For Your Quarantine Picnic: My Favorite Grab-N-Go Food in NYC
In the age of Covid-19 and quarantine, there has been an increase of outdoor activites for people to entertain themselves with. Because we are all trapped in our apartments with no private backyards, we are stuck going to our local parks with a mask to close our eyes on a blanket and imagine that we are anywhere else. I haven’t been doing that much outdoor dining but have been grabbing take out and eating at home or enjoying a quiet spot on the water to grub. This summer has been the return of the classic picnic and I’m here for it. I don’t see picnic season coming to an end until we are in our down jackets and boots. So in the meantime, here is a list of my favorite places that make delicious food that’s fast, easy to pick up, and can be transported to the closet park for your own little picnic!
1. Los Tacos No. 1
I cant even count on my hand the amount of people I brought to Los Tacos this quarantine. I love tacos and I was very excited when I discovered that Los Tacos No. 1 was opening up by my home last winter. Their first location you probably have encountered, it’s the taco place in Chelsea Market that always has a ridiculous line but I promise you, it is worth it. Grabbing a few tacos from here with a side of chips and guac is the best to bring to the Highline if you’re at the Chelsea market location or Rockefeller Park if you’re in Tribeca. I can’t choose between my favorite taco which is very unlike me so I get all three, the pork, chicken, and steak. They were voted #1 taco in New York and I 100% endorse that claim.
2. Scarr’s Pizza
Scarr’s is an old looking but delicious simple pizza shop on the Lower East Side. You might walk in and be a little confused as to where you are but once you taste their pizza or other delicious food like their popular vegan caesar salad, you will fall in love. It’s a small spot so that’s why it’s ideal to go in and grab a pie to go with one of their all-natural wines. What makes this pizza stand out is that the owner, Scarr Pimentel mills the grain for the pizza himself which makes it safe for gluten-free people to consume!
22 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002
3. Fried Dumpling
The most simple restaurant menu you will ever encounter with only five items that include 5 fried dumplings for $1.25…like?? how could you pass that up? and they’re DELICIOUS! Fried Dumpling is such a hidden spot but has such good dumplings that are prepared in minutes and wrapped up ready to be brought to a nearby park to be consumed! You can also purchase a pack of their 30 frozen dumplings to have at home for only $6.
106 Mosco St, New York, NY 10038
4. by Chloe.
by Chloe is a popular vegan food spot. They started downtown and have grown to have multiple locations. by Chlooe has great food that even non-vegans will love, trust me. Their most popular items are the Quinoa Taco salad and Mac n’Cheese. They also have great vegan pastries and for me being DF I love going there to get a sweet. My personal favorite is their lemon poppy seed muffin.
5. Dig (Formerly known as Dig Inn)
Every time I eat from Dig I swear I am the healthiest person ever. At Dig, you create your own market bowl by choosing a base, sides, and a protein. A must have in your bowl is the charred broccoli, I’m obsessed. All of their food is freshly farmed from 102 different, local farmers. Not only are you getting a fresh, delicious meal, but it also is a big portion and very filling, keeping you satisfied for hours.
I specifically put Chop’t on the list because after trying almost every make-your-own salad place ever, I do believe that Chop’t is the best. Yes, I went through my Just Salad phase in middle school, and my Sweetgreen phase in high school, but in the end, I genuinely believe Chop’t is the best salad chain spot. They are reasonably priced, always close-by, and easy to take on the go to eat anywhere. Chopping the lettuce just makes the biggest difference.
Alidoro is a delicious Italian specialty sandwich shop that makes beautiful sandwiches with fresh ingredients. I recommend looking at the menu before going because they have over 40 sandwich combinations. Despite being large, they aren’t too messy for a picnic. Some of their sandwiches are even named after famous Italian figures such as Michelangelo, Da Vinci, and Galileo. My personal favorites are the Alidoro, Collodi, and Pinocchio.
8. The Ribbon
The Ribbon has created a to-go special that is absolutely perfect for a picnic because…it’s literally a picnic basket! In the basket you get a bottle of rosé, hummus and bread, a cheese assortment, and pickled veggies for $30. This is a great option to grab if youre up by central park mid day and just want a snack while you people watch with your friend. Picnics are IN guys, I’m telling you!
20 W 72nd St, New York, NY 10023
Sugarfish is a high-end sushi spot that started in Los Angeles but has made it’s way to the east coast. Sushi is a perfect to-go meal but Sugarfish does it better than the rest. Some people say it’s the best sushi but with the long wait to get in, it’s easier to have their boxes brought straight to your door. The rolls come neatly organized with sides and sauces which makes the experience feel as though you could be sitting in one of their fancy restaurants and not on your futon in your studio apartment.
10. Zucker’s Bagels & Smoked Fish
Of course New York is home to the best bagels ever and there is honestly nothing I love more than a bagel when I’ve been out of New York for a while. Zucker’s is a chain that I specifically love for when I want to pack on a lot of yummy things to upgrade my bagel. You can have eggs, cream cheeses, tofu spreads, and many different types of smoked fish to choose from on their delicious bagels. I have a signature order that I love that includes turkey, avocado, lettuce, pickles, and dijon mustard on an everything bagel and they honestly kill it every time.
11. The Hummus Place
A UWS Mediterranean staple, The Hummus Place has some of the best hummus and other great vegan, gluten-free authentic dishes. They have multiple types of hummus, soups, falafel, veggies, and more. They’re affordable, delicious, and easily packed to be brought to Central Park to enjoy in a nice shaded spot of grass.
305 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10023
Blockheads is a great casual Mexican place that has a surprisingly large vegan menu. I have a few friends that are vegan and Blockheads is a perfect place because there are good options for both of us. You never want to get stuck being somewhere that’s great for you but horrible for your friend or vice versa, you both should be able to get accomodated based on your palettes.
13. JG Melon
A classic old spot, JG Melon makes one of the best yet most basic burgers in all of New York. For $12 you can get this burger and bring it to the park and I bet you you’ll probably want two. As someone who is indecisive af, I like that their menu is limited.
1291 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10021
14. Pastrami Queen
Pastrami Queen is a legit Kosher deli on the UES. Their menu is major, like endless options. They have garlic french fries which I’ve never had anywhere else and trust me, they are fantastic. Show up with an empty stomach and you’ll be licking your fingers at the great lawn after this meal.