Food prepared by Chef Emilio Oliva at the Venice Ale House includes a grilled cheese sandwich with “the perfect grill marks” and roasted potatoes. Photo by Dawn Garcia

Walking on the Boardwalk with the craving for a tasty brunch and nostalgia that Venice is still the happy haven for artists and skaters, I found myself at the Venice Ale House. Lured by the crowd of an eclectic group of diners, the smells wafting past me – my curiosity was peaked.

Prepared by Chef Emilio Oliva (who can be seen wearing a contagious smile with an air of cool), the food here is a fusion of both Latin and comfort with a good amount of heart. It’s not where you go when you want upscale or quiet, but it’s where you go when you want some diversity.

Hunger gnawing at me, I order sangria and the Spoonie Special Vegan Scramble, adding tempeh and bacon for good measure. We also order Mac N’ Cheese, a grilled cheese, and tomato soup. The Spoonie is a blend of black beans, veggies and avocado – a colorful mix when it arrives. Then comes the grilled cheese that has the perfect grill marks, the soup – a rich red with hints of roasted peppers that seep through the air – and the real heart of it, the Mac N’ Cheese.

Brunch is meant to be a bit overindulgent after all. The scramble is an explosion of flavor, the grilled cheese is tasty and simple, soup is by far one of the tastiest tomato soups I’ve had, and then there is the Mac N’Cheese: Crisp on the outside just the way I like it. I found out, it’s gluten-free! (This made it easier to justify licking the bowl: equating gluten-free with low fat. Hey, it’s a dream…)

The food here is delicious, full of flavor, AND after Venice Ale House revised the menu a month ago, it can appeal to carnivores, vegetarians, and gluten-free-ers alike. With a hearty selection of beer from ales to IPAs, global wines, in-house sangria, a happy selection of cocktails, sake, fresh-from-the-coconut coconut water, fresh-squeezed juice, and teas, The Venice Ale House is the stop.

Much like its diverse appeal, VAH can be summed up by the art adorning its walls: Free-spirited, grounded, airy, organic, edgy and cultured. From the food to the people-watching to the genuinely impressive selection of drinks, Venice Ale House is a local staple.