Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Strolling downtown Venice - Part 1

Many of you may know I lived in Nokomis for 30 years, about two minutes from downtown Venice.  Have you ever been shopping or dining downtown Venice?  It is charming and there is tons of free parking!  There is actually an entire city block in the middle of Venice Avenue that is almost all parking and it's pretty parking.  There is a gazebo where there are concerts and I've seen weddings there, too.  There is also a pretty fountain, where on nice, warm days, is always full of parents and children frolicking in the water.  There are flowering trees and park benches - all in a parking lot!

The city parking lot on Venice Avenue - all free!

I thought I would do a three-part series on downtown Venice.  Lots of evenings I grab one of my daughters and their dogs, along with my dog, and we walk the three main blocks of Venice Avenue just window shopping.  No matter the time of year, there are always lots of people and dogs.  Many shops set out bowls of water for the dogs and I have even had shop owners come out and give my dog a treat. 

Today I'll feature restaurants, tomorrow I'll feature cute shops and Friday a brief history of the city.  Even though I live a hop, skip, and a jump from Venice Avenue, sometimes I forget how delightful it is.  I spend so much of my time in Sarasota that when I get home, I stay home.  If you are in Sarasota, I recommend you take an afternoon or a day and enjoy strolling the downtown area.  The street immediately south of Venice Avenue is Miami Avenue and I will be including a few restaurants on the street, also.  There are also a few other restaurants on the Island of Venice that are well-known and well-attended, like The Crow's Nest and Sharkey's on the Pier.  They are not on Venice Avenue, but on the water several blocks away, though you might want to try them out, also.   I have eaten at all the restaurants listed with the exception of the sushi place, and the wine bar.  I have never had a bad experience.

Immediately after you turn off Business 41 onto Venice Ave. you will see Cafe Venice on your right.  You can see they have outdoor seating, as most Venice restaurants do.  The restaurant started as a tiny, quaint little hole in the wall upstairs from SunBug.  This was many years ago.  My husband and I used to go up there for little romantic dinners.  It isn't quite so romantic anymore, but the food is still good.

The menu from Cafe Venice.  I'm not sure if you are going to be able to read the menus on the blog, but I think if you click on them, it will make them larger.

Bushido Sushi Bar and Japanese Cuisine.  I am not a big fan of this particular type of food, but I will tell you it is my daughter, Kristin's, favorite restaurant.  It is located right across the street from Cafe Venice.

The inside of Bushido.

Kilwin's, which started in the Traverse City, Michigan area, I think maybe Petosky.  Our family goes there sometimes as a little celebration.

Upper Crust Bakery is only a breakfast and lunch place, but yum!

TJ Carney's is a rather large restaurant right in the heart of downtown Venice with a large outdoor eating area.  As you can see, their windows also open so you can get the fresh air feeling while still sitting inside.

TJ Carney's menu

Casarino's is a small, upscale Italian restaurant on the third block of downtown.  A very nice, white tablecloth kind of place.

Casarino's menu

The Soda Fountain is a return to the 50's kind of ice cream shop almost at the end of the shopping district, near Harbor Drive.
The vintage feeling inside the Soda Fountain

Now on to Miami Avenue, starting with Back Eddy Bistro.

The Back Eddy Bistro menu

Althea's, which has been there forever.  I have eaten there many times and it also has a large outdoor dining area.

Burgundy Square Cafe is in a building that also houses lots of resale an antique shops.

Burgundy Square menu

La Dolce Vita Wine Bar

And finally, Pineapple's, which is on the corner of Business 41 and Venice Avenue.  It is a fairly large restaurant with a huge outdoor dining area that also has live entertainment in the evening. 
Three short blocks and lots of terrific places to eat a meal, sit outside and people-watch or just enjoy the fabulous Florida weather.  Why don't you drive down this weekend?

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