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The best snack for the beach is a sand-wich.
(Los Angeles Times Staff)

The perfect takeout for 18 parks in L.A.

It’s a particular pleasure to realize that you’ve brought just the right picnic to just the right park. But how many perfect park picnics have you achieved this summer? We’re guessing not enough.

With that in mind — and the end of summer in sight — we’ve done our best to put together 18 picnics for readers. Our secret weapon: teamwork. First, our Saturday team came up with a list of their favorite picnic-friendly parks. Then we handed the list to our Food team, who paired those parks with nearby restaurants and added menu suggestions.

Then we hit the road, spread out our picnic blankets and did some serious eating, from chorizo in San Pedro to fried chicken in La Cañada Flintridge. Now it’s your turn.

If you’re looking to spend time outside, visit our guide to California’s best outdoor experiences. For local food recommendations, spend time with more stories from our Food team.

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Chori-man's breakfast burrito
(Calvin B. Alagot / Los Angeles Times)

Averill Park

San Pedro
There’s no better place for a quiet picnic than Averill Park, which dates to the 1920s and is small in size — just 10 acres — but big on aesthetics. The man-made water feature in the middle flows under a stone bridge and into little pools that draw the occasional blue heron or egret. Mallards and other ducks live here full time, which makes it a magnet for little kids. You’ll probably see brides, grads and 15-year-olds making their quinceañeras posing for photos in front of the little bridge. You can picnic on a hilly spot in the grass or at one of the picnic tables along the water (large groups must reserve).

Info: 1300 Dodson Ave., San Pedro; (310) 548-7598. Street parking; open dawn to dusk.

Where to order takeout:

The Chori-Man delivers comfort in the form of chorizo. Although there are multiple varieties to choose from (Zacatecano red chicken, white Argentinian pork, maple habanero pork and red soyrizo), I got attached to the Tolucan green pork when I tried it years ago. Aggressively spiced and tinted green with poblano peppers, the chorizo shines best in the chile relleno burrito. The tortilla-wrapped tube is loosely packed with chile relleno, beans, chorizo and crema.

Info: 2309 S. Alma St., San Pedro; (424) 287-2414, thechoriman.com. Open 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Wednesdays-Sundays.
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Chicken plate
(Arit John / Los Angeles Times)

Barnsdall Art Park

East Hollywood
Angelenos can again enjoy sweeping views of Los Angeles from the middle of a historic olive grove at East Hollywood’s Barnsdall Art Park. After being closed for more than a year (one year, one month, 24 days, nine hours and 34 minutes to be exact, according to isbarnsdallparkclosedrightnow.com), the park re-opened for families, tourists, art lovers and friends looking for the ideal backdrop for their golden hour photoshoots.

Although the park is an excellent place to watch the sun set, it’s best known as the site of Hollyhock House, a Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece. In 2019, nearly a hundred years after the home was completed, it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Info: 4800 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles.

Where to order takeout:

Kismet Rotisserie, the little sister operation down the block from Sarah Hymanson and Sara Kramer’s flagship restaurant, Kismet, makes take-out meals tinged with eastern Mediterranean flavors. If you’re up for knife-and-fork fare, the quarter-chicken plate includes hummus, pita, pickles, chile oil and garlic sauces and a sliver of wedge salad; your taste buds will never be bored. For more transportable feasts, the marquee chicken is tossed in yogurt sauce with turmeric-stained roasted onions and golden raisins and then stuffed into a pita or presented as a salad. The meatless variation, also available as a sandwich or salad, combines vegetables roasted in tahini with a jammy egg and pickled onions.

Info: 4666 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles; (323) 400-3700, kismetrotisserie.com. Open 11 a.m.-9 p.m. daily.
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Plate including cured salmon with boiled potatoes, salad with eggplant and red peppers and a herring salad
(Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)

Bette Davis Picnic Area

Glendale
Head to the northeastern corner of Griffith Park, where Riverside Drive and Victory Boulevard meet just north of the 134 Freeway, and you’ll find this flat, green space. There’s lots of room to spread out on both sides of Riverside, but I prefer the eastern side, which has several low-swooping sycamore trees for kids to climb. This is some of the horsiest turf in town, with the Los Angeles Equestrian Center next door. When I was in the park for a birthday party a few weeks ago, our balloons startled a passing Appaloosa; at the rider’s request, we hid them under a picnic table until the riding party was out of sight.

Why is this place named for Davis? A very L.A. reason: In the 1940s, the Hollywood star owned an estate in the neighborhood, along with a few horses, which she rode.

Info: 1850 Riverside Drive, Glendale; (323) 644-2050. Picnic tables. Open 5 a.m.-10:30 p.m.

Where to order takeout:

Russian cuisine is not the first that comes to mind for supreme picnicking, but the zakuski (salads and cold appetizers) from Glendale’s Kalinka make the case gracefully. Cured salmon or herring with boiled potatoes, beets and carrots in vinaigrette, a Georgian-style salad of eggplants and red peppers with walnuts, marinated mushrooms, delicious veal tongue with garlic and dill — the flavors are sharp but land lightly. Don’t skip the layered, bright pink, Soviet-era salad known charmingly as “herring under a fur coat.” For a group, augment the meal with a combo that includes lamb chops, spiced ground beef, pork and chicken, all threaded with vegetables and smoky from the grill.

Info: 1714 Victory Blvd., Glendale; (747) 240-6868, thekalinka.com. Open noon-9 p.m. daily.
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Sweet potato pecan pie from Killer Shrimp
(Rachel Schnalzer / Los Angeles Times)

Burton Chace Park

Marina del Rey
How many parks in Los Angeles can you visit on a water bus? Ten-acre Burton Chace Park is bordered on three sides by the marina, making it an ideal waterside picnic destination. It’s also been the site of many summer concerts and community movie nights, though these have been canceled in 2021. A sculpture titled “The Helmsman” stands near the water, a symbol of the area’s ties to boating and the ocean. For $1, you can tap into the park’s maritime traditions by boarding the Marina del Rey water bus and cruising to Fisherman’s Village, Mother’s Beach and other waterfront destinations.

Info: 13650 Mindanao Way, Marina del Rey. Open 6 a.m.-10 p.m. daily. Amenities include picnic tables, shelters and barbecues.

Where to order takeout:

When Killer Shrimp opened in Marina del Rey in 1988, the restaurant served just one thing: its signature shrimp, drowned in a secret spicy sauce. A year later, the sweet potato pecan pie (the recipe has been in founder Lee Michael’s family for decades) was added to the menu. The pie is a summertime favorite, eaten cold with a big scoop of whipped Chantilly cream on the side. The smooth filling is delicately spiced with cinnamon and blanketed by a crisp pecan topping. It’s a study in textures and balance, not too sweet with the perfect amount of crunch. Over the years I’ve eaten a slice for breakfast, and maybe one or two in place of dinner. I can’t think of a better treat to indulge in while I daydream about owning one of the yachts cruising in the marina.

Info: 4211 Admiralty Way, Marina del Rey; (310) 578-2293, killershrimp.com
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Pulled pork and mango arepas
(Rachel Schnalzer / Los Angeles Times)

Clover Park

Santa Monica
Clover Park shares a chain-link boundary with the Santa Monica Airport, and it’s common to see kids clutching the fence with a white-knuckled grip, thrilled at the sight of a biplane taking flight. The park is nestled in a residential corner of Santa Monica about two miles from the beach. Spend an afternoon reading under its trees and you’ll forget you’re in a major metropolitan area. With baseball games and bicycle-riding families circling the park, there’s a charming sense of “Anytown, U.S.A.” Bring a blanket — and maybe some earplugs given the park’s proximity to the airport — and enjoy taking it in.

Info: 2600 Ocean Park Blvd., Santa Monica. Open 6 a.m.-11 p.m. Amenities include picnic tables, barbeque grills, two playgrounds and a 15-station fitness course.

Where to order takeout:

The arepas at Bolívar Coffee + Arepa Bar are soft, cloudlike corn cakes that hug your choice of filling. They come two to an order. The preferred duo is pulled pork followed by slices of ripe mango. The pork shoulder practically melts after cooking for nine hours, stewed in its juices, garlic, paprika and Caribbean spices. The meat is garnished simply with pickled red onion and cilantro. The mango arepa is slathered with a rosemary-tinged aioli and garlic confit, then layered with slices of mango, avocado and a firm white cheese. The arepas come with a side of guasacaca, or what I call magic green sauce. The vibrant lime-colored condiment packs an acidic thump. Ask for extra.

Info: 1741 Ocean Park Blvd., Santa Monica; (310) 581-2344, cafebolivar.com. Open 7:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturdays.
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A wrap with kuku sabzi, yogurt and fried onions
(Calvin B. Alagot / Los Angeles Times)

Douglas Park

Santa Monica
Douglas Park is small but full of highlights, with plenty of picnic tables in shade or sun ideal for a leisurely weekend lunch. The restrooms are clean, and street parking is usually available. It’s great for dog- and people-watching; most weekends, you’ll encounter a children’s birthday party. It has a fenced-in playground as well as a kid-friendly concrete roller-skating area. There are ponds and bridges and ducks and turtles. On Sundays, spread a blanket on the little hill that overlooks the lawn bowlers (they start at 10 a.m.). When you finish lunch, walk across the street to grab a treat at Cookie Good.

Info: 2439 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica. Open 6 a.m.- 11 p.m. daily.

Tehran Market is a wonderland of prepared food and ingredients from the Middle East. It’s also the ideal place to put together the ultimate picnic. Start with a few slices of kuku sabzi, an Iranian dish made with a garden’s worth of fresh herbs (dill, fenugreek, cilantro and parsley, to name a few) and a little egg to bind it together. It’s available premade in the deli along with a variety of olives and pickles. Then, pick up some mast-o khiar yogurt mint dip from the refrigerated section near the dairy. Look for a container of fried onions in the frozen department (they will defrost on the drive to the park). And last, grab some sangak, a chewy flatbread wrapped in plastic. I like to make a wrap with the kuku sabzi, yogurt and fried onions and eat it under a shady tree.

Info: 1417 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica; (310) 393-6719. Open 8 a.m.-9 p.m. daily.
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Konbi's layered omelet sandwich filled with Jonah crab at Elysian Park
(Lisa Boone / Los Angeles Times)

Elysian Park

Elysian Park
The Chavez Ravine Arboretum, grand in scale with about 140 types of trees from all over the world, provides ample shade for picnicking, relaxing and gathering in Elysian Park, north of downtown Los Angeles. During the pandemic, the park has become a refuge for yogis, hula dancers, churchgoers and birthday revelers who congregate beneath the colorful jacaranda, Cape chestnut and tipu trees. It’s a trend that no doubt will continue, as Elysian Park offers multiple hiking trails that provide spectacular views of downtown on one side and the Los Angeles River (and the less enthralling Interstate 5) on the other. On Sundays, a lowrider showcase congregates along Stadium Way.

Info: 929 Academy Road, Los Angeles. Barbecue pits, picnic tables, children’s play area and hiking trails. Open sunrise to sunset daily.

Where to order takeout:

Elysian Park has numerous entrances: Aim for the trailhead at Elysian Park Drive and Scott Avenue for maximum convenience to Konbi, a tiny restaurant inspired by Japan’s 24-hour convenience stores. There are precise and beautifully packaged sandwiches, including pork katsu, chicken salad with pickled daikon and (the current masterpiece) layered omelet filled with frilly Jonah crab. Vegetable dishes (perhaps roasted squash with pickled cherries, a salad with fruits and nuts in miso-Dijon dressings, or a combination of pickles) are terrific sides, though two or three make a complete, satisfying meal. Early birds might snag a warm chocolate croissant to pair with a latte or iced sencha.

Info: 1463 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles; konbila.com. Open 9 a.m.- 4 p.m. Wednesdays-Sundays.
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The Serving Spoon's catfish lunch with collard greens, candied yams and corn bread
(Calvin B. Alagot / Los Angeles Times)

Fox Hills Park

Culver City
Lovely 10-acre Fox Hills Park has great spots for lunch and picnic tables that can accommodate large groups. Plenty of wide-open green space awaits — ideal for blankets — though much of it is in full sun, so come prepared. There is a covered playground area, tennis, basketball and volleyball courts and a jogging path with exercise equipment. And the restroom situation is a thumbs-up.

Info: Green Valley Circle and Buckingham Parkway, Culver City. Open dawn to dusk; restrooms 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Where to order takeout:

The Serving Spoon in Inglewood is a neighborhood staple. Owners Angela and JC Johnson have run the place since 2004 (Angela’s dad opened the restaurant in 1983). In April 2020, in the midst of the pandemic, the Johnsons launched a “pay it forward” program with a local radio station and for six weeks gave $500 to one or more families in need. Food from their kitchen nurtures on many levels. If you snag a seat at the counter, a plate of fried catfish, eggs and grits is nonnegotiable. If you’re taking your catfish lunch to go, the collard greens and candied yams have better staying power.

Info: 1403 Centinela Ave., Inglewood; (310) 412-3927, theservingspoon.net. Open 8 a.m.-2 p.m. daily.
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Munch Co.'s Munch Fish Sub
(Anne Harnagel / Los Angeles Times)

Garfield Park

South Pasadena
In pre-pandemic times, this tidy neighborhood park hosted South Pasadena’s July Fourth celebrations, a summer concert series, performances of Shakespeare’s plays and more. (Check the city’s website for updated information on activities.) Picnic tables are scattered throughout the narrow 7-acre site, purchased in 1920 from the Southern Pacific Railroad, and massive oak and sycamore trees provide plenty of shade. Wide grassy areas mean there’s room for tossing a Frisbee or a vigorous game of capture the flag.

Info: 1000 Mission St., South Pasadena. Two gazebos, each with a barbecue and picnic tables (can be reserved), a playground and two tennis courts. Street parking.

Where to order takeout:

I have been ordering sandwiches from the Munch Co. in South Pasadena since I was a freshman at a nearby high school. I used to favor turkey with avocado (still good), but the current favorite is the Munch Fish Sub, owners John Chen and Min Liu’s take on a fried fish sandwich. It involves a lightly breaded and fried filet of tilapia on a toasted French roll. The breadcrumbs coating the sandwich are roughly ground, giving the fish a ragged, crisp crust that will hold its crunch on the way to the park. The fish is dressed with arugula, sprigs of cilantro, slivers of red onion and a piquant tartar sauce with just the right amount of zing and sweet.

Info: 1028 Mission St., South Pasadena; (626) 441-1036, the-munch-co.com. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays.
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Lalibela Ethiopian dish in front of a La Brea tar pit sloth
(Adam Tschorn / Los Angeles Times)

Hancock Park

Mid-Wilshire
What’s not to love about a grass- and tree-filled park that surrounds two museums (Los Angeles County Museum of Art and George C. Page Museum), includes observation pits for live excavation of sites, giant statues of sloths, a heart-rending scene of a mammoth family battling a tar pit and gooey tar bubbling out of the ground? Thank George Allan Hancock, who donated 23 acres of his family’s ranch to Los Angeles County in 1924 for a public park that protects the tar pits — and the fossil finds trapped in them — for future generations. Today that makes for an educational walk through an urban oasis that includes lots of open space, plenty of shade trees and a Pleistocene Garden that re-creates a prehistoric habitat from the Pleistocene Epoch (10,000 to 1.9 million years ago).

Info: 5801 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles; (213) 763-3499. Plenty of picnic tables, benches and a small amphitheater. Parking is available in the museum lot off Curson Avenue for $15 (flat rate). Hourly parking is available across the street in the SAG-AFTRA lot. There is also metered four-hour parking along 6th Street.

Where to order takeout:

Even in carry-out boxes, Lalibela owner Tenagne Belachew and her staff assemble beautiful, muted mosaics of Ethiopian dishes: spiced lentils, long simmered meats in complex sauces, gently garlicky salads. For stellar portable meals look to the restaurant’s combination specials. The “veggie utopia” bundles 14 vegetable dishes laid over injera, the thin, fermented bread essential to Ethiopian cuisine. Higher up the food chain, a trio called “Cornis” features kifto (chopped beef in herbed butter with fresh cheese), tibs fir-fir (beef cubes with tomato, garlic and shards of injera) and derek tibs (spiced beef finished with sautéed onions and peppers).

Info: 1025 S. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles; (323) 965-1025, lalibelala.com. 11 a.m.-10 p.m. daily.
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The Hasiba falafel sandwich

La Cienega Park

Beverly Hills
This vibrant, tree-dotted park has wide, grassy areas on both sides of La Cienega Boulevard just north of Olympic Boulevard. Its central location — and assortment of sports fields and a perimeter running/jogging track — make it an ideal place to people-watch while picnicking. Film buffs take note: On the western side of La Cienega is the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Margaret Herrick Library, Fairbanks Center for Motion Picture Study (333 S. La Cienega Blvd.), a treasure trove of archival material from the movie industry accessible to on-site research by the general public when not closed because of COVID-19 restrictions.

Info: 8400 Gregory Way, Beverly Hills. Open daily 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Baseball diamonds, picnic tables, a running track and playground equipment. Free two-hour parking in the public structure across the street at 325 S. La Cienega Blvd.

Where to order takeout:

Hasiba is one of Los Angeles’ new wave of Middle Eastern restaurants in fast-casual form. Your best bet for a handheld indulgence is one of the sandwiches. The hot split pita is brimming with deep-fried falafel, roasted tomato and fried slabs of eggplant or sweet potato. Depending on your selection, there may be chopped boiled egg, tahini and herbs or veggies dressed with amba (mango pickle sauce) or tahini and Israeli salad. Regardless of your sandwich adventure, after your third bite, the overstuffed pita turns into a beautiful mess, but it’s more than worth the amba-stained picnic blanket.

Info: 8532 Pico Blvd., Los Angeles; (424) 302-0225, hasibarestaurant.com. Closed Saturdays and Mondays.
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Lobster sandwich at Lake Balboa

Lake Balboa Anthony C. Beilenson Park

Sepulveda Basin
Lake Balboa at Anthony C. Beilenson Park is a popular destination for families, thanks to its shady lakeside pagodas, multiple playgrounds, barbecue pits, fishing, kayaking and boating in swan-shaped pedal boats. (The proliferation of ducks and geese are a big draw for kids too). The park can be busy on the weekends, but the 1.3-mile footpath around Lake Balboa is a tranquil place for a leisurely walk or jog during the week, with or without a dog, especially in the spring when the park’s cherry trees are in bloom. If you rent a boat, keep an eye out for the waterfall at the north end of the lake.

Info: 6300 Balboa Blvd., Van Nuys; (818) 756-8187. Barbecue pits, children’s play area, picnic tables, fishing permitted, pedal boats and bike rentals. Open sunrise to sunset daily.

Where to order takeout:

Look for the cobalt Maine Street Lobster truck that stations itself across from the park’s Balboa Avenue entrance. In a world of too many choices, the menu has only a handful of satisfying options for lobster rolls: Connecticut-style, simple and pure with drawn butter; New England, the meat glossed with tarragon-flavored mayo; and a wonderful summery variation on a BLT. If you’re feeling extravagant, add “surf and turf” tater tots gilded with bits of lobster, carne asada, pico de gallo and crema. Check the truck’s Instagram account for specials and occasional schedule changes.

Info: 6200 Balboa Blvd., Van Nuys; (323) 364-5255, mainestreetlobstertruck.com
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Angry Egret Dinette's McTorta and the waffles from Angry Egret Dinette
(Arit John / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles State Historic Park

Chinatown
Los Angeles State Historic Park contains 32 acres of trails, bike paths, art installations, plants and breathtaking views of downtown Los Angeles. Go during the day to picnic with friends and watch your fellow Angelenos fly kites or on a summer evening to watch an outdoor movie hosted by Street Food Cinema. As the name suggests, the park’s history mirrors the city’s. It’s about a mile from what was once Yang-Na, a Tongva trading village, and the Pueblo de Los Ángeles, where Spanish settlers founded what is now Los Angeles. There are still remnants in the park of the zanja madre, the original aqueduct that transported water from the Los Angeles River to the pueblo. Today, the park is walking distance from some of the oldest structures in the city.

Info: 1245 N. Spring St., Los Angeles; (323) 441-8401. Picnic areas, nature and wildlife viewing. Open 8 a.m. to sunset.

Where to order takeout:

Wes Avila became a hometown star with Guerrilla Tacos, the Arts District cart that became a food truck and then a sit-down restaurant. He’s back to his rebelliously creative ways with Angry Egret Dinette, a takeout window inside Chinatown’s Mandarin Plaza. The menu is always in flux, but count on magnificent fish tacos, the Baja shrimp po’ boy layered with sliced avocado, and Avila’s “McTorta,” a breakfast sandwich stuffed with gyro-style beef, fried eggs and American cheese. The mini-waffles are great for starting the day or as dessert at lunchtime and (this comes from first-hand experience) are easy to gobble by hand.

Info: 970 N. Broadway, Suite 114, Los Angeles; (213) 278-0987, aedinette.com. Open 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays and 5:30-9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
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The Beach Hut breakfast burrito
(Jessica Martinez / Los Angeles Times)

Los Arboles Park

Torrance
Rocketship Park, as it’s commonly known, gets its name from the four-level rocket parked next to a couple of playgrounds. Views from the park — from the ocean to downtown L.A. — are good any time of year, but it’s an extra-special place for watching fireworks on Fourth of July, when you can easily see 50 shows across the L.A. area. There are also picnic tables and a shaded grass field. The park is in a residential area, but there’s plenty of parking.

Info: 5101 Calle De Ricardo, Torrance. Open 6 a.m.-10.p.m. daily.

Where to order takeout:

I say a good breakfast burrito can and should be eaten anytime of day. The breakfast burrito jammed with house-made pocho sausage from the Beach Hut in Torrance is one of those. The sausage is similar to chorizo, heavy on the spice with a punch of heat and garlic. Stuffed with sausage, fluffy scrambled eggs, melty cheese and hash browns, this brick of a burrito will satisfy you for hours. The restaurant also offers Hawaiian-inspired dishes. If loco moco with a big scoop of macaroni salad is your thing, it has that too.

Info: 4322 Pacific Coast Highway, Torrance; (310) 375-1095, thebeachhutla.com
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A plate of fried chicken and sides
(Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)

Memorial Park

La Canada Flintridge
This triangular green space is just 1½ acres, but it’s strategically placed. Its field of natural grass and bandstand gazebo (near the corner of Foothill and La Cañada boulevards) have been constructed over the 210 Freeway. City planners call this a “freeway cap” park, and through more than a decade of visiting, I never realized until now that the freeway was below. At the park’s northern end, there’s a playground. Along one edge, there are tree-shaded picnic tables and a wide, decomposed-granite path that’s ideal for learning to ride a bike. The park hosts a Sunday night Music in the Park concert series that draws hundreds of picnicking families.

Info: 1301 Foothill Blvd., La Cañada Flintridge. Open dawn to dusk.

Where to order takeout:

Excellent fried chicken can taste even better at room temperature. And the really good stuff keeps its allure cold, eaten straight out of the fridge. The chicken at Honeybird in La Cañada Flintridge is superb at any temperature. After six years spent perfecting his recipe, chef-owner Phil Lee settled on a 28-hour wet brine that leaves each piece of chicken moist and adequately seasoned. The coating is golden, craggy and superbly crisp. You can order the chicken on its own, as a meal or in a family pack with sides. Pro tip: Get the family pack, order enough applewood smoked bacon and cheddar biscuits to share, and ask for extra packets of honey and hot sauce for dipping.

Info: 714 Foothill Blvd., La Cañada Flintridge; (818) 415-0489, honeybirdla.com. Closed Sundays and Mondays.
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U Street Pizza's vodka pepperoni pie
(Anne Harnagel / Los Angeles Times)

Memorial Park

Pasadena
Pasadena has more than 24 parks, so how do you choose just one? Memorial Park (originally called Library Park for the city’s first library constructed on the site in 1890) is one of the city’s oldest, established in 1902. The 5-acre site, on the northern fringe of Old Pasadena, once was home to an eclectic summer concert series, with jazz, folk, world music and more performed in the Art Deco band shell. Let’s hope the city revives the programming: There’s plenty of bench seating and a sloping lawn ideal for picnicking and enjoying the music.

Info: 85 E. Holly St., Pasadena. Bandshell, some picnic tables and a playground; no sports fields. Memorial Park stop on the Metro L Line (a.k.a. the Gold Line). Open 6 a.m.-10 p.m.

Where to order takeout:

You can’t go wrong with any of the options at the new U Street Pizza in Pasadena, sister restaurant to the Union Italian restaurant next door, but the vodka pepperoni pie is a favorite. The sauce is thick, unctuous and slopped on generously under a blanket of cheese and salty rounds of pepperoni. This is a solid pizza, but why not add a side of homemade ranch for your crust? If you’ve saved room for dessert, the choco tacos are just like the ones you ate off the ice cream truck as a kid, only the ice cream is smoother and the chocolate of much better quality.

Info: 33 Union St., Pasadena; (626) 605-0340, ustreetpizza.com. Open 4 to 9 p.m. daily.
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Bludso's Bar & Cue brisket sandwich
(Adam Tschorn / Los Angeles Times)

Pan Pacific Park

Fairfax
The park is bounded by Beverly Boulevard to the north and 3rd Street to the south, and its bowl-like landscaping means that its open grassy space is below street level, which makes for an unusually tranquil experience — especially given that the Grove shopping center is its neighbor to the west. It has wide, sloping, sidewalk-like paths, which make the park accessible to everyone, and ample picnic tables (some under pavilion-like structures) and an unusually large number of barbecue grills for an urban park.

Info: 7600 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles; (323) 939-8874. Barbecue pits, picnic tables, a baseball diamond, basketball courts, children’s play areas, a jogging path and an amphitheater. Open 5 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. daily.

Where to order takeout:

The Fairfax neighborhood around Pan Pacific Park teems with dining options: Tacos 1986, Petty Cash Taqueria, Jon & Vinny’s and Cake Monkey Bakery sit within walking distance. Bludso’s Bar & Cue is a little farther, about a mile from the park, but it merits the extra drive (or steps) for the pleasure of barbecue enjoyed in the outdoors. Texas native Kevin Bludso is a progenitor of L.A.’s modern barbecue boom. Though his original Compton restaurant closed in 2016, the La Brea location maintains the straightforward splendor of Bludso’s smoky arts: brisket, beef sausage, chicken (all available in sandwich form during lunch hours) and ribs, with porky greens on the side and banana pudding for dessert.

Info: 609 N. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles; (323) 931-2583, barandque.com. Check website for hours.
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Clark Street grilled cheese made with cheddar, comte, red onion and cornichon
(Julissa James / Los Angeles Time)

Vista Hermosa Natural Park

Vista Hermosa Park is one of those places in L.A. that invokes the phrase, “If you know, you know.” Although it’s not exactly a secret — tons of Angelenos have flocked to this shady enclave since it opened in 2008 for its views of downtown, open spaces and ample dog-watching opportunities — it feels like a hidden gem. The 10½-acre park is home to lush native California plants including fragrant sage, coyote bush and sycamore trees. Amenities include walking trails, picnic areas, playgrounds, on-site bathrooms and even a running stream. Although its most popular attraction is the lone bench facing its unobstructed view of DTLA (where you might see a marriage proposal or graduation photos being taken), this park offers so much more.

Info: 100 N. Toluca St., Los Angeles

Where to order takeout:

Zack Hall’s expansion of his Grand Central Market stall Clark Street Bread to a handsome brick building on Glendale Boulevard has been a windfall for Echo Park. Zero in on sandwiches — particularly the grilled cheese (Comté and cheddar sharpened with red onion and cornichons) if you want something hot. Grab a turkey pesto if you’ll be walking a while before settling into lunch with Vista Hermosa’s views of the downtown L.A. skyline. It’s hard to resist Clark Street’s pastries: Finish with a Swedish cardamom bun or a Danish filled with whatever fruit is most in season.

Info: 331 Glendale Blvd., Los Angeles; (213) 529-4252, clarkstreetbakery.com/echo-park. Open 7:30 a.m.-3 p.m. daily.
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