As the warmer months arrive and Toronto sheds its winter gear, there’s no better way to spend a weekend afternoon than with a picnic lunch and lounge in one of the city’s beloved green spaces.
Here’s where to find some of the best takeout food and picnic spots in Toronto:
This tiny hole-in-the-wall pizza shop is an unassuming spot to grab some excellent takeout food. Za Pizzeria reimagines the classic pizza pie and offers an array of tempting, gourmet-style pizzas with inventive toppings. Kids will love the Oh Canada with maple syrup, mozzarella, crispy bacon, and potato chips. Another winner is the Funghi, a divine combination of decadent porcini cream, fresh mozzarella, goat cheese, and sautéed mushrooms. It’s perfect for lovers of deep, rich flavours, but it’s still light enough that you’ll be forgiven for craving a second helping later.
When your order’s ready, head west on Bloor Street to Christie Pits park, where you’ll find a huge selection of sports facilities (baseball, basketball, volleyball) as well as a kids’ playground and labyrinth, wading pool, and a community garden. It’s got more than enough activities to keep the whole family entertained for days, and plenty of open space for quieter picnic spots too.
One of the best places for a smoked meat sandwich or a Reuben, Shopsy’s main restaurant is located in the heart of Toronto’s bustling financial district. The freshly made sandwiches are the best grab-and-go option, but you might have a hard time deciding which of the 14 to choose. Shopsy’s is known for its mouth-watering deli meats, so the Home Run sandwich is a great way to get the real Shopsy’s experience. A meat-enthusiast’s dream, it’s packed with hot corned beef and pastrami, topped with warm and melty Swiss, and served on rye bread. A side of tangy coleslaw and a pickle add a satisfying crunch. With more than 90 years in business, Shopsy’s is a beloved Toronto institution.
An ideal place to enjoy your deli fare is just a short walk away in Nathan Phillips Square at Toronto’s City Hall. Head towards City Hall and find the sets of stairs that take you up to a grassy platform surrounding the building. From here you’ll have the best vantage point over the square and fewer crowds to contend with while you indulge in your picnic feast.
There’s no need to plan ahead if you arrive at High Park—Toronto’s biggest green space and a true urban escape—without a picnic. Located inside the park, Grenadier Café serves up some tasty dishes you can eat in their dining room or self-service café, as well as some yummy takeout food options you can savour in your own private spot in the park.
Work up an appetite with a long walk through the 400-acre park and reward yourself with a satisfying all-day breakfast—you can’t go wrong with the peameal bacon eggs benedict. Or grab a salad and sandwich to go and enjoy a secluded lunch while checking out some of the best natural wildlife you can find in the city. One of the best times to visit is spring, when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom.
Pusateri’s Fine Foods
Nestled in Toronto’s upscale Yorkville neighbourhood, Pusateri’s is a boutique-sized gourmet grocery store with a tempting selection of unique picnic-worthy takeout food. Pick up a selection of cured meats, specialty cheeses, and fresh salads. If you’re a seafood fan, the house-smoked salmon shouldn’t be missed—the combination of rich woody flavour paired with fresh herbs and a dash of lemon is irresistible. Pusateri’s ready-to-go gift baskets are brimming with goodies and perfect for small groups.
Hop on the subway at Bloor-Yonge and go one short stop north to Rosedale station. Here you’ll find yourself in a quiet residential area with beautiful houses and the equally lovely Ramsden Park located directly across from the station. In addition to a couple of tennis courts, you’ll find a quiet meandering trail and plenty of picnic spots to choose from as you lay out your picnic rug and relax.