Take dinner and a show to the next level with a play and picnic in the park. One of the hallmarks of a Chicago summer is the outstanding outdoor shows, and nothing makes an evening quite like a delicious meal. Spread out a blanket and enjoy an evening of theater and fine dining on a fine Chicago summer night. Here are 5 places to pick up a picnic before enjoying a performance of Shakespeare in the Chicago parks this summer:
The Show: Shakespeare in the Park's Twelfth Night
This summer Twelfth Night will travel to 18 neighborhoods across the city, as part of the Night Out in the Parks initiative: At each park stop, a specially equipped truck magically unfolds to reveal a stage and a company of professional actors will showcase Shakespeare in all his glory.
This 75-minute abridged production of Twelfth Night is perfect for introducing kids to the joys of Shakespeare. It's a casual environment, so kids are welcome to swing and play at the park during intermission. To make it even better, the performance is FREE!
See Twelfth Night presented by Chicago Shakespeare Theater at Navy Pier July 14 & 15 at 6:30 p.m. or see the full schedule for more options.
Dinner Option 1: The Florentine
Located at 151 W Adams, the Loop's destination for delicious Italian cuisine, brings back their beloved picnic baskets for gourmet al fresco dining in the city this summer. These picnic baskets go beyond standard picnic fare by offering a truly Italian-style spread, including artisanal meats and cheese, seasonal vegetables, homemade bread and more. Picnic baskets are available through Labor Day and include two cans of soda, two bottles of water and all necessary disposables (plates, napkins, flatware and plastic wine glasses).
To purchase one of The Florentine's picnic baskets, call the restaurant at (312) 660-8866 at least 3 hours prior to requested pick-up or order online.
Dinner Option 2: Pastoral
The award-winning Chicago neighborhood cheese, specialty foods and wine shop has you covered with 6 perfectly packaged picnic options. Choose a picnic to suit your cravings ranging from a carnivore's feast to a Francophile's dream. Of special note is the Taste of the Midwest picnic, which features products only from Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa, and Ohio. It includes creamy and slightly funky Aged Widmer's Brick, fruity and mild Chandoka, lightly salted Amish butter, Borsellino salami, hearty summer sausage from Underground Meats, shallot confit and dried Michigan cherries, housemade spiced almonds and grainy mustard. Each picnic includes a full baguette.
Reserve your made-to-order picnics 24-hours in advance for pickup from one their three locations or delivery.
Dinner Option 3: Honey Butter Fried Chicken
If you're looking to fill your picnic basket with southern delights, order your lunch or dinner to go from the restaurant located at 3361 North Elston. Start with a main course, Honey Butter's delectable fried chicken, and then fill up on sides, including roasted garlic grits, creamed corn, veggie slaw with ginger sesame seeds, pimento mac n' cheese and more. Don't forget to pack dessert into your basket: toffee cookies or strawberry dump cake — and wash it all down with a selection of cane sugar sodas.
Dinner Option 4: Green City Market
You'll find all the picnic provisions you'll need, ready to be packed into your basket, at Green City Market, Chicago's premier, sustainable and seasonal farmer's market. Located in Lincoln Park, Green City Market isn't just a farmer's market: its mission is to provide a marketplace for purchasing sustainably grown food and to educate, promote and connect farmers and local producers directly to chefs, restaurateurs and the greater Chicago community. Alice Waters calls this beloved market "the best sustainable market in the country," and it truly is a fantastic place to shop for the best fruits, veggies, and specialty gourmet products.
The Green City Market is open from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Wednesday and Saturday through October.
Dinner Option 5: Eataly Chicago
In the heart of downtown, this option is so easy you'll want to picnic in your hotel room! Think fresh fruit and crisp vegetable crudités (there's even a Vegetable Butcher on site to clean and cut your picks) as well as sweet Italian fruit preserves, Italian cookies, more savory olive selections than you can imagine, and colorful sparkling beverages. Plus for dessert? Nutella of course! All in convenient ready-to-go packages to customize your spread.
Find the sprawling Italian food market and specialty grocer at 43 E. Ohio Street.