The Best Budget-Friendly Wine Bar In This Popular Italian City, According To Rick Steves

If one thing's for sure, it's that travel expert, writer, and globetrotter Rick Steves knows his food. Whether he's teaching people how to successfully save on food while traveling through Europe or showcasing two of his favorite destinations to grab a bite to eat, the travel guru's palette is well-versed in all things local and authentic.

Considering Steves' extensive knowledge, it's no surprise that his recommendations carry so much weight — especially in terms of finding the most genuine dining experiences. After all, he isn't just about pointing you to the right places, he's about immersing you in the culture through food and drink. And when it comes to satiating his appetite, Italy — the writer's favorite European country — doesn't miss a beat.

Planning a trip there soon? You'll want to pay attention to this recommendation. Outside of the historical allure of Rome and the artistic heritage of Florence, it's actually Venice that found a way to steal the travel enthusiast's heart, and taste buds. Because when Steves visits the Italian city, all roads eventually lead to one special place: Cantine del Vino Già Schiavi. A spot that, as he puts it in his blog, is his favorite cicchetti bar.

Eating and drinking at Cantinone Già Schiavi

A cozy and intimate nook, this cicchetti bar — a term used for places that specialize in small bites, wine, and drinks—  is tucked away along one of Venice's canals, and just a two-minute walk from the popular Gallerie dell'Accademia.

Family-owned and operated, the establishment first opened its doors in 1945. Along with being a "slice of Venetian culture", as Steves says himself, the unassuming locale is also well-known for being affordable, sticking to tradition, and serving a wide array of local specialties to choose from. With cicchetti (small plates of bread with various toppings) starting from $1.60, roughly $3 glasses of wine, and sandwiches for around $5, adding Cantinone Già Schiavi to your Venice itinerary is a great way to try something new without burning a hole in your wallet.

Currently holding a 4.5-star rating on TripAdvisor, and with more than 1,500 reviews, Cantinone Già Schiavi is favored by locals and tourists alike who flock to the place — there's always a line, and it's always busy — for a quick bite and refreshing sip.

Planning your visit

It's important to note that Cantinone Già Schiavi works more like a wine bar than a restaurant — meaning there's really no "formal seating." That said, once you've made your way inside, you can either choose to eat directly at the bar, head over to the room in the back, or grab your fare and stand outside. For this last option, make sure you let the staff know you're dining "fuori" (outside) and they'll serve your order in plastic cups and plates. Whatever you do, though, don't let yourself be put off by the line. It typically moves quickly so you won't have to wait too long for your turn.

All this talk of delicious cicchetti and wine got you hungry? Cantinone Già Schiavi is open Monday through Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Additionally, the establishment also takes credit cards — though some patrons noted there's an $11 minimum if you'd like to pay this way.