A Guide to the No-Prep Picnic

by | Jul 2024

White Bear Lake Picnic

Photos: Chris Emeott

Set out on your summer adventures with local grab-and-go provisions.

Patio season may be in full swing—but so is picnic season! There’s something magical about packing a lunch and sharing a meal under the summer sun. And whether your toes are in the sand, a lake or a grassy meadow—local establishments make it easy to set out on a family adventure.

We checked out some local hot-spots to find the best grab-and-go items, so your picnic can be as spontaneous as you’d like! Take a detour, and pick up some gourmet bites and beverages to sustain your adventures.


Salad lovers unite at PLNT BSD. While the vegan establishment is known for its smoothie bowls, the popular Quinoa Salad ($13) is a great addition to your picnic menu. Made with organic greens, quinoa, hemp seeds, avocado, blueberries and nutritional yeast tossed in a citrus vinaigrette, the fresh salad can be ordered at PLNT BSD’s new pick-up window at the back of The Anchor Coffee House. Pro Tip: Go for the house-made tofu “Chz” (vegan ricotta) as an additional topping. 4742 Washington Square; 651.333.0011; plntbsdbowls.com

GoodThings Cafe

GoodThings Cafe has built its menu on quick, grab-and-go items, including sandwiches, salads, wraps and snacks. We especially love the Rainbow Veggie Wrap, a mix of bell peppers, carrots, red cabbage, lettuce and feta cheese with chipotle ranch dressing in a spinach tortilla ($7.95). 2184 Fourth St. Suite 2; 651.426.8006; shopgoodthings.com

EAT! @ Banning & 5th has a great selection of sodas, including flavors from a Minnesota business with a unique White Bear Lake connection. Northern Soda Company was originally founded by three area teachers. northernsoda.com

EAT! @ Banning & 5th Sodas

If you’re going to try just one sandwich at EAT! @ Banning & 5th, the Red October Sub ($11.45) is owner Shawn Smith’s first choice; it’s made with pastrami, bacon, pepper cheese and cheddar with red pepper, jalapeño peppers, tomato, lettuce, onion and mayo. 2202 Fifth St.; 651.653.1225; eatwhitebear.com

EAT! @ Banning & 5th, the Red October Sub

The Wild Bean has more than just coffee for local picnicners. The Mahtomedi staple makes a delicious Turkey Pesto Panini ($8.50) that brings together the flavors of summer in a take-away sandwich, with turkey, tomatoes, havarti cheese, cream cheese and pesto on sourdough bread. You can order ahead through the cafe’s online ordering page for quick pick-up. 88 Mahtomedi Ave., Mahtomedi; 651.447.2369; thewildbeanmahtomedi.com

The Wild Bean Turkey Pesto Panini

Is it even a picnic without dessert? Eat!@ Banning & 5th has handmade desserts for every taste, including seasonal pies ($5.45), black cherry brownies ($2.45) and cookies ($1.50).

Eat!@ Banning & 5th handmade desserts

Sunset at the Park

For an intimate date night picnic, we love the options at MIZU Japanese. The restaurant is open for dinner only, which makes it an ideal pick-up option for a romantic sunset spread at a local park.

The new Japanese Steamed Buns ($11) provide an elevated take-away option. Have your choice of any two variations: beef brisket, pork belly, shrimp tempura and unagi.

Order online to build your own takeout platter. Don’t miss the signature White Bear Lake Roll ($25) made with albacore tuna, avocado, jalapeño, cilantro and spicy mayo topped with scallop, ponzu sauce, scallion, chili oil and togarashi. The platters are ideal for taking out on the boat, says owner Daron Close, adding that MIZU has plans to offer a chef’s choice takeout platter this summer. 4475 Lake Ave. S.; 651.653.4888; mizuwbl.com

Wondering where to take your grab-and-go spread? Head to whitebearlakemag.com for a list of our top picnicking destinations and some of our favorite lifestyle items to add to the mix.


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