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Picnic Supplies in Solvang?

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Hello Calfornia ChowHounds! I am a MidWest Hound planning a Central Coast California vacation for my husband and I in October. We are planning to spend a morning in Solvang, pick up a picnic lunch, and visit a few wineries on our way back up to Shell Beach where we are staying. I could use recommendations on where to get picnic supplies, favorite winery picnic locations, and where to have dinner on our way back.

I just learned that Epicurian Picnic in Solvang has recently closed. It was my first choice for picnic supplies, but I understand there are other cheese shops in town. We would prefer cheese, sausage, bread type fixings, but would consider good sandwhiches, too (Panino?).

We are fans of Sav Blanc wine and are interested in visiting some of the top Sav Blanc producers in the Santa Ynez Valley. Gainey and Brander have been recommended to us. Any other suggestions?

As for dinner on the way back to Shell Beach, Chef Rick's, Wine Cottage Bistro, Jocko's or F.McLintocks are on our list of options - thanks to previous threads. I'd love to hear your recent experiences with any of these or others that I might have missed.

I look forward to your recommendations! Thanks in advance.

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  1. If you are over in the los olivos area, stop by Los Olivos Grocery for picnic items, or if it's on saturday stop at the grocery in town proper for some awesome santa maria tri-tip sandwiches.

    1. If the wait is too long at McLintocks, or you don't mind a more casual experience, I had the best luck ording "appetizers" at the funky bar and some draft beer .Got seated at the bar right away when the wait was over a hour, and our 11oz of steak "trimmings" and a single order of "skillet potatoes" was more than enough for two people and it was yummy, delicious. Otherwise, the full course meals are too huge to even enjoy and they don't do alacarte. Save a lot of money, time and calories and not miss a thing in the taste catagory by following this tip.

      1. Definitely Los Olivos grocery. It's on the east end of town.

        McLlintock's is a tourist joint, Jocko's is a real experience, great steaks, looooong wait. Both of these are big food--long on quantity, not quality. Wine Cottage and Chef Rick's get high marks.

        You might try driving through the Edna Valley, taking in Baileyana, Edna, Tolosa, and Talley. These all have good sauv. blanc. Also Claiborne & Churchill on the south end of the valley, if time permits. You can access the valley by taking Price St.exit off 101 in Pismo Beach and going east, then turning left on 227.

        A nice picnic in Sta. Ynez winery would be Rusack (first choice but far afield) or Firestone. There are many.

        Enjoy the central coast, bring a jacket.

        1 Reply
        1. re: slofood

          Thanks for the suggestions. LO Grocery seems to be the most recommended, so will try to work that in. Jocko's is definately our preference over McLintock's if we are up for steaks and the wait is not too long. We expect to be there on Tuesday or Wednesday, so hope the wait won't be awful. We are also planning to visit all of the Edna Valley wineries you mention on another day of our vacation!

        2. Los Olivos Grocery is your best bet for the picnic supplies. As a bonus, it is directly across the road from Brander, who in my opinion is making the best sauv blanc in the area.
          Here's what I would do:
          Spend your morning in Solvang, doing whatever you wish. When you're done there, head out to Los Olivos, and peruse the many tasting rooms there. Once you've had your fill, head out to hwy 154 ( a block or so from the center of town) and make a right turn, as if you were going to Santa Barbara. A mile or so down the road is Los Olivos Grocery, on your right hand side. Load up on your picnic supplies, or have them make you a sandwich. Then just head across 154 to Brander. You can picnic there. It's a very nice spot.
          Once you're done there, just jump back on 154, head in the opposite direction, and it will take you right into the 101 North, which is headed back in your direction.

          I would stop at Chef Rick's in Orcutt if the timing works - you'll get a terrific meal there.

          Have fun.

          1. Los Olivos Grocery is lavish and pricey, but I don't think all that great. Sorry. No picnic should cost as much as what you will rack up there putting a few snacks together. Save the money and go to Grapalo in Santa Ynez for lunch instead.

            If I were you and you still want deli items, I would detour into Santa Barbara and go to C'est Cheese and Our Daily Bread, right next to each other 800 Block of Santa Barbara Street, parallel to State Street and you will get better Danish pastries and desserts at Anderson's Bakery on the 1100 block of State Street than anything I find in Solvang itself.

            Good old Trader Joes at the Milpas Street roundabout, Highway 101 exit in Santa Barbara is also good for picnic supplies which will be just fine and a lot cheaper than Los Olivos Grocery.

            Of course, this only works if you go through SB on your way to SYValley.

            4 Replies
            1. re: glbtrtr

              Shell beach is north, isn't it? So SB is not really a detour so much as going out of the way. If the OP could get to SB, I'd reccomend Metropolis for good supplies, or perhaps Savoy truffle.

              1. re: glbtrtr

                Yes, at LO mkt there are sosme pricey items, but there is quality. There is a big choice at their deli counter. I always get their fabulous stuffed grape leaves and a spanikopita triangle for about 4 or 5 bucks. Fills me up. Good breads and baked goods too. You don't have to spend a fortune, but you can get carried away.

                El Rancho Market in Santa Ynez, on highway 246 just east of Solvang, across from SY High School has a good hot deli counter, bakery, and picnic supplies.

                1. re: toodie jane

                  agreed. How the poster can say LOG is expensive and then turn around and recco C'est Cheese is beyond me. I shop at both and their prices are comparable.

                  El Rancho's deli leaves me cold - they make everything look nicey nice, but they've got no soul. You want a deli where someone's heart is in the cooking? Check out New Frontier's Market on Alamo Pintado and 246 - I'll bet you'll see and taste the difference.

                  1. re: peasoup

                    Peasoup I agree--I love NF but haven't been there in several years (since I had a sales route in the valley). The artfulness of the deli display always blew my socks off. And I am waiting for the fall sweet potato-rice salad to make its appearance. Love that stuff!

                    To tell the truth, last visit to ER was a bit dissapointing. They seemed to be concentrating more on the cold sandwiches and had fewer and less drool-worthy hot choices. I remember some very good hot sandwiches with melted cheese and grilled red peppers, etc. I've had some good soups there too, but they are pricey.

                    HEY--wait a minute!! maybe I should withdraw my suggestion of EL. It seems last visit was dissapointing--so maybe I'd better check it our again. So my rec is off the table for now.

                    Consistency is a real bugaboo when eating out--I do find it hard to find the same quality time and time again at the same spot. (Change IS good as long as it's GOOD.) So far, at Los Olivos Mkt and Panino I haven't struck out.

              2. Los Olivos grocery is good. too bad about Epicurian Picnic. Panino or Panini (whichever) is good, too. I like the olive place, I forget the name) for good olives.

                1. The weather should be beautiful in October for an outdoor picnic in Santa Ynez Valley. I like to order picnic food to go from the Los Olivos Cafe. Their trio of rustic spreads: tapanade, hummus and muffaletta are very good and they include lots of their tasty bread -- these go well with wine and would travel easily. I also like their curried chicken salad, but they make sandwiches and much more. Check the website menu and ask if they still put together picnic lunches to go.

                  I haven't been out to Brander yet, but I agree, their SB's are top shelf. I 2nd the rec for the shady Rusack picnic area under old oak trees (you can see a little bit of it on their website). It's a beautiful drive there through Ballard Canyon, where you'll see some exotic animals grazing--quite interesting and not far from Los Olivos.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Moka

                    A Muffaletta is a sandwich. bu it has a nice olive spread in it. Maybe that is what they are referring to.

                    1. re: Diana

                      Diana, Los Olivos Cafe's muffaletta spread (chopped green olives, chopped red peppers, etc. marinated in olive oil) is the same or similar to what's used on a muffaletta sandwich. It's delicious spread on bread slices and they also sell it in jars at the cafe--it's one of their specialties.

                      OP, I forgot to mention, if you're looking for salami, cheeses, etc. the cafe also has a torta rustica, which combines salami, cheeses, peppers, olives and such in a pastry crust, which would be perfect picnic food.

                      1. re: Moka

                        That's what I figured. Yum!

                        1. re: Moka

                          Wow, that torta rustica sounds awsome! Thanks for adding that suggestion.

                    2. Keep in mind that Chef Rick's is not open on Sundays.
                      You will be visiting wineries during harvest and they may be very busy.
                      Be understanding and avoid any "off limits" areas.
                      I enjoy Babcock's Sauv. Blanc.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Bruce in SLO

                        We plan to visit Solvang on Tue or Wed of our Mon-Fri stay. We avoid wineries on the weekends when vacationing... :) Hopefully even during harvest the scene will be a little more peaceful during mid-week and maybe we can hit Rick's for dinner if the timing works out. Thanks for mentioning Babcock - I would have missed that one.