The Edinburgh weather doesn't always lend itself to outdoor dining on an expanse of lawn, but there are certainly days when the sun shines warmly enough to enjoy a picnic at Princes Street Gardens, the Meadows, and Holyrood Park - or along the Water of Leith and in the Botanic Gardens.
If you're in the central area of town, the best place for deli goods is undoubtedly Valvona & Crolla Caffè Bar 19 Elm Row (at the top of Leith Walk; tel. 0131/556-6066). This Italian shop has an excellent reputation across the U.K., with a wonderful range of cheeses and cured meats, fresh fruit and vegetables, plus baked goods from rolls to sourdough loaves, all the condiments you might need, and wine as well. Another option in New Town is the food hall at the top of Harvey Nichols department store, 30-34 St. Andrews Square (tel. 0131/524-8388). Freshly prepared salads, lots of dried goods, plus fresh fruit and vegetables are stocked here.
In Stockbridge, I.J. Mellis Cheesemongers on Bakers Place (tel. 0131/225-6566) sells award-winning British and Irish cheeses. The Mellis staff members really know their stuff, and there are other shops in Old Town on Victoria Street and south of the city center on Morningside Road.
If you're on the south side of the city near the Meadows, Peckham's on Bruntsfield Place (tel. 0131/229-7054) is a solid choice for filling a picnic basket. But if you like Mexican food - Monterey Jack cheese, real tortillas, and the like - find Lupe Pintos in Tollcross at 24 Leven St. (near the King's Theatre; tel. 0131/228-6241). The shop also stocks American goods, such as beef jerky, dill pickles, and peanut butter.
Heading toward the Botanic Garden on the other side of town in Canonmills, at the roundabout, there is a Spanish deli called Dionika (tel. 0131/652-3993).
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.