Love Hal's Bar.
Venice is a hip, funky, artsy place. Hal's Bar is crowded many nights, especially Friday and Saturday evenings. The bar section is small and when it fills up, quickly learn body language and maneuver yourself over to the folks who begin to "act like" they are preparing to leave.
The bar service is great. Drinks a delicious. Many of the patrons are from Venice. My first night there I sat between a painter and an Austrian sculptor living in L.A. Cool conversation.
Food was yummy, lacked nothing.
I've also been to Hal's in the early evening for dinner with a teen. She loved the atmosphere and the food.
Before or afterward, walk along Abbot Kinney to window shop or browse interesting stores.
How do I know? I'm a native Angeleno!