6 places in Vancouver to find tasty, picnic-ready fare

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      With two alfresco dining events—Dîner en Blanc and its all-black counterpart, Ce Soir Noir—taking place this Thursday (August 24), you’re likely one of thousands of Vancouverites who will be breaking out the wicker basket for a feast before the sunset and stars. But let’s be real: ain’t nobody got time to cook up a three-course picnic after work, especially when you have a monochromatic outfit that needs throwing together.

      Thankfully, the always life-saving option of takeout is here to assist. And while, yes, fast food is allowed at both Dîner en Blanc and Ce Soir Noir, why not seize the opportunity to indulge in some slightly elevated—and equally transportable—fare? Ahead, a roundup of some of our fave spots to grab a mouthwatering meal to go. Plop your serving on some china or ceramic dinnerware and your dining neighbours will be none the wiser. We won’t tell.


      Tammy Kwan

      Yui Japanese Bistro, 102–1185 West Georgia Street

      Sushi lovers will agree that this type of Japanese food is always a good pick, especially if you’re looking to order takeout for a fancy affair.

      Yui Japanese Bistro offers different types of rolls, salad bowls, and donburi (rice bowls). But its most popular menu item is aburi (flame-seared) sushi, pressed rice with a piece of seafood on top. Guests can choose classic options such as salmon with a signature housemade dressing, ebi (shrimp) with plum sauce, and saba (mackerel) with miso sauce.

      If you have these babies at your table during Dîner en Blanc, you’ll probably have more than a few eyeballs checking out your gourmet fare.


      Juke Fried Chicken

      Juke Fried Chicken, 182 Keefer Street

      Fried chicken is always a crowd pleaser, and the convenient takeout window at Juke makes it a great option for diners on the go. (Plus, the casual joint’s Chinatown location is close to Crab Park, where Ce Soir Noir is held. If Dîner en Blanc continues its trend of taking place around downtown, Juke is not far off, either.)

      Nab a five- or 10-piece box of Juke’s signature gluten-free fried chicken or a set of chicken strips with black-pepper-ranch sauce for dipping. Cornbread, East Asian peanut slaw, and dirty fries—a gloriously gluttonous mix of cheese sauce, gravy, and pickled onions atop a generous helping of skinny chips—are strongly recommended.

      Don’t forget to leave the box slightly open on the way to your event of choice to keep the fried-chicken skin nice and crispy.


      Caveman Cafe

      Caveman Cafe, 88 West Pender Street

      Huge portions, affordable prices, and a menu catering to those who follow paleo, vegan, or vegetarian diets are what make this unassuming spot—tucked inconspicuously inside International Village Mall—a hit among Vancouverites.

      From the veggie-crust pizzas and hearty zucchini pastas to the tofu-stuffed monster burritos that weigh the same as a small newborn, most of the offerings travel well, too.

      Check out the Caveman Lasagna, which uses potato, zucchini, eggplant, and carrot with your choice of meat or tomato sauce, and the Platter Feast, a fat helping of salad, rice, and beans topped with your pick from a diverse range of proteins that include salmon, beef cheek, and chicken. Don’t be surprised if you have enough left over for lunch.


      Tammy Kwan

      Sen Pad Thai, 70–1666 Johnston Street

      Granville Island’s newest Thai establishment conveniently offers its food in eco-friendly takeout boxes, which is already a plus if you’re looking to grab easy-to-transport food for outdoor dinner events.

      Its menu offers flavourful Thai noodle creations, including classic pad Thai with tamarind and pad siew (fresh rice sheets with stir fried pork or beef). We also suggest ordering a few of its snacks and sides to accompany your mains, such as crispy wings with Thai garlic, papaya salad, and roti and curry.

      If you have a sweet tooth, go for the Thai iced-tea and the banana roti dessert—a perfect way to soothe your taste buds and end off your spice-heavy meal.


      Virtuous Pie

      Virtuous Pie, 583 Main Street

      Pizza has that wonderfully rare quality of working for just about any occasion, particularly large get-togethers, since you can easily take a box to go and trust that the entire crew will be satisfied. With its plant-based ethos, however, Virtuous Pie is an especially great fit for picnicking Vancouverites.

      We’re big fans of the Ultraviolet, an Italy-meets–West Coast blend of pesto, cashew mozzarella, oven-dried tomatoes, onion, and kale, and the Stranger Wings, with buffalo-style cauliflower, shallots, and blue cheese drizzle, served sans sauce.

      Bring a cooler and pack it with a pint of Virtuous’s vegan peanut-butter-cookie-dough or lemon-and-lavender ice cream and consider your evening set.


      Mamalee Malaysian Delight

      Mamalee Malaysian Delight, 3144 West Broadway

      What’s the solution to avoiding long waits for a table at a popular restaurant? Ordering takeout. This no-fuss family-owned restaurant is famed for its Hainanese chicken dishes—a Chinese-Malaysian culinary creation that uses boneless chicken and signature sauces.

      Most people eat this type of chicken with rice (blended with chicken broth, ginger and garlic), but you can also order it with different kinds of noodle soup. Curry rice, veggies, and dessert are also available if you have a bigger appetite.

      The only problem you might encounter after you indulge in Mamalee’s Hainanese chicken rice is wanting more.