Happy Wine and Gourmet
Name: Irene Hung
Occupation: Research Administrator
Lives In: Miami
Favorite Restaurant: Happy Wine
Reviewed Happy Wine: March 13th, 2008
I would have NEVER known this place existed had it not been for co-workers who share the same love for wine. I drove back and forth on Calle Ocho looking for a wine store; had it not been for someone telling me to turn at the Catholic bookstore (ironic, no?) I might never have discovered my favorite place in Miami.
You walk up behind the building and approach a door identified only by grapes painted on the door and empty wine boxes outside (of course, next to a daycare). This particular visit, one of my many, I am meeting friends from work for happy hour.
I open the door and am greeted by the smiling, friendly staff to the sounds of Latin music and the steady buzz of talking. While parking was impossible, the store itself wasn’t particularly full (i.e. I saw one empty table). Salutations with kisses on the cheek and a “cómo tú estás?” I am asked if I would like a bottle of a particular favorite the last few months, the Menage a Trois blend of three grapes) from California 2005. Edward walks me to the table where the group is and comes back with three glasses and an open bottle. I love this place.
The store doesn’t have decoration per se, rather their inventory IS the decoration. You sit amongst stacked boxes of wine at every corner. Empty barrels topped with glass serve as tables and the wood stools have writing all over them. The walls, too, are covered in writing. “Tito + Maria”
One of the things about life is the journey can be good as long as you are surrounded by people you like. Happy Wine facilitates that and possibly introduces you to even more people that can make that journey even more special. I meet a group of almost 10 people there to celebrate Melissa’s birthday; her mother Elisa has brought a fabulous cake to share. During the course of the 3 hours, I met Elisa’s friends, some other regulars, and randomly got into a conversation with a woman who liked Edward’s singing, who happened to work at the same place as me.
But, you wouldn’t even need to know people to enjoy this place. It’s about the wine. I am happy walking around to each pile of boxes looking at bottles of wine—finding new ones I might like, brands I might recognize, or having the staff pick me a new favorite. OK, it’s not JUST about the wine—it’s also about the incredible pricing of the wine, so much so that I started buying cases of wine there. My $9 will buy a bottle at Happy Wine that costs $24 at Publix (Menage a Trois). At the Steve Hansen restaurant where I used to work in NYC, the bottle of Estancia Pinot Noir was marked up at least 300% from its price at Happy Wine. I will happily pay the $1 corkage fee.
I go up to the counter to order food. Food at Happy Wine is really secondary—you come for the wine but realize you can enjoy more wine if you eat something. While for the most part, nothing is extraordinary—the tortilla espanol is probably the same one I buy in a package from Publix, the bread is a bit hard, the cheese and meat platters are nothing to write home about (and would be hard to mess up)… but the prosciutto sandwich… it’s a simple thing and yet so satisfying. Your teeth penetrate the crunchiness of warm, toasted bread to move into the cheese, prosciutto, garlic spread, olive oil, and tomatoes. With every time you chew a new flavor of the combination presents itself. I’ve tried making this at home and somehow it just doesn’t taste the same. And what not better than a glass wine to wash it down?
I like wine bars, and in all that I have been to in Miami, Happy Wine takes the cake. Be it the competition’s $10 corkage fee, 200% markup, or the lack of the reminder that the best things in life are the simplest.
As it approaches 9:00pm, the lights flash on and off, just like in Kindergarten, to notify you to pay your bill and be on your way. I suppose all good things must come to an end, but you can always come back!
Name: Gary Solomon
Occupation: Recipe Website Founder
Lives in: Boynton Beach
Favorite Restaurant: Dada Restaurant
Reviewed Happy Wine: March 14th, 2008
After having a difficult time locating Happy Wine, we were told to enter in a loading dock area entrance. We entered in to a wine store with tables placed throughout the room in corners and spaces amongst the wine inventory. The tables were all occupied, and it looked as though the patrons were having a pleasant time. We scanned the room to locate our choice bottle of wine. We took it to a small counter where they opened the bottle of wine and gave us two glasses. We placed our food order at the counter. There was someone scurrying around in a small room that was the kitchen. We found a table where we could stand. Young couples and middle-aged customers were the norm. There were a few young children and a baby scattered. It was fun to be able to pick a bottle of wine and drink it and enjoy some tasty tapas and garlicky prosciutto sandwiches. It would be nice if someone made this concept more upscale and adaptable in Palm Beach County. Cozy, warm, and with good food, but there is still no reason to travel too many miles to experience Happy Wine.
Name: Nikko Capria
Lives in: Boca Raton
Favorite Restaurant: Café Martorano
Reviewed Happy Wine: March 15th, 2008
Well, first you park in the back. Walk through the back of the store, boxes everywhere. Very crowded, people dancing and eating and drinking wine. Very different but enjoyable experience.
You never know what you’re going to find when you walk into Happy Wine. Bustling, loud, lots of jibber jabber, everybody talking in Spanish, wine flowing left and right and little tapas to share with everyone. You will sit on a box of wine, maybe splattered with a little bit of red wine all over it. But you’re sure to enjoy your favorite vintage on this bustling, crazy location on SW 8th street.
Location: 5792 SW 8th St. , Westchester, FL 33144
Phone: (305) 262-2465
Restaurant Owner: Philippe Douriez
Type of Cuisine: Tapas, Español
Meals Served: Lunch & Dinner
Accommodations for Children: Depends, but they are welcome