickles; 101 Washington Street, DUMBO
Concert Grove in Prospect Park
This is the next perfect picnic spot in Prospect Park, and I like it because it's well shaded and has plenty of peaceful places to settle down in, but also because you won't just be picnicking here, you'll be getting a good old-fashioned dose of Brooklyn culture. That's right, Concert Grove is a special part of Prospect Park that is lined with the busts of people like Beethoven, Mozart, and Washington Irving. You can also see "the first statue of Abraham Lincoln erected after his assassination." And although it's not really the best place to settle inside for your picnic, the Oriental Pavilion in Concert Grove is a lovely place to walk through as it "features a stained-glass cupola and medieval, Hindu-inspired columns." Concert Grove is best accessed from the Ocean Avenue and Lincoln entrance, but before you head into the park, stop off at Culpepper's for some Caribbean take-out. The oxtail and the vegetable roti are both delicious—just make sure to bring a lot of napkins with you to the park.
Culpepper's: 1082 Nostrand Avenue, Prospect Lefferts Gardens
Owl's Head Park
Owl's Head Park is the most beautiful park that nobody knows about if they haven't been to Bay Ridge. The views from the hills of Owl's Head rival those found in any other park in Brooklyn, and even on the hottest days of summer, a cool sea breeze will keep you comfortable as you picnic. Plus, if you head out to Bay Ridge, you can enjoy the culinary bounty of Tanoreen. This Middle Eastern restaurant rivals Owl's Head Park as a destination, but you don't want to eat inside, do you? No, you don't. So order with abandon at Tanoreen and spread your feast out in the hills of Bay Ridge and indulge. What exactly should you indulge in? I'd recommend the fattoush salad with feta cheese, the cauliflower salad with tahini and pomegranate molasses, the labaneh, and the okra with lamb. But really, you can't go wrong with anything here. It's all exceptional.
Tanoreen; 7523 3rd Avenue, Bay Ridge
McGolrick Park's Down to Earth Farmers Market; Russell Street off Nassau Avenue, Greenpoint (open Sundays from 11:00am-4:00pm)
Roll 'n' Roaster; 2901 Emmons Avenue, Sheepshead Bay
Picnicking in McCarren Park is fun for the simple reason that it will probably be easy to get a lot of your friends to join you because of its location, and there's tons of good food in the immediate area with which to furnish your picnic basket. In fact, there's so much good food nearby that instead of doing the lazy thing and grabbing sandwiches at Saltie or breakfast tacos at Briskettown (both totally viable options!) you should head over to the Bedford Cheese Shop and get an array of cheeses and crackers and olives and charcuterie to enjoy on your blanket in the park. That is the perfect way to enjoy a picnic in this
over-crowded bustling part of north Brooklyn.
Saltie; 378 Metropolitan Ave, Williamsburg
Briskettown; 359 Bedford Ave, Williamsburg
Bedford Cheese Shop; 141 N 4th St, Williamsburg
Luz; 177 Vanderbilt Avenue, Fort Greene
The Smoke Joint; 87 S Elliott Pl, Fort Greene
Talde; 369 7th Avenue, Park Slope
Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen