Best Places to Eat and Drink in Venice

For food lovers, finding a more-than-decent spot to eat in Venice is a minefield. Being a popular travel destination, there are plenty of overpriced tourist traps that will want your Euros and leave you shortchanged. Luckily for us, during a recent visit to the city, our AirBnb host turned out to be an ex-restaurant manager and helped us separate the wheat from the chaff.

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Whilst we did not indulge in many formal sit down meals, we did graze on a fair amount of cicchetti (small savoury snacks) from the counters of many Venetian bars across town. The dazzling display counters are packed full of these delicious little edible treasures and are a real feast for the eyes. Most cicchetti, each one a pleasing mouthful, are priced between €1 and €3. If you are not that fussed about having speciality wines then most house wines (called Ombra) are priced at €1/€2 for a 150ml glass, which as we found is a very wallet friendly way to eat and drink your way through Venice.

Below are some of the spots we hit:

Osteria Ae Forcoe

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One of our first pit stops in Venice was Ae Forcoe. This place comes highly recommended for their selection of top quality cicchetti and spritz. This rustic and vibey Venetian bar was busy and bustling when we arrived. The staff were jolly and they played some excellent party tunes in the background. My favourite was their assortment of crostini but there were plenty of other tasty options to choose from. Castello 5377, Calle Bande Castello, 30122 Venezia VE, Italy

Wine Bar 5000 

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This was a relaxed and intimate wine bar close to the canals and away from the madding crowds. I would recommend getting one of their outside tables and watching the people and gondolas whizz past. During the day, it’s a great spot to get some sunshine and at night, romantic with flickering candles. They have a small cicchetti selection but it was a bit rough around the edges in terms of presentation. However, I would recommend their cured meat platters to accompany your wines. Fondamenta S. Severo, 5000, 30122 Venezia VE, Italy; www.lunasentada.it/winebar5000

El Magazen

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We stumbled upon this place whilst meandering through the many narrow alleys and bridges of the city of Venice. They had a pretty impressive wine list, a terrific cicchetti selection and rustic interiors. Calle larga Giacinto Gallina, Cannaregio, 5402, 30121 Venezia VE, Italy

Al Mercà

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A lilliputian hole-in-the-wall kind of place; this one always has endless queues, top-notch drinks and delicious snacks. In spite of the rush, the service was polite and friendly and you feel like a local eating here. Campo Bella Vienna, 213, 30125 Venezia VE, Italy

H2 NO

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We enjoyed our short and sweet stay in this quirky bar. We scarfed down their delicious and piping hot fried mozzarella and ham. They even had a live band playing outside in the square, which added a little extra to the experience. Campo S.Silvestro, 1105, 30125 Venezia VE, Italy

Vino Vero

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A charming wine bar in a very quiet part of Venice – Cannaregio. This is a great place to sit and enjoy a late night drink at one of outside tables and let the magical, mystical, misty Venice evening wrap around you. If it gets too cold, you can always scramble back inside where it’s warm and toasty and their cicchetti selection awaits you. Fondamenta de la Misericordia Cannaregio 249730121 Venice, Italy

Osteria Al Portego

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Frittura Mista Di Pesce & Verdura
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Seppie in Nero con Polenta
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Linguine alla Scoguera

One of our few sit-down meals in Venice was lunch at Al Portega. This casual and homely place did reasonably priced, exceptional quality pasta, some glorious cicchetti and the service was one of the best we experienced. You will find a lot of traditional Venetian fare here. Booking is highly recommended. Its popularity is evident from the perpetual crowds spilling over onto the pavements outside. Calle de la Malvasia Vechia, 6014-6015, 30122 Venezia VE, Italy

Drinks in the balcony of Ca’ Sagredo Hotel

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Yes, it is set within a luxury hotel, so prices are higher than average. But the views are worth the extra penny and their polished bathrooms are the best option you will find in an area otherwise rammed with tourists. Campo Santa Sofia, 4198/99, 30121 Venezia VE, Italy; www.casagredohotel.com

Osteria Ai Cacciatori, Murano
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This humble cicchetti bar is located in Murano and is a great places for a snaffling some wine and those moreish little bites. It was buzzing full of locals which is always a good sign. They have a few pavement tables so, if the weather permits, it’s a good spot to soak up the sights of Murano. Fondamenta dei Vetrai, 69, 30141 Venezia VE, Italy

Ristorante Dalla Moro, Murano

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Gran Antipasto Misto Di Pesce (large mixed seafood hors d’oeuvre)
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Spaghetti con Astice (spaghetti with lobster)

Another Murano find, this is a fish and seafood restaurant that came recommended by a fellow food blogger. They don’t take reservations and lunch time can get super busy so best to arrive for early or late afternoon. We gorged on a mixed seafood platter followed by Lobster Spaghetti. Our main host was a bit grumpy (not sure if it was a one-off or it’s his personality) but the superbly fresh seafood more or less made up for it. Fondamenta Manin, 75, 30141 Venezia VE, Italy; www.ristorantedallamora.com

Ristorante Upupa Ghetto Venezia

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Potato gnocchi smothered with a roast duck ragout
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Handmade ravioli stuffed with local sea bream and artichokes bottoms

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Cut of bovine “black Angus” with rucola, drops of balsamic vinegar, flakes of old Asiago cheeses and chips

This restaurant is off-the-beaten track and away from the touristy crowds, hidden in the quiet region of Cannaregio. We celebrated Kris’s birthday meal here. A very atmospheric restaurant complete with high ceilings, low lighting, candelabras and antique furniture. The service was pleasant and engaging. From the unshowy kitchen, you can catch glimpses of their freshly prepared pasta and their home baked flatbread. Campo delGhetto Nuovo, 2888, 30121 Venezia VE, Italy; www.upupaghettovenezia.com

Bar All’Arco
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A cosy and quaint cicchetti bar where hot grilled sandwiches seemed to be the order of the day. It had a real community vibe to it and you can spot locals having a bit of friendly banter with the team behind the counter. S. Polo, 436, 30125 Venezia VE, Italy

Ostaria Dai Zemei

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This was one of the most popular bars in Venice. The first time we tried to get in, it was packed to the rafters so we decided to return during the day when it was slightly less rammed. They have a wide range of crowd pleasing crostinis on offer. They do have outside tables available as well, if you wish to stay for the long haul. Calle del Scaleter, 1045/b, 30125 Venezia VE, Italy

Ostaria Boccadoro Venezia

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Gnocchetti alla gransevola (Gnocchetti with spider crab)
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Tagliolini neri con cape sante e carciofini (Black tagliolini with scallops and artichokes)
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Tagliolini calamaretti (Tagliolini with baby calamari)
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Spaghetti vongole (Spaghetti with clams)

Our last day in Venice and we were hankering for some good old comforting pasta and Ostaria Boccadoro was the answer to our prayers. They say the thing you are looking for is right in front of you and it holds true for this one. For every meal in Venice, we travelled far and wide across town whilst this gem was right next to our Airbnb. They made some of the freshest and tastiest seafood pasta, so much so that we ordered two rounds of Primi. Our host was absolutely lovely and despite the kitchen closing down, accommodated our request for more food! Calle Larga Widmann, 5405/a, 30121 Venezia VE, Italy; www.boccadorovenezia.it

We definitely enjoyed cicchetti-crawling our way through Venice.  If you are planning a trip to Venice soon, I hope you find the above list useful. I recommend you tag these on Google Maps but also ask the locals, as Venice is quite the maze.