The Rockwell Kitchen Guide To Beach Picnics

by Rockwell Kitchen Team

If it were up to us, the five food groups might be farm-to-table goodies, fresh air, sand in your toes, an ocean breeze and your favorite picnic blanket. The abundance of nature surrounding our Topanga Beach home and well beyond the PCH offers plenty of prime picnicking opportunities. 

But don’t let choice paralysis slow you down we’ve got your back with beach picnic ideas from folks who work, cook, eat and live that beachside foodie life.  

Location, Location, Location

You couldn’t ask for an easier one-and-done beach picnic solution than packing your basket at Rockwell Kitchen and posting up on Topanga Beach, with a lively view of surfers in front and the sun at your back. If you’d rather go trailside than beachside, kip over to Topanga’s Red Rock Canyon, where rock slabs provide nature’s table be sure to sign the guestbook conveniently labeled “The Cave Diary” by local hikers.

Of course, good old Leo Carillo will always be a classic, family-friendly option. It’s a little livelier than others, but you can often find more chill on the south side of the beach. If quiet and privacy are your priorities, park your basket beside Nicolas Pond atop the Malibu Springs Trail. This one makes a great combo package, as you’ll need to take a short hike to get to the trailtop.

Portable, Picnic-Able Food

Take it from people who love to cook for outdoor diners: Picnic food really does taste better. And while it’s low-key by nature, that doesn’t mean it has to be boring. There’s nothing wrong with portable, hands-on sandwiches (LA loves a good Reuben or banh mi), but don’t forget that seaweed and rice rolls like kimbap or steamed buns are just as easy to manage and share on the go. Likewise, tamales or empanadas with fresh salsa make life easy and delicious (and like kimbap and buns, come in plentiful veggie varieties). For sides, slaws, fruit salads and pasta salads make for fuss-free options.

Of course, you could just let Rockwell Kitchen do the food prep for you. We’ve even dedicated a whole section of our menu to “With Your Hands” eats, including our Pacific Lobster BLT with garlic butter aioli, Avocado Toast on sourdough boule with local honey, and Chickpea Tacos with fire spiced salsa and radish slaw. Our croissants, scones and super hearty Monkey Bread muffins make for convenient trail foods, too.

And don’t forget to pair your picnic with local wine or coffee we recommend a bottle from Rosenthal just across the street from us, or one from our friends at Strange Family Vineyards. For coffee, we’ll hook you up with Laird Superfood brews curated by local surf legend Laird Hamilton. 

Accessorize Your Adventure

Like good fashion, the right beach accessories can really elevate your picnic. You can’t go wrong with the iconic woven basket, but insulated bags and backpacks made specially for pro picnicking can up your game, helping you keep your food at the right temp and as organized as Marie Kondo. Reusable bento box kits also keep things accessible and eco-friendly. Likewise, if you opt for disposable utensils, consider compostable ones or recyclable options such as bamboo.  

Gel-based ice packs are reusable and keep things cool longer than watery, leaky ice, while tight-sealing, insulated beverage containers keep coffee hot and pre-batched cocktails (sparkling Negroni, anyone?) cool. Of course, grape lovers can’t go without a wine tote. While fleece and flannel are popular, thickly woven cotton falsa blankets (some are even made of recycled materials) tend to be more comfy in warm weather and are easy to wash. For party vibes, a small bluetooth speaker and a few bocce balls are all you need.     

But here’s the thing: Pressure is the enemy of the whole picnic spirit. You picking up a to-go order from Rockwell and sitting your butt on the Topanga Beach sand? That's totally valid, too.


Los Angeles Magazine: The Best Secret Picnic Spots in L.A.

Saveur: Our 30 Best Picnic Recipes to Stuff Your Picnic Basket

New York Magazine: The Strategist: Everything You Need to Picnic, According to Picnic Professionals

Popular Science: The Best Supplies for a Picnic