Skip the funnel cake and opt for a classy picnic instead

If you're among the masses seeking out premium Red, White & Boom-watching spots every year, you've probably got a system down that seems as old as this country.

You stake a claim with your blanket and chairs, then send someone to pick up a round of fair-style food from the vendors before spending the twilight hours people- and fireworks-watching.

We suggest this be the year you mix things up - and class things up. With a little legwork (we limited our search to the Downtown area), you can put together a ready-to-eat, picnic-style meal that's nearly gourmet. It'll be the envy of your picnic blanket neighbors.

Picnic basket

What's a picnic without a picnic basket? This surprisingly roomy one is also surprisingly minimal-chic. We guarantee you'll be able to fit everything you need in there.

Buy it:

Bink Davies

668 N. High St., Short North


Cloth napkins

These festive napkins are labeled for alternate use as bandanas. We would otherwise object, but it seems appropriate enough for the holiday. Or just use 'em to wipe your chops.

Buy them:

Bink Davies

668 N. High St., Short North

$4 each


Grapes of Mirth doesn't carry refrigerated white wines, but their Wine Well chilling station can bring your selection (we suggest some crowd-pleasing chardonnay) to the proper temperature for some al-fresco dining.

Buy it:

Grapes of Mirth, North Market

Moobuzz chardonnay, $15

Brisket sandwiches

The North Market smokehouse's juicy brisket, pulled pork and pulled chicken are available by the pound and come with buns. Slather on some house-made sauce, and you're set.

Buy them:

Holy Smoke BBQ, North Market

$11 per pound (includes sub buns)

Chickpea salad

Three types of chickpeas blend deliciously with minced peppers, celery and chives in a mustard-y citrus vinaigrette. Better for you than potato salad - and better tasting, too.

Buy it:

C-Town Market & Deli

152 E. State St., Downtown

$4 per container

P retzels and dipping sauce

Satisfying snacking goes gourmet with these perfectly baked, slightly spicy pretzels and a jar of delicious dipping sauce.

Buy them:

Bink Davies

668 N. High St., Short North

Sea salt pretzels, $4

Honey mustard dipping sauce, $6


Celebrate the birth of our nation (and balance out your menu) with some ripe, fresh summertime fruit.

Buy them:

Giant Eagle

777 Neil Ave., Victorian Village

$1.19 per pound


The sugar rush you'll get from these icing-laden sweets will keep you going long after the fireworks finish sparkling. Ours included edible sugar stars!

Buy them:

Bakery Gingham

647 N. High St., Short North

189 Thurman Ave., German Village

$2.50 per cupcake