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Picnic paradise: A guide to outdoor dining for the urban dweller

Picnic paradise: A guide to outdoor dining for the urban dweller

Mike Thomas

That bright, skin-scorching disc that occasionally appears over Columbus skies is back on the “high” setting, which can only mean one thing: summer is in full swing.

Along with all the pool parties and barbeques that the season brings, spreading out the picnic blanket at one of the city’s pristine metro parks is an ideal way to enjoy the great outdoors while getting your grub on.

Though you shouldn’t have too much trouble nding an ideal picnic spot, choosing the best items to load into your basket demands careful consideration. Let’s face it, chicken salad sandwiches and watermelon slices—delicious though they may be—are old hat.

Fear not, persnickety picnic participants: allow us direct you to the best spots in central Ohio to find everything you’ll need for a picnic spread that looks picture perfect.

Photos: Brian Kaiser

Giant Eagle Market District |

When it comes to sheer convenience, Giant Eagle Market District can’t be beat. For the uninitiated, a-la-carte items sold by the pound at this upscale grocery’s hot bar run the gamut from Italian favorites to southern staples like fried chicken and potato wedges. Throw in an equally eclectic salad bar and you’re on your way to stress-free picnic bliss.

Weiland’s Market |

The selection of high-quality Buckeye-proud foodstuffs at Weiland’s Market in Clintonville is unparalleled. Whether it’s a hefty helping of bung bologna from Falter’s Fine Meats, or a seasonal selection of the finest fruits and vegetables Ohio has to offer, Weiland’s has the hookup.


The North Market |

A picnic in the heart of the city can be an international a air thanks to the diverse offerings at Columbus’ best (and only) public market. Grab a charcuterie board and assemble the appetizer plate of the gods at Black Radish Creamery. Compare the finer points of authentic Tibetan momos from Momo Ghar and traditional Polish Pierogis from Hubert’s. Room for dessert? Top your globetrotting picnic experience off in style with French macarons from Pistacia Vera.

Dan the Baker |

No picnic would be complete without a nice, fresh-baked loaf of crusty bread leaning casually out of a wicker basket. Thanks to savory concoctions like an olive and polenta-infused loaf or a croissant stuffed with ham and gruyere cheese, the artisan creations of Columbus’ own Dan the Baker are the perfect picnic accent (or main course). Finish the affair with one of Dan’s Tahitian vanilla bean cream pastries and you’ll wonder why you ever need eat anything but carbs again.

The Hills Market |

Columbus’ own locally-owned downtown grocery has all of the selection of the larger chains, complete with full-service departments to suit any need. Grab ready- to-go meals such as Hill’s famous crab cakes or twice-baked potatoes from the chef’s case, snag a couple of slices of pizza, or have the deli whip you up a sandwich just the way you like it. Whatever you choose, Hills makes crafting the perfect picnic basket as simple as pointing at what you want.


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