Vietnam Veterans Memorial Park

July is National Picnic Month, and Chicago's parks and beaches are the perfect spot to spread out a blanket and unpack a meal. But before you load up a basket and find a fresh patch of grass, you have to stock up on some eating al fresco essentials. For ready-to-go picnics in Chicago, stop by these three places for sustenance and inspiration.

The Goddess and Grocer (Multiple Locations)

This gourmet neighborhood café offers "Pack a Picnic" - an a la carte to-go option for one-stop packing. Choose your favorite deli, prepared food and specialty grocery items and they'll all be loaded in a convenient box to take on the go. Try a fresh Garden Goddess avocado, sprouts, cucumber, carrots, beets, tomatoes, spinach, lettuce and Goddess dressing in a honey wheat wrap. Another option is the Southwest Chicken Salad - chopped romaine with chili-lime marinated chicken, spicy croutons, roasted corn, roasted red peppers, black beans and house-made Caesar dressing.

Don't forget to include a locally made chocolate bar or a house baked cookie or cupcake for dessert! Pack a Picnic is the price of your meal plusa $2 charge for the picnic box. Bring the box back after your picnic to any Goddess location and you'll receive 10% off your next to-go order.

Jake Melnick's Corner Tap (41 E. Superior St.)

Every Tuesday in July and August after 4 pm, this place offers a festive family-style BBQ picnic dinner, which serves up to six, on its outdoor picnic tables. Dig into a slab of signature Baby Back Ribs, a whole Hickory-Smoked Chicken, one pound of slow-smoked Brisket or tender Pork Shoulder, and, of course, BBQ sauce galore. Picnic sides include Texas Toast, cheddar cornbread, smoked BBQ baked beans, creamy coleslaw, fresh cut fries and sliced watermelon. Reservations are a must, as there are only six tables available on the patio per night.

Fox and Obel (401 E. Illinois St.)

Fox and Obel offers an extensive selection of ready-to-heat chef prepared foods, including rotisserie chicken, hand-made pizzas, grilled meats and smoked fish, salads and appetizers. The charcuterie selection is unparalleled. You'll find the finest selections from around the world, including smoked fish, terrines, pâtés; Italian prosciutto, Spanish jamon and German speck; several kinds of caviar; and an assortment of smoked and cured salmon.

An on-site bakery ensures that you'll have the freshest baguette this side of Paris. Call Fox and Obel's personal shopper hotline, and your picnic will be wrapped up in a basket or box and ready for pick up. Last but not least, create your own bouquet at the on-site florist and you're all set for a romantic picnic! 

Help us keep the lights on by subscribing to Chicago Like a Local. For your efforts, we'll deliver awesome stories (like this one) to your inbox. Do we have a deal?