THIS FRIDAY, RESTAURANTS all over Houston are celebrating National Picnic Day, which made its timely debut last year while the city was shut down and eateries were forced to pivot to takeout-only operations.
For the holiday in 2021, the forecast is looking a little sunnier, as restaurants toast having made it through a seemingly impossible chapter and vaccines promise an impending return to normalcy. But al fresco dining is as popular as ever, and a group of participating businesses have teamed up to create picnic-ready packages and dishes with proceeds benefiting Buffalo Bayou Partnership.
"Spring is the perfect time to visit Buffalo Bayou and picnic with your friends and family in Buffalo Bayou Park," says the Partnership's Anne Olson, urging Houstonians to pack up and head to the Bayou's green spaces — and other parks all over Houston — this Friday. Here's a roundup of the day's most delicious offerings. Post your al fresco adventures with the hashtag #HtownPicnicDay!
BRAVERY CHEF HALLInside this Downtown dining hall, BOH Pasta & Pizza boasts $14 box lunches on Friday, each with a half-sandwich, chips, drink — and a cannoli. Choose from the Prosciutto di Parma, chicken pesto salad, or caprese, all piled high on fresh ciabatta or reimagined as a salad. And Bravery's Blind Goat, from chef Christine Ha, pick up sticky wings, a "shrimp sammie" po-boy-style sandwich, and wrap-your-own egg rolls!
COMMON BOND Available at the bakery's Montrose, Heights, Med Center and City Place locations, Common Bond has a $50 picnic tote ready to be unpacked at local parks all over town! Each bag includes a bruschetta trio, a charcuterie-style plate, a choice of two sandwiches, chips and, to sweeten the deal even further, a pack of snickerdoodle cookies.
FRANK'S AMERICANA REVIVALThe boxed lunches here became a popular to-go option when folks began working from home, and this Friday, Frank's is offering 25 percent off bottles of wine with the code "picnic" at checkout! Order 24 hours in advance and score a $15 boxed lunch, with sandwich and bag of chips, or $12 boxed salad — plus kids' lunches, with a sandwich, fruit, waffle chips and a cookie, for just $6!
LA LUCHALa Lucha's "family pack" includes eight pieces of fried chicken, an entrée-size salad, Brussels sprouts, collared greens, and four biscuits with pickles, honey sambal and jam. There's also a bottle of Bisol Proescco to pop! La Lucha's $59.95 deal will run all weekend long, but be sure to allow at least 30 minutes of lead time, as the Heights haunt's fried chicken is cooked-to-order.
LOCH BAR & OUZO BAYGrab a luxurious spread at these River Oaks District sister spots. For $115, score a trio of Greek spreads with pita and crudité, a pair of crab cakes, a mixed-green salad and Old Bay spiced chocolate chip cookies — plus a bottle of Gruet Sauvage sparkling wine — all presented in a keepsake wooden basket. Call either restaurant to order. Cheers!
Loch Bar & Ouzo Bay (photo by Kirsten Gilliam)
OUISIE'SMore than four decades ago, River Oaks fave Ouisie's began serving its famous chicken-salad sandwich. This Friday, enjoy one to-go with housemade chips, fresh fruit and a bottle of wine for just $20. Or opt for the same meal on the restaurant's verdant patio for $25.
PICNIC ON THE GREENThe aptly named mobile café based at Kuhl-Linscomb created three new packages for National Picnic Day, and are accepting online orders through Wednesday for pickup on Friday. Each bundle serves two and is priced at $32 or $40. The Texas Hill Country pack has brisket sandwiches, tomato salad and potato salad, plus mint-watermelon lemonades and Texas sheet cake. The Southern Trio includes chicken salad, Greek pasta salad, fruit and adorable mason-jar cheesecakes. And the Picnic in Paris package boasts a tray of meats and cheese with a French baguette, salad, fruit, raspberry-almond French financier — and sparkling blackberry limeades to wash it all down.
Picnic on the Green
PONDICHERI Snag the Upper Kirby Indian spot's warm-pressed Naanwich (available in a vegetarian version!) and a signature chocolate-chili cookie made with spiced walnuts, all for just $15.
POSTINO With locations in Montrose and the Heights, Postino WineCafe is packaging up its happy-hour-famous bruschetta board on Friday! Enjoy a board plus two appetizers of your choice for $35, and tack on a bottle of wine for just $15.
SAFINAHot and cold "picnic packs" are available at this mod Mediterranean restaurant in the Med Center. The hot version ($15) is full of snacks like a veggie samosa, falafel and artichoke beignet; the cold bundle ($22) includes a charcuterie board with house preserves, assorted nuts, marinated olives and more.
THE GROVE The posh café at Discovery Green is extending its happy-hour menu to 1-5pm for National Picnic Day! Picnic-going patrons can also snag an artisinal cheese tray to-go and enjoy 20 percent off bottles of wine (for dine-in, too!).
XIN CHAO Pre-order a picnic-bundle-for-two from this still-new Vietnamese restaurant — located near Buffalo Bayou Park — by Christine Ha. For $40, enjoy two smoked-brisket bahn mi sandwiches with a generous sie of barbecue-shrimp chips and a bottle of Gratien & Meyer sparkling rose.
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