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Where to eat in Austin right now: 9 grab-and-go spots for a spring picnic

Where to eat in Austin right now: 9 superb spots for grab-and-go meals

Picnic basket
Celebrate the return of spring with a picnic. Photo by Jeremy Noble

After a dreary winter, spring has finally sprung and the last thing Austinites want to do is stay cooped up in a kitchen. That’s why you should shed your SAD and head to the great outdoors for a month of impromptu picnics. From cheese plates to chef-crafted salads, these nine spots have everything you need for dining al fresco. Spread out a blanket and breathe in all the fresh air.

Antonelli’s Cheese Shop
What’s a picnic without cheese? In January, beloved Hyde Park cheesemonger Antonelli’s branched out to downtown’s Fareground food hall, where you can get specialty boards filled with charcuterie, artisan cheese, and fixings like cornichons and peppadew peppers. If you have a little time to wait, order the insanely creamy cheese and macaroni made with eight specialty cheeses.

Easy Tiger Bake Shop and Beer Garden
Start your workday with some outdoor time and the appropriately named Easy Start breakfast. For only $5, get a small coffee and your choice of pastries like almond croissants, Danish snails, cinnamon knots or the energy boosting Breakfast Stick made with nine grains, raisins, and pecans. While you’re at it, buy a baguette or ciabatta to enjoy with lunch.

This neighborhood restaurant has always been part grocery store, selling a curated selection of cheese and artisan fare. Now it is branching out to ready-to-eat foods with light salads and mains tailored for Austin’s hot weather ahead. Everything is weighed, so you can get just the amount of French green lentils, poached salmon, red bean salad, or tomato soup that you need — all made with the same quality chef and owner Sarah McIntosh devotes to the sit down menu.

Farm to Market Grocery
This tiny SoCo shop has all the supplies for your next Greenbelt hike. Scan through the variety of panini, salads, and soups, then walk the aisles for snacks made from local producers like Mary Louise Butters Brownies, Tom’s Tabooley, Austinuts, and Pure Luck Organics. You can even take home a six-pack of your favorite beer and an adorable succulent to make your spread extra Insta-worthy.

Located on Manor Road, In.gredients is just as much a hangout as it is a grocery store, frequently holding family-friendly events like the monthly second Saturday Crafternoon. That commitment to community extends to the aisles and the ready-to-eat case, where you can buy locally made empanadas, Texas wines, and fresh vegetables grown by area farms.

Chef Shawn Cirkiel’s Parkside Projects has reinvented the juice shop with this casual downtown counter. Unsurprisingly, the grab-and-go selections are a cut above. For a romantic al fresco date, fill your basket with chef-driven selections like cucumber raita, raw carrot hummus, and baked wild Alaskan salmon. A banana, cocoa, peanut butter, and coffee smoothie makes a nifty stand-in for dessert.

With luscious tasty toasts and rich bone broths, this South Austin trailer has become a popular haunt for the paleo set. On a beautiful spring day, score a chicken collard wrap filled with rotating selection of chicken salads and head out to Zilker Park. You can even score a ready-to-drink bottle of the famous butter coffee if you need a quick pick-me-up.

Walton’s Fancy and Staple
The deli at this quaint West Sixth Street restaurant offers some of the best sandwiches in town, from a croissant piled with turkey, applewood smoked bacon, and white cheddar to a classic caprese drizzled with a balsamic vinegar reduction. Don’t forget to leave without a sweet from the pastry case like the decadent Golden Eggs — nutmeg infused yellow cake dipped in melted butter and coated with cinnamon sugar.

Wheatsville Food Co-op
If your picnic crew has a variety of diets, you can’t beat the varied offerings at this homegrown grocery. Vegans will rave about the popcorn tofu po’boy dressed with mounds of veggies and a delectable house cashew tamari dressing. Omnivores can dive into the hot bar, which has rotating themes like Indian, comfort food, and Tex-Mex.