Let’s face it – I’m obsessed with waterfront dining. There’s just something about eating delicious food while looking out over the sparkling water that feels magical. The breeze, the salt air, the soothing sound of waves lapping at the shore…it’s my happy place.
So when I found out I’d be taking a trip to Venice, Florida, finding the best waterfront restaurants immediately went to the top of my must-do list.
A charming town located right on the Gulf Coast, Venice is pretty much surrounded by water, which means LOTS of amazing options for waterside dining!
I didn’t just want tourist trap restaurants that happened to be next to the water though.
I wanted to find truly special spots – the kind of places you see on restaurant shows on The Food Network or Travel Channel. You know, the ones where the chef/owner greets you at the door, the waitstaff feels like family, and the food is to-die-for delicious.
So I did my research, studied reviews, looked at photos, and asked for recommendations from local Florida friends. After hours of work (hey, finding the best restaurants is a TOUGH job!), I finally crafted the perfect itinerary of waterfront dining for my trip.
Want to discover my picks for the 9 best waterfront restaurants in Venice, FL? Keep reading to find out! I’ll take you through each incredible restaurant so you can add them to your must-eat list.
List Of 9 Best Waterfront Restaurants in Venice, Florida
Here is a table with the 9 top waterfront restaurants in Venice, FL, their hours of operation, and sample menu items:
|Restaurant||Hours||Sample Menu Items|
|Crow’s Nest Venice||11am-10pm||Fried shrimp, burgers, grouper sandwiches|
|Sharky’s on the Pier||11am-10pm||Grouper tacos, mahi mahi sandwiches, oyster shooters|
|The Crow’s Nest Marina||5pm-10pm||Jumbo lump crab cakes, seared tuna, pistachio crusted grouper|
|Snook Haven||11am-9pm||Smoked BBQ ribs, fried catfish, chicken|
|Fins at Sharky’s||5pm-10pm||Filet mignon, salmon, ahi tuna, sea bass|
|Waterfrontoo||11am-10pm||Fried grouper baskets, coconut shrimp, raw oysters|
|Crow’s Nest Gulfside||11am-10pm||Fish & chips, peel & eat shrimp, chicken wings|
|Café Venice||8am-2pm||Omelets, eggs benedict, pancakes, sandwiches|
|The Jetty Grill||11am-9pm||Lobster rolls, grouper sandwiches, clam strips|
Stop #1 – Crow’s Nest Venice for Quintessential Waterfront Dining
My first restaurant stop in Venice was Crow’s Nest Venice, and it absolutely lived up to the hype. Located right on the Intracoastal Waterway, Crow’s Nest has a sprawling outdoor deck with tons of seating overlooking the boats cruising by.
I went around lunchtime on a beautiful sunny day, and grabbing a table on the deck with a water view was no problem.
As soon as I sat down, I noticed at least half the people dining had arrived by boat. There’s a big dock right outside the restaurant that makes it super easy to pull up in your vessel. I spotted everything from casual fishing boats to multi-level yachts docked there.
Definitely a place both locals and tourists alike boat over to for the food and scenery.
The food is simple but delicious – think baskets of fried shrimp and grouper, burgers and sandwiches, and Florida-inspired appetizers like conch fritters and key lime pie.
I ordered the signature Crow’s Nest burger topped with Swiss cheese and mushrooms, along with a basket of fries. The burger was juicy and flavorful, just perfect for a casual outdoor lunch.
While the food is solid, Crow’s Nest is more about soaking up the lively ambiance and gorgeous waterfront setting. The service is fast and friendly with employees who seem to genuinely enjoy their jobs.
Sitting outdoors enjoying the breeze remains one of my all-time favorite dining experiences in Florida.
Stop #2 – Sharky’s on the Pier for Ocean Views & Seafood
After my delicious lunch at Crow’s Nest, I was craving some seafood with an ocean view for dinner. So I headed to Sharky’s on the Pier, which is literally located at the very end of the historic Venice Fishing Pier on the Gulf of Mexico.
Stepping onto the pier felt like going back in time. This thing has been around since the 1940s! I loved walking past the local fishermen with their lines cast into the turquoise waters on my way out to the restaurant.
The pier itself provides panoramic views of Venice Beach and the coastline in both directions. And Sharky’s outdoor deck seating gives you front row seats to take it all in. I sat at a table facing the ocean just in time to watch a stunning pink sunset over the waves with a cocktail in hand.
Seafood is definitely the move at Sharky’s. Their shrimp basket came piled high with some of the juiciest, most flavorful shrimp I’ve ever eaten. And the grouper sandwich with zesty key lime tartar sauce tasted like it had just been reeled in.
In addition to the pier location and super fresh seafood, Sharky’s also has a fun, chilled out vibe. Live music gets going around sunset, with musicians playing right on the deck. The employees are total characters, joking around and making everyone feel at home.
The combo of incredible Gulf views, ultra-fresh seafood, and lively local ambiance makes Sharky’s an absolute must for oceanfront dining in Venice. Just be sure to make a reservation if visiting for sunset, as the limited tables fill up fast!
Stop #3 – The Crow’s Nest Marina Restaurant for Upscale Waterfront Vibes
After a couple casual waterfront meals, I was ready to get dressed up for an elegant evening of fine dining overlooking the water. So I booked a table at The Crow’s Nest Marina Restaurant, which came highly recommended as one of the top upscale waterfront dining destinations in Venice.
The restaurant is situated in the Crow’s Nest Marina with a sprawling outdoor deck providing panoramic views of the hundreds of boats coming and going along the Intracoastal Waterway. I went for sunset on a Saturday night and was able to score a perfect table on the deck.
The menu is focused on seafood, with appetizers like jumbo lump crab cakes and oysters on the half shell leading to entrées like pistachio crusted grouper, seared diver scallops, and coconut curry shrimp. I ordered the sea bass special which was light, flaky, and cooked to perfection.
There are also several steak and chop options for landlubbers.
Service was polished and attentive without being overbearing. And the atmosphere outside on the deck felt refined yet welcoming. Soft live music played as the sun set over the marina in a stunning display of pinks, oranges and purples.
It was hands down one of the most magical restaurant experiences I’ve had.
So when you’re looking for fine dining worthy of a special occasion, look no further than The Crow’s Nest Marina. The elegant ambiance, phenomenal food, and marina setting easily make it one of Venice’s quintessential upscale waterfront restaurants.
Just be sure to book well in advance to secure a coveted deck table for sunset or evening!
Stop #4 – Snook Haven for a Charming Old Florida Vibe
After hitting up Crow’s Nest and Sharky’s, I had checked off the two most well-known waterfront dining spots in Venice. But I was on the hunt for a more under-the-radar local gem – something with old Florida charm reminiscent of simpler times.
That’s when a friend suggested Snook Haven, a restaurant tucked away inland along the Myakka River that you can only access by boat, kayak, or canoe! I was immediately intrigued.
I arrived by rental kayak and was instantly transported back to Old Florida. Snook Haven has a sprawling outdoor dining space shaded by towering palms and live oaks dripping with Spanish moss.
There was a country band jamming out as patrons danced and clapped along barn-style. The smoked aroma of BBQ hung in the air.
The food revolves around Southern comfort classics like smoked ribs, fried chicken, catfish, and BBQ sandwiches. I feasted on fall-off-the-bone ribs, cornbread, coleslaw, and baked beans, washing it down with sweet tea.
Everything tasted totally homemade and hit the spot after kayaking to work up an appetite.
Snook Haven completely exceeded my expectations with its secluded riverfront setting, live music, finger lickin’ food, and general old-fashioned charm. It felt like a local secret.
So if you really want to immerse yourself in Old Florida ambiance, this is a must-do dining experience while in Venice!
Stop #5 – Fins at Sharky’s for Upscale Waterfront Dining
After my amazing experience at the more casual Sharky’s on the Pier, I was excited to check out their sister restaurant Fins at Sharky’s located right next door. This promised to deliver the same phenomenal sunset views of the Gulf with a more upscale dining experience.
I visited Fins on my last evening in Venice, arriving just in time to catch the sunset over the waves. The hostess was able to secure me a perfect table outside overlooking the water – crisis averted!
While Sharky’s has more of a seafood shack vibe, Fins is definitely more elevated. White tablecloths, roaming musicians, and flickering tiki torches set a elegant yet beachy mood. The menu centers around expertly prepared steaks and chops, along with fresh seafood options like Hawaiian ahi tuna and citrus glazed salmon.
I ordered the filet mignon topped with béarnaise sauce, which came cooked to a perfect medium rare. Every bite was tender and packed with flavor. My husband had the day’s catch of mahi mahi, which flaked apart at the touch of a fork.
Watching the brilliant sunset over the Gulf with my feet in the sand, indulging in top-notch food and drinks, I couldn’t imagine a more fitting final night in Venice. Fins is THE place for sunset lovers seeking fine dining overlooking the waves. Just make your reservation far in advance, or plan to eat early to catch the last waterfront tables.
Stop #6 – Waterfrontoo for Casual Grouper & Seafood
After so many elegant high-end dinners, I was ready for some more laidback, casual waterfront dining before leaving Venice. That brought me to The Waterfront Restaurant, located right off the Intracoastal Waterway near downtown.
As soon as I arrived, I could tell this was a popular local spot. Groups of friends laughing over drinks, couples clinking beer mugs, and big families with kids chowing down filled the outdoor deck.
The atmosphere is super casual and fun – I’m talking flip flops, tank tops, wet hair from the beach. The staff greets you like family and is quick with drinks and meals. I sat at the bar area overlooking the water and felt right at home.
Seafood baskets are the specialty here – fried, grilled, or blackened grouper; coconut shrimp; scallops; and oysters done up just right. I devoured a mountain of crispy fried grouper bites, hush puppies, and fries seasoned with Old Bay. Yum!
With its lively local vibe and mouthwatering baskets of fresh seafood, The Waterfront Restaurant ended my trip on the perfect note. Sometimes basic is best, and this waterside spot serves up casual seafood dining done exactly right.
No wonder it’s such a hit with both tourists and longtime Venice residents alike.
Stop #7 – The Crow’s Nest Gulfside
Another member of the popular Crow’s Nest family, this location sits directly on Venice Beach overlooking the Gulf. Relax on the outdoor patio and soak up the seaside ambiance as you enjoy their menu of pub favorites like fish and chips, peel and eat shrimp, oysters, and chicken wings alongside tropical cocktails.
Stop #8 – Café Venice
For waterside breakfast and lunch, check out Café Venice. Dine on their scenic patio overlooking Roberts Bay and feast on fluffy omelets, rainbow mimosas, Benedicts, sandwiches, and fresh salads. It’s a peaceful spot to enjoy the serene waterfront views. Cash only.
Stop #9 – The Jetty Grill
Adjacent to the historic Venice Jetty and pier, The Jetty Grill specializes in New England-style seafood rolls and chowders. Enjoy lobster rolls, grouper sandwiches, clam strips, and shrimp po’ boys on their patio with unbeatable views of the coastline.
The Best Waterside Dining Experiences in Venice
Well there you have it – my picks for the top 9 best waterfront restaurants in Venice, Florida after much eating and drinking my way around town!
Each restaurant provided amazing water views along with delicious food, but also had its own unique vibe and charm:
- Crow’s Nest Venice – Lively, quintessential waterfront dining with indoor/outdoor seating and boat docking
- Sharky’s on the Pier – Fresh seafood and vibrant sunsets on the historic fishing pier
- The Crow’s Nest Marina – Elegant fine dining overlooking the boats on the Intracoastal
- Snook Haven – Secluded Old Florida riverfront setting only accessible by boat
- Fins at Sharky’s – Upscale surfside dining with top notch steaks and seafood
- The Waterfront Restaurant – Buzzing local spot for casual grouper baskets and pub fare
- The Crow’s Nest Gulfside
- Café Venice
- The Jetty Grill
No matter your mood or occasion, Venice has an amazing waterfront restaurant to match. Sunset lovers will adore Sharky’s pier location and open-air deck. Families can spread out comfortably on The Waterfront’s patio. And couples will swoon over the romantic marina views at The Crow’s Nest.
Tips for Maximizing Your Waterfront Dining Experiences
After all my waterfront dining adventures in Venice, I learned some key tips for making the most of waterside restaurants:
Reserve sunset seating ahead of time. The best tables overlooking the water go extremely fast, especially at spots like Sharky’s on the Pier. I’d book at least a few weeks out to ensure you get a front-row seat for sunset.
Check the weather. Call ahead before heading out to see if outdoor seating is still available on rainy or windy days. Most waterfront restaurants have backup indoor space if needed.
Arrive by boat if possible. Pulling up to the dock on your own kayak, canoe, or motor boat takes these experiences to the next level. Just check ahead that docking is allowed.
Dress is casual. No need to dress up fancy for most Venice waterfront eateries. Swimsuits, flip flops and cover ups are welcomed attire.
Have cocktails ready. Waterfront happy hour is a must! Come ready to relax with a cocktail or two and soak up the views.
Save room for dessert. Dining “with a view” means ordering that Key lime pie or chocolate lava cake without guilt!
By planning ahead, checking forecasts, and embracing the laidback vibe, you’re sure to have an amazing waterfront dining experience in Venice. Just bring your appetite and camera to capture those sensational sunset moments!
Why You Should Make Waterfront Dining a Priority in Venice
If you couldn’t already tell by now, I’m a huge proponent of waterfront dining whenever given the opportunity. And a beach town like Venice, Florida is one of those places where skipping the waterside restaurants would be a major travel mistake!
Here are just a few of the key reasons to prioritize waterfront dining during your Venice trip:
- The views are unbeatable – where else can you enjoy a meal while looking out over the beautiful Gulf of Mexico or Intracoastal Waterway?
- You can arrive by boat – So fun to kayak, canoe or boat right up to a waterside restaurant dock.
- The seafood is incredible – You haven’t tasted grouper or mahi this fresh caught anywhere else.
- The sunsets are spectacular – Seeing the sunset over the water while dining is unforgettable.
- The vibe is lively yet laidback – Think live music, flowing drinks, salt-tousled hair and flip flops.
- It supports local businesses – You’re keeping beloved, longstanding local restaurants afloat.
- It enhances any occasion – Whether a birthday, anniversary, or casual lunch, waterfront elevates it.
- The breeze feels amazing – The sea air and waterfront views make the Florida heat enjoyable.
- You’ll capture great photos – Seriously, your Instagram will thank you later.
When in Venice, go where the locals go – to the amazing waterfront restaurants! Just arrive hungry, make time for sunset, and prepare to fall in love with dining alongside the water.