July is National Picnic Month, and with all of Chicago's free outdoor concerts and movie screenings there are plenty of opportunities to picnic. Don't just pick up a bucket of KFC or a soggy sandwich from your local grocery store; instead, get a prepared selection that will turn your al fresco evening into a gourmet experience.
Located in the Loop, this Italian restaurant is conveniently located near Millennium Park, so you can pick up your basket on the way to the Jay Pritzker Pavilion. They offer two selections: Italian Summer in the City ($40) includes a chicken panini with smoked mozzarella and basil aioli; spinach salad with walnuts, endive, goat cheese, and grapes; homemade chips with rosemary salt; panna cotta; and bottled water or Pellegrino Sparkling Juice. If you're looking for a romantic evening under the stars, try the Ciao Bello Date Basket ($65). With cheeses, olives, prosciutto and melon, grilled vegetables, grilled Cornish hen, biscotti, and a bottle of wine you're sure to impress your significant (or soon-to-be-significant) other.
In addition to the above both baskets include all the necesssary accoutrements as well as two cans of soda and two bottles of water. They just need six hours notice to have it all ready for you.
The Florentine, 151 W Adams St, 312-660-8866
As one of the city's best wine and cheese shops they'd better have a good picnic basket. In fact, they've got not just one, but several. Designed for two people, their selections range from the Bavarian, which includes items that'll have any Wisconsonite feeling right at home, to the Francophile, a collection of tasty treats like Pig and Fig Terrine and housemade artichoke tapenade. Baskets should be pre-ordered 24 hours in advance for pickup at any location. Wine is extra and can be ordered at the same time. Prices range from $39.99 for most baskets to $69.99 for the Grand.
Pastoral - Loop 53 E Lake St, 312-658-1250
Pastoral - Lakeview 2945 N Broadway, 773-472-4781
Pastoral - Chicago French Market 131 N Clinton St, 312-454-2200
Take your dim sum to go from this Evanston eatery. The Chinese restaurant is now offering a special dim sum picnic designed for two which includes six items (pre-selected by the restaurant), two non-alcoholic drinks, and all accompanying sauces and utensils for $30.
Koi, 624 Davis St, 847-866-6969
For something a bit more on the inexpensive side, try Falafill's picnic box options for $9.50 each. The Mediterranean fast casual restaurant's options include a half wrap and a dip or salad, a wrap and chips, a pocket kit, which lets you make your own pita sandwich; and dips and chips.
Falafill, 3202 N Broadway, 773-525-0052
Make your own International picnic basket at this indoor market. Located in the West Loop, the Chicago French Market features vendors that can satisfy any culinary desire. There's everything from a Kosher deli to Stephanie Izard's Little Goat Bread to all the gourmet vinegars and olive oils you could want. Saigon Sisters, De Lobsta, Klay Oven, and more have prepared dishes that you can grab and go, and you can pick up the perfect bottle of wine at Pastoral.
Chicago French Market, 131 N Clinton St, 312-575-0306
With all of these options you'll always have a perfect picnic.
Featured photo courtesy of The Florentine