By this point in the year, outdoor movies, jazz concerts, and wine festivals are in full swing. And with the Fourth of July in the rearview mirror, the summer picnic season is well under way. Here are three restaurants to help you pack your picnic when you’re short on time or inspiration — or if you want to keep the kitchen cool as a cucumber and still reap the rewards.
Perfect Pita, 1640 King St.; 951 N. Fairfax St.; 3101 Park Center Drive
What could be cooler on a hot summer day than freshly made Mediterranean food? From hummus to falafel to baklava, the Perfect Pita — with three locations in Alexandria — offers up the perfect picnic spread for a plethora of occasions.
One thing the vegetarians among us will notice right away is the number of meat-free options the Perfect Pita offers up without even working at it: The hummus sandwich, complete with a hearty helping of the chickpea puree along with lettuce and tomato, is one of the eatery’s best options, and the falafel pita isn’t far behind. But meat-eaters will also find plenty to munch on, ranging from a Boardwalk Pita starring salami, ham and provolone to the Sir Caesar, a pita take on the namesake salad. Pick up a side salad from the refrigerated case to round out the meal — and don’t forget a slice or two of baklava for dessert.
Bombay Curry, 2607 Mount Vernon Ave.
At first blush, Indian food doesn’t seem the most picnic-friendly fare. But give it another look — the rice, the meat and the veggies all conspire to provide a full, portable meal in a tidy package. And whether it’s for an outdoor movie or an al-fresco date night at Oronoco Bay Park, Bombay Curry stands ready to help.
Ready for a hearty meal? Give the butter chicken, a charcoal-broiled meat served with a creamy tomato curry sauce, a try. Or for something a bit lighter, the vegetable biryani — a rice dish bursting with vegetables and dusted with plenty of spices — will do the job in an instant. Be sure to order some samosas to nibble on throughout your picnic meal, and if you’ve got a cooler, the rice pudding is a great sweet treat to end the evening right.
Momo Sushi, 212 Queen St.
Let’s face it: Sushi is a perennial champion when it comes to picnic fare. Light, portable, easy to eat with one’s fingers; it has everything going for it. And when Momo gets involved, you’ve got a treat that’s teeming with flair.
To max out the variety in your sushi order, go for one of the combination meals. The maki roll combo, featuring six pieces each of California, tuna, and salmon rolls, offers up a hearty picnic dinner in a small package. Going meatless? The veggie roll combo offers diners a choice of three among cucumber, avocado, asparagus, oshinko, and inari. To round out the meal, why not serve orange slices, as the Momo chefs do? It will be sure sign of a great feast’s conclusion.
Hope Nelson owns and operates the Kitchen Recessionista blog, located at www.kitchenrecessionista.com. Email her any time at firstname.lastname@example.org.