Happy Wine on SW 8th Street has long been the place to go for really good prices on wine. Their new Happy Wine location, on Bird Road in Coconut Grove, brings a similar selection of inexpensive wines along with tapas and music.
If you're into a candlelit spot in which to drink wine, you might just want to buy a few bottles and take them home, but that's not to say Happy Wine isn't charming. High tops and wooden stools are nestled in between the shelves and crates of wine. A keyboardist plays tunes in English and Spanish as a waiter comes over to help you select your wine.
The store is segmented by country of origin, and there are about 700 different labels tucked into this Mediterranean-style spot. Happy Wine charges a $4 corkage fee, which is reasonable when you factor in that you're getting your wine for about 20 percent less than other stores in the neighborhood. There are 90 wines featured on $20, and there's a good chance you'll find something in that range. We chose a 2010 La Crema Pinot Noir for $19.99 and a 2008 Anta Banderas A10 for $15.99. Both reds were good choices with the tapas we were served.
There are about two dozen hot and cold tapas to choose from, and all are served with pan con tomate, which was a nice change from the usual plain bread in a basket. Happy Wine also serves paella every Friday. The owners bring in a paella chef each week, who cooks up a large pan of the seafood and rice dish. A generous plate is $12.99 and is enough for two.
Choose the country where you want to dine. We dined somewhere between Spain and Australia. Wines are well priced, with neon tags that inform of prices and ratings.
Ham crepe was a light thin pancake filled with ham and cheese ($7.99).
Tortilla Espanola had large chunks of potato ($3.99).
Queso Manchego and pan tomate ($9.99).
The garbanzos fritos were sauteed with ham and chunks of sausage. Flavorful without being salty ($5.99).
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The camarones al ajillo arrived bubbling. Allow the shrimp to cool off for several minutes because that oil is scalding. Worth the wait, the molten oil is delicious for dipping the supplied pan con tomate into ($8.99).