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Outside eats

Skip the overpacked patios and grab your lunch to go

The best outdoor dining is done by the fist-full. Photo credit: Jackie Fender

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Get out your shades and SPF 50, tis the season when we all feel obligated to worship that fiery orb in the sky, while spending time frolicking in grassy fields and exploring all that the PNW has to offer. You already know all the waterfront locales will be bursting at the seams while people pack the seaside decks and patios, and well-prepared mums will have packed well-balanced meals for their wee ones to nibble on between frenzied jumps down the slide.

I'm ill prepared, emotionally speaking, for any of the above. It's already an obstacle course of hair brushing and tiny human wrangling just to get out the door, preparing a lunch sack or sitting like civilized humans at waterfront restaurants are NOT on my list of to-dos. Instead, I've got my sights set on establishments who prepare bites that travel well to the park with bonus points for meals I can manage in one hand while the other is busy pushing my squealing 5-year-old high (no, HIGHER, Mommy) on the swing.

Fat Zach's Pizza is a winner in my book. Quality, wood-fired pizza pie is boxed up on the spot and literally just across the street from Pioneer Park Pavilion. Their slices boast classic favorites to gourmet styled toppings like cashews, truffle oil, prosciutto and more. 203 West Pioneer, Puyallup,

The summer months have me hankering for seasonal fruits and veggies to fuel our outdoor adventures. Happy Belly is the perfect pit stop for smoothies, fresh juices and uber-fresh fare for all. The juices in particular are easy to grab and go whether you're jumping in the car for road-trip fun or strolling and sipping outdoors. 1122 Market St., Tacoma,

Frisko Freeze takes your typical fast-food fare and makes it both fast and fresh. There's nothing quite like grabbing a back full of greasy goodness loaded with crunchy onion rings, double-bacon cheeseburgers with extra relish, and a hot fudge shake in hand before strolling through Wright Park and finding that perfect picnic bench to set up shop. 1201 Division Ave., Tacoma

MSM is known for their magical sandwich making near and far, so expect to call ahead. They're busy, always, but if you give them a ring you can swing by and snag a Mike's Deluxe, soda and bag of chips, and squat wherever your heart desires. 2220 6th Ave., Tacoma, 253.272.4814

Wicked Pies will knock your socks off whether it's the entire pie or by the slice. Indulge in compelling toppings like The Ghostwood with artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, mushrooms, goat cheese and shredded mozzarella, with a basil pesto base laying down the foundation. Or try The Laura Palmer with prosciutto, gorgonzola goat cheese blend, fresh arugula, toasted pecans topped with a drizzle of house-made fig compote, with light shredded mozzarella, olive oil base -- hubba hubba. There are ample scenic spots to have lunch right there in the heart of downtown. 412 Franklin St. SE, Olympia,

Find scratch-made, vegan foodie fare that you need not be a vegan to savor at The Wayside Cafe and Deli. The Spicy Chicken Sandwich, BBQ Jackfruit and Mac and Cheese are all delectable, and takeout orders are a cinch. Plus, their vicinity to all of the downtown Oly parks makes it a no-brainer. Bonus, they also have housemade sweets that'll hit the spot. 609 Capitol Way S., Olympia,

Once a seasonal destination, The Trolley at the Boatyard is now open all day, every day, whatever the season. Located just steps away from Skansie Brothers Park, The Trolley is the prime pit-stop for grub like Cod and Chips and PNW Crab Rolls. You can set up shop at one of the picnic tables right there on site, meander to the park, or pop back onto your boat with nearby moorage available. 3117 Harborview Dr., Gig Harbor

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