It’s hard to miss The Daiquiri Deck’s colorful, cheery corner presence at West Venice Avenue and Nassau Avenue. Two large patio dining areas hug its expansive, bright interior. The bar is straight through the entrance and across the restaurant, and since there was a wait for an outdoor table, which we wanted, we headed over to get a drink. The bar features a wall of 12 daiquiri flavors constantly at the ready. They offer 26 frozen drink combinations as well, with fun names like Critical Condition, Voodoo Love Shake and Sea Monster.

We took our time looking over all the options and chose the Green Parrot: a combination of mango and tropical juices, melon liqueur and Blue Curacao, topped with mango rum. We were at the very end of happy hour, which runs from 3:00 to 7:00 p.m. every day, when you get 2-for-1, or two small daiquiris for $6. After happy hour, the daiquiri size becomes a “medium” for $7 each.

We took our Green Parrots outside to people watch and enjoy the gorgeous night. I noticed the clientele was varied, from groups of just-old-enough-to-drink young women dressed in party clothes, to a table of lively seniors. Two well-behaved dogs had accompanied their owners to dinner and were happily watching other dogs taking their evening walks.

A table opened up after five minutes, so we settled in and began the very serious task of deciding what to eat. The Daiquiri Deck’s menu is extensive and features salads; soups; wraps; over 20 sandwiches and burgers; nearly 20 “snacketizers” such as coconut shrimp ($10.95), Florida gator bites ($11.95) and lobster fondue ($12.95); oysters and clams; and mainstays such as lobster, crab cakes ($19.95), a mixed seafood grill ($19.95), steaks and the fresh catch of the day. You can create your own pizza, dig into peel-and-eat shrimp ($9.75 for one-half pound), and even try Apalachicola oyster shooters ($4.95 each). Throw in the side kicks and desserts and you’ve got your hands full trying to make decisions.

We ordered Jumbo Fried Florida Oysters and Steamed Mussels for our starters, and the Veggie Burger and New England Style Lobster Wrap for our entrees.

The hot fried oysters ($10.95)—a dozen of them—arrived at our table first, and were served with cocktail sauce and certainly were jumbo. The light batter was crunchy, slightly salty and allowed the sweet and tender oysters within to shine. The cocktail sauce added a spicy bite. Within a few minutes, three more plates of food added to our table.

The dozen steamed mussels ($9.95), instead of being jumbled in a deep bowl, were carefully arranged around the perimeter of a shallow bowl with a splash of tequila butter on the bottom and two grilled bread wedges perched on the rim. They were steamed perfectly and the tequila butter had excellent flavor.

The grilled veggie burger ($9.95) had a good, somewhat spicy flavor and decent color. It is served with BBQ sauce, tomato and cucumber slices, and sprouts.

The New England style lobster wrap ($14.95) consists of “fresh Maine lobster tossed with lettuce, dill mayonnaise and seasonings (served chilled)” tucked into a flour tortilla. The fresh lobster meat made it a substantial lunch option.

Burgers and wraps are served with a pickle spear and choice of fries or homemade coleslaw. We had both. The coleslaw was crunchy, not overly dressed and possibly the second best thing on the table, after the oysters.

Our server, Alison, was genuinely sweet and conscientious—a fine example of grace under pressure in this busy downtown venue. Her mother and her boss should be proud of this young lady.

At press, The Daiquiri Deck was humming along, having quickly become a regular hangout for Venice locals and tourists.

Daiquiri Deck Raw Bar

300 West Venice Avenue

941.488.0649

daiquirideck.com

Open 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. every day

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