Pack Up and Go

Everything you need for the perfect summer picnic in Austin

Everything you need for the perfect summer picnic in Austin

Auditorium shores Austin skyline
Here's how to have the perfect picnic this summer. Photo by Alicia Vega

With a wide variety of summer outdoor events to choose from, picnic fare is a convenient choice to complement your evening. We scouted the best local to-go options, prepared in advance and waiting for you, with no more hassle than selecting your menu online or phoning it in. Better yet, have it delivered.

Wondering where to spread out your blanket? Here’s how to have the perfect picnic during July and August.

Step 1: Pick your event
There's a plethora of free entertainment options offered each summer, and these five do not disappoint:

Do512 and Alamo Drafthouse present Sound & Cinema
Sound & Cinema takes place on the Long Center’s lawn on select Wednesdays. Upcoming screenings include Footloose featuring the Urban Achievers Brass Band on July 20 and Labyrinth featuring Sweet Spirit on August 10.

Zilker Theatre Productions presents Shrek The Musical
Shrek is the 58th annual Zilker summer musical, which can be seen Thursday through Sunday evenings at the Zilker Hillside amphitheater behind Barton Springs Pool.

Bullock Museum presents Music Under the Star
Closing night for Music Under the Star is Friday, July 22, with Quiet Company and Riders Against the Storm.

Austin Symphony Orchestra presents Concerts in the Park
The Austin Symphony plays every Sunday at 7:30 pm on the Long Center lawn through August 28. July 24 highlights brass instruments while July 31 features Big Band music.

Blues on the Green
The last Blues on the Green is going down Wednesday, August 3, at Zilker Park, and features the sounds of The Suffers and Sweet Spirit.

Step 2: Pick your picnic
These places offer great takeout selections, ideal for sharing an outdoor meal under the stars. Most are convenient to Zilker Park and the Long Center. Here are nine of our favorites:

We admit it. We are in love with Antonelli’s. Its cheese plates are a thing of beauty. The team works with you to provide exactly what you want and educates you in the process. Options include vegetarian plates, charcuterie, and a fully loaded picnic basket complete with a cheese board, mason jar glasses, cheese knife, corkscrew, and wine. Take note: You must place your order before 8 am on the day you want to pick it up.

Order the fried deviled eggs, fried green tomatoes, a three-piece cold chicken basket with potato salad, and a moon pie to-go. How can you go wrong?

The Picnic
Conveniently located on Barton Springs Road — the perfect stop before hitting up the Zilker summer musical — this food-truck park offers everything from burgers to Turkish wraps to po’boys. We highly recommend the Shiner beer-battered Monte Cristo sandwich from Hey … You Gonna Eat or What? and the hot-and-crunchy cones (chicken, shrimp, or avocado) from The Mighty Cone. Finish with a sweet treat from Hey Cupcake!

Royal Blue Grocery
Each location has different offerings customized to clientele and neighborhood, but you will find a little bit of everything at these urban groceries. Great for grab-and-go, you can also have it prepared for pickup or delivery. Sandwiches and salads are freshly made as are the cheese, fruit, and veggie platters. The Cuban sandwich is our favorite followed closely by smoked turkey with Brie and apple. Pair with chips and a cola and you are good to go. You can also purchase beer and wine here.

Sarah’s Mediterranean Grill and Market
This specialty market is one of Austin’s best-kept secrets with its delicious takeout foods that are reasonably priced. From Greek gyros, hummus, and falafel to lamb and chicken shawarma, kebobs, and stuffed dolmas, Sarah’s dishes are prepared fresh daily. Oh and did we mention the baklava? Is your mouth watering yet? You can email or call for pickup, and delivery is also available.

Snap Kitchen
With several calorie-conscious meals to choose from, Snap Kitchen’s prepackaged meals and salads include vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options. The good news is that every member of your group can order whatever strikes their fancy. Pickup is quick and they also have a delivery option.

Sushi Zushi
Boasting one of Austin’s most comprehensive menus, you may be overwhelmed by the numerous choices. But whether you are craving spring rolls, spicy rolls, yellow-fin tuna, sashimi, or yakitori it’s all here. Check out the signature Austin roll — crab, tempura-fried carrots, and avocado rolled uramaki-style and wrapped with a mixture of spicy tuna and habanero masago and drizzled with spicy sashimi sauce. Order online for easy pickup. Bonus tip: Check out Sushi Zushi's in-house happy hour specials available every day from 3 to 7 pm.

Sweetish Hill
For more than 40 years, Sweetish Hill has been serving European-style pastries and arguably the finest fresh-baked artisan breads in Austin. It is a happy place where old friends meet and the secret ingredient they add is love — love of the food and what they do. Try the homemade chicken and egg salad and vegetarian sandwiches. For the truly indulgent, guilty pleasure picnic, include the fresh bread, fruit and cheese strudel, cheese Danish, petit pain au chocolat, and a chocolate bourbon pecan or seasonal peach pie. Sugar overdose to be certain, but a picnic you will never forget. Order a day ahead for pickup.

Terry Black’s BBQ
From Lockhart barbecue royalty comes mouthwatering brisket and sausage cooked to perfection. Order by the pound and add on the baked-potato salad, creamed corn, or macaroni and cheese sides. Terry Black’s also offers family packs that can feed anywhere from six to 18 people. Pick up and conveniently walk across the street to the Long Center for any number of its summer events.

Step 3: Pack up and go!
Now that you have your event and picnic picked out, pack up and go enjoy Austin to its fullest.